Archive for the ‘World Politics’ Category

Trudeau tries to tip-toe through the tulips.

Friday, November 17th, 2017

Canada’s prime minister always looks good. With or without his shirt on, he can always draw an admiring crowd. In Manilla the other day, he even looked good in that traditional Filipino shirt they gave him to wear while his suits were being pressed.

And did you see how friendly the Duterte’s were when they greeted him. His reputation for selfies must have preceded him. It seems the advance people must have told them the Canadian PM was coming to talk trade. That is always a safe topic at foreign gatherings. Even that American Mr. Trump came to talk trade and they were all smiles for him too.

Mind you Trump could only be jealous of Trudeau when a group of young ladies of Manilla got all giggly and flustered when Trudeau joined them for a group photo. That seems to be becoming routine on Trudeau’s travels. He loves being treated as some sort of rock star. His guard’s all seemed to be resigned to it.

Where he was when everyone else was waiting for him at the Da Nang APEC meeting, never was explained. The other countries had gathered to sign the Trans Pacific Pact Version 2 (without the U.S.A.) and Mr. Trudeau had a conundrum. It was obvious he was trying to stall the signing by asking for environmental and labor considerations. To his surprise everyone agreed to the suggestions and they expected him to sign along with them.

The Canadian prime minister and his foreign affairs minister were concerned that Canada signing of the TPP-2 documents would annoy President Trump and speed his decision to cancel NAFTA. It makes you wonder though if Donald Trump had even noticed. He has had his own problems with the trip. We should not forget that Trump is in his seventies and has nowhere near the stamina of Trudeau who is still in his forties. It looked like Trump was out of gas by the time he got to Manilla and he just stuck to his script.

But even Trudeau can tire and he blew it on his last day in Manilla. The do-gooders on his staff were obviously pushing him to bring up the human rights concerns with the Duterte regime. The police there have been turned into a Murder Incorporated approach to law enforcement. Thousands of addicts and minor drug dealers have been killed.

No other leader made comment on the situation but Trudeau stuck his oar in. Obviously, President Duterte did no like it. He said that he “did not answer to bullshit from foreigners.” Trudeau must have kicked the tulips.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

A travesty of travellers.

Friday, November 10th, 2017

The dynamic duo of Trump and Trudeau are meeting in south-east Asia this weekend. Neither has the other on their agenda. And neither has a similar agenda. They have different needs and different objectives.

U.S. President Donald Trump has the shortest list to match his short memory. His top-of-mind concern is North Korea. He is looking for answers and he is seeking support. He has already pressed the critical players such as the Chinese, Japanese and South Koreans. At the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Da Nang, he will have all the side players including Vladimir Putin of Russia.

Trump will use his heavy-handed approach to try to get the lesser players in the Asia-Pacific area to strengthen their resolve to sanction North Korea. We will hope he gets more co-operation there than he seems to have gotten from China’s Xi Jinping. If we got one impression from the footage sent back from the meetings between the two leaders in China, we would say that Mr. Xi’s expression was not inscrutable: it bordered on boredom. If we have noted one thing about the Chinese leader over the years, it is that he does not suffer fools. Putting up with Trump is a lot to ask of a guy.

And since President Trump has already given APEC the finger in rejecting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), it is not on his agenda. That is despite the TPP having the possible geopolitical effect of drawing the signatories away from China’s influence and into the American sphere,

Nor is TPP seemingly on Prime Minister Trudeau’s agenda. He is stalling. Trudeau is trying to influence a more environmentally friendly and human rights based agreement. He will sign fast enough if and when Trump dumps the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) but until then Trudeau can play to the bleachers.

Just where the East Asia Summit in the Philippines fits into everyone’s agenda is not clear. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will have a special request for President Trump to return of the Balangiga Bells to the Catholic church in the Philippines. And if you want to know what the heck that is about, you can look it up on the Internet. (And if you believe what you read, remember that history is written by the victors.)

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Does Donald Trump even like America?

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

If President Donald Trump takes any pride in the United States of America, he has a funny way of showing it. Did he run for the presidency as a joke or to get even? Maybe he was tired of being considered a joke? In his ignorance, Trump is giving the bird (as only a New Yorker can) to America’s two best customers and friends. You might think that is stupid. I might think it is stupid. What it can be is also a long-delayed reality for America’s friends.

Trump is trying to bully America’s two best customers over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The two countries combine to buy more than a third of America’s exports. If Trump thinks this is a bad deal, nobody has explained to him what it means in terms of the balance of payments. He is setting a phenomenal record as the first person in the world to gamble US$500 billion. And that is just the goods sold each year.

He insults the intelligence of Canadians. To Mexicans, he adds racial slurs. It will take a long time for Americans to repair the harm Trump is doing in race relations with many peoples.

Trump seems to be oblivious to the trade deal Canada has already arranged with the European Union, the ongoing relationship with the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth and the ease with which Canada can make deals in Asia.

And if Trump starts to play fast and loose with the automotive sector, he will find himself in more trouble with the automobile companies and their unions than he has ever expected. It would be very interesting to know what those companies intend to do if they are faced with drawing back all manufacturing to the U.S. Would Americans stand back and be quiet as Trump bankrupts General Motors?

But for Canadians, this is not only a wake-up call but a new-found freedom. Up-front, Canada can save a billion dollars in not twinning that bridge at Detroit. Niagara Falls, Ontario can have its own outlet malls for price cutting on European and Canadian goods that Americans cannot resist. The best price winter holidays for Canadians will be in the south of France and Spain and for a little more, there are the Greek Islands.

While Canada could take a hit as hard as 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product in the first year without NAFTA, there would be a long line of American manufacturers wanting to bring some of their manufacturing plants back to Canada to take advantage of relations with markets in Asia and Europe. Trump can have his introverted Buy America, Canadians can sell to the world.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Use child psychology on Mr. Trump.

Friday, September 29th, 2017

This is a bit of advice for our world leaders. It is very simple. It is not even difficult. It is the realization that we have been mishandling the president of the United States. We have been erroneously treating him as an adult. He does not seem to want to be treated as an adult.

We will leave the pinning down of the exact age to the people with the advanced degrees but we expect that Mr. Trump has an emotional age of somewhere between 6 and 12. Mind you, in his relationships with women, it is doubtful that he has even been weaned yet.

But it came to us the other day when the gentleman in question was flaming tweets at the National Football League. It was beyond the president’s comprehension that an athlete might have a better way to respect the American national anthem. Kneeling seems to be a very devout way to recognize the importance of the anthem. And yet, our so very patriotic Mr. Trump gets into a tantrum about it. He wants those athletes fired.

Team owners—whom those same athletes make filthy rich—are not about to fire them. Some of those guys are going out and showing solidarity with their athletes. There are also those joining in on the juvenile practice of tweeting back at the president.

The athletes caught in the middle are the Pittsburgh Penguins. Since they are a hockey team made up mainly of Canadians, they cannot be seen to disrespect the American anthem. And kneeling on ice is not a good idea anyway. Besides, the team captain, Sid Crosby, a Canadian, has been hit on the head too often this past season and had to promise to stay out of fights.

That is why Sid and the boys are being invited to go to the White House to have a play date with Donnie Trump.

The mistake that Mr. Trump has been making is that he has failed to have his little friend, Kim Jong Un in North Korea, over for a play date. The two of them could spend some happy time together comparing the size and power of of their rockets.

It could give an entirely new meaning and scope to foreign relations.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Is NAFTA circling the drain?

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

You always assume there is hope as long as negotiations continue—as they are for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) this week in Ottawa. The only problem is that the negotiators are not the decision makers. The final solution rests with an incompetent occupant in the White House. And you should not try to confront that gentleman with facts.

Mr. Trump promised his voting claque that he would dump NAFTA. While economists might reason that pulling out of NAFTA could destroy the American economy, his claque does not understand that. And many, if they did comprehend, would not care. To them, a pyrrhic victory is still a victory.

It is the same attitude as led to the self-destructive BREXIT in the United Kingdom. People who vote in anger often live to regret it.

But those NAFTA negotiators continue to pontificate as they enjoy the fine cuisine in Ottawa. The least involved are the Mexican participants who have serious concerns about the conditions they left behind in and around Mexico City. As the world comes to their aid after the devastating earthquake, one wonders when the American and Canadian aid is coming?

And we can really be puzzled at Canadian cabinet members who naively think this negotiation can be about environmental issues. Do they really think that Mr. Trump gives a damn? This is the climate-change denier who reopened the Appalachian coal mines to make his billionaire friends richer.

You have to hand it to the American negotiators. These people are going through the motions as though they mean it. There will be no complaints from Congress and the Washington clique over their efforts. One of the surprises is they might really drive a wedge between the Canadians and the Mexicans. If they can keep the Canadians on-side in forcing the Mexicans to equalize wages (with the southern U.S. at least), it could go a long way to stopping the steady drain of labour-intensive production south to Mexico.

The problem though dear friends is that the entire exercise is nothing but an interesting review of the concerns. We can hardly deny that some changes are needed but Mr. Trump does not care what we think. None of the changes proposed by Canada or Mexico will happen. The American negotiators are more interested in what they can possibly bully the other two countries into.

And the future of NAFTA will only be decided around the Resolute desk in the Oval Office.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Who’s crazy?

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Interesting editorial cartoon the other day. It is of Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. The North Korean leader is shown pulling a child’s wagon with a small rocket on it put together with tape. The American president has an array of rockets behind him and he is wearing a straight jacket. The balloon of words coming from Trump are “If it isn’t the crazy Rocket Man!”

Luckily editorial cartoonists have far more leeway in lampooning people than do writers. It is assumed that nobody takes editorial cartoons too seriously. In as much as Donald Trump is still running loose and as it seems no psychiatrist has been able to conduct the appropriate studies, questioning and observations of his narcissistic tendencies, we still should not refer to him as a flaming nutcase.

Mind you, that did not seem to bother the Iranian leader who gave what was considered a quite restrained speech the next day about the extremist tendencies of the American president. The elderly gentleman did seem affronted by Mr. Trump’s ill-considered words about the Iranian accord.

But the entire episode does give us an opportunity to sort of think inside the mental health centre. First of all, Kim Jong Un might not be all that important. He seems to be nothing more than a willing playmate of the generals who actually run his country. For Mr. Trump to goad the little putz is just plain silly.

It is what Mr. Trump is doing to the American Dream in the rest of the world that is far more serious. Many countries who used to respect America are aghast at what they are hearing. Being the world leader gives the U.S. a long way to fall and it could have serious consequences economically as well as in world-wide prestige.

To make matters even worse, Mr. Trump is a nasty neighbour. His racist, mistreatment of Mexico along with the ignorance of his foolish wall are long going to be remembered by America’s southern neighbour. And if Trump does not realize the consequences of cancelling the North American Free Trade Agreement, somebody had better tell him. He could launch a recession that would rival the one in the ‘Dirty Thirties.’

That will sure make America great again!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Trudeau’s terrific travels!

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Canadians sure get full measure when they send their prime minister on a personal appearance tour. He did more in two days in New York than most rock stars can do in a week.  The British prime minister and that New Yorker who currently occupies the Washington White House were also in town but the young guy from Canada got the star treatment.

Trudeau must have planned to arrive after Trump’s speech which was smart. Nobody could have matched the hyperbole and B.S. of that Donald Trump classic. It was over the top, overdone, over dramatic and dreadful diplomacy. Trump took the U.S. to depths of dishonour not seen in the United Nations forum since Nikita Khrushchev took off his shoe and banged it on his desk to show his displeasure.

But after a day of special appearances and being lionized, Trudeau showed up at the United Nations. This is the world’s forum. He had this golden opportunity to tell the world of his thoughts and dreams. He could have followed the American president and the British prime minister with a balance of logic and reason, peace and temperance, love and understanding.

Instead, our nit-wit PM blew it!

What egotistical brain fart led him to devote his speech to Canadians’ historical crapping on their own indigenous peoples? What made our rock-star prime minister think these world diplomats give a damn? Most of them have a rooms in their palaces for their own shames. They hardly need to hear chapter and verse on our failings.

What you do, Mr. Prime Minister, is admit your failings and move on. Nor do you try to hide those failings and let them be used against you.

But there are problems in the world that need to be addressed in this world forum. Are we to leave the North Korean problem to a sabre-rattling incompetent in Washington? Cannot Canada take a role in helping the people in the Caribbean who have had the ground washed out from under them? Where is the promised plan for Canada to help with world peacekeeping? World trade is being endangered by a nincompoop in the White House and someone has to take a stand for reason.

Are you not afraid Mr. Prime Minister that those screaming kids at the We Meeting the day before will find out you are a coward?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

How’s the kitchen coming Chrystia?

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Though not sure if the analogy of NAFTA negotiations being like renovating a kitchen comes from Canada’s foreign minister, by now she would disown the quote anyway. After meetings in Washington and in Mexico City, it is obvious that the discussions of North America’s trade agreements are going nowhere. By the time the three amigo countries get together in Ottawa there is likely to be a fist fight.

It seems that nobody is in a position to save this screw-up. History is going to have to remember Donald Trump as a master of disaster. He has sent American negotiators on an impossible task. They really cannot win agreement from people by constantly abusing them. The Mexicans are certainly mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore.

Canada is hardly going to allow our dairy farmers to be screwed the same way American dairy farmers are routinely bankrupted. And that fixed smirk on the face of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when people mention Trump is starting to look like a death mask. The Mexicans are already pissed by Trump’s racist insults and his stupid wall.

But the Mexicans are also becoming annoyed with Canada. While the U.S. delegates simply scoff at Freeland’s environmental protection and balanced labour suggestions, the Mexican’s saw it as an attack on their labour-cost advantage. This is a three-way, two against one negotiation, when both Canada and Mexico could use an ally. Instead, they are all talking and nobody is listening.

There is no rule that says we have to resolve these questions this year or even three years from now. It would certainly be nice to find a faster solution to the softwood lumber dispute and Canada might have to apply some tit-for-tat tariffs if Trump thinks he can just ignore the existing treaties.

But an angry American Congress might have something to say if Trump tries to end NAFTA. Congress is confident that only it has the authority to accept or reject country to country treaties when the U.S. is one of the parties.

The one thing the three countries might agree on is that NAFTA needs some adjustments after a quarter century. It just cannot be as one-sided as Mr. Trump thinks it should be.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

By Jingo, by Trump.

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

That little putz with the freaky haircut who fronts for the North Korean generals is likely to lose his idiot smirk. American President Donald Trump seems to have run out of patience, out of diplomatic options, out of allies and out of restraint. He might just do what American General Douglas MacArthur wanted to do—turn that poor, benighted country into a bombed out putting green.

But General MacArthur had the same problem as faces Accidental President Trump. North Korea is tucked into the armpit of Manchuria and the Chinese keep a few armies on alert there. How you keep the dust of war from blowing across the border is a worrisome point with all concerned.

To be fair, Trump did exhort the Chinese President to bring his yappy little dog in North Korea to heel. To make the Chinese President lose face because he cannot get the yappy little dog to heel is not the smart thing to do.

It is even dumber to get the United Nations to sanction any country that continues to trade with North Korea. Since 90 per cent of North Korea’s trade is with the Peoples’ Republic of China, he has again pissed off the Chinese.

And in annoying the Chinese, he has opened a door for the Russians. Vladimir Putin is quite amused by the antics of the North Koreans. President Trump seems to be very adept at keeping his friend Vladimir amused.

But Trump is keeping uncharacteristically quiet about North Korea at the moment. All he is telling the media is that they should wait and see. That is something like waiting for the end of the world and not being sure if it will be Thursday or Friday.

Trump is probably getting all kinds of advice from the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom. Hopefully all of these generals and admirals and senior diplomats have warned him about the consequences of launching world-wide nuclear war. It is easy to start but very hard to stop.

Trump’s problem is that there is only one scenario for him to get that sailor who follows him around with a briefcase to give him the nuclear codes. If the North Koreans send a nuclear-armed missile at Guam, Japan, South Korea or the American west coast, Trump would be justified to remove the threat. Otherwise he should give his little thumbs a rest from Twitter and ignore North Korea. It is not yet his problem.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Trump’s nepotism confounds Palestinians.

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

American President Donald Trump seems to revel in trying to do things the hard way. He has added his own version of a Children’s Crusade to the peace process in the Middle East. To nobody’s surprise, what did not work in 13th Century does not seem to be working in the 21st Century.

You can easily imagine Donald Trump’s mental process as he worked his way through this one. He needed someone to fix the mess in the Middle East. He needed someone he could trust and who knew what was going on in the Middle East. Who better than his son-in-law, who just happens to be Jewish. (Yes, that really is the way the guy thinks.)

Jared Kushner is one of those people in real estate who plays Monopoly with real buildings. His family company bought 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City for a highly leveraged US$1.8 billion in 2008, just before the crash. The bail-out almost took him out of the game but he managed to marry Ivanka Trump—daddy’s darling daughter—the following year.

He must have impressed his father-in-law with either his three off-spring or his ability to type with his thumbs because he took over the Internet operations for the Trump campaign in 2016. Trump seems to be unwilling to recognize Jared’s involvement in meetings with the Russians during the campaign but still appointed him as ‘Senior’ Advisor to the President, once Trump was in office.

It is the Palestinians who seem the most disappointed with this stage of the peace negotiations. They even seem unclear as to exactly what young Mr. Kushner is trying to sell. As one Palestinian academic put it, there seems a holding game going on. It is not exactly clear what Mr. Kushner wants. He neither understands the situation in the Middle East nor does he seem to have any fix in mind.

The good news is that the Israeli’s do not give a damn. They are quite willing to welcome Mr. Kushner to the Middle East. In as much as Donald trump took a strong pro-Israeli stand during his campaign, the Jewish state is not inclined to object. Maybe they can sell the young man some Israeli bonds or his own tree—or what the hay—he could sponsor a forest.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me