View Full Version : If Foreigners Could Vote in '08 (WSJ)

03-26-2008, 10:07 AM
If Foreigners Could Vote in '08
Presidential Candidates
Inspire Allegiances
On Every Continent
By DAVID LUHNOW in Rio de Janeiro, JOHN W. MILLER in Brussels, and SARAH CHILDRESS in Nairobi
March 26, 2008; Page A5

For America's presidential candidates, the global electoral map is looking as divided as the domestic one.

When foreigners look at the three contenders, Sen. Barack Obama seems to have the lead among Europeans and Africans. Sen. Hillary Clinton is popular among Mexicans and Chinese. Sen. John McCain just returned from a campaign swing through the Middle East and Europe.

U.S. presidential contests often attract interest from foreign countries. The world's sole superpower has such an impact on the globe that, as a Belgian newspaper recently suggested, the rest of the world may feel it should be allowed to vote, too.

This time around, all three candidates have made restoring America's stature abroad a key part of their foreign-policy platforms, making overseas opinions of the U.S. of greater interest to American voters. And the fact that Sen. Obama -- a man with African and Muslim roots and an Arabic middle name, Hussein -- could become U.S. president has created buzz around the world. In Germany, the title of a recent book, "Obama: the Black Kennedy," echoes frequent newspaper headlines comparing Sen. Obama with Germany's favorite former U.S. president. In Kenya, the homeland of Sen. Obama's father, people order the local beer, Senator, by asking for an "Obama."

As in the U.S., however, some people elsewhere harbor doubts about both Sen. Obama's experience and his policies. In China and Mexico, two countries with economies that rely on exports to the U.S., people fret over the senator's antitrade rhetoric and largely back Sen. Clinton on the assumption she will follow her husband's free-trade agenda.

There also are concerns about Sen. Obama's mettle in places like Colombia and Israel, where security concerns trump other issues. In January, the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Danny Ayalon, wrote an article headlined "Who are you, Barack Obama?" raising concerns about his stand on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Sen. Clinton also gets higher marks outside Europe, especially in Mexico and China, where she benefits from her husband's popular presidency. In Mexico, listeners calling in to one Mexico City radio station picked Sen. Clinton over Sen. Obama, 65%-34%, mostly because of former President Bill Clinton's legacy in signing the North American Free Trade Agreement. Deng Jie, owner of a business in Beijing, said, "I don't know who Obama is. But I think I wish Hillary wins because during the eight years that her husband, Mr. Clinton, was in the position, the U.S. economy went well."

Sen. McCain's recent trip through Iraq, Israel, Jordan and Europe was designed to showcase himself as comfortable with world leaders, knowledgeable about world affairs and able to bolster foreign opinion of the U.S. He ran into embarrassing press coverage when he mistakenly said Iranians were training al Qaeda fighters and sending them back into Iraq. His visit was welcomed in France "because right now, he's seen as an adversary to [George W.] Bush and thus friendly," says Patrick Jarreau, a political reporter for French newspaper Le Monde.

For many Europeans, Sen. Obama's candidacy "is romantic," says Elmar Brok, a German member of the European Parliament and a member of the Parliament's committee on U.S. relations.

Part of Sen. Obama's appeal globally is that he spent part of his childhood in Indonesia and had a Kenyan father, making him particularly popular in Africa.

The western part of Kenya is the ancestral home of the Luo tribe to which Sen. Obama's father belonged. The senator's grandmother is alive and has grown accustomed to foreign journalists tramping to her village home in the area. The rise of a favorite son has been a welcome change from Kenya's own presidential election. The vote was marred by irregularities in late December, spiraling into open ethnic warfare that has killed hundreds. Raila Odinga, the opposition presidential candidate who recently made peace with the Kenya government over the vote, is also a Luo and has called Sen. Obama a "cousin" on the campaign trail.

Muslims across the Middle East have also been drawn into the race, partly because of Sen. Obama's Muslim roots. A practicing Christian, the senator has described his father as a nonpracticing Muslim. "What he has accomplished so far...is in itself an unprecedented U.S. social revolution," wrote leading Egyptian-American democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim in a Cairo newspaper. "If he becomes the president of America, this 'revolution' will become a global one."

But the fascination with Sen. Obama's roots also is tinged with a deep skepticism over how much a fresh face in the White House might change American policy.

Hossein Karmun runs a small grocery store in an Arab-Turkish neighborhood in Brussels and supports Sen. Obama, but he doubts Americans will embrace him in the end. "His middle name is like my name; how is he going to win in America?"


I'm not sure how much any of this means...

Although I'm suspicious of the Clinton-Chinese connection being as simple as "the U.S. economy went well".

Oh, and the idea McCain is "an adversary to [George W.] Bush and thus friendly" in France makes me wonder if they really are stupid.

03-26-2008, 10:11 AM
And that article by Danny Ayalon mentioned:

Who are you, Barack Obama?
danny ayalon , THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 23, 2008

With the US quickly approaching the storm of election primaries that comes early February, only now as the race tightens are we beginning to get a better glimpse of the one candidate who has already captured the hearts and minds of millions of Americans - without us ever truly having the chance to know what he's really about. This candidate, of course, is Barack Obama.

For months, media and public scrutiny of the young Illinois Senator has concentrated on his charm and endearing charisma while rarely hazarding to expose his policies or challenge his positions. Enamored by many Americans-young and old- for his campaign dedicated to change and unity, thus far he has largely evaded providing concrete answers as to what in fact he actually plans to change - or more fundamentally, how he would do so.

Unity is a positive, uplifting concept, and one of harmony that strikes a chord for most Americans - but his speech is largely ambiguous, and lacks content regarding actual policies that would create this unity.

In contrast to Obama, the other candidates in the electoral field from both parties are long-time public servants for whom every deed - and misdeed - has been repeatedly explored and dissected for the public eye. Mr. Obama is the only major candidate who has been able to ride out his campaign as the guy who came from almost nowhere, thus unencumbered by the need to defend any old policies or past decisions.

From our perspective, as international spectators for whom Israeli and global security must be of foremost interest, while observing the American elections we should look at the Obama candidacy with some degree of concern as we hope to answer that all-important question, "Who really is this man, and what policies will he impose?" For America's policies, whether economic, social or foreign affairs-related, all affect the entire global community.

On the two occasions that I met with the Senator, he proved himself as a polite, inquisitive and energetic politician. Yet, I was left with the impression that he was not entirely forthright with his thinking.

Since early on in his campaign he has said that he would meet with the President of Iran - but we are left in the dark as to what agenda he would pursue on this issue. With the exception of promoting American divestment from Iran, an idea he adopted during a meeting with Bibi Netanyahu, Obama has largely avoided highlighting what specific demands he would make of Ahmadinijad and any timetables he would establish for the Iranians to dismantle their nuclear program. The threat of Islamic terrorism and the expanding scourge of fanaticism are also concepts which have been addressed by Obama in only the most ambiguous of terms.

As far as Israel is concerned, Obama has yet to suggest specific measures he would enact regarding the Jewish State's Qualitative Military Edge that allows us to defend ourselves against our current and future enemies. Given the increasingly tense security environment Israel is confronting on all sides, now is not the time for American leaders to shy away from such fundamental questions.

The four years ahead are far too critical for global security to place the presidency of the United States in the hands of a leader whose campaign is leaving us with more questions than answers.

As the American people prepare to step into their primary ballot boxes, they should be demanding those answers and thus encourage Mr. Obama to show his own roadmap so voters can best evaluate what type of leader he would be.

The writer is co-chairman of Nefesh B'Nefesh and a former ambassador of Israel to the United States


03-26-2008, 11:43 AM
hey. Venezuelan president Chevez endorced McCain :thumb:

03-26-2008, 11:53 AM
hey. Venezuelan president Chevez endorced McCain :thumb:

The opposite really.

03-26-2008, 12:20 PM
More foreigners liked Ron Paul.

03-26-2008, 12:35 PM
More foreigners liked Ron Paul.

Luckily they don't get a vote.:p

03-26-2008, 01:16 PM
Unfortunately, they didn't get a vote.

03-26-2008, 01:41 PM
not entirely forthright with his thinking

This should be Obama's campaign slogan.

03-26-2008, 01:46 PM
The opposite really.I know.

exactly why what, Europe/Africa/S.A./Asia prefer is NOT what we should want running the USA. they aren't looking out for our interests at all.