Thursday, November 04, 2004

Err, America – your post-9/11, rest-of-world goodwill has just ran out

Would a few tens-of-thousand differently cast votes in Ohio – so resulting in a John Kerry presidency – have really made a difference to the course of history? I think “yes”; in contrast to Australia’s recent election, in which the rejection of the Labor (= pseudo-Left) challenger was in no way a major turning/jumping-off point.

I say that John Kerry’s defeat matters not because of domestic US policy differences (if any), nor even differences in big-ticket international policy, such as the Iraq war (if any, times two). Rather, a Kerry victory would have had had the immense, if diffuse, value of declaring a kind of truce in the (mostly) undeclared battle between the American global hegemon and the rest of the world (and especially, the rest of the West).

“What battle?” Americans might well ask – isn’t there currently a trans-national war on terror, fighting which almost any country who’s anybody (okay, except the French) is on our side?

On 1 November 2004, this was a fair and reasonable enough assumption; it is simply churlish, after all, to call an alliance fighting a common enemy a “hegemon”. Today, however, things are different – at least from an outsider’s (= Australian) perspective, the enemy is now more within than without.

After September 11, no decent person in the West could have failed to have sympathy for America. It was an atrocity, and it was in no way asked for or deserved. Like estranged relatives temporarily coming back into the family after a shocking tragedy, the West (in particular, because transparent bribes/coercion were only secondary motives) rallied – militarily and otherwise – around the grieving core.

Well, guess what – that party/wake is now over. You made your bed; now lie in it. Automatic goodwill for America is, to paraphrase a saying from late 2001, “so November 1”. If there is another large-scale terrorist attack on American soil, I hope and trust that all you millions who voted for Bush will think that it was worth it.

Nothing in the above is meant to suggest that Americans should have consciously voted along terrorist-appeasement lines (in case it is not abundantly clear that the Kerry alternative/"alternative" was and would have been no such thing). All I'm saying is that because Americans domestically have rolled a little further to the Right, someone internationally has fallen rudely out of bed. And that "someone" is me – meaning probably hundreds of millions of "me", in fact.

Oh, and if Americans reading this don't like the tone of a foreigner picking around their electoral privates – well, now you know how it feels.

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