The United States has a new president – Switzerland has still the same interests

The United States has a new president – Switzerland has still the same interests

by Pierre Gabriel Bieri

Many of the comments in Switzerland to the US presidential election are emotional, because this event is considered from a moral point of view. Doing so, we forget that the focus should be on the specific Swiss interests.

The political spectacle, a product of the media

You may forgive us that we address the issue of the US presidential election. An election that has created one sensation after the other in the last few weeks, but there is still space for temperate and sober statements.
A first statement concerns the role of the media. Their contribution to the surprise of this election is enormous, because in the last days before the election really nobody foresaw such an outcome of the election... This unanimity, perhaps influenced by political preferences of newspaper and television editors, has created a distorted picture of reality. Today the journalists swear that this will not happen again and they ensure that all sections of the population will be heard and not only the voice of the “elite” (a term which means the circles in which journalists socialise with each other). This desire for mental opening is laudable – summoned regularly for several years yet. Only the perfect individual objectivity is out of this world, and it is therefore necessary to advocate tirelessly for a variety of media, which ensures that different voices are to be heard, in order to achieve a more realistic picture of the world. The internet and social media give already some help.
In addition, there is the political spectacle, which triumphed on this occasion and at the same time is a product of the media. The same media that regret not having chosen a candidate, which they judged (rightly or wrongly) as moderate and reasonable, are the same, who induce the viewers in the reality-TV shows and TV debates to swing high emotionally. They are also the same, who – when they assess the policy as too boring – demand the right to break taboos, to defy prohibitions and to throw conventions over. The election of the US president was at least in part expression of a hedonistic society which the media are very happy to resort to and which they themselves shaped.

Less interventionist US policy?

One can wonder whether European observers have taken the United States election spectacle a little too serious. During his campaign, Donald Trump has been vulgar and arrogant. After the election, his first comments were rather of a man who is aware of his responsibility. He will be measured on his deeds. Do we not judge other politicians the same way – politicians who sometimes also behave differently before and after an election?
At the risk of appearing cynical, it is to emphasise that it is not ours to give a verdict on American domestic politics. By contrast, the rest of the world of course is interested in the foreign policy of the United States. The international interventions carried out in the course of the last years by the United States have claimed numerous victims and brought little peace. In several cases, they have helped to weaken stability of Europe. Given all this, do we really have to be afraid of an America that again retreats to itself, as Trump seems to favour? From a European perspective, the answer is rather no. However, let us wait before we judge.

Swiss interests in the foreground

These circumstances lead us ultimately to figure out how we perceive politics. We have become accustomed to looking at politics from the perspective of an abstract morality whose validity is, in our opinion, universal, and correspondingly to react excessively emotionally when a part of the world follows this morality only partially. Maybe it is time for a more traditional approach, based on our specific interests.
Hence, Switzerland has a long tradition of relations with the United States in economy, industry, and trade, but also in politics and culture. We have such a tradition also with other great nations such as China and Russia.
Our first concern must be to maintain these good relations. With the United States, Switzerland still has a conflict in the area of finance and taxes. Today, nothing seems to suggest that this situation worsens with the new American administration. Nevertheless, we must closely keep an eye on this issue. One last peculiar point: The future decisions of the new US administration could also affect the Swiss climate policy, which must be coordinated internationally.
These are the real issues, which are currently obtruding and should be made a subject of discussion by politics and the media.     •
(Translation Current Concerns)

Source: from 16 November 2016

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