Diplomats Vary on Enthusiasm For Inauguration

For some world diplomats, it's like being invited to a party for someone they don't like. That's the position they find themselves in as George W. Bush (search), the man they once hoped would be swept out of office, is inaugurated to his second term as president.

For the 180 foreign diplomats accredited to Washington, it's part of the job to be there Thursday when he takes office.

Cubans, Iranians and North Koreans are not invited; the United States doesn't have diplomatic relations with them. But other Latins and Asians -- as well as Africans, Europeans, Arabs and others -- got invitations to the inaugural parade and ball. And, as is tradition, members of the diplomatic corps will attend the Capitol Hill swearing-in ceremony, sitting in a block but with their own disparate views on the day.

"Our ambassador will go and will be honored and pleased to attend," said Dragana Aleksic, spokeswoman for the Embassy of Serbia and Montenegro (search) and it's Ambassador Ivan Vujacic.

Much depends upon where each country stands on the Iraq (search) war and whether they sent troops while most of the world refused.

"We have been able to work very closely and successfully with the first Bush administration," said Australian Ambassador Michael Thawley (search), whose nation was one of the few contributing invasion troops.

"We are looking forward to continuing that relationship in the second Bush administration," said Thawley, who plans to attend several inaugural events and balls.

Less enthused are those snubbed after their nations balked at the war.

"It's a diplomat's job to work with the high-ranking officials in each country," a diplomat from one such nation said only on condition her name and country not be mentioned. "We might have a personal opinion, but it's not up to us to elect the president -- it's up to the American people. And the one they choose will be the one we will pay honors."

Polls found some governments that supported Bush policies were going against opinions of their own citizens, and European polls showed the majority of people were pulling for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry to win instead of Bush.

A more recent survey in Australia, Canada, Britain and Italy showed a majority had a negative view of Bush.

In the Middle East, American support of Israel and other U.S. policies were viewed as anti-Arab even before the invasion of Iraq, with the war and the Abu Ghraib (search) prison abuse scandal further inflaming attitudes.

In Latin America, some felt the first Bush administration got off to a good start but that relations deteriorated when governments there felt they were ignored in the post-Sept. 11 policy that focused heavily on terrorism to the exclusion of other issues.

Overall, there's "a wariness ... across the board" about a second Bush term, said Christopher Preble, foreign analyst with the Cato Institute (search) think tank.

"Even among those countries who have supported the president, supported U.S. policy," he said, "there may be some concern about what he does next because to the extent those policies are unpopular at home, how much do they risk by being so closely associated with President Bush and his policies?"