Friday, September 12, 2008

The Whole World Is Watching - Too Bad Some of Us Aren't

The More We Sweat In Peace, The Less We Bleed In War

"We Just Want To Know:

Will You Be A PEACE Nation, Or A WAR Nation?"

Four years ago at the time of the 2004 election, my partner and I were on a cruise. We had dutifully sent in our absentee ballots, so we could cruise easier knowing that our votes had counted for John Kerry. But I was puzzled by some of the "foreigners" on the cruise: people from France, Italy, Belgium, Japan. The cruise was really international; they were all abuzz about the election, seeming more interested than their American counterparts. I finally asked:

"Why are you so interested in the U.S. election?"
The answer was short, but fitting: "We just want to know if you'll be a peace nation or a war nation!"

The viewpoint was stark, but startling: they pegged Bush (correctly) as a war president and Kerry as a (possible) peace president. They saw Bush's cowboy diplomacy for what it was: no diplomacy at all. Now we've come to the 2008 election and the pairing of nominees is possibly more apt: one side opts for war much more than the other. McCain is certainly more open to the possibility of war than Obama.

America is an extremely generous and compassionate country. I'm proud to be an American. However: our country is very myopic, thinking that what we project is what the other nations see - and believe. Yes, our international approval ratings are low - they have been for over five years. But low approval does not mean that the rest of the world has stopped watching, waiting and wondering how this election will play out. We've seen how Barack Obama was greeted in some foreign countries. "Rock star" or "celebrity" was belittled by Republicans, but the numbers are impressive. Countries polled were given Obama, McCain or "no preference" in polls. The isolationists (or in today's parlance, the anti-globalists) would be terrified to know that Barack Obama leads John McCain by an absolute landslide:

Here are the numbers in a some of the countries polled:

France: Obama, 69 percent; McCain, 6 percent
Italy: Obama, 72 percent; McCain, 12 percent
Russia: Obama, 18 percent; McCain, 7 percent (no preference, 75 percent)
Brazil: Obama, 51 percent; McCain, 8 percent
China: Obama, 35 percent; McCain, 15 percent
Mexico: Obama, 54 percent; McCain, 16 percent
Indonesia: Obama, 46 percent; McCain, 11 percent
Egypt: Obama, 36 percent; McCain, 13 percent

These numbers mean a lot: during the next four years, the President of the United States of America will have to come to terms with globalization much more than any previous president. China and India are both emerging as world producers and world consumers. Economies are so fused together as to be totally dependent on one another. If one of the countries mentioned above were to go completely bankrupt, very many, way too many economies would suffer. America, alas, is now only PART of the world - it is no longer THE world.

Here's a great quote from one your fellow Americans, whose Flickr name is Andy Beez (thanks for the photo, Andy):

Both candidates, and their running mates, have much to offer the U.S., but only one of them would seem in phase with the rest of the 21st century planet. I am sure that one is determined to repair roads and build bridges, the other will carry on blowing them up in someone elses country. So to the thousands of Flickr American's, choose wisely. Your country is standing at a crossroads.
"Choose wisely." That's something we haven't done very well these last eight years.

Just a thought.