Obama and McCain

For better or for worse, both of our sins will be American, and against this, there is no remedy. For starters, those who are not American will not have the right to vote between the two come November- a great injustice given that anything decided by the forty-forth president of the United States may well have a greater effect on foreigners than on his own compatriots; Just ask the Serbs of the Bill Clinton era or the Iraqis whose care George Bush will pass on to his successor in January. Or ask the French, Italian, Belgian, Dutch, English etc, even the Germans freed from oppression or from the threat posed by Hitler in 1945. Not to mention the cold war which, won by the Americans and sandwiched between World War II and the new world order, left the Europeans in the dust. The world is changing fast, but it seems to me that, at least for the next twenty years, the world outside the United states will continue to lament not being able to chose the white House’s tenant, who will remain the most powerful person in the world.

There is no doubt about the preference of the outside world. Preliminary inquiries in a dozen countries of the European Union are similar and unequivocal: from the English to the Greek, if the Europeans were to vote, Barack Obama would be the next president of the United States. If it were up to the Pakistanis, he would as well. Weeks ago, Fidel Castro wrote in his party newspaper that although far from the ideal, Obama was preferable to any of the others. We have yet to hear from Amahdinejad, but it would not surprise me if praise were to waft from his direction. In China, in an internet poll of 20,000 people as of Wednesday, 55% believed he would win, 32% believed he would not, and 13% found the question difficult. Every so often America needs a chief who grabs her soul. In the twentieth century, Roosevelt, Kennedy and Reagan stepped up for the job. Now, after 9-11 and Bush’s messy patchwork, another is needed, and McCain does not cut it. The problem is, Obama might just cut it too sharply. In other words, his eloquence is magnificent, but will he have his feet as sufficiently firmly planted on the ground as Roosevelt, Kennedy and Reagan did?

However, beyond the issue of inspiration, there are important differences and similarities. McCain wants military victory in Iraq: Obama wants to negotiate – if he were to do it with a firm hand, Obama would be better for America than he would be for the world. Associated with the unions, Obama is a protectionist; McCain is for free trade – but American protectionism would do a great deal of harm both to America and to the rest of the world, so in that respect, McCain would be better. As to the similarities, both support to the idea of a large international organization, consisting only of democracies which would infuse the planet with a new moral order. Such a project would discredit the United Nations, weaken NATO and blow an asphyxiating dose of political correctness onto the table of international negotiation. So, both are apparently awful, but this is a reality about which we can do little. Perhaps other Americans -and fortunately there are some – will convince the victor to change his views.

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