Asli Aydintasbas, journalist and columnist for Cumhuriyet, based in Istanbul:
The one silver lining about Donald Trump’s candidacy in the U.S. election is that, in some strange way, it showed the world that Americans are not immune to the global epidemic of narcissistic demagogues — that at least homo sapiens of all races and colors, from Berlin and New Delhi and West Virginia, are prone to the same rancid and discriminatory populism regardless of their per capita income and skin color. No small feat for humanity!
At the heart of Istanbul, there is a tall building called Trump Tower. At some point, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, himself no stranger to divisive politics, publicly asked that the owners change the name, following Trump’s anti-Muslim statements. But in a strange twist of events, Turkey’s Islamist government has lately dropped its objections to Trump — on the grounds that Hillary Clinton received campaign donations from U.S.-based members of the Gulen movement, which Erdogan holds responsible for the July 15 coup attempt. When asked about the post-coup crackdown in Turkey, Trump told the New York Times that “when it comes to civil liberties,” the United States should not busy itself with the domestic evolution of others. That was enough to quell the anti-Trump sentiments of the Turkish government.
In many ways, the U.S. election will have a direct bearing on Turkey’s domestic and regional predicament. A Trump presidency would turn a blind eye to Turkey’s crackdown on dissidents and possibly encourage Ankara’s burgeoning alliance with Russian President Vladimir Putin. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton already demonstrated a desire to strike a balance between U.S. interests and the human rights issues in Turkey. She probably would try the same as president.
Chung Min Lee, professor of international relations at Yonsei University, South Korea:
Only Americans can vote in the U.S. election, but if South Koreans could vote, an absolute majority would cast their vote for Hillary Clinton. For South Koreans, the worst nightmare would be to have Donald Trump giving orders from the Oval Office to withdraw U.S. forces or to downgrade one of the most successful alliances in the post-World War II era just as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is building up his nuclear weapons arsenal. Unsurprisingly, South Koreans have greater confidence in Clinton’s ability to navigate very choppy waters in Asia, namely China’s rise and Beijing’s much more aggressive foreign policies. As the North Korean nuclear threat crosses a new threshold that could target the United States within the next five years, South Koreans hope that if Clinton wins the election, she will consider the North Korean nuclear threat as a critical national-security agenda. And as members of a nation that is critically dependent on free trade, South Koreans hope that even though Clinton is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement, she will continue to support open trade and to ensure that the United States will become even more engaged across Asia.
Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden:
For Europe, it looks as tough nearly everything is at stake in the U.S. election this year. Trade relations, security partnerships, predictability, climate agreement — you name it, it all seems up in the air. A win for Donald Trump would take the transatlantic relationship into a truly traumatic period. There will hardly be the usual race between European Union leaders to be the first in the White House, and it might well be that Vladimir Putin pockets that prize anyway.
And the consequences of that might be profound. A volatile President Trump will believe Big Boys Can Make Peace, but a skillfully maneuvering President Putin might well overplay, and we might stumble into conflict. With a Hillary Clinton in the White House, it will be more of business as usual — but not quite. Her stand on trade issues is far from clear, and there is a need for clarity on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks. A summit with E.U. leaders will probably come fast.
And we will eagerly wait for Clinton to set out a vision for a U.S role in the world that both avoids too much domestic controversy and is somewhat realistic in its ambitions. In the volatile world of today, with power far more dispersed and challenges far more numerous, that’s easier said than done.
Joel Dreyfuss, Washington Post contributing columnist based in Paris:
If there were doubts about the importance of the U.S. presidential election to France, those were dispelled by the French media’s coverage of the debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Although the face-offs started at 2 or 3 a.m. French time, they were carried live with simultaneous translation by several news channels. There is much at stake in the U.S. election for French President Francois Hollande, who has aggressively supported U.S. policy toward the Islamic State and taken a hard line toward Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Syria. French government officials have been circumspect about the prospect of a Trump presidency, but they are clearly worried about his threat to renegotiate long-standing treaties, his questioning of the importance of NATO and his conciliatory gestures toward Putin. That is why the lights at the presidential palace at the foot of the Champs-Élysées will shine late into the night on Nov. 8, while millions of French citizens stay glued to their television sets.
Dhruva Jaishankar, fellow at the Brookings Institution India Center in New Delhi:
Coming from a similarly raucous democracy, Indians follow U.S. elections with a great deal of interest. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have inspired a mixture of curiosity, ridicule, admiration and concern among India’s chattering classes, although surveys indicate that the broader Indian public does not hold particularly strong opinions about either candidate. Trump has offered mixed messages about high-skilled immigration to the United States, of which Indians are among the primary beneficiaries, and about India more generally.
By contrast, Clinton has a long history of engagement with India, including as first lady, as senator (when she was co-chair of the Senate India Caucus) and as secretary of state. As such, she is a known quantity in New Delhi. The stability of a Clinton presidency, a very good understanding of her positions and key advisers, and the implications her election would have for the United States more broadly make her a preferable candidate from India’s point of view.
Yasmine Bahrani, journalism professor at American University in Dubai:
In multicultural Dubai, people know that the U.S. election will affect them, because it will affect how the United States uses its power. As one of my Nigerian students put it, “The U.S. election affects the whole world.”
In the Arabian Gulf (as Arabs call the “Persian” Gulf), people took an early dislike to Donald Trump because of his anti-Muslim statements; some of my students believe he speaks for a widespread American racism. But many here are also wary of Hillary Clinton because of her pro-Israel reputation and because of the chaos she helped create in Libya while secretary of state.
Many are hoping a new administration will bring a different U.S. approach to the Middle East. President Obama’s tilt to Iran has horrified people here, and news analysts regularly lay much of the blame for the region’s pandemonium on the United States’ seeming abandonment of the Arabs.
Still, as unusual as “The Donald and Hillary Show” might be, everyone appreciates that the U.S. system is better than killing your way to power, the alternative so familiar in the region. But some of my wry students have taken another lesson from this unorthodox campaign: Anything’s possible in U.S. politics; the door’s even open for Kanye West’s announced presidential run in 2020.
What’s at stake in your country? Tell us in the comments.