The upcoming elections in the USA are about whom the American citizens would vote in as their president, not what the rest of the world would wish for America. As you may have noticed, I have followed with a certain interest the proceedings during the campaign. I have attended two political meetings in town, discussed the merits of each candidates with my fellow American co-workers and even created this group (mostly for fun). My co-workers know I cannot vote so they are often wondering why I would even care.
I am not alone here. The elections in the US are not meant for either the Brits , the Egyptians, the French, the Nigerians nor the Swedes ( and many others, about 25 groups by my count) but they all chimed in. You can find more reactions from all over the world at voiceswithoutvotes and submit your thought as well.
The important point here is that all these people are not just voicing their opinions about candidate lambda for the sake of making noise. We all know too well that this does not help by any stretch of the imagination (and in the case of the support from France, one may argue that it has the opposite effect, but more on that later).
It is not that all those folks suddenly suffer from a "Miss Universe pageant syndrome" and believe that World Peace is now within reach.
The point of all this support is that we also have our own fear to express.
It's the same fear that Americans have felt after 9/11. The fear born from the Bombings in Bali, Mumbai, London and Madrid. The fear that the world is being polarized and hold hostage by extremists and mass murderers . The fear that our families living in major metropolitan areas might also be someday swept away but some vicious acts. Terrorism after all, also killed thousands in Nairobi and was potentially active in Madagascar.
We wish for a candidate that would be the most effective in reducing terrorism on global scale.
The most agreed upon reason for 9/11 is that there was a major failure of the US intelligence system. An efficient network needs nations with common goals to come together and share data.
Hillary Clinton said a short time after 9/11, " You are either with America in our time of need or you are not".
Well, the rest of the world was with America. However, the way the war on terror was managed so single-handedly, we were not sure whether America really wanted the rest of the world to "be with" them in the first place.
Anti-French sentiment was at an all-time high when French diplomats dare to express reserve about the wisdom of attacking Iraq. After that decision, politicians did not think that they could win an election without weighing in on the darned French.
It was either R. Limbaugh with his "John Kelly is French-looking and has French relatives ..." or Mitt Romney saying: " Unless America changes course, we will become the France of the 21st century". Even the democrats at ourfuture.org came up with a mocking video saying " Merci McCain".
The candidate that is willing to rebuild those burned bridges with many nations will be the most effective in preventing future terrorist acts. Which president would US allies be more willing to share information on budding extremist activities with the bully who says: "with me or against me" or the one willing to listen to all points of view before making an informed decision ? Which method has the most chance to be effective and potentially avoid a catastrophic decision ?
Jeremy Piven, Ari from the HBO show "Entourage", explained yesterday to Purdue students and staff why he was traveling across the state of Indiana for the Obama campaign. Here is one of the reason why he supports Obama:
"We burned a lot of bridges. I want someone like Barack Obama speaking for us. It's a time when you're afraid to turn on the news. It's rough, it's tough. He was a guy that stood up; that guy, I want to roll with."
This is not our election, but when you see people like Piven with an acute awareness of what went wrong and the right way to fix it, you forget for a moment that you cannot cast your own vote. You just cheer them on, wish them good luck with their project and hope that the other shoe does not to drop.
It may not be our election but it sure feels like we all ought to be concerned with it. Terror does not live in a vacuum.
Here is a video of Piven talking at Purdue.