Foreign Views of the U.S. Elections

By Trista di Genova, EXPAT CHAT, The China Post 11/02/08

American from Everett, Washington who’s been in Taiwan 3 years (name, occupation withheld)

“I voted for Obama because I’ve always been a Democrat and am very tired of the Republican policy. I’ve been traveling the world for 20 years and I understand many countries don’t like America now. When Clinton was president, everybody loved our country; now everybody hates it. America needs a change and Obama is the clear choice for change.”

Neldon Sawatsky is from Vancouver and has been in Taiwan 9 months.

“I hope Obama wins. I care more about the American elections than the Canadian elections. Why? It seems like in Canada the policies we vote on are minor — tax cuts, a little more or less funding for the military, homeless, health care. But the U.S. elections impact the world. I’m especially worried about American foreign policy, and this might be extreme, but I consider America to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Not because of the people; people love the American people, but because of its policy of pre-emption. The recent attack on Syria worries me, where a policy against sovereign territory was changed on a pretext; when oil becomes a national security issue and target. What if Canada became a target? It’s a long shot, but what if? I like America, and want it to be the superpower and policeman of the world even; it’s the best choice we have. But if it keeps screwing around, people will lose faith, it’ll be like China. And its current attitude toward Iran worries me. Obama says he wants to talk and likes diplomacy, and given the constant fear of terrorism in the U.S., I think it was courageous to say that. The way he would take care of national security is smarter than Bush and what McCain plans to do. “

The views of my American friends here seem to be one-sided. Most of them are pro-Obama, except one hard-core Republican from Minnesota.

“I teach Taiwanese business executives and did a class on the U.S. elections. They all seem to be pretty much in favor of Obama, but for very obscure reasons. They just knew they liked the black man more than the white man. I’m not kidding! I did a survey in class, and not one of them could name a difference in policy between the two candidates. Don’t know how that reflects!”

Hank Don is Taiwanese-American, and an English teacher from Fremont, California.

“Well, I hope Obama wins because I like Democratic policies. Before, I thought McCain was okay, until he selected Palin as his VP, and I think if something should happen to him, Palin doesn’t have the experience to lead. McCain — I think he served his country, and that’s definitely one of his good points. He was tortured 5 years and never gave up. But Biden is very experienced and whatever Obama lacks Biden can make up for it. The opposite is true for the Republican party. I didn’t vote in Taiwan; I can’t vote in Taiwan even though my parents are Taiwanese, so I don’t follow politics here as it doesn’t concern me. But I’ve been following the U.S. elections closely, I saw all the debates and everything. “

Robert Pauls is a graduate student in East Asian Politics from Bochum, Germany, and is an intern with RTI (Radio Taiwan International).

“More people are tending to take a greater interest in this election and the two earlier ones, in the USA as well as in Europe — in America, I think because after 8 years of Bush’s presidency there seems to be quite a high degree of political polarization. In Europe, more people are following the elections because they want to see Bush go, leave office quickly, and because people seem to have the impression that Obama will be the new Kennedy to Europe. Many people imagine American policy will be a lot more friendly and cooperative, to Europe and elsewhere. Many Germans are fond of Clinton and his policies, and seem to have the impression that Obama will return to those policies. On the other hand, Obama’s show — his presentation of himself and his campaign — seem to appeal for some reason. Polls taken recently in Europe show 80-90 percent are in Obama’s favor.
Bush will be gone no matter who wins, but people have the impression that McCain will continue the policies of the previous administration.
As for U.S.-Taiwan relations, McCain seems to have policies that are more clearly in favor of Taiwan, while Obama has been skating around the issue. They’d both continue the “One China” policy, certainly, but overall I get the impression the U.S. hasn’t had a well-formulated and clearly laid out Taiwan policy for some time now. Both parties would seem to encourage the Ma administration, which is seeking closer ties with the Mainland. My guess is the status quo will continue, and the U.S. will strongly oppose any future move of the Taiwan government to pursue independence.
I wouldn’t be too worried about the U.S. I’m worried more about the financial crisis, and what China and Russia will do. With the U.S. at least we know what we are dealing with — where the state does the bidding of capital; whereas in China and Russia it’s the other way around. That’s worrisome.”

Denis Chauvin is an English teacher from Ottawa.

“I think everyone should be able to vote in the American elections. And the primary reason I’d vote for Obama is because I’d want my American friends not to be embarrassed about where they’re from anymore. And my black Canadian friends that I grew up with will no longer be able to say, ‘Yeah, right, when are we ever gonna see a ‘nigga’ in the White House?” It’s the American dream — anyone can be in the White House. And Obama actually inspires me. He’s smart, he’s a good speaker. I usually am intuitive about these things and can smell bull**** a block away, and I hope he’s a JFK.
I can joke about it; that’s a positive thing. It’s only the ones who can’t who are the problem in North America. Cheers to the positive movement!”

Interviews, photos by Trista di Genova, The China Post