Rejecting Obama could cause the world to despair of Americans

As we remember the murder of 2,974 people in the 9/11 attacks seven years ago, we also recall a time when the world united in solidarity behind America. However, that sympathy and support quickly evaporated as President Bush launched invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, detained and tortured prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, and demonstrated arrogance and hubris to the rest of the world. America's standing in the world collapsed, and although much of the frustration was directed at Bush as an individual, international views of Americans themselves also deteriorated, particularly after they re-elected Bush in 2004. Over the last year, the rise of Senator Obama has created a fresh attitude, enabling people around the world to dream once again of an America that lives up to its widely-respected ideals.

However, in the last week, as opinion polls turn in favour of McCain (or rather, it seems, Palin) British Journalist Jonathan Freedland predicts a grim reaction if Americans reject Senator Obama: "A generation of young Americans - who back Obama in big numbers - will turn cynical, concluding that politics doesn't work after all. And, most depressing, many African-Americans will decide that if even Barack Obama - with all his conspicuous gifts - could not win, then no black man can ever be elected president. 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. 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. And the manner of that decision will matter, too. If it is deemed to have been about race - that Obama was rejected because of his colour - the world's verdict will be harsh. In that circumstance, Slate's Jacob Weisberg wrote recently, international opinion would conclude that "the United States had its day, but in the end couldn't put its own self-interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race".

Even if it's not ethnic prejudice, but some other aspect of the culture wars, that proves decisive, the point still holds. For America to make a decision as grave as this one - while the planet boils and with the US fighting two wars - on the trivial basis that a hockey mom is likable and seems down to earth, would be to convey a lack of seriousness, a fleeing from reality, that does indeed suggest a nation in, to quote Weisberg, "historical decline". Let's not forget, McCain's campaign manager boasts that this election is "not about the issues." Of course I know that even to mention Obama's support around the world is to hurt him. Incredibly, that large Berlin crowd damaged Obama at home, branding him the "candidate of Europe" and making him seem less of a patriotic American. But what does that say about today's America, that the world's esteem is now unwanted? If Americans reject Obama, they will be sending the clearest possible message to the rest of us - and, make no mistake, we shall hear it."

9 comments:

Rory said...

What a sheer utter pile of BS this article is. Ya know, a good chunk of the world held a favorable view of Hitler before WW2 as well and lets not forgot Che Guevara's popular standing in the world when he was executing innocent farmers, teachers, doctors, writers in Cuba. Sorry, what the world thinks and who they want as "our" president means jacksh*t. Obama 08, what a joke! Rejecting Obama cause the world to despair, how about our despair of the catering of terror loving thugs and do nothing countries who would rather sit back and let the US suffer than be actually accountable for things.

Pete said...

Rory, stop watching Fox News you dumb redneck, and try growing an independent mind of your own. Your response simply just shows how brutally ignorant you are. To compare Obama to Hitler would be like comparing Dick Cheney to the Dalai Lama. What a pile of horse crap. And in typical republican redneck fashion, you are totally blind to the actual facts. You support a guy who claims to be a hero (self-proclaimed by the way), while in fact the guy told the vietcongs everything he knew to AVOID torture. The broken arms where from not pulling in his arms when he rejected from his aircraft. Do a little research you dumb fool and you will see that McCain time and time again, blocked the request from families of missing POW's, to release information regarding other POW's in Vietnam, in the hopes they would be able to get closure. Why in the hell would he do such a horrible thing, unless he was trying to hide something that could bring him down? Sound more like a lying coward and a traitor to me than a 'hero'...

By the way Rory, you would make for an excellent brown shirt...but I guess you don't know what that means.

Pete said...

The families were looking for closure regarding their family members who were real POW's. McCain denied them that right...what a hero!

Pete said...

By the way, here is the Wikipedia definition on the word Liberalism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism ) vs the words 'Totalitarianism' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalitarianism), which based on the current political climate sounds like what the republican party promotes.

As far as I recall, our fathers fought to maintain the ideals of liberalism from the grip of totalitarianism some 60 years ago...

I am a proud American and extremely proud to call myself a liberal!

Pete said...

By the way, here is the Wikipedia definition on the word Liberalism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism ) vs the words 'Totalitarianism' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalitarianism), which based on the current political climate sounds like what the republican party promotes.

As far as I recall, our fathers fought to maintain the ideals of liberalism from the grip of totalitarianism some 60 years ago...

I am a proud American and extremely proud to call myself a liberal!

Damocles said...

Obama is a weak person. Weak on defending the US, weak on terrorism, weak on dealing with Iran, Russia, etc.. The man simply does not get it. He has dubious ties to some very dubious people and he and his wife act as if they are "of the people", despite the fact that they are overpaid elitists. Nope, sorry.

bill said...

The comments posted by "Rory" and "Damocles" showcase the type of individuals who will be voting in November: scary!!! People who believe McCain ads. People who think that a hockey mum is qualified for the Presidency just because she's white, has 5 kids and can lie to their faces since they cannot think from themselves. People who have been voting Republican no matter what and who would be prepared to jeopardise their country/the world and vote Republican even thought the GOP candidates include a PIG/DOG or CAT with lipstick!!! If it wasn't for the seriousness of the impact the Pit Bull could have on the rest of the world, I would be laughing my head off! I just hope that comes November, more people like Pete will cast their vote. God help us!!!

pp said...

This is so spot on! Thank you for saying this so much more eloquently than I could. I am Australian & this is exactly how anyone I have spoken to about the American election feels.
Rory - was 'despair of catering to the terror loving thugs' really what motivated America to invade Iraq? If that were true, why haven't they supported other countries suffering under 'terror loving thugs'? What about Sudan? Or the Tibetan people? Or Burma? Come on, you can't really be that blindly ignorant or hypocritical! Or can you? From what I have seen on other blogs over the last couple of weeks, you're not alone, & that does make me despair!

signalsmom said...

Reading Rory's comment makes me despair. The dumb redneck vote propelled that 'Good ole boy' Bush into the White House and it's terrifying to think it could happen again.

Rory, leave off the moonshine, get a passport and find out that their IS a World beyond the borders of your closed mind. Learn, too, that the opinions of that world matter.