Archive for the ‘World Politics’ Category

The travels and trials of Trump.

Saturday, January 27th, 2018

President Donald Trump of the U.S.A. went to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland the other day. Few of the attendees at the world convention of capitalism cared. The reigning head of the most powerful nation on earth had nothing to contribute. He did not even ski.

It was the younger world leaders who captured attention. Emmanuel Macron of France had a message on how to live better with capitalism. Justin Trudeau of Canada advised the world to appreciate the strengths and contribution of women.

It was older leaders such as Narendra Modi of India and Donald Trump of the U.S.A. who pitched inward directed messages that tried to sell what their nations offered. Modi gave an impassioned albeit standard pitch to do more business with the Indian Sub-Continent.

And then there was Donald Trump, who consorted with the usual suspects, read a stilted speech from his teleprompter and contributed nothing but out-of-date platitudes and an uncaring view of the world.

And what more trouble could Trump cause by meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel? He has already caused more riots in the Middle East with his promise to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem.

Obviously, Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, needed friends in the cold altitude of Davos but Donald Trump did her no good. It is hard to find friends for either of them.

At least Trump brought his own clack of U.S. government employees to cheer his otherwise stony speech to the assembly. With Africans and attendees from other countries prepared to walk out in protest, Trump made sure that the bulk of his audience was American.

Not that his speech would have annoyed anyone. Nobody was particularly interested in the “America First” theme but he made it in such an out-of-date and hackneyed way that it was nothing new.

The consensus when he left was that most were pleased that he was gone.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Defending Democracy.

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

You would think in all the many years of human social development that democracy should have gained support and growing wide-spread usage around the world. We certainly agree that it is not perfect but we do agree that it is better than any alternatives. Yet tell it to the Russians and they want the oligarchy of Putin. Tell it to the Turks and they will support the autocracy of Erdogan. Tell it to the Iranians and you will find that not all support the theocracy of the Ayatollahs.

Think of the military juntas around the world that have usurped power from their citizens. Burma (Myanmar) is run by butchers. Countries such as the Philippines and Venezuela are on the slippery slope. China’s oligarchy will countenance no change. North Korea is a junta fronted by a farce of a dictator. And the supposed heart of democracy, the United States of America is led today by a would-be tyrant.

And why is this? Why has democracy fallen into disrepair? And how do we shore up our democracy? No doubt the political science people can bring out tables and statistics to explain. All I can do is reflect on the attitudes of voters across many years of observation at all levels of government.

After the Second World War, Canada saw rapid growth in jobs, incomes and newcomers. There was an excitement then to politics and at all levels there was an expectation by the new and younger people seeking to bring their ideas and energy to the political scene. In Ontario, in particular, there was a surge of fresh thinking and younger people getting involved at the riding and regional level. In the Liberal Party, there was a new energy and a new era was introduced.

The Diefenbaker years in Ottawa had underlined the need for change and the Liberals got ahead of the curve. While Prime Minister Lester Pearson was highly regarded by his party, he represented the old guard. Yet Pearson accepted the changes recommended by the envigored new guard. As a highly skilled diplomat, Pearson recognized that the party could do even more with new thinking in Ottawa. To this end he went around the Liberal establishment in Quebec and brought in new thinkers such as Pierre Trudeau, Jean Marchand and Gerard Pelletier. It was Pierre Trudeau who allied himself with the  Liberal thinkers in Toronto and changed Canada forever.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The bollocks of Brexit.

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

“It is not as simple as we were told.” We assume that comment has been made many times as the United Kingdom heads towards its divorce from Europe. For Prime Minister Theresa May her position is that of a naked lion tamer—no chair, no gun, no whip—facing unfed and fractious lions on behalf of a jungle of angry and fractious beasts behind her.

And now she has been told that the easy part of Brexit is completed with less than a year left to negotiate the United Kingdom’s future relations with the continent and the European nations. The fixed date for the Brexit divorce remains March 2019.

How is May supposed to look on these negotiations after watching Canada struggle with the EU for the past four years trying to finalize a supposedly done deal? And how does she deal with the EU negotiators who know they hold all the cards?

And please tell us gullible ones just how the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic can remain transparent? Ask any Mexican what a Maquiladora means and you might have figured out a future for Northern Ireland. The alternative would be to join with the Republic or a separated Scotland and stick with the EU.

The economists are starting to examine the early impacts of Brexit and while there are still a few who think a positive future from Brexit is possible, they are much quieter these days. They will have more fodder for their computers once the serious Brexit negotiations get under way in 2018.

But the Brexit bullies who pushed the separation through with so much ‘fake news’ are the ones who will be told to “Go whistle” in the long run. They thought they could eat their cake and will be the ones disappointed when the cake is gone.

And pity Theresa May as she looks back to reassure herself that her so-called loyal denizens of the jungle are behind her. The problem is that they have slunk off into the rainforest and are plotting her replacement.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The failing final days of America.

Monday, December 11th, 2017

This is a time of unease. America has failed us. The heroes of the Second World War are vanishing. The people who touted democracy to the world’s oppressed are fading into history. Around the globe there is a sense of a collective waiting. People are tense, on a short fuse, wary and concerned. What will this new version of America do next?

Have we lost all trust in America? The Americans have made bad decisions before but current strains are more than incidental miscalculations. The most powerful country in the world is on a path to destruction. Nobody is in control.

The White House is in the hands of a person who insults and betrays America’s most friendly neighbours, allies and trading partners. He has built walls of resentment, disgust, antipathy and distrust, at a time when America needs friends and allies on side. Instead of rallying, he has infuriated the Mexicans and pissed off the Canadians.

And why settle for annoying just a few neighbours when you can earn the lasting enmity of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims? Donald Trump has proved himself the world’s most hated racist.

The world’s Jews should be inured to the pandering politicians of our times. They must be concerned though when Trump trods where no American president has tramped before. Donald Trump was the last person that Israel ever needed for a friend. His announcement on Jerusalem could be America’s version of 1914 in Sarajevo!

But what is war to Donald Trump but a Game of Thrones? He insults China. He derides a delusional despot in North Korea. He eschews his friendship with Vladimir Putin of Russia. He trashes the peace gained so painstakingly with Iran. He insults the Brits and brushes aside the Europeans. Trump teeters on jingoism, preaches xenophobia and practices isolationism.

What is Trump? As a maybe billionaire, he is a boor. He reveals little of his wealth because of how he acquired it out of the shadows of bankruptcies. He is a misogynist and a womanizer. He does not have friends: he has leeches, losers and louts who spread his poison.

But what does this all say for the waning of America? The United States of America is a land that usually honors its heroes. Is this the end of times? Is this the Armageddon as foretold in the Book of Revelation?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

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