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Has Obama’s non-involvement come to an end?

The United States is a country of institutions that is not ruled by individual figures

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

The U.S. presidential elections are unusual, not only because one candidate is a controversial figure who has nothing to do with politics, or because the other could become the country’s first female president. It is mainly because the world has changed a lot in light of the absence of U.S. leadership under current President Barack Obama.

The Middle East is drowning in war and chaos. Terrorism has spread and become an unparalleled global threat. Europe is experiencing serious crises due to the rise of nationalism and immigration, which threaten social and political systems. The old Western front against Russian influence may not survive without strong U.S. support. Conflicts in the South China Sea have reached unprecedented levels. Obama’s dream has become a nightmare.

All these issues will be inherited by his successor. The question is whether he or she will continue Obama’s isolationist approach. Events during the difficult years of his presidency have shown that this approach has not saved the United States from looming dangers. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is more dangerous today than Al-Qaeda of yesterday. ISIS has expanded due to U.S. withdrawal from the region.

Checks and balances

Electing a new president might not resolve these issues. The solution lies in the will to cooperate with other countries. There is exceptional global anxiety regarding the outcome of the elections that take place less in less than three months, especially given Donald Trump’s extremist opinions. However, the United States is a country of institutions that is not ruled by individual figures. The president can only work within institutional frameworks.

The United States is a country of institutions that is not ruled by individual figures. The president can only work within institutional frameworks.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The United States has more than 600 military bases in some 40 countries. Its military arsenal could destroy the world several times, but it is governed by laws and regulations that limit the president’s freedom.

He or she is supreme commander of the armed forces, but must get approval from legislative institutions before getting involved in any war. The president also has to navigate many centers of influence with the support of a large segment of the population. Therefore, people such as Trump do not pose a risk, no matter how they talk about managing international relations.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Aug. 9, 2016.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.