The biggest issue in the 2016 presidential election is the one least discussed: the threat of a world war between nuclear-armed powers. Whether former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton or Republican nominee Donald Trump wins the election, the United States is nevertheless being drawn into a confrontation in the Middle East that threatens to spiral out of control.
The U.S. is currently directing a brutal assault on Mosul—one of Iraq’s largest cities—while hypocritically accusing Russia of war crimes in its air campaign backing the Syrian government. With the U.S. supporting Islamist “rebels” in Syria, this situation threatens war between the world’s preeminent nuclear powers.
Clinton and U.S. intelligence agencies are accusing Russia—without providing any evidence—of intervening in the U.S. elections and exposing emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign. Between this and Trump’s misogyny and alleged sexual assaults, crucial issues are being overlooked this election season.
Many people pointed out that the threat of climate change was not discussed in any of the three presidential debates. Less discussed was the fact that Clinton refused to answer moderator Chris Wallace’s question: “If you impose a no-fly zone [in Syria] and a Russian plane violates that, does President Clinton shoot that plane down?”
Clinton outflanks Trump from the right, claims that he has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and would be unsuited to wage a war with Russia. This neo-McCarthyite campaign has brought back the worst anti-Russian fervor since the end of the Cold War. Democratic Representative Charles Rangel even called Putin “a communist leader that’s a potential enemy” even though Putin leads the capitalist Russian Federation.
Even as the threat of war with Russia surges, the candidates barely mention it. Instead, they focus on mutual mudslinging. When the threat of war is discussed, the consequences are ignored—as exemplified by Clinton’s answers in the third debate.
There is great opposition to war, yet no avenue for its expression in America’s increasingly rigid political system. As masses of people—especially young people—move to the left, the political establishment is preparing for war and provoking right-wing tendencies. Trump’s fascistic populism—which channels discontent into xenophobia, nationalism and racism—is the most obvious expression of this. Clinton’s McCarthyite rhetoric plays a role as well.
At Geneseo, the International Youth and Students for Social Equality unequivocally opposes the drive to war, which threatens the destruction of humanity. In this, the IYSSE supports the candidates of the Socialist Equality Party––Jerry White and Niles Niemuth––who are running in this election to build an anti-war movement based on socialist principles.
I encourage students interested in opposing the potential war plans of Clinton and Trump to research White and Niemuth’s platforms and to educate themselves about third party candidates.