I thought readers might appreciate the following from a friend in Australia:
“Your presidential race is fascinating yet depressing. Away from America, nobody, and I mean just about no one, can believe that Americans would support such a demagogue as Trump and all he stands for. To say they like him because he speaks his mind and refuses to be PC is just inane. Look at the type of person he is. I would really fear for America, and more so the world, with a clown like him in charge. It is positively sickening.
Bernie Sanders sounds like maybe a nice guy but a bit out of touch. I don’t think America could work his way. So Hilary . . . there are skeletons in the closet so to speak but at least she has experience and did quite a reasonable job of it. I think much of America still lives in the Teddy Roosevelt era in outlook . . . with little knowledge of the outside world and sort of contempt for it.”
Similar comments are also being made in newspapers in other parts of the world.
It’s difficult to imagine the Atlantic alliance holding together if Trump wins the election; having said that, the Democrats have not done any better. Bret Stephens in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal wrote an article titled: “Barack Obama checks out.” With 311 days left until he hands over to his successor, the president seems to be insulting America’s friends while embracing her enemies (visits to Vietnam and Cuba are going to follow last year’s treaty with Iran).
Mr. Stephens’ article follows on from one in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg. Mr. Goldberg interviewed President Obama, who seemed to forget he is still president and spent quite some time criticizing US allies, including Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and former President Sarkozy of France who may be re-elected. He even made it clear that if Russia invades Moldova, the US will do nothing, giving the Russian president the go-ahead to annex another neighbor. Even Israel is set to suffer another blow from the US president, who is treating Saudi Arabia equally in arms sales.
Historian Niall Ferguson also commented on the Goldberg article in today’s Boston Globe:
“At the top of the list of scapegoats are America’s traditional allies: not only Britain and France (Libya’s descent in chaos was all their fault) but also Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Then comes the Washington “foreign policy establishment” and the US military, who are always trying to “jam” him into going to war. Next in line are the members of his own cabinet — among them former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who urged him to intervene in Syria in 2012.
“The president says he is “very proud” of his decision in 2013 not to follow through on his earlier threat to take military action if the Assad regime used chemical weapons in Syria. He seems not to understand that by asking President Putin to “force Assad to get rid of the chemical weapons,” he opened the door to Russian intervention in the Middle East, a region the Kremlin was effectively shut out of by Henry Kissinger in the early 1970s. Wondering why the death toll in Syria has leapt upwards in recent months? Step forward President Putin, whose air campaign against every anti-Assad force except ISIS has been a horror show.
“The Mosul dam symbolizes the critical state of an entire region. Like a huge wall of water, barely held in check by a crumbling dam, the combined forces of Islamic extremism, vicious sectarianism, networked terrorism, and Arab-Iranian rivalry have yet to wreak all the havoc of which they are capable. But why worry? The president has stuck to his foreign policy doctrine: “Don’t do stupid sh–.” As for ISIS, according to Goldberg, the president likens them to the Joker in the Batman movies.” (“A Catastrophe of Epic Proportions,” Niall Ferguson, Boston Globe).
As a President, Hillary Clinton seems likely to continue Mr. Obama’s policies and Europe is apprehensive of a Trump presidency, the Atlantic alliance could have some serious problems a few months from now.
Former Secretary of State Dean Acheson once observed: “it is true that, in America, any boy can grow up to become president. This is something we are going to have to learn to live with!” That was said over sixty years ago. The problem has since doubled as every girl can now also aspire to be president.
The United States isn’t the only country experiencing an interesting and potentially nation-changing election. Germany had one, too. Last Sunday three of Germany’s states voted. The result was significant gains for the AfD, the Alternative for Germany, an anti-immigrant party. Trump is not the only western politician who wants to do something about immigration.
As Reuters put it: “Voters punished Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in three German regional elections on Sunday, giving a thumbs-down to her open-door refugee policy and turning in droves to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD).
“The result is a big setback for Merkel, who has led Europe’s biggest economy for a decade, and could narrow her room for manoeuvre as she tries to convince her European Union partners to seal a deal with Turkey to stem the tide of migrants.
“Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) lost ground in all three states – Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate in the west and Saxony-Anhalt in the east – which were together widely seen as offering a verdict on Merkel’s liberal migrant policy.”
Following the election we see this report from the New York Times today:
BERLIN — German authorities banned a neo-Nazi group known as the White Wolves Terror Crew after the police conducted early morning raids on Wednesday in 10 of the country’s 16 states, confiscating weapons but making no arrests, the Interior Ministry said.
Far-right parties have gained strength as Germany struggles to integrate more than one million migrants, and the ban is intended to demonstrate that the authorities will not tolerate agitation against foreigners and migrants “and certainly no violence,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said.
“This group is an association of neo-Nazis who openly and aggressively agitate against our state, against our society, against people who think differently, against migrants and against the police,” he said.
Mr. de Maizière said that the group wanted to build a dictatorship, and that its aim “is supposed to be realized with all means available,” including violence. He added that the core of the group was made up of approximately 25 people, with the leaders coming from Hamburg.
Staying in Europe, the Prime Minister of Iceland, a European country that is not a member of the EU, has warned the United Kingdom to recognize a European reality. The Daily Telegraph carried the following headline on March 9th:
“Britain warned it wields no power in German dominated EU.”
It’s even losing control of its own stock market. Deutsche Bourse and the London Stock Exchange are to merge, with Deutsche Bourse holding a 54.4% stake in the London Stock Exchange, giving it effective control of one of the most important stock markets in the world.
Whether the British vote to leave the EU or remain a member on June 23rd may not make much difference. They will still be under the dominance of Berlin, whatever the outcome.
Another March 9th headline from the UK’s Daily Mail:
London is more Islamic than most cities in Muslim countries, says Pakistan-born Islamic scholar.”