The times they are a changing - EDITORIAL

24 October 2016 12:01 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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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 SL the president can call for an election at any time in 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 date of each presidential election is fixed and has to take place in the first week of November.   
Otherwise the forthcoming US presidential elections will not differ from elections held elsewhere, albeit much more costly. During the 2012 US presidential election, the Democratic and Republican parties used up a sum of around $1,325.4 million in contribution funds -the Democrats $722.4 million and the Republicans $598.3 million.   
To put this massive sum in context, while Sri Lanka’s total expenditure and net lending in its 2015 budget was Rs.2, 990 billion or around a mere US $ 26 billion, the two candidates at the US presidential election used up a sum of around $1,325.4 billion!   
In other words when President Obama stepped into the Oval Office in the White House, after the last 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, since Goldman Sachs was never prosecuted for its part in the financial crash as it was Obama’s largest single contributor.   
Today the US still is 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 Ms Hilary Clinton (ex Secretary of State and wife of former president Bill Clinton), or Donald Trump (A billionaire, also known to constantly brag about the size of his organs) if elected, affect countries outside of the US?   
For the people of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East the election of a new US president will not bring about earth-shaking change. 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 numbers 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 the IS, which has spread its tentacles into all countries around the world including Asia, the US and Europe.   
We are therefore likely to see a spate in the number of terrorist attacks in the US and Europe and the resultant counter-attacks 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 in 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 US stirring up problems in Taiwan, Hong Kong and in the South China Sea where the US regularly sends its battleships and aircraft into sea and airspaces 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, that invest heavily in both the Democratic as well as the Republican parties.   
In the end what the world will see is name change, not foreign policy changes or peace in the region. The world waited in hope and 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 Guantanamo Bay facility or control even the US National Rifle Association.     

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