Hoping for change

By Nick Fawell

With the election only weeks away, it is anyone’s guess as to who will be the next President of the United States. For the international students on campus, however, there is a consensus as to who the next President should be.

“Anybody would be better than Bush,” said Johannes Becke, junior in LAS. Becke, an international student from Germany, thinks the Bush Administration’s methods have been anything but beneficial for foreign relations.

“I think he has done incredible damage to the American image worldwide,” Becke said. “And specifically to U.S.-European relations, repelling potential allies in the war on terror.”

Although he questions Bush’s motives for going to war with Iraq, he said he believes that it was a good decision.

“The decision was right,” Becke said. “But the way it was accomplished shows the administration’s lack of careful planning, their inability to cooperate with international allies and last but not least their blatant disrespect of international law.”

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    Earl Kellogg, associate provost for international affairs, recently traveled to Italy, Jordan and Australia. He said there is a great deal of concern for the U.S. policy in Iraq among foreign nations.

    “There’s a substantial negative feeling on actions the United States has taken,” Kellogg said. “And I think there’s a concern about a consensus among our allies.”

    For Mika Falck-Hansen, an international student from Norway and junior in ACES, the Bush administration used terrorism as an unjustified reason to wage war on Iraq.

    “He’s been riding on a wave of terrorism,” Falck-Hansen said. “It’s been an excuse to advocate his invasion in Afghanistan and Iraq. What they say in Norway is it’s been a war for oil. They want to control (Iraq’s) resources.”

    While their views differ slightly in the war on terror, both Becke and Falck-Hansen see the election as an opportunity to change things for the better. For Becke, electing John Kerry as President might not change the domestic situation but it would almost certainly have a positive affect on foreign affairs.

    “Most people know that Kerry would not bring a radical change to U.S. politics,” Becke said. “But Europe finally would have a partner in the White House that understands that America is strong when it leads strong alliances. Four more years of Bush would bring the decisive rift and the end of what was formerly known as ‘transatlantic partnership.'”

    Harkanwal Brar, a graduate student from India in engineering, said he feels that having Kerry in office would dramatically improve relations with countries outside of Europe as well.

    Brar said that relations with India, especially, were better during the Clinton administration and having another Democrat in office could reignite that sense of unity.

    With an election as close as this one is predicted to be, voting becomes even more important in many people’s minds.

    “They should exercise their right,” Brar said. “It’s being a responsible citizen. It’s their duty.”

    Falck-Hansen said he worries about the often too small voter turnout come Election Day.

    “If you don’t vote you can’t criticize the situation because you didn’t do anything about it,” he said. “But if you go and vote then you can say something if you’re not happy with the situation … you can’t just sit on the couch and watch it happen.”