The Washington Post‘s PostGlobal is an effort to bring global issues to the mainstream. Calling itself an “experiment in global, collaborative journalism” the site, moderated by David Ignatius and Fareed Zakaria, offers global perspectives on current issues. Twice a week, foreign independent journalists answer a question put forth by PostGlobal‘s moderators. The site also provides opportunities for users to comment, ask questions, and even propose the bi-weekly question posed to journalists.
The current question is:
Does it worry you that Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee talks about issues like gun rights and abortion and teaching “creationism” in school, but has no experience in foreign policy? What does her selection say to people in other countries about how U.S. politics works?
Thus far, the responses have been telling. Outspoken Beirut-based journalist Rami Khouri (who is Palestinian-Jordanian and a U.S. citizen) opens his blog post by saying:
Sarah Palin's nomination for the U.S. vice presidency reflects the best and worst in American politics and culture.
She represents the bottom of the barrel in her provincialism in global affairs, and her willingness to be used as an attack dog whose main job is to savage the Democrats with sarcasm, selectivity and exaggeration. She bases her candidacy on a series of emotional appeals more suited to television soap opera and wrestling arenas than to serious politics — busy mom, moose hunter, rebel, hockey fan, etc. Appealing to emotions rather than to rationality is a common political feat around the world, not only in the U.S. But Americans take this to a higher level of idiocy, treating the citizens as nincompoops rather than serious thinking men and women, offering good vibes rather than sensible, viable policies.
This is the junk politics of television entertainment that Americans have perfected so well in recent decades. Her total lack of knowledge of the world and how it works is a major shortcoming for a vice president, but the U.S. does not take world affairs seriously these days so her nomination is an apt reflection of where global issues stand in the Republican worldview. She has her moose-hunting rifle and hockey sticks in the back of her pickup truck and that seems fine to her for dealing with the world.
Iranian journalist and businessman Ali Ettefagh also cites the shallowness of this election, and compares McCain to Middle Eastern leaders:
The selection of a thinly-educated, inexperienced running mate makes a distant observer muse whether Mr. McCain wants to have an imperial, selfish and typically Middle Eastern approach as president for life (Hosni Mubarak, Yasser Arafat, Hafiz Assad, Saddam or Franco come to mind), or perhaps he has confused the party convention with a coronation of a man that can realistically serve as a single-term president but as an interim door opener for the radical right of his party.
One reader, “Kate”, is simply appalled by the use of religion in American politics:
After reading the many comments and the articles by the writers, I find it so hard to believe what is going on in this country anymore. People are so busy waving the flag so much, they don't even know what it stands for anymore. They don't care that the United States Constitution is the piece of paper that has held this country together, not a party or a person, but what I am seeing and hearing is that many people don't even care about the Constitution anymore. I am just amazed anymore, the dumbing down of America, people only have a 10 second interest span. Now, the ranting and raving from our religion fanatics, right-wing religious fanatics are no better than the Islamic religious fanatics, the religious zealots here spew hatred, bigotry, prejudice if people don't follow their ways, where are they any different then the Islamic religious zealots, there is none. The religious nutcakes here want war although when they reference Jesus (the Bible I have read he called for peace), so not sure what bible they use, but they certainly don't follow Christ's words, the do as I say not as I do syndrome. They use Christianity when it fits their purpose. I call what the religious nuts here is the cleansing of those who are different, no different then the Nazi's.
Another, who goes by the simple moniker “Mom”, shares this simple statement:
Nationalism is dangerous, whoever practices it. It makes might more important than virtue, and identity supercedes moral positions.
Our politics are becoming as tribal as those of the countries we invade.
Brazilian Miriam Leitao is less concerned with the external issues and instead focuses on Sarah Palin's theocratic beliefs. After explaining that she believes in Palin's right to worship how she chooses, Leitao :
The problem with Sarah Palin lies in two other areas. First, she seems to believe that she is often following God's plan as a public official — for example, by supporting construction of a new pipeline in Alaska and the teaching of creationism in public schools. This theocratic way of thinking was already outdated five centuries ago. From the Middle Ages on, the West has been working hard to develop modern democratic, lay institutions. In our time, the idea of teaching creationism in schools is weird; it doesn't fit, to say the least. Religion is a private matter, until the ruler starts to think about his/her beliefs as a reason of state.
The second problem with her ideas is that she supports inactivity on climate change and environmental protection, ending hope that the Republican ticket might include candidates with contemporary ideas on issues that threaten the whole planet. Palin's moose hunting, although repulsive, only illustrates primitive behavior. The real danger is less to the Alaskan moose herd than to our common planetary destiny, which needs a modicum of precaution, not four more years of White House neglect. Elections are a national matter, but in this case more than in any other U.S. citizens’ choices might affect us all.
Finally, commenter Dave Hammond, who is Irish but has lived in the States, concludes by reminding us just how crazy American politics can be:
The catapulting of Sarach Palin into national politics with just weeks to go shows how crazy american politics really is….I have nothing against Sarah Palin but her track record is just not good enough to be a heartbeat away from leader of the free world not matter how much spinning the republicans do about it…it should worry any citizens of the planet that potentially this is the direction the US is going. I hope they see sense and vote Barack Obama for change but if they don't and they support Mc Cain and Sarah Palin then once again they will get the outcome they deserve ( again) just as they did with George W Bush..which they all complain about now but voted him in for 8 years!..its time for the US to decide what direction they want.Supporters of The US ( like me in Europe ) can only look on and hope they make the right decision for the country and the free world….it should be a concern that in such a short time they have restricted the exposure of Sarch Palin on the issues and left the people with very little chance to really get to know where she stands on issues- which if what I researched so far is anything to go on – well its Geroge W Bush again- with Lipstick :-)