Sometimes we get so bogged down in the details and emotions of a contest that we lose all perspective, and it is useful to look for an outside vantage point. Unfortunately, our presidential election gets so much international attention and the foreign media is no more objective than the domestic media that it is not possible to just pick up Paris’ Le Monde, Tokyo’s Asahi Shimbun, or Mexico City’s La Prensa to get a balanced view of what people are really thinking. So, lets take a little literary license and pretend to analyze the Trump – Clinton election through the eyes of a London shopkeeper who shares our general values and whose country has been a close ally for a couple of centuries.
What’s the “Big Picture”?
We’re coming off of a great run. For the past three generations we have been at peace – or at least if we have been at war it is was on the other side of the world and we chose to send our troops there. Over the course of human history this is not the normal course of things, but World War II was so horrible and the victors so wise, powerful, and magnanimous that we have had Pax Americana since 1945. The United Nations; the World Bank; the International Monetary Fund; NATO/CENTO/SEATO; the dollar as the global reserve currency; safe international shipping lanes and capital markets. Not all boats rose equally, but most rose.
The last decade or two have been downers even though the economy has been OK. The individual has progressively less control as more power moves to remote governments – Brussels; Washington. Traditional culture is under attack as we are overrun by immigrants and the elites force politically correct social values. Globalization and technology have advantaged the Bengladeshi fabric worker and decimated the British Midlands; environmentalists have destroyed the Welsh coal mines; ship building has moved to Korea; agriculture has been reduced to hobbyists and corporations.
The political elites are detached globalists. Few British leaders of either major party saw the Brexit vote coming. Barack Obama has deliberately taken America away from global leadership – in part because he has not believed that America and the West should dominate, and in part just because his oratorical skills are not matched by managerial competence or interest. The Nobel Peace Prize and the Arab Spring led to the Obama-encouraged Syrian civil war, the rise of ISIS, great suffering and millions of refugees. The West chose not to see the slaughter in central Africa in the 1980’s; it has encouraged and been victimized by that in the Muslim world in the past decade.
The nuclear clock was turned back by Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher’s defeat of the Soviet Union. But with the adventurism of North Korea and the steady program development of Iran, it is moving forward again, with no effective international response.
A half century of relative peace, prosperity, and optimism is over. In the Middle East; in Europe; in America.
The ship cannot be righted without American leadership. No other country or group of countries has the wealth, military strength, network of allies, or position in international institutions to defeat terrorism, contain Russian and China, and provide monetary and trade leadership. Not Britain; not a fractious Europe; not Japan and the smaller countries on the rim of China; not the British Commonwealth. That is why the American presidential election is so important to the world – and why it is so disheartening that the campaigning of both sides is so far removed from what really matters.
What matters to the world?
1. The risk of conflict with Russia. Putin will test the new president – in Syria; in the Ukraine; in the Baltics; perhaps with a renewed basing of forces in Cuba or Vietnam. Which candidate will be strong and measured; which will be weak or impetuous?
2. Nuclear proliferation. Who can convince China to squash the North Korean nuclear program; who can re-energize the containment of Iran’s nuclear program?
3. Terrorism. ISIS will eventually lose its territory, but tens of thousands of battle hardened jihadists will make their way into the West and Russia’s southern neighbors. Which candidate understands the risk and effective options; which can assemble the necessary coalition of international and domestic Muslim leaders?
4. Global prosperity. There is no turning back the economic inter-connectedness of the world. The principle of“comparative advantage” is universally accepted among economists – that every country prospers most when they focus on that which they do best, and trade with other countries for what they need. Which candidate can best expand production and trade while easing the resultant pain to losing economic segments?
And what doesn’t matter to the world (at least much)?
1. The loss of American innocence. Trump’s crudeness; Clinton’s corruption. Global leadership has an element of moral compass, and this is a low point for both parties, but the greater question is whether the candidates can do the job.
2. Internal American issues by which the parties motivate their supporters and keep score. Tax and budget policies (within reason); control of Congress and the Supreme Court; social issues; Obamacare.
To the outside world this is an amazing contest. Normally it is the old folks who want stability and the young folks who have little to lose and are risk takers, but this time there are a disproportionate number of young folks who don’t seem to care, a bi-partisan establishment who want the status quo, and a disproportionate number of older folks who are willing to roll the dice. To the British shopkeeper, the risk of Trump would not seem to be worth the reward on the issues that matter – but then they voted for Brexit.
This week’s video is about a hack of 2500 e-mails involving Hillary Clinton’s largest individual contributor – George Soros. Somehow this has been missed in mainstream media coverag
www.rightinsanfrancisco.com – 10/14/16