Ideas & Debate

Why the world is keenly watching US elections

biden-trump

US President Donald Trump (left) and Democratic presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden. AFP PHOTO

Summary

  • US, which has traditionally been recognised as the global reference for governance standards, is faced with a self-inflicted threat of losing the grade.
  • Johnnie Carson, a former US envoy in Kenya once remarked during one of our past elections that “choices have consequences”.
  • I am of strong opinion that this time around his remarks correctly apply to the coming US elections.

The other day I got into a conversation with an American citizen in Nairobi, and he was evidently concerned about the ongoing wayward electoral politics and rhetoric in US.

He was apologetic about how the age-old democratic institutions are being undermined; how value systems are compromised; open racial hostility; and the very thought of a possibility of interfering with US electoral integrity.

US, which has traditionally been recognised as the global reference for governance standards, is faced with a self-inflicted threat of losing the grade.

We both agreed that the US elections are under scrutiny by the entire world as the outcome is expected to significantly impact global relationships, geopolitics, trade, energy, and climate change.

I have closely followed every US election since 1972 when President Richard Nixon was re-elected, and I can vouch that the US elections this year will be defining in nearly every aspect that one chooses to analyse.

Defining because over the last four years USA has assumed a political landscape, difficult to recognize.

Johnnie Carson, a former US envoy in Kenya once remarked during one of our past elections that “choices have consequences”. I am of strong opinion that this time around his remarks correctly apply to the coming US elections.

The elections outcome will one way or the other impact not only the US but the entire world.

As the world de facto number one economic and military power, USA has been for many decades the global torch bearer and moral authority which has allowed the country to influence global consensus on economic and political governance standards.

There is no doubt that over the last four years, the US leverage on global matters has weakened, as the US inadvertently chose to play the lone “America First” card.

This has invariably alienated other critical global players and political partners, while weakening global organisations created over the past 75 years. In the space of the last four years, global problem-solving systems and synergies have been weakened, especially in cross-cutting areas such as trade, security, peace, environment, and health.

These are areas that generally need global consensus and approach. The United Nations, without clear and effective support from USA has found it difficult to prevail over numerous global problems.

Specifically, the “cold” distance that the US has created with the European Union (EU) over the past four years has weakened a historical US/EU alliance that was always known to jointly and successfully confront major global challenges.

The US has either acted as a lone ranger on many global issues or chosen not to be entangled in others.

Climate change, Covid-19, Middle East instability are some of the challenges that I am sure would have been successfully tackled by a joint US-EU approach. Without US explicit political support, the climate change milestones have been lagging.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has continued to be a lone voice of sanity in the ongoing battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, as USA waged hostility against WHO.

The one point which I consider positive work-in-progress is the US challenge of Chinese global economic ascendancy which was heading towards a one-sided domination. Whichever way the US elections go, I think the Chinese trade imbalance and domination will remain work in progress. It is only the style of achieving it that is likely to change.

The apparent downgrade of US interest in Africa over the past four years, I consider to be a silver lining. US evident absence in Africa has allowed the African Union to learn how to coordinate its corrective actions on emergent troubles in various corners of the continent. And this appears to be working well.

Yes, choices have consequences. The US can exercise wisdom and chose to reclaim global moral authority and leadership which are mostly diminished. It is good for USA and it is good for the entire world which we all need to collectively make a better place to live in.

The Americans should plan on electing an administration that will provide leadership to stablish global governance systems and standards that will permit sustainable and equitable development across the entire world.