he US presidential election will be held in November this year. There are major differences between the US presidential election and elections held in most other countries.
In Sri Lanka, the president can call for an election at any time during his 5-year term. He can call a snap election before his period of office is completed if he feels that an impending down-turn in events could dampen his chances of re-election.
In the US the date of each presidential election is fixed and has to take place in the first week of November.
The forthcoming US presidential elections, unlike elections held elsewhere, will be much more costly. During the 2012 US presidential election, a total of US$1,325.4 billion was received as campaign funds -- of this ammount US$722.4 million was received by the Democrats and US$598.3 million by the Republicans.
To put this massive amount in context -- Sri Lanka’s total expenditure and net lending in its 2015 budget was Rs.2,990 billion or a mere US$ 26 billion while the two candidates at the US presidential election spent US$1,325.4 billion.
In other words, when President Obama stepped into the Oval Office at the White House after the previous election, he owed at the least US$722.4 million in favours to those who contributed to his campaign funds. It is not surprising, as rt.com puts it, that after Obama’s victory in 2008, Goldman Sachs was never prosecuted for its part in the financial crash because it was Obama’s largest single contributor.
Today the US is still the world’s leading economic and military power. Therefore whatever happens in the US has an impact on the rest of the world.
So how will the election of either the Democrat nominee Hilary Clinton (ex-Secretary of State and former president Bill Clinton’s wife) or Donald Trump (a billionaire, also known to constantly brag about the size of his penis) if elected, affect countries outside the US? For the people in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East the election of a new US president will not bring about earth-shaking changes. The bombings and numbers of civilian deaths and injuries from US interventions from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Iraq, Libya and Syria will continue and perhaps increase.
The war in Afghanistan will not come to an end. Despite being one of the main planks of President Obama’s election platform to bring back all troops from Afghanistan, this has not happened. In fact the reverse is seen to be happening. After reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan, President Obama has once again sent more troops back into that country.
Though President George Bush famously declared ‘mission accomplished’ in Iraq, the intervention in that country has only given birth to one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations the world has ever seen – the Islamic State (IS). Today IS has spread its tentacles to all countries around the world including Asia, the US and Europe.
We are therefore likely to see a spate of terrorist attacks in the US and Europe and the resultant counterattacks will only lead to more loss of life. The refugee crisis – a direct result of US regime change intervention in the Middle East -- still continues.
With calls within the US for greater involvement in the affairs of these countries, the changeover of US presidents will not make any major difference to the victims -- the people of these regions. More innocents will be blown up via drone strikes, aerial bombings, suicide attacks and continued ground fighting.
We can expect to see the US stirring problems in Taiwan, Hong Kong and in the South China Sea where the US regularly sends its battleships and aircraft into sea and air spaces claimed by China, though the ASEAN nations themselves have called for talks rather than confrontation to settle the disputes.
Unfortunately all US presidents are in the end controlled by diverse power brokers and lobbyists like the US gun lobby, giant oil companies, banks and other vested interests which invest heavily in both the Democratic as well as the Republican parties.
In the end, what the world will see is a name change, not a foreign policy change or peace in the region. The world waited in hope and with bated breath when President Obama was elected. Sadly nothing really changed, the killing of civilians did not stop. All US troops were not withdrawn from Afghanistan and Iraq. Poor Mr. Obama could not even close down the facility at Guantanamo Bay or even control the US National Rifle Association.