The US election as an existential threat to the world

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump [Reuters]

Despite the fact that the majority of US citizens dislike both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump after their respective victories in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Illinois, the Democratic and Republican frontrunners are now poised to combat their way into the White House.

Who will win and what difference does it make for the world at large?

It is of course easy to criticise Donald Trump and his openly flirting with racism and bigotry on his way to perhaps a radical transformation of US politics on a proto-fascist blueprint. But scarcely anyone has done it as eloquently and pointedly as the New Yorker editor David Remnick.

In a recent piece, Remnick laid bare the unsurpassed moral degeneracy that has paved the way for the rise of Donald Trump on the Republican platform.

Trump, Remnick declared succinctly, is “the beneficiary of a long process of Republican intellectual decadence”.

Paul Ryan denounces Trump but not the Tea Party rhetoric that propelled his own political ascent.

John McCain holds Trump in contempt, but selected as his running mate Sarah Palin, the Know-Nothing of Wasilla, one of Trump’s most vivid forerunners and supporters.

Mitt Romney last week righteously slammed Trump as a “phony” and a misogynist, and yet in 2012 he embraced Trump’s endorsement and praised his “extraordinary understanding of economics”.

Prospect of a liberal imperialism

This is all urgent and necessary to articulate and emphasise. But is the terror that the world at large faces with the consequences of this US election limited to a Trump presidency? Is the prospect of a corrupt liberal imperialism of Hillary Clinton not equally imminent, not identically dangerous?

Does Bernie Sanders have any prospect of upsetting this political prospect and moral impediment? His chances are getting slimmer after each primary.

Come next November, whatever US citizens choose, save the slim chance of a democratic socialist with less of a Cowboy diplomacy in his record than his rivals, they will place the world at large in harm’s way facing an existential threat.

Come next November, whatever US citizens choose, save the slim chance of a democratic socialist with less of a Cowboy diplomacy in his record than his rivals, they will place the world at large in harm’s way facing an existential threat.

People around the world, always at the mercy of the predatory power of US imperialism, watch the US presidential elections partially amused by the depth of its corruption and partially frightened by the prospect of either a Clinton or a Trump presidency.

Which one will drop more bombs, command a larger fleet of deadly drones, prepare a longer “kill list”, give more weapons to Israel to kill more Palestinians, sell more of the same to rich Arab potentates to drop on poor Arab states, build more torture chambers on the Guantanamo model?

The fanciful US liberals are wont to joke that if Trump is elected they move to Canada. Where are the people around the world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, to Syria, Palestine, and Libya in particular, to go in case of either a Clinton or Trump presidency? Canada?

Racist supremacist or liberal feminists

US voters will get to choose which kind of imperialism the world would be at the mercy of: a racist, bigoted proto-fascist monstrosity led by the Neo-Nazi and KKK favourite Donald Trump, or an astonishingly corrupt corporate lackey liberal bourgeois feminist favourite of Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright like Hillary Clinton.

The liberal Democrat side of US imperialism has no less soul-searching to do as, led by US President Obama, they are asking the conservative Republicans to do.

What is the shape of the world almost eight years after a liberal democratic presidency? Every atrocity Bush carried out before him, Obama consolidated into legalised institutions.

Bush began the war in Afghanistan; Obama expanded its domain into Pakistan and exacerbated the condition of strengthening the Taliban.

Bush began the war in Iraq; Obama left it in ruins and his dilly-dallying on Syria helped the rise of the murderous Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) on his watch.

Bush began the practice of torturing in subterranean dungeons such as Guantanamo Bay; months from the end of his second term, Obama failed to fulfill his campaign promise to close it.

Bush began the drone attacks; Obama perfected them to a deadly art and was dubbed “the drone president” for “credible, independent attempts to determine how many civilians the Obama administration has killed arrived at numbers in the hundreds or low thousands”.

We never heard of a “kill list” during the Bush era, Obama devised and implemented it.

Obama’s approval rating

They say with the prospect of a Trump presidency, Obama’s approval rating has gone up in the US.

But try to explain that to Palestinian mothers at the mercy of Israeli drone attacks in Gaza, or to Afghan and Pakistani parents of the victims of his own drone attacks, or to the Libyan victims of NATO bombing, or consider the US constitutional and Geneva Convention implications of Guantanamo.

US voters may run from the prospect of a Trump presidency over their homeland to opt for the empty promises of a Clinton presidency. But where can the world at large hide when her bombs start falling on Afghans, Pakistanis, Palestinians, Yemenis, and more?

At least the US citizens can make a calculated risk as to which one of these two candidates can do better for them, or at least do least damage. But people around the world at the mercy of this US election have no such choice. They are those proverbial sitting ducks, waiting and wondering at the mercy of which kind of violent militarism they have to measure the terms of their survival.

Far from the sites of the initial primaries and their crescendo in the November election, innocent men and women, children and their parents are counting the days before they find out if white supremacists or liberal feminists will soon determine the kind of imperialism that gets to bomb their home and habitat.

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Originally published at www.aljazeera.com.