The American Presidential election is always important for the rest of the world. The US is the primary sponsor and maintainer of the present global order and changes in the US can have direct impact in the economic and political structure of the world.
If Bush Wins
If George W. Bush wins he and his neoconservative ideologues will assume that their departure from traditional American foreign policy positions has been vindicated and they may be tempted to pursue the same course with greater arrogance, recklessness and abandon.
Expect more attempts at regime changes, particularly in Iran, Sudan, Syria and perhaps Saudi Arabia. It is possible that the Neocons may turn on Pakistan and its nuclear capabilities to ensure that no Muslim country has the capacity to ever balance/threaten Israel in the near or distant future.
There will be no progress on the Palestinian State. Israel will consolidate further in the West Bank.
The US will further undermine the international law and the multilateral order, and the world will not only distance itself from the US but will also seek to contain its belligerence.
US relations with the Muslim World as well as with Europe and Africa will deteriorate.
Islamists will have more influence on the Muslim mind and politics and may very well come to power in Sudan, Iraq, and Pakistan as anti-Americanism will rise in the Muslim World.
US moral authority internationally will decline as the Patriot Act will be renewed and the civil rights situation at home will suffer. The US will rig the Iraqi elections [a fair elections will bring anti-American politicians to power and undermine the very purpose of US invasion of Iraq].
US deficit will continue to rise at astronomical rates, so will oil prices. They will at least remain high.
There will be more terrorist attacks, especially on softer and softer targets in more and more places, as Bush and his neocons make the world safer.
The trial of Saddam Hussein will make a mockery of America’s moral claims and the world in its misery will have something to laugh about especially since it means laughing at America.
Iraq’s security situation and puppet regime and Karzai’s remote controlled governance of Afghanistan will continue to undermine the cause of democracy in the Muslim mind.
If Kerry Wins
We must be prepared that John Kerry will deliver less than he promises on Iraq, on the war on terror, on the Middle East peace process and on the Patriot Act. But there will significant difference in John Kerry’s approach which itself will diffuse to some extent the global fever of anti-Americanism and enhance cooperation on all matters.
The Neocons will be sent to pasture. There will be some degree of restoration of the multilateral order. UN and EU will be more cooperative and willing to work with the US in Iraq and elsewhere.
There will be no improvement in relations with Iran or Syria. John Kerry may use tough tactics with them to placate the Israeli lobby while trying to subdue Sharon’s penchant for violence and kick start the peace process.
US obsession with Iraq will be reduced and the hunt for Bin Laden will become the primary goal of the war on terror. Al Qaeda will suffer and hopefully its capacity to organize attacks [such as in Indonesia, Turkey, Africa, Spain and Egypt since 9/11] will be genuinely diminished.
There will be no immediate improvement in Iraq but there will be more international involvement in Iraq. Iraqi elections may be delayed but will be fair. Some of the money promised by Bush for Iraqi development may finally reach Iraq. Halliburton’s’ stock will suffer.
Saudi Arabia, which is raking in billions as oil prices hover over $50 per barrel, and Pakistan will both face a tougher White House and we may see some movement towards serious reform in the two states. President Musharraf may be able to parley himself an extention, but it will not be under the same rosy circumstances as before.
Enhanced international cooperation will facilitate better US-Muslim relations and there will be some genuine effort at improving relations with the Muslim World. Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, and even Pakistan will benefit from positive US overtures.
Having said that, I beseech every member of the Global community to step up their efforts to make the world a safer, more tolerant, less violent and more cooperative place. Let us not pass on the buck to the American President. Sometimes he too can be a part of the problem.