The US 2016 presidential elections and why Africa should care

Trump and Clinton

Trump and Clinton

The two protagonists vying for the office of the President of the United States of America and Commander -in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces, Mrs. Hillary Clinton and Mr. Donald Trump are equally possessed of worrying character traits which may make either of them unsuitable for the office they desperately seek. To underscore this notion they both suffer from a 60% disapproval rating among Americans. Jonathan Mann, the host of a CNN political talk show was recently nonplussed when attempting to tackle the increasingly farcical and oftentimes downright shameful 2016 presidential campaign, and simply posed the question, “Is there another presidential candidate beside these two?” I genuinely believe he was plugged into the cosmic mind because that is the question most observers around the world are asking! We watch incredulous and spellbound as the western media force-feeds us a daily diet of diatribes, scathing remarks, stinging barbs and churlish insults the candidates hurl at each other ad nauseum.

Alas, we can only sit back, sigh and mutter to ourselves ‘’How have the mighty fallen!” We are also left pondering how the American presidential elections could have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous and can only draw one obvious conclusion which is “Ichabod” – the glory is departed. To those of us on the African continent, it would seem that for once our politicians are not the ones providing the western media with fodder for comic relief amidst their shrill allegations and innuendos of our corruption.

Mrs. Clinton during her tenure of office as Secretary of State deliberately flouted US National Security policies and guidelines by conducting official government affairs on an unauthorized and unsecured private server. Many believe that Secretary Clinton should be disqualified from occupying the highest office in the land due to her glaringly risky, if not outright irresponsible conduct, which had the serious potential of compromising American National Security. Her cavalier attitude smacks of such supreme hubris and wanton recklessness, that it is mind boggling. Her apparent motivation is even more alarming, as it is alleged that she used a private server to cover the conflict of interests issues arising from her position as Secretary of State and donations to the Clinton Foundation. A great number of donors, many of whom were foreign entities benefited from her considerable political clout.

The debacle has been dubbed the “Pay to Play Scheme.” Conventional wisdom espoused by critics and neutral observers alike is that she should be charged with either treason, racketeering (under the 1970 RICO Act) or at the very least, criminal negligence. Be that as it may, even her own camp admits that there was a blurring of the lines between her office as Secretary of State and the Clinton Foundation fortune. In my opinion, the fact that she engaged in such unrestrained influence peddling acts and is now employing obfuscation and prevarication to finagle her way out of her wrong doing is very disturbing. Most Americans do not find her trustworthy. Apart from her indiscretions, Secretary Clinton is no shrinking violet when it comes to the use of military force. She was in favour of the illegitimate Iraqi war and also championed US military intervention in Libya and Syria on a preventive basis. Should we as Africans trust her to work towards global peace and prosperity or would she instead pursue opaque, convoluted geo political agendas, detrimental to our well being? I wonder how the question would be answered in Iraq, Libya or Syria.

The prospect of Mr. Donald Trump, a self-styled maverick and billionaire business tycoon as the next president of the United States of America does not inspire confidence either. I think the question is who will take America and the rest of the world to the abyss of nuclear annihilation first, of the two presidential candidates? Mr. Trump’ s appeal to his support base is that he is not a handpicked establishment figure and ostensibly is not beholden to political or corporate backers , and can therefore chart his own course .

He has promised to put Americans first by expelling over 11 million undocumented workers, who are supposedly bleeding the country dry. He has also pledged to extricate America from burdensome treaties such as NAFTA, GATT and WTO which he blames for the decline of manufacturing in the USA, resulting in the loss of millions of jobs and the destruction of the middle class. Whilst his heart may be in the right place in seeking to address the plight of the hapless, fatigued and beleaguered masses, one does not have to stretch the truth in arriving at the conclusion that he may not be a good fit for the office.

The fact that he has entrepreneurial skills, business acumen and a little luck, does not qualify him to discharge the duties of the American president domestically and also ensure that the already frayed and fragile global balance of power does not “go to hell in a hand basket.” before the rest of the world can exhale. The next president has to be ready from day 1! The office is not a training ground, nor is it forgiving of errors of judgment any of which could in all probability lead to global Armageddon. Mr. Trump is good at giving out sound bites, but he is very skimpy on details. He has not explained how he will deport over 11 million undocumented workers, or how he will re-negotiate major trade treaties in order to give America the advantage. As an International lawyer I am well aware that a treaty is a legally binding instrument, and upon ratification a state is bound by the terms.

A state may make certain reservations, but the reservations may not negatively impact the letter and spirit of the treaty. Barring express provisions allowing parties to unilaterally and summarily terminate or suspend these treaties, his promises may fall flat as legal proceedings may take years to resolve the complicated issues which will no doubt arise. Furthermore, even if he eventually succeeds in ridding America of its treaty obligations, Mr. Trump would have to court and cultivate bilateral and multilateral trading partners afresh.

This may be easier said than done as he is not known for his charm offensive. In the final analysis, his plans to isolate America may prove too costly in the long term as new major global alliances are being made which do not include America, What he seems not to be able to comprehend is that he cannot act domestically or globally in a vacuum. He claims that he can solve Chicago’s gun violence problems in a week and that he knows how to defeat ISIS. However, if that were the case, why has he not as a patriotic American who loves his country and is devoted to serving the people, not come forward all these years with his solutions? He certainly has a platform to be heard from by the ruling elite.

He obviously lacks a strong command of domestic and global issues. He oversimplifies extremely complex issues and seems to think that if he expresses his sketchy campaign promises long and loud enough in his characteristic bellicose manner that he can by force of his will power and personality, singlehandedly change the course of history, as and when he chooses. He just comes across as a demagogue and his naivety is very troubling as it shows that he is not a deep thinker. The truth of the matter is that he lacks the political pedigree, adroitness and diplomacy to act on the world stage.

I am sure that Mr. Trump has many admirable personality traits. I personally admire him for wanting to put Americans first. It shows he is caring and concerned. I also do not doubt that he is a devoted family man. However, “the path to hell is paved with good intentions.” I earlier alluded to the dangerously precarious state of world affairs, which indeed have reached a tipping point. Anyone capable of rational thought will know that if there is a conflagration involving nuclear powers, any ensuing war will be fought with nuclear weapons. Therefore, in order to ensure that millions of lives are not lost the next president of America will have to maneuver with the dexterity of a trapeze artist. With all due respect, Mr. Trump acts like a bull in a china shop. He has demonstrated a tendency to be opinionated, intransigent and petulant. He possesses an extremely fragile ego and the world will not be a safer place with him at the helm of affairs.

As Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump go after each other pell-mell, rendering a once much vaunted and noble process nothing short of scandalous, rapacious and spiritually bankrupt, the effects have led to wide scale disaffection, division and polarization, within the populace on a level not seen in recent American history. Indeed, such is the volatile, angry and unstable state of the citizenry, that many American political, economic and social analysts are predicting wide scale violence and civil unrest before the election date.

Neither of the candidates has meaningfully addressed the overwhelming domestic challenges affecting Americans today. These include the $18 trillion debt level, implosion of the economy, destruction of the middle class, increasing race divide, militarization of the police force, loss of civil liberties and the erosion of the constitution’s separation of powers, to mention a few. My heart is with the rank and file of the American populace who like the rest of humanity just want to pursue a life of peace and prosperity. They are now confronted with a choice that requires the “wisdom of Solomon.”

So while America is spreading ”democracy” around the world through genocidal wars, naked aggression, subterfuge and other illegitimate means which result in the wholesale death, suffering, displacement and dehumanization of swathes of innocent men, women and children and the destruction of ancient, rich and admirable cultures, all collateral damage is justified in the name of American Imperialism and hegemony. According to a former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, the death of half a million Iraqi children which resulted from US led sanctions was “worth it.” Therefore, having repeatedly demonstrated their unfettered capacity and willingness to cause catastrophe and mayhem on a global scale, we as Africans should be concerned, if not petrified.
Ms. Fowler is a lawyer
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Donald TrumpHillary Clinton
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