11 September 2008

We've got the whole world in our hands

Jonathon Freedland writes in The Guardian about the international reaction to the American election.

But what of the rest of the world? This is the reaction I fear most. For Obama has stirred an excitement around the globe unmatched by any American politician in living memory. Polling in Germany, France, Britain and Russia shows that Obama would win by whopping majorities, with the pattern repeated in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. If November 4 were a global ballot, Obama would win it handsomely. If the free world could choose its leader, it would be Barack Obama.

The crowd of 200,000 that rallied to hear him in Berlin in July did so not only because of his charisma, but also because they know he, like the majority of the world's population, opposed the Iraq war. McCain supported it, peddling the lie that Saddam was linked to 9/11. Non-Americans sense that Obama will not ride roughshod over the international system but will treat alliances and global institutions seriously: McCain wants to bypass the United Nations in favour of a US-friendly League of Democracies. McCain might talk a good game on climate change, but a repeated floor chant at the Republican convention was "Drill, baby, drill!", as if the solution to global warming were not a radical rethink of the US's entire energy system but more offshore oil rigs.

If Americans choose McCain, they will be turning their back on the rest of the world, choosing to show us four more years of the Bush-Cheney finger. And I predict a deeply unpleasant shift.

Until now, anti-Americanism has been exaggerated and much misunderstood: outside a leftist hardcore, it has mostly been anti-Bushism, opposition to this specific administration. But if McCain wins in November, that might well change. Suddenly Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is with not only one ruling clique, but Americans themselves. For it will have been the American people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once-in-a-generation chance for a fresh start - a fresh start the world is yearning for.

Now this, dear Mr. Freedland, is not how things work here in America. We don't care who the rest of the world wants us to elect. In fact, that makes us even more likely to elect the other guy. We like rubbing your nose in our shit. We make the rules; you live in our reality. And with our economy falling apart, the empire is all we've got to hang our hat on. Hell, even Obama thinks we have to get off the Demon Imported Oil because it makes us have to respect other countries. Bombing them doesn't always work out so well, it seems. That's just ass-backwards, kids! Running the world is our job, you're going to depend on us!


Writing in slacktivist comments, Praline expresses a similar sentiment.

America's policies send shock waves through the rest of the world. I live in the UK, and Bush has managed to plough our economy along with yours; food prices are already rising out of control and we're heading for a depression.

Considering America was founded on 'No taxation without representation', the way it screws up its supposed allies' economies while claiming the right to act however it darn well pleases makes me feel pretty pissy. And worried about earning enough money to live on.

You can run, but you can't hide. Why else are so many foreigners on this board getting mad about the policies of a nation they don't inhabit? It's not because America is so darned special, it's because America has power over us. I don't hang around on boards that discuss Canadian or Jamaican politics, because those policies don't affect my way of life. America affects all of us