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Sierra Leone News: CHETANYA’s View:America’s presidential election could be a catastrophe for Salone and the world

CHETANYA

CHETANYA

I’m across an ocean from the United States, and yet there’s no escape from America’s upcoming presidential elections. Not that I would want to escape. The stakes are too high.
Here in Sierra Leone the elections are always on TV, radio, and in people’s conversations. I was surprised how much people follow the presidential elections here  after all, Americans rarely discuss the domestic politics of other countries. But unlike most Americans, Sierra Leoneans realize that the outcome of these elections will have an outsized effect on the rest of the world, because the United States has outsized effect on war, peace, culture, trade, technology and the environment around the world. I mention America’s influence not to praise it. I only mention it because it can be so powerful and often destructive.
The year before I started college I went to Egypt, and two years later I studied Arabic in Tunisia — two countries which had rid themselves of American-supported dictators in the past few years. My travels made me more conscious of the effect my country has on the world. The same happened when I went to Israel and Palestine last summer, a place where the United States has become interlocked with the poisonous tensions in the region, stuck in dangerous beliefs and patterns of behaviors, just like Israeli and Palestinian extremists. There’s no question that the United States has the power to inflame war, or help oppressive governments strip their citizens of freedom. It also has the power to help create justice and peace.
Travelling made me realize that my vote for the next American presidents and congress members is a vote for policies that can change the lives of people around the world, for better or for worse. These people have no say in deciding these policies, but they’re chained to whatever outcome American voters decide on nonetheless. In a sense, my vote as an American citizen represents the interests of countless people around the world. To not exercise this vote, or choose stupidly, would let down not only my fellow citizens but voiceless people everywhere.
This is why I say that in many ways for this election, the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
My views on many positions have always been to the left of the Democratic Party, so I was worried in 2008 and 2012 when candidate Barack Obama seemed in danger of losing to Republicans John McCain and later Mitt Romney. The races seemed close at the time, and I feared what would happen to my country and the world if it was led by leaders with an enthusiasm for war and reluctance for policies that would build up the lives of American citizens.
But it’s shocking how little this election resembles 2008 or 2012. Compared to Donald Trump, McCain and Romney seem like reasonable leaders with reasonable ideas — and that’s insane. Unfortunately Trump is being normalized by news outlets  CNN is especially egregious — and made to seem like any other candidate. He is not. For anyone who cares about the fate of the world, Trump must be stopped.
It might seem like an exaggeration to bring up the fate of the world. But consider that the biggest challenge facing humanity, whether we want to believe it or not, is climate change. Trump doesn’t believe it, and declares it’s a Chinese invention, a statement so stupid and potentially catastrophic that it’s hard to find words to respond. Under his watch, the world would cook and burn for at least four years, suffer extreme weather, and place the most vulnerable people in the world in danger of natural disasters, agricultural failure, starvation, and wars. Sierra Leone, like many African countries, is especially vulnerable to climate change.
Trump’s lax attitude toward NATO could lead to war in Eastern Europe, and some commentators have speculated this could escalate into World War III. There’s no knowing what the effects of this would be around the world.
Trump’s policies toward Muslims would increase sympathy for the Islamic State. His vague plan to bomb ISIS would not only result in unconscionable loss of life, but would increase terrorist attacks all around the world. His disregard for human rights, the Geneva Convention and the US Constitution in advocating for torture and unlawful killing of family members of suspected terrorists would threaten the fragile state of human rights all around the world. Too many governments in Africa and around the world practice torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, and are plagued with corruption and restrictive freedom of press. If the United States also tossed international norms in the trash, it would give even more license to those who see human rights as an obstacle. Take China, a world power whose repressive government is starting to serve as a role model for aspiring dictators everywhere.
I’m worried about my country across the Atlantic  but also about the whole world, starting with Sierra Leone. For the sake of humanity and all the other creatures, I hope my fellow American citizens make the right choice. And if they don’t, I’m so sorry.
*Chetanya Robinson is a journalism intern from the University of Washington in Seattle. He is the 7th intern in as many years in an internship program with Awoko Newspaper
Wednesday August 03, 2016

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