African Press International (API)

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There will be no shortage of entertainment if Trump wins

Posted by African Press International on March 6, 2016

Posted Sunday, March 6, 2016 | by- MURITHI MUTIGA

The occupant of the White House has a direct influence on the lives of millions outside America.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guests during a rally at Macomb Community College on March 4, 2016 in Warren, Michigan. Voters in Michigan will go to the polls March 8 for the State’s primary. | AFP

Donald Trump seems to hate everyone. Muslims? He would ban those from stepping on American soil “until we can figure out what’s going on over there” in the Muslim world.

Mexicans? He needs a wall to protect Americans from them, because they bring “rapists, drug dealers and criminals” to American soil.

Female journalists who ask him tough questions are attacked with insults which cannot be repeated in polite company and the man has also baited Jews and blacks. Trump is, in other words, a sexist, racist bigot. And he could well be the next president of America.

Should we in Africa care who the next occupant of the White House is? Maybe. American presidents can obviously have a big influence on the lives of people around the world.

Consider the last two. If George W. Bush had not invaded Iraq, destroyed institutions and sent the country into total turmoil, ISIS would never have emerged to fill the void and create the global security crisis the world is grappling with now.

If the Americans had not encouraged the Ethiopians to storm into Somalia in December 2006 at a time when the Islamic Courts Union had managed to stabilize many parts of the country, al-Shabaab would probably not have evolved into the lethal insurgency it is.

Perhaps more strikingly, the American president can have a major effect on the price of oil, which obviously affects many around the world.

Before Bush invaded Iraq, a barrel of crude fetched $30 dollars and we were paying very little for petrol in Kenya.

Three years later,
the price had doubled and soon after it rose to $80 dollars a barrel. The Iraq war was certainly one of the factors underpinning this.

SHREWD MANIPULATOR

Partly because Obama has not launched any stupid wars, the price has collapsed again, which is good news for people in countries that don’t produce significant amounts of oil and terrible news for oil producers like Angola and Nigeria.

So it is true the occupant of the White House has a direct influence on the lives of millions outside America.
There are two ways in which to assess the likely impact of a Trump presidency if he somehow wins.

The more comforting theory is that Trump is just a shrewd manipulator, playing the race card to win the votes of angry voters and that he doesn’t mean any of the things he says.
The other theory is that Trump is actually a mean-spirited and hateful bully who will be a thoroughly unstable and destabilising chief executive if he wins.

In reality, maybe we in faraway Kenya have little to fear either way. If he goes off the rails and the American economy goes downhill, it would mean that more investor funds will flow back into emerging markets and cushion currencies from the shock which emerges when investors withdraw their money to take advantage of high interest rates in the US.

Also, a rogue leader at the helm of the world’s biggest economy might mean that other powers come together to provide alternatives to the US dollar as a global currency, which will be good for everyone.

The election is still a long way away, of course, and many things can happen in the interim.

If Trump wins, it will be a demonstration that democracies can swing between extremities, from Obama’s cool, steady hand to Trump’s hateful, wild unpredictability. For the watching public, at least we can be sure there won’t be a dull moment.

****

These are tough times to be a journalist in Kenya, undoubtedly the worst since the 1980s when reporters who did not toe the official line were tossed off third floor balconies or sent into detention.

When the authorities are not arresting journalists, intimidating them and sending reporters into hiding for writing about the security forces (is there any worse thing than hiding from the people who you pay to protect you?); regime affiliated busybodies are hard at work generating cheap smears against the independent voices they are unable to influence.

But even those smears are so incompetently done (if you are going to generate fake emails, it is surely indefensible to get the spelling of the names of both correspondents exchanging emails wrong) it raises a question about what Jubilee mandarins can ever get right.

Lawyer Gitobu Imanyara the other day, commenting on the confusion over the Justice Tunoi tribunal, remarked that it seems the only thing Jubilee bigwigs can ever do with precision is embezzling public funds.

But that is surely too generous because if they were good at looting they wouldn’t get caught so often!

mutiganews@gmail.com @mutigam

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