Our friendly Fake Consultant has been very lucky. In the week he is hosting the Blogpower round-up concerning the subject of ‘How does the World view the US and our upcoming election’, a British conservative blog has been launched to celebrate the special relationship and combat the evil of anti-Americanism.
Good luck to them. Being English conservatives, they will not have a clue. This post is as directed to my fellow conservative countrymen as much as it is to the American audience it was intended for. The following article is the view of a left-leaning son of an Indian immigrant, brought up in the centre of England and having spent all of my life in the city of Birmingham with an above average interest in the presidential race (to the extent that I have put money on it - God bless our freedom to gamble!).
On the first Tuesday in November this year, Americans will go to the polls to elect the fourty-fourth President of the United States of America. At the time of writing, and unless something astonishing happens before the party conventions at the end of August and beginning of September, Barack Obama will face John McCain for the title of leader of the free world.
While reading many conservative blogs in Britain, I am astonished by how many times I have read that this is a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. It is my opinion that either will be a vast improvement on the current “thief-in-chief”, George W. Bush, and I believe this is, or at least will be the opinion of the majority of the British people. “Dubya” is just someone we British will never like; the folksy charm which makes him so popular to the American electorate is an indication to us Brits that he is an intellectual lightweight, someone who had got the Post of POTUS because his father used to be President and he knew the right people. If obtaining status by working hard and using ones talents to the best of ones ability, while overcoming a difficult background epitomises the American dream, George W. Bush is the manifestation of the American Nightmare. It is Britain that is supposed to be the country where the Head of State inherits his position. George W.Bush’s election makes a mockery of the self-evident truths that all men are created equal, with liberty and justice for all.
Barack Obama presidential nomination, on the other hand, may be some evidence that the American dream is alive and well. Despite his colour and his funny foreign name (not to mention his unfortunate middle one), his talents as a public speaker and a politician have lead him to defeat the Clinton machine which the Republicans in all their might failed to derail during the 90’s. Seen abroad as a cross between two legendary liberal American heroes, JFK and Martin Luther King, “Barry Durnham” has inspired many not just in America, but outside as well.
John McCain is not bad either. Someone who fought for his country during Vietnam, stayed on as a POW when offered a way out, whose personal wealth dwarfs that of his Republican presidential rivals and whose adoption of an Asian daughter speaks magnitudes about him (and those who disgracefully used it to slander him in the Republican race for presidential nominee back in 2000), one cannot help feeling that the world would be a better place if war-hero John McCain had been President on that fateful day in September 2001.
One should not underestimate the damage that the winner of this election will have to repair as a result of the policies of the incumbent. Prior to the hated “war-on-terror” (as James Rubin once said, terror is a tactic not an enemy), an isolationist George W. Bush was infuriating the world by ripping up treaties left, right and centre, from Kyoto to preventing nuclear and chemical proliferation, and talking of installing a Star Wars system in a world with only one superpower, all on the back of an election that, out of an electorate of over 100 million, was eventually won by 5 votes to 4. Then September 11th happened. Suddenly everyone was American. While many on the right will have concentrated on the celebrations of the Palestinians and the snide comments of the Iraqi foreign ministry, my abiding memory was of candlelight vigils being held by Iranian students for the innocent American dead. The same Iran was soon to be branded alongside Iraq and that famous supporter of Islamic terrorism, North Korea, as part of the "Axis of Evil". The world tolerated the war on Afghanistan but all the goodwill was destroyed when George Bush decided to finish “his fathers work” and remove Saddam Hussain from power, on what have proved to be trumped-up charges of stockpiling Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Regardless of all the debates, the issue of whether we go to war with Iraq is now over. We cannot undo the past. What is now important is the future. It is vital that Iraq becomes a stable, representative and accountable state, not, God forbid, so that rich American companies can spend the rest of the century exploiting its natural economic wealth, but because we owe it to the people of Iraq. We destroyed their country, we now owe it to them to rebuild it. So despite the fact that Obama was right to oppose the war in Iraq, I now find myself siding with McCain that America must be prepared to stay there 100 years if necessary in order to keep the peace. Many left-wingers will not agree with me, and say that the occupation is part of the problem. To them I say look at what happened in Palestine and Kashmir after the British decided to “cut and run” following the collapse of the Empire. Those wars are still being fought over 60 years later.
Of course, it is not just about the war. Manmade Global Warming is seen by many in the world as the real issue that threatens the global community over the next century. This will infuriate those generally on the right who claim (compare and contrast with the case for war on Iraq) that it is the left-leaning scientific establishment who are producing trumped-up evidence to support a false theory (well sometimes it is false; other times it can be solved using market solutions, and yet other times global warming will be beneficial to humanity). Thankfully for those of us in the world who clamour for the powers that be to get serious about tackling the problem, both McCain and Obama stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the mainstream scientific community in the war-on-warming. This position will no doubt help heal some of the rifts that have divided America and the rest of the free world.
My uncle once said to me “America is a great country, you can go there with nothing and make something of yourself, but its foreign policy is a load of rubbish”. This statement, more than any, cuts to the heart of most arguments about anti-Americanism (and indeed those in America who ask “if everyone hates us so much why do they all want to come here?”). While it may be the case that some people are jealous of America, or feel it promotes positions that are contrary to their own world view, many so-called anti-American are not anti-American at all. They are anti-American government. Here indeed lies a supreme irony. Many leftists in Europe share a common position with Republican America; namely, that the American government is not good at running things. Right-wing Americans see it in tax legislation, government health programmes and public (state) schools. The rest of the world sees it in the policies of the State department. Our question to the American right is this: if the American government is not fit to run its own country, what makes it fit to run the world? If the Washington elite get it so wrong trying to save American lives with social security, health care and universal education, what makes you think they will get it right in exactly those areas when nation-building in another country, or when destroying foreign lives in a legally questionable war?
We do not hate America. We love it. That is why we are so critical of it. In the words of our Lord, “To whom much is given, much is expected”. When it declared independence, America set a standard for the world that was so high she struggled to keep it herself.
The price of freedom is vigilance. Unfortunately, sometimes one looks so hard one cannot see the wood for the trees. The left in Britain do not want America to change; they want it to go back to its roots.
All men created equal… with liberty and justice for all.
In the same way that the founding fathers of America who wrote this saw no problem in owning slaves, modern America needs to re-assess who this statement applies to. Not just Americans, or her allies, but everyone in the world. Once this “self-evident truth” is absorbed, it may be easier to understand why there is so much vitriol to American foreign policy from people across the world.
In many ways, for us outside America, it is rather irrelevant whether John McCain or Barack Obama becomes the next president. The truth is that despite their apparent differences on Iraq, the reality of the office of the Presidency will decide what happens on the ground. What is more important is that we have a president who got the job because he deserved it, as a result of talent and hard work, not because he was born to rule. A President who has seen and therefore understands the world, not spent most of his life sheltered in his home state which inevitably warps ones world-view (an upbringing that is disturbingly similar to that of a certain left-wing Brummie blogger). Someone who is commited to upholding the principles of the American consitution, not avoid it by legal trickery like placing a camp for POW's outside American soil. The fact that some of the right, both in America and Britain, feel both McCain and Obama are a step down from the big government conservative George W. Bush is evidence enough that they will be an improvement on the current regime that is crying out to be changed. As one of the candidates might put it, this is “change we can believe in”.