The Choice America and the World Faces

Rorschach, Going Postal

In only a matter of months the United States goes to the polls to elect a new President and the world’s most powerful person. For the world then, this is a very consequential election with massive ramifications depending on who wins. There is on one side the continuity candidate in Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady and Secretary of State in President Obama’s administration who takes a more hawkish stance or world affairs than the current incumbent and still damaged by her role in the Libya intervention debacle which led to the death of the American ambassador.

Her opponent for the Presidency is billionaire tycoon and former reality television presenter Donald Trump, whose previous forays into politics included involving himself in conspiracy theories concerning President Obama’s place of birth. Similar to his changing political positions on domestic issues, Trump has contradicted himself numerous times on foreign affairs. In 2002 he supported invading Iraq, but reversed himself when the war broke out apparently due to having a financial interest in opposing it. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN in 2007 he decried the war in Iraq, sounding almost leftist in tone as he criticised the “up to a million” Iraqis who died and the death and destruction caused by air strikes. Yet that same year, he endorsed the idea of attacking Iran: “I believe you have to go in and strike Iran — not with soldiers. You know, it’s not a world of soldiers anymore. It’s a world of air.” In 2011, he questioned the rationale of intervening in Libya, making a good point on the dubious composition of the rebels but went on to propose the US seize control of Libya and Iraq’s oil for itself. 

Trump’s often unorthodox views on Russia have made for some of the biggest controversies of the campaign. In 2008, Trump sold his Florida mansion to Russian mogul Dmitry Rybolovlev for $100 million, making a huge profit in the process. Later that year, his son praised Russia as an excellent investment opportunity, despite its conflict with Georgia a month earlier. In 2014 he called for sanctions against Russia following its annexation of the Crimea from the Ukraine, but more recently questioned whether Russia really had a presence in that country. The presidential campaign has also seen Trump create uncertainty as to America’s NATO commitments and willingness to defend its members from Russian attack under his presidency. While his proposals aimed at deescalating and normalising ties with Russia are welcome, his overt admiration and advocacy for Russia and President Putin is a cause for concern.

Probably even more contentious are Trump’s views and policies aimed at Muslims, that has included registering Muslims residing in America on a database and a ban on Muslims entering America. As far back 2011 Trump said “the world has a Muslim problem”. Unsurprisingly, anti Muslim personalities such as Pamela Geller, Milo Yiannopolous, white supremacist Richard Spencer and conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney have gravitated towards Trump. While millions of ordinary Americans voted for him, when he articulates such views and allegedly has a long history of racism going back to the 1970s, it doesn’t come as a shock that he has amassed a vocal support base that includes white nationalists, neo Nazis and anti Semites (despite his daughter Ivaka’s conversion to Judaism). 
To large extent, Trump is an unknown quantity. The key plank of his campaign for instance is the far fetched idea of a wall along the Mexican border which he claims Mexico will not only build but pay for also. What the world can possibly expect from a President Trump is a more isolationist America that no longer intervenes and has a less antagonistic relationship with Russia. What his relationship will be with the Muslim world one can only guess.
A Hillary Clinton Presidency on the other hand is less of a mystery and likely to see a hawkish, more militaristic foreign policy. Little over a year after becoming a senator, Clinton voted in support of legislation granting the Bush administration the authority to invade Iraq. Despite the obvious failure of that war, Clinton then voted a few years later for “the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence and military instruments, in support of the policy with respect to” Iran. As put in an article for the New York Times by Maureen Dowd at the time “She wasn’t trying to do the right thing. She was trying to do the opportunistic thing. She felt she could not run for president, as a woman, if she played the peacenik.”
Her time as Secretary of State saw death and destruction in Libya and Syria and support for a coup in Honduras. As unrest swept the Arab world at the start of 2011, Clinton’s initial instinct saw her support US backed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak until his position became untenable. In January Clinton was shaking the hand of Libya’s foreign minister and Gaddafi’s son. By March she was justifying the US bombing his country in support of Islamist rebels who took control of Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi. “Her conviction would be critical in persuading Mr. Obama to join allies in bombing Colonel Qaddafi’s forces. In fact, Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, would later say that in a “51-49” decision, it was Mrs. Clinton’s support that put the ambivalent president over the line.” a recent New York Times article says on Clinton’s role in the destruction of Libya.
Reacting to the grusome sodomy and murder of the Libyan dictator, Clinton infamously proclaimed “we came, we saw, he died”. In the following years, the North African nation was left a failed state, chaos spreading over the border to neighbouring Mali which France went on to attack in 2013, while weapons looted from Gaddafi’s armouries found their way to increasingly bloody conflict in Syria. This is Clinton’s disastrous legacy.
It is widely known Clinton wanted to intervene in Syria after Libya and she has already indicated she will take a more aggressive stance should she become President, potentially bringing the US into conflict with Russia. This is the same woman after all who approved drone assassinations on her mobile.
So there we have it folks, the US has a choice between two loose canons, one more obvious than the other. I’d start building a bunker if I were you.

Rorschach ©