Blue Europe, Red Asia

PARIS – Could Europe be a Democratic “blue state” and Asia a Republican “red state”?

American presidential elections provide a near perfect test to understand the difference between European and Asian worldviews, even if the two continents are far from united internally. If you want America to lead by the power of example, you favor Barack Obama; if you want to be reassured by the continuation of America’s power in a traditional security sense, you probably prefer John McCain.

Whereas a majority of Europeans – with the exception of those who for historical and geographic reasons are obsessed with the return of the “Russian bear” – support Obama, a majority of Asians, particular among the elite, seem to support McCain. This difference stems above all from strategic considerations, but it probably also contains a cultural dimension.

In Asia, Indonesia may look “European” in its Obama craze, but it essentially constitutes an anomaly, easily explainable by Obama’s brief Indonesian upbringing. Otherwise, and for very different reasons, a majority of Asian elites are awaiting the growing possibility of an Obama victory with some bewilderment and even apprehension.