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Foreign Correspondent
by international syndicated columnist & broadcaster Eric Margolis


Copyright: Eric S. Margolis, 2004

25 October 2004

NEW YORK - What do a Pathan tribesman in Pakistan, a factory hand in Shanghai, a grape picker in Chile, and a Canadian auto worker have in common?

Their lives are all shaped by decisions made by the White House, the closet thing we have today to world government.

It's unfair the whole world cannot somehow vote in the upcoming US elections since they will affect all mankind.

Maybe the rest of the world could vote and count as one US state, Internationalia. However, if this happened, the result would be a landslide for John Kerry.

The vision of a re-elected George W. Bush ruling the world does not sit well. Few non-Americans know anything about Kerry, but that hardly matters. He is popular everywhere abroad simply because he looks civilized and is the un-Bush. Sad to say, President George W. Bush is widely loathed around the globe.

My eagle-eyed friend, Countess Pamela de Maigret, brought my attention to an interesting internet site, This site tabulates straw votes for Bush and Kerry sent from all over the world. Though unscientific, and distorted in its US section by Bush unlovers, it provides a good sample of world thinking about the US election.

Among 42,721 global respondents, Kerry leads Bush by 88% to 11%. In Brazil, Kerry leads by 91%; by 79% in Italy; 91% in France; 71% in India; 77% in Japan; 11% in Kuwait; 89% Germany; 81% in Britain; 17% in Israel; 61% in Nigeria.

Only in the African state Niger does Bush lead, by 71%. Bush and Kerry are tied, oddly, in Libya, North Korea, Christmas Island, and Niue, wherever that is.

What deeply alarms many non-Americans is the prospect of a second Bush term dominated by a coalition made up of Evangelical Protestants, Rapturists, American partisans of Israel's PM Ariel Sharon, and rural voters from the Deep South who reject evolution and think French is the native language of Satan.

These groups share a loathing of Europe, the UN, the Pope, Muslims in general, Arabs in particular, Chinese, intellectuals, anything international, and truly believe themselves God's chosen people. Many born-again Christians see George Bush as a new messiah.

By contrast, Bush, to most foreigners, incarnates the arrogance, ignorance and bullying that form the worst negative stereotypes of Americans. Equally disturbing for non-Americans, they see powerful religious groups assuming increasing political importance in a nation that used to pride itself in separation of church and state.

Forty one percent of Americans claim to be born-again Christians; most vote Republican. Many are also Zionists, of a strange sort, who believe when all Jews are concentrated in a re-created Biblical Israel, and forced to convert to Christianity, the Messiah will return, and Armageddon will occur.

As explained in the book series `Left Behind,' which have sold nearly 60 million copies, when the `Rapture' hits, true believers will be spirited naked up to heaven, leaving behind their clothing and shoes — as well as all other Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc These miscreants will slowly burn in a worldwide holocaust, gleefully observed from heaven by the anointed.

All this would be merely a religious curiosity of America's outback if the Rapturists and other religious militants were not so influential in the Republican Party. A recent survey shows born-agains comprising 22% of voters in Pennsylvania, 36% in Missouri, 30% in Iowa, 27 % in Ohio — all key battleground states that will decide the election.

Some 80% of Americans profess to believe in God, and 60% claim to be regular church-goers. To increasingly secular Europe, and non-Muslim Asia, such ardent faith seems both backwards and worrying.

In the US, they see Catholic bishops ordering their flock to vote against Kerry because of his stance on abortion. They see ardent neocons supporters of Greater Israel who appear to take their strategic direction from the Old Testament, and believe God gave Palestinian property to Israeli settlers from Russia and Brooklyn. They see fundamentalist Christian sects that are being fired up for a new crusade.

The presidential debates, and parts of the electoral campaign fought on TV, have been seen around the globe. I watched the Cheney-Edwards debate from Hong Kong. What the rest of mankind saw this election season has not been a pretty sight.

Once upon a time, US elections were held up as the holy grail of democracy in action, a paragon for the rest of the less fortunate world to follow. No more.

The last presidential election fiasco and the current slime-fest between Bush and Kerry, the barrages of lies or exaggerations, the disgusting attack ads concocted by Carl Rove, have deeply upset people around the globe.

America has been showing its worst qualities for the world to see: money-run politics, bought politicians, warmongering and fearmongering, character assassination, sickening pandering to special interest groups, threats about rigged votes, and lies, lies, and more lies. All this has been democracy at its worst, not best, and we have not yet come to the Florida vote, which looks likely to produce another horrifying fiasco. India's elections earlier this year were conducted with more skill and honesty than America's last botched vote.

To this writer, America's election looks more like a poll in Nigeria or Brazil than in North America. Every sleazy Republican attack ad against Kerry tarnishes the image of the United States; every Kerry claim that the president is out of touch with reality, however true, makes foreigners fearful or uneasy.

A `NY Times' survey found big city voters backed Kerry 69% to only 23% for Bush; and, in small cities, 53% to 40%. But in suburbs, Bush leads 50% to 42%. In rural areas and the South, Bush is ahead by a whopping 55% to 35%.

This suggests more educated Americans back Kerry. But Bush clearly speaks for America's lower orders, who love him for his lack of learning, mangled English, jingoism and religious pretensions.

However, a US president who says he receives direction from God, communicates with Him regularly, and claims to be on a `divine mission' makes the world very uneasy.

Who will the Lord order Bush to `liberate' next? Wicked Iran? Sinful France, with its cigarettes, wine, and wild sex. Lefty Canadians with all that water and oil. Or Chinese, who reject Christian values and work too cheap?

Add to the Bush vote the 20% of Americans who believe Elvis is still alive, and you end up with an unbeatable majority.

To read previous columns by Mr. Margolis: Click here

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