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The liberal French Daily, Le Monde, broke tradition and endorsed a candidate today for president in the upcoming U.S. election.

Citing “exceptional stakes” arising out of the events of Sept 11, Le Monde said that a victory for John Kerry was desirable “beyond the borders of the United States.”

The endorsement reflects the sentiments of France. A poll commissioned by Le Monde last week showed only 16 percent of French respondents wanting George W. Bush to win, versus 72 percent for Kerry.

“Even the countries which supported the U.S. war in Iraq would be happier with a more mainstream type of president in Washington, one who would be more acceptable to all the Europeans,” Guillaume Parmentier, director of the Center on the United States at the French Institute of International Relations, told Cybercast News Service.

Le Monde’s endorsement said President Bush “exploits fear of new attacks” while asking for four more years to conclude his “world war against terrorism.” Kerry was praised for his “internationalist” vision of the world, his experience in Vietnam and the force of convictions shown in the three presidential debates.

The translated endorsement reads:

Does Osama bin Laden vote for George W. Bush or John F. Kerry?

The Machiavellian interruption of the al-Qaida chief four days before the American election, in an "October surprise" dreaded by all the strategists, brutally placed this election in its true context: that of Sept. 11 and its continuations.

John Kerry, the Democratic candidate, estimates that the war in Iraq diverted American military resources in the fight against al-Qaida, prevented the capture of bin Laden and reinforced the terrorist threat. President Bush openly exploits fear of new attacks, always present among his fellow-citizens, and asks voters to give him four more years to conclude his “world war against terrorism.” Each one can thus exploit the intervention of Osama bin Laden to his advantage: Mr. Kerry by seeing there proof of the failure of the policy of his adversary, Mr. Bush by pushing still a little more the fear factor.

To pick a party in an election abroad is not in the tradition of Le Monde. The exceptional stakes of the Nov. 2 presidential election, however, and the situation in which this historical choice arises convinced us that a victory for John Kerry was desirable, beyond the borders of the United States.

Because it is indeed a choice between two visions of the world and what is right. George W. Bush proposes to his countrymen to reclaim the system they knew before September 11, 2001 … The vision of President Bush is that of a country at war … with rules impossible to define. A war so unique that it is necessary to sacrifice legal restraints on him on which the American democracy is founded, to replace the tradition of transparency by opacity and spinning, and to ignore the international architecture which is at the center of a world consensus for over half a century.

John Kerry knows the world changed on Sept. 11, 2001. But he refuses to see in terrorism some higher force that justifies questioning the bases of American democracy and its international nature. His personal engagement during the Vietnam War, his experience of foreign politics and his “internationalist” vision of the world, his capacity to recognize errors, as well as the force of conviction made evident during three presidential debates make him a much more suitable statesman than Mr. Bush to answer the challenges after Sept. 11.

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