Most JWN readers from around the world seem to expect Barack Obama to win tomorrow’s presidential election in the US. And though, by and large, they also seem glad that he will win, still, they harbor some cynicism about whether a President Obama will do as much to change the relationship between the US and the rest of the world as they would hope…
Cynicism (or realism?) notwithstanding, we got some good responses to my invitation to people who are not US citizens to send in their requests of the next US President.
Sergi, commenting from China, included just about all the main points touched on by the other commenters when he wrote:
I wish the US President will steer the USA as it used to be; pledge real democracy; stop bullying other countries for self interest; pledge fairness as it expect from others; be a leading country as a economic giant, to win respect again; sort out racism, as US is now the most racist country in he world; and cut down on Armed Forces spending and invest in his country’s own people, as they voted for him.
Yes, this would be a dream and if the new President can bring this dream to reality he will become as much a Legend as George Washington…
I realize that the non-US people who read my blog are not ‘representative’ of the entirety of the 6 billion-plus people in today’s world who are not US citizens. Still, the comments/requests that have come in to the blog give a helpful window into the priorities of this group of, I would say, deeply engaged non-US people.
(You can find another interesting “global snapshot” of worldwide attitudes towards the election– which may not be more representative than mine– in this article in today’s Guardian. It includes interview material from Kabul, Paris, Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, Lahore, Nairobi, and Gaza. And Hizbullah’s fairly impressive English-language website, Al-Manar, has this round-up of reaction/hopes from various places around the world. It’s prefaced with this: ” A widespread anticipation of a new era in relations with the United States spread around the world Tuesday, even before the result of the US presidential election was known. Is it going to be an extended era for the President George W. Bush or is it going to be a new page concerning the US policy inside the country and abroad?…”)
Here on JWN, we had contributions from Thailand, Bangladesh, China, New Zealand Aotearoa, Belgium, India, Sweden, France, South Africa, Netherlands, the UK, Canada, Ireland– and at least one member of Iraq’s tragic current diaspora…
Mahmud H. Tejwal, from Dhaka, Bangladesh, had a very focused and realistic request:
My request would be – take a small part of the US war spending and allocate it to solve the food crisis afflicting the world’s poor (about $12.5 billion or approximately two weeks cost for the Iraq and Afghanistan war).
Millions of people are falling through the poverty trap due to rising food prices, itself the result of a complex combination of speculation, energy deficiency, policy prescriptions of the Breton Woods institutions and rapacious free traders!
Poor nutrition in a setting of inadequate (read privatized) health care, poor to non existent social safety net, substandard infrastructure and non caring subservient national elites – this is the reality of the globalized world of today where the poor go hungry and die of preventable conditions!
Mr.President, its about time we all should act, and act fast. Thank you and good luck.
Thanks for that, Mahmud. I guess my only further comment would be that though using, $12.5 billion (or whatever it takes) to meet the immediate, or one-year-long, food needs of the world’s poorest families seems to me an absolute moral imperative, still, to actually “solve” the longer-term challenge of food security/ food sustainability for all the world’s people also requires considerable systemic change. That would include, most crucially, an end to the massive subsidies governments give to rich-world farming corporations and big investment in rehabilitation of community-based farming systems all around the world…
Hetty, from Netherlands, advised that,
First of all Obama should put things right in America, i.e. turn back the neocon wave of privatization and deregulation (including the privatization of the military). That will be a very difficult task after the ‘après moi le déluge’ of the Sun king Dubya; restoring the economy is his first task.
Then he should demilitarize American foreign policy.
Well, that’s enough for a whole bunch of presidents. And, to make his job easier, he should put Bush on trial for war crimes and treason.
I wish Obama, the next president, all the best and good luck.
Brian, writing from Thailand, said,
I don’t believe either candidate is serious about ‘world peace’ or any thing apart from world empire (aka US interests)! … The US has invaded and sought to control countries and governments since it invaded the Philippines a century ago, while preaching freedom and democracy, and western governments have been happy to support this fraud.
… So lets not be naive. For the US to reenter peaceful relations with the world, it would need to prosecute those responsible for the current war crimes, and day for the damages done…Will this happen even under Obama? Not likely.
French citizen Yann said he “expects” the next US president to ‘re-engage’ in world peace. He added that France’s own Pres. Sarkozy also needs to become “re-engaged in the pursuit of humanism.”
“Indian”– I’m assuming here, sub-continent Indian– writes that he’s been living in the US for five years and “frankly I’m not optimistic about Obama’s (potential) presidency or the *single* party system.” However, he or she adds, “Suppressing my cynicism for a minute, my wish: The US President must support a climate change mitigation agreement as this affects the entire planet and not to start/escalate any more wars.”
Those thoughts were echoed (and amplified) by Mattias, from Sweden:
I would like your next president to finish the job Reagan started, regarding nuclear disarmament. It is long past time to retire the left-over doomsday weapons from the cold war.
I would like him to stand with us in creating a new climate treaty. And obviously I would like him to get serious on using working methods of conflict resolution.
I would also like him to take America into the mainstream for western countries when it comes to social spending. Now the US is a beacon and example for all the forces here that want to privatize our health care system and reduce or eliminate other social programs. It would sure be nice if the US could set another example.
Frank (from Ireland) tells us:
Walking away from the Iraq mess without providing compensation to the unfortunate refugees in Damascus and Amman, and the Internally Displaced Camps in Iraq would be a tragedy of unimaginable proportions.
Dominic from South Africa has this succinct advice:
From Canada, “World Peace” writes:
My wish is beneficial for our country and yours .
If Barack Obama’s title changed from Senator to Mr. President, I will want Mr. Obama to do as he promised the Americans: rather than spending a billion dollar a day in Iraq, [actually more like a billion dollars every three days, but the argument is the same] he will invest the monies in their beloved country the United States of America. In finding alternative energy and creating thousands of jobs, they will not only become self sufficient, but back on track, as THE world leader .
My wish will save innocent lives and further destruction, it will put a smile on what is left from the Iraqis, Afghanis, Somalis, Sudanese, Palestinians .
Humanity is at stake after 8 bloody years of the Bush administration.
We all need change, hope is what keeps us going…
From the UK, Doug writes:
Dwight Eisenhower’s warning of an “Industrial, military ‘congressional’ complex” was I think the tip of an oncoming iceberg that the US failed to steer clear of, causing the ensuing ‘titanic’ train-wreck that has spilled out across the globe.
If the next President could dismantle what President Eisenhower warned of, things might start to improve – but as I said, I don’t think the US system has the wherewithal to reform itself now. The Monster is now too big, to powerful and too sophisticated (and too ugly) to be reined in.
… My advice to the next President would be simply “Bring the troops home – All OF THEM!!! and sort out your own country!”
It’s notable to me how many of these (non-US) contributors to the discussion had strong advice not just about our foreign policy, but also about our domestic and internal economic affairs. Quite rightly, in my view, they see these spheres of activity as closely linked.
For a long time now, too many Americans have simply assumed (a) that our own “way of life” is not only admirable but also widely admired by others around the world, and (b) that the US somehow has a “right” to tell other countries how to manage their internal affairs. These commenters– and other non-US friends and colleagues I’ve interacted with in recent years– are telling us that today, neither of these assumptions is valid. They’re telling us, moreover, that they consider they have every right to criticize how we’ve been running our internal affairs and to tell us how to do it better. What a reversal, eh?
Finally, anyone interested in the “democratization” agenda that the Bushists pursued fairly hard for a couple of years there, in the Middle East, should go and read the comment that Salah posted to the earlier discussion. (You can’t miss it: It’s the one all in bold.) It’s an excerpt from a letter that Gertrude Bell sent her father in August 1921, but it reads as very timely for today.
… Well, it’s now just seven hours till the polls open in some of the east-coast states. Let’s see how tomorrow goes…
Meanwhile, my big thanks to all of our international readers who sent comments in response to my earlier request. If you’re a US reader of JWN, please do what you can to help circulate and publicize the present post– and the full compilation of comments from the non-US readers, on the comments board here. It’s good to remind “our fellow Americans” that our fellow citizens-of-the-world from elsewhere also have a strong stake in the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.