Tuesday, November 02, 2004

A few nights back, I caught a round-table discussion/debate on the telly. It was organized by the Harvard School of Government and aired on BBC. The panel was composed of high-profile names in the American and European political arena, and the topic centered on that in-vogue concern - the US Elections and the future of America as a world leader.

Most of those in the panel agree that George Bush has been failing miserably in his handling of foreign policy issues. They lament how the relationships built by the US with other countries has deteriorated, especially with those in the Middle East. As one panelist said, the US needs friends and leaders need followers.

(I usually watch these shows knowing I'd get depressed, but I can't settle with "ignorance is bliss" in this case.)

There are those who find Bush's firm stance on his war on terrorism a self-serving crusade, with the overstaying of troops in Iraq a pointless exercise, but there are also those who see John Kerry as fidgety and inconsistent. And like the recent Philippine polls, the US Elections is becoming a matter of choosing not the best candidate, but the lesser evil.

Osama bin Laden's surprise video, where he admits responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, has been met rather quizzically by intelligence experts, noting how bin Laden appeared "conciliatory." These experts see this change of face as a possible shift to a more political role in world affairs. There were no outright threats evident in the video, save that one warning against the persecution of Muslims.

The admittance of bin Laden is sure to fire up support for Bush, but the timing seems too tactical for comfort. Negativity will suggest that bin Laden wants Bush to win to further discredit the US. But is there another side to this video that people refuse to see?

But it's still an election race that's as unpredictable as J. Lo's love affairs. So come Tuesday night (Manila time) I wish Americans would vote wisely, and I wish the world the best of luck.

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