Much of the international community has been watching the U.S. presidential campaign with keen interest -- in the results as well as in the daily drama (including discussion of lipstick on pigs and the Alaskan view of Russia). OffTheBus writers have spent the week covering the election by looking at what foreign nationals are saying about the campaign, how the foreign press is covering it, what campaign activities Americans living abroad are engaged in, and where the candidates stand on some of the most important foreign policy issues.
Eliza Margarita Bates and Cara Zwerling created a foreign policy primer that analyzes the two candidates' policies on everything from trade to the global AIDS crisis to energy and the environment. (International Diplomacy and Immigration; Energy, the Environment, and AIDS; National Security and Nuclear Proliferation; Iraq, Afghanistan, and Trade)
Most of the Americans living oversees who wrote pieces described how foreigners no longer view the United States with the kind of respect they did before September 11. Robert Checkoway wrote:
I can't count the number of times I have heard, "Well, you're different, but most Americans..." Or "I love America, but..." The rest of the sentence usually relates to a lack of knowledge, concern, and even interest in the world beyond our own borders. These aren't people who are inclined to hate America. These are average folks who long for the day that America will engage in the world like it has in the past.
Diane Tucker interviewed the former finance minister of Colombia about the American drug plan and how US aid to the country should be redistributed. And Frances Katz discussed how the next administration can make progress on bringing religious and political freedom to Tibet.
Ioana Uricaru, from Romania, wrote a moving personal essay about what America represents to her and her country.
People all over the world, living in countries that bear the cruel scars of history, sometimes find solace in the thought that there's at least one place where happy-endings are still possible. I lived in a dictatorship and I know the comfort that comes from knowing there's something else beyond the prison walls. I wondered sometimes whether that was a false hope. Now I understand that "there can never be anything false about hope."
James Sanders analyzed political cartoons in the Arab world that cover the U.S. presidential election and found that many of them portray both Barack Obama and John McCain under the control of Israel.
The Anti-Defamation League makes mention of four points which the cartoons make painfully obvious: The close relationship between America and Israel and/or the Jews; the influence of the Jewish lobby on American decision makers; Jewish control of the Western media and economics; and the American Administration's unwavering desire to satisfy Israel and American Jews.
In Burma, also known as Myanmar, the people are not paying as close attention to the election as in Europe or Uganda for reasons including a necessity to focus on daily poverty concerns, an inability to get involved in politics and therefore lack of a political culture, censored media and isolation from the international community. Plus, after realizing the United States wasn't planning on "liberating" Burma after Iraq and after receiving little assistance after the fall protests or the May cylone, the people are losing faith that an American administration can do much to help bring about democracy, writes PJ Burns.
In September of 2007, Buddhist monks and university students took to the streets en masse. The people joined them until the streets were filled with hundreds of thousands of citizens screaming Doyay! Screaming for democracy. Then the troops came. Just like in 1988, a bloody stamp down on these protesters put a brutal end to their uprising almost as quickly as it had emerged. On day three of the riots, a man approached me and asked where was the UN? Where was the USA? Didn't they see all this on the news? I didn't know how to answer him. I held his desperate eyes and all I could think to say was, "You already know." His shoulders fell and I saw the hunger and hope fade from his eyes. He said, "They won't come will they?" I shook my head. "They don't care do they?" I shook my head again. Finally he looked up the street at the crowd of his people facing the soldiers and then back to me and he said, "We are all alone, aren't we?" I nodded my head. He already knew the answers to all these questions, he just hadn't admitted it until that moment.
Abid Shah and Abigail Spindel reported that despite the important relationship between Pakistan and the United States, there is surprisingly little interest in the election on the part of the Pakistanis.
The vast failure of US policy in the past five years has been that it has not sufficiently engaged the Pakistani public and convinced it that it has a stake in America's war on terror. This means even positive policies get short shrift.
For more international stories, check out OffTheBus.