Response to Bush's speech from Britain to Beijing
"It gives no real hope for ordinary Iraqis.... I think [the troop surge] will not curb the violence for a long time because the problem is not only military, it is more political and about foreign interference."
– Hussein al-Falluji, Sunni Arab member of Iraq's parliament
"Bush's speech still contained the logic of force and destruction instead of the logic of dialogue and political solutions...."
– Falah Hassan, Shiite member of Iraq's parliament
"The signs from the State of the Union are positive, but we do need to make sure we get a binding international framework that allows us to tackle this issue [climate change] at the only level ultimately it can be tackled, which is by making sure we have an agreement with all the major countries including America, China, and India...."
– British Prime Minister Tony Blair
"[The commitment to reducing gasoline usage by 20 percent by 2017] counts in my book as a firm commitment. This obviously fits into a situation where we have a momentum building up, not just in the States but also worldwide on energy and climate change."
– British government spokesman
"It was self-confident without being in any way arrogant. It was reaching out. He was looking for the cooperation that might be possible, which is what one would expect from a lame duck.... On foreign policy I didn't see anything new ... just a plea for cooperation for [the Iraq surge].... Unless he has a good deal of luck in Iraq, it will be that for which he is remembered.
– Robert McGeehan, Chatham House think tank, London
"The centerpiece domestic policy proposed – a shift in energy consumption to reduce America's dependence on imported oil – has been the stated goal of just about every president for the last 35 years. Measures to broaden the reach of health insurance also seem to have been an objective of every president in living memory. And yet the number of those who are uninsured does not seem to change much from one decade to the next."
– Gerard Baker, The Times online (London)
On Iraq: "He [Bush] is taking a terrible political risk over Iraq by seeming to be provoking a reaction among Democrats. It looks from France like the president wishes for the Democrats to appear unpatriotic by not supporting the surge initiative. I don't know if that's going to sell."
On climate change: "When you think of what Bush did in 2001, the new view on climate change is amazing, a complete U-turn.
On the surge: "The view many of us take is that a 21,000 surge is too much if what you are planning is withdrawal, and too little if you want to do something serious. The reasonable French view is that the foreign forces in Iraq have become part of the problem, not the solution. But we can sympathize with the situation.
– Guillaume Parmentier, director of the Center for American and Transatlantic Relations in Paris
"I used to fall asleep when I watched the Chinese People's Congress meeting with my father. But [for the State of the Union], I watched for 50 minutes until the end. The atmosphere at our meetings is always dull.
"But the US meetings are quite different, bustling.... I was strongly attracted by [Bush's] charm. I'd been told that American politicians are the best actors ... today I sure believe that. "
– 'FlameDevil' post on Sina.com, China's largest blog-hosting site
"The speech showed that "in his own mind, Bush has no clear strategy or path to success" in Iraq.
The president's focus on energy was "visionary. Energy supply is China's great long-term trouble too. The president's outlook is real statesmanship, but it's a long way from being implemented."
– Prof. Shi Jinhong, head of the American Studies Center at Beijing's Renmin (People's) University
"Bush was correct in calling the attention to a central problem for the world economy, which depends on energy, now obtained principally from hydrocarbons, which are nonrenewable and highly contaminating....
"Bush, at the end of his presidency, is backing an energy scheme that he rejected initially in congruence with the protection of the interest of large petroleum and secondary companies. If his proposal is accepted, he can put a substantial problem on the right track for whoever succeeds him in the White House...."
– El Universal newspaper, Mexico
"The president of the United States, George W. Bush, has presented an ambitious – and probably untenable – program for domestic reform as a life preserver to avoid drowning in the lowest popularity levels in history, and as a smoke screen intended to hide the calamitous war in Iraq.
"In a ritual speech before Congress on the State of the Union, Bush tried ... to touch on subjects closest to citizens' hearts, such as social and energy issues, with the goal of recuperating the public's lost trust in his leadership."
– El Pais newspaper, Madrid
• Staff writers Peter Ford, Robert Marquand, and Dan Murphy, and correspondents Mark Rice-Oxley and Lisa Abend, contributed. AP material was also used.