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AS THE RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE REACHES ITS CLIMAX.. Why we should all pray that Kerry is the next American president.

Byline: ANTHONY HARWOOD in New York

MAKE no mistake. A win for John Kerry in the US elections would be a win for the world.

George Bush has made no apologies for his go-it-alone attitude to everyone else on the planet.

On the contrary, he has made his two-finger salute to the international community a badge of honour back home.

To the hysterical applause of his right-wing supporters, the man who had left America's shores only three times before he became president talks derisively of not needing a permission slip from the UN.

It is not the only issue on which he and Kerry are poles apart, but for the rest of the world it is the probably the most important.

That's because Kerry, by contrast, knows how desperate the need is for America to give the international community it has so alienated a "big hug".

His calls for invasions of other countries to have to pass "a global test" were scoffed at by Bush, who considers asking anyone for their opinion un-American and a sign of weakness.

And there are plenty of other reasons why we in Britain need to hope America doesn't fall for Bush's cosy rhetoric. From avoiding a nuclear crisis with Iran or North Korea to allowing stem cell research and preventing global warming, we must hope Americans see sense.

Whenever Bush is asked about the growing threat from Iran's nuclear programme he shrugs his shoulders and says he's working on the diplomacy.

We can only hope he isn't just going through the motions and planning another pre-emptive strike, this time on the country he included in his Axis of Evil speech three years ago.

Bush and inspections and patience just do not seem to be words that go together - and that must send a shudder down everybody else's spine.

Kerry has adopted a more common-sense approach. He says the US should offer Iran nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes and then take back the spent fuel so it cannot be used to develop nuclear weapons.

He opposes threatening pre-emptive war and will get tough with economic sanctions if Iran does not back down.

On North Korea, Bush cut off the bilateral talks which Bill Clinton started. This led to the inspectors being kicked out of the country and Kim Jong Il developing four - and possibly more - nuclear weapons.

Kerry would reopen bilateral talks with the communist dictatorship as well as continuing with the six-party talks involving China and Taiwan Bush is so wedded to.

In the Middle East, Bush's Road Map to Peace has lost its way. Launched amid great fanfare by the President when he announced his support for Israeli and Palestinian states side-by-side, it is all but forgotten. Kerry has vowed to bring fresh momentum to the peace process and will appoint a new Middle East envoy to push it along.

On the environment, Bush's record is lamentable after he notoriously refused to sign the Kyoto agreement. He fea`red the restrictions of the global warming treaty on gas-guzzling cars might damage the US economy and lose him votes.

He reversed a 2000 campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide, accelerated forest-thinning projects on public woodlands and balked at tougher fuel economy requirements for cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks.

If he gets re-elected, Bush will scrap clean air laws and rely on a market-based approach to cut pollution from power plants.

Funding of clean water projects will be cut and the President will open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling. If Kerry gets in he has promised to put America back at the forefront of efforts to stem global warming. But he would stop short of signing the "flawed" Kyoto treaty, which he refused to back in 1997.

He will, however, ban drilling in the Arctic refuge and support tougher fuel economy standards.

To get away from America's dependence on oil, he has set a goal of 20 per cent of electricity from renewable or alternative sources by 2020. Kerry will also siphon off nearly pounds 12billion from oil and gas royalties to develop cleaner energy.

His ultimate goal is an ambitious one that will win applause all over the world: to free America from its dependence on Middle East oil by 2014.

Bush's big idea is to spend pounds 550million on developing a hydrogen-fuelled car.

The two rivals have opposing views on stem cell research, highlighted by actor Christopher Reeve's death this week.

Scientists believe enough research will provide the breakthrough they need to help sufferers of spinal injury like Reeve and also victims of Parkinson's disease and diabetes.

But Bush is opposed to federally funded research on new stem cells because it "requires the destruction of life".

In August 2001 he signed an executive order limiting research money to embryonic stem cell lines already in existence.

This was so the "pro-life" candidate would not be seen to support any future production of embryos for research.

Kerry would reverse Bush's restrictions and let scientists study 100,000 embryos currently frozen in fertility clinics.

But it is America's global ambitions that will cause the most concern if Dubya gets back in on November 2.

The Republicans have consistently fought the campaign on one issue where they know they have popular support - terrorism and the fear of another September 11-style atrocity.

We have a right to be worried when Bush promises to stay on the "offensive" in the war on terror. He aims to strike at terrorists anywhere in the world and states that harbour them "before they strike us here".

He has already begun overhauling deployments, with 70,000 troops coming out of South Korea and Europe now that the Cold War is over.

They will be sent on temporary assignments to no-frills "forward operating sites" in Asia, Africa and the Middle East - and could be used to mount the sort of small, fast-moving Blitzkrieg-style operation used in Iraq.

Kerry, too, has voted to "hunt down and kill the terrorists".

But you can bet that for this President the enemy really will be al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda alone.

CAPTION(S):

VOW: Kerry will cut the rhetoric and reach out to the world; GLOBAL PEACE; THE ENVIRONMENT; MEDICAL RESEARCH; TERRORISM
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 15, 2004
Words:1035
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