Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The World is Watching

I don’t know about the rest of you, but no matter which candidate you support in the upcoming US Presidential election, this promises to be one of the most exciting and possibly uplifting contests ever.

If I had to make a bet this morning I would put my money on Barack Obama. John McCain is a principled man with a long record of service but I expect the majority will vote for change, radical change, not the incremental adjustments of an independent-minded Conservative but the kind of change that will alter the course of America’s foreign and domestic policy from the collision course with infamy on which it is now directed, toward embracing the very best of our country.

For better of worse we live on an ever-shrinking planet and the United States is the global superpower. I had dinner last night with a psychologist who works with inmates in a Swedish prison, trying to rehabilitate the promising few. We got to talking about the upcoming election in the USA. She brought up the War in Iraq and I instinctively became defensive, not because I support the War, but as an American living abroad it is impossible for me not to at least offer another point of view when I hear Europeans and others talking about the US.

When I heard what she was saying, however, I realized that it wasn’t any particular policy she was objecting to; she was acknowledging fact that even though other countries in the world do far worse things than ours, when the US enters a war or takes sides, that decision changes everything. That’s not really news, it was the way she said it that struck me, the look in her eyes and the almost plaintive acknowledgement that we all have a stake in this election.

These are difficult times and there is much to do. There are also bad guys out there who make trouble in their own lands and are inclined to make trouble with their neighbors. It can’t be our job to police the world - there are neither the resources nor the public will to do so. But we can lead. We can lead by demonstrating that our political system works. We can lead by practicing fairness in our trade policies, by aggressively addressing the global crisis of the environment and we can lead by demonstrating compassion toward those who do not currently have a stake in the American dream or in any other for that matter.

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Blogger Diane Mandy said...

Yes! Great post, as always.

12:50 AM  
Blogger Snooker said...

Hear, hear.
Thank you for saying it so well.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous ian in hamburg said...

Really wish real change were coming, that we could somehow wind back the clock, but I really doubt that even if Obama is in for eight years the US will be out of Iraq by then. They're stuck there, barely holding the place together, but it's guaranteed full-blown civil war should they pull out.
Sorry to be negative on another point, but have you looked at the level of political discourse lately? Seen the rumours and outrageous lies thrown at Obama and his wife? I don't find any of it uplifting. It's going to be a very dirty fight.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

diane and snooker: thanks for the comments - much appreciated.

ian: an old friend of mine told me something once that I've never forgotten. It was at a point when I was pretty low - stalled in life really. He said: "A ship can never change course until it begins to move. So get off your ass and get moving." We can't read the future but we do know that where we are now isn't working. I'm optimistic that B.O. may get us moving in the right direction - and that is something to celebrate. Thanks for your comment.

5:47 AM  

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