By Mohan Krishna Shrestha—
Barely two weeks have passed since the presidential election in the world’s only super power concluded successfully. This time, it was widely believed that opinion polls, which normally match the results, miserably failed. They made a fatal mistake for the election of Senator Hillary Clinton to the presidency. However, results showed the opposite.
Time is changing and not one can stop it. Time has brought sea changes in the national life of many countries. At the dawn of the 21st century, world has been witnessing innumerable challenges which probably no one has thought of.
As the year 2016 is nearing its completion, there are, at least, two notable changes in the world which might have far reaching effects. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon from South Korea will be completing his two five year consecutive terms on 31 December 2016. He will be succeeded by Mr. Antonio Guterriez, former Portuguese Prime Minister and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He has had served in this position for a number of years and enriched himself with knowledge about the working of the United Nations. It is widely expected that he will display his charisma and diplomatic skills to tackle the problems besetting the world. Everyone, therefore, expects notable contribution from him which will have far reaching consequences to the countries.
The visionary leaders who agreed to establish the United Nations, as a world body, have endowed it with a far vision, to save the succeeding generations from the scourge of war. In its seventy one year’s history, UN has succeeded in solving many outstanding problems and failed too, to foresee many others which bedevil our world today. UN must get unflinching support and cooperation from its powerful member countries to solve many outstanding problems our world facing today.
Next notable incident is the presidential election in the United States of America. It is but natural that this election drew attention from the world. The post of the President in America is the most powerful on earth. Basically, two political parties Democratic and Republican parties fielded their candidates in the election. Election process is normally lengthy and until and unless the candidate garners enough electoral votes, he/she cannot be elected as President. This system is somewhat difficult to understand.
This year, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton from Democratic Party and Donald Trump from Republican Party fought the election. Most of the people imagined that Hillary will win the election. At the height of the opinion polls, chart climbed up to 71 percent for Hillary. But the results showed the reverse. Quite unexpectedly Trump became victorious. However, this became a huge question. Knowledgeable sources said that Trump’s election agenda seeking change won the hearts of many voters. Hillary’a agenda for continuity could not win the hearts of many voters. Moreover, Hillary failed to woo the voters who remained undecided upto last minute. Now, on 19 December, there would be yet another voting by the Electoral College and Trump must win to pave his way to the White House. Trump’s nationalistic fervour and his vow to make the USA powerful have also shown effects.
During the election campaign, speeches made by Trump brought consternations around the world. To construct a wall in US – Mexico border, to expel illegal, to restrict the arrival of Muslims, to curtail expenses in other areas and reinvest the amounts in the country itself also drew attention. He was charged as a racist and fundamentalist also. Furthermore, he was levelled as a person unfit for the post of president. Few of his election campaign speeches, indeed, were quite aggravating. But the dye was cast on 8 November 2016. Not many have imagined Trump’s victory at the election. But the truth is that he won. Not only had that he also secured 288 electoral votes which were more than enough to propel him to presidency.
Since the United States of America got independence in 1776, perhaps, it was the first time that a woman had fought election for the presidency. Earlier, Geraldine Ferrao was a vice presidential candidate few years ago. It was also unsuccessful attempt. Women have served with distinction, as Secretary of State, but above that, post have always remained elusive so far.
In fact, Hillary got 2 hundred thousands more popular votes than Trump. But electoral votes are more important and due to this fact Trump won the election. Sixteen years ago also, same thing happened in US presidential election. Al Gore got more popular votes than George Bush. Conflicts at the election went upto the Supreme Court. But Bush’s 271 electoral votes were decisive and ultimately made him the winner.]
This time, the scenario after the election is also worth noting. Before the election, both Hillary and Trump were after each other’s neck. But soon after the election results were out, Hillary congratuled Trump and latter praised her for the service to the nation. It seems, there is complete reversal in the talks before and after the election. These were, indeed, positive signs for the national life. Trump, after his election victory chatted with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jing Pin also which are also positive signs. He also showed his concern for the plights being faced by Muslims which was a complete reversal of his earlier stand. But he has not changed his position vis-à-vis 3 million illegal immigrants and they still face the brunt of deportation, if election manifesto is any indication.
United States of America must be construed as a distinct country. Trump has not taken charge of the president, but one learned professor has hinted about him being impeached. The reasons given are that Trump will be beyond the control of Republic bosses and his policies might create problem for America. But Trump’s new words and speeches have created a positive energy in the world. In reality, the U. S policies and actions have far reaching consequences for the world. As US is a powerful country in terms of richness and highly developed technology, its policies and actions have deep effects in world affairs. His commitment to forego with the salary has also made ripples and such commitment has never been heard in the past. It is said that wining and dining is the soul of diplomacy. A rich President will have no problems to practice such diplomatic skills too.
If the U.S ceases to provide financial contribution and other donations to the United Nations, the actions of this world body will be greatly affected. Such a scenario was seen in the Paris based UNESCO in 2013. An election was held in November 2013 and it elected Palestine to the membership of UNESCO. US government recalled a 1991 law which does not allow its contribution to any organization electing Palestine as a member. Accordingly, US contribution was withheld which created a huge dent in the financial resources of UNESCO. There was a hue and cry as UNESCO became unable to carry out many of its functions properly.
Globalization has made our mother earth as a small village. Big or small countries have become complementary to each other. There is no way than to cooperate for the promotion of tourism, trade, investment and technology. Similarly, there is a growing need for mutual cooperation between states to face the growing list of problems from political, economic and social fronts. Terrorist activities have grown tremendously and many countries have become victims of terrorist acts. Climate change has been wreaking havoc. If not tackled in time, climate change might affect every nook and corner of the world. There is a growing need of financial assistance to the countries which are facing poverty, depravation; unemployment and backwardness. There are many countries ensared in internecine conflicts. Although United Nations has somehow, been successful to establish peace and stability in certain parts of the world, but new political problems threaten even deeper. Arms race, both nuclear and conventional, seems increasing rather than being controlled.
There might be sufficient reasons for USA to bolster its internal situation. But she should not remain aloof from the world. There will be a constant need for American cooperation to establish peace and stability as well as to accelerate the pace of economic development. America faces both challenges and opportunities. Many countries have become economically powerful through sustained economic growth. Countries have begun to make groupings too. Like Brazil, India, China, Russia and South Africa have made BRICS. It has successfully held its summit recently in Goa of India. Half of the world’s population are living in these countries. India and China both have achieved tremendous economic growth startling the world. These countries are also a big market for American products in view of their huge population. America cannot consume in its domestic markets all that it produces. She must seek markets for export. It seems, therefore, that American should not abandon its relations with the rest of world.
Nepal and United States of America are old friends who have deep rooted relations based on mutual cooperation and cooperative spirits. Both countries attach importance their bilateral relations. For Nepal, USA is a huge market for its exportable produces. Moreover, thousands of Nepali nationals are in USA in various capacities i.e. matrimonial, business, studies and in others. Nepal and America must care and cooperate with each other vigorously in coming days.
Nepal joined World Trade Organization on 23 April 2004 and she has made inroads to the world market. This might pave the way for speedy economic development in the country. There is a growing need for capable diplomacy as Nepal is harking in the implementation of the economic diplomacy. Time is changing. Trade not aid is the message gradually blowing from the west. We need to be vigilant on the change that is coming in the world. We too, must remain capable to seize the opportunities what comes on our way.
(The writer is a former Nepalese Ambassador to France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO. Prior to that, Mr. Shrestha served at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nepalese diplomatic missions abroad in various capacities.)