Archive for the ‘World Politics’ Category

Pompeo’s Rebellion.

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

It makes you wish you were there to see the look of astonishment on the European’s faces as American secretary of state Mike Pompeo explained his version of Donald Trump’s ‘Brave New World.’ It happened last week in Brussels. It might have contradicted the agreement Mr. Trump made with China’s president Xi Jinping a few days before in Argentina but since nobody on the Trump team ever talks from the same play book, why start now?

Pompeo pompously postulated that in Donald Trump’s world, no bilateral or multi-lateral agreement between the U.S. and other nations is sacrosanct. It seems as head of this brave new world order, Mr. Trump can change or jettison agreements with other countries at will. (And he does, as Canadians have discovered.)

Mr. Pompeo explained that this onerous role Mr. Trump has taken on for himself is fitting in a new liberal(?) world order. It seems Mr. Trump can unilaterally decide which agreement or treaty should or should not be honoured.

The Europeans are still mulling over president Trump dumping the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal made by a Pompeo predecessor, former secretary of state John Kerry. The European Union has strongly supported those two agreements and feel betrayed by the Trump’s cavalier and unilateral decision to end American participation. In a speech in the United States recently, a European Union spokesman said it was more like a “rule of the jungle replacing a rule of law.”

What Pompeo was really doing in his speech which, at best, drew some polite applause, was to criticize the European Union as a supranational body interfering in the wishes of member states. He mentioned the UK’s Brexit as an example of the problem—which surprised the Europeans who knew far more about that situation than did the American.

In Pompeo’s pompous ‘Brave New World of Mr. Trump’ there is one constant impediment to this world of liberal co-operation and vision: Mr. Trump himself.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The woe of women in politics.

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Last weekend there was a trifecta in political opinions in the Toronto Star that were equally wrong. The paper must be desperate for more knowledgeable opinions other than their usual scribes. To my surprise, I was appalled at the opinion expressed by new democrat Robin V. Sears, concerned at the meandering thoughts of conservative Jaime Watt and then in further disagreement with Professor Penny Collenette, a normally very astute liberal commentator.

One reason I have tended to agree with Ms. Collenette is that I have known her husband since he was in high school and while I stayed away from the Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa over the Chrétien years, I admired her perseverance there.

But if I had to pick the competent women in critical positions in world politics, I would leave American Nancy Pelosi and Brit Theresa May far down the list. Contrary to Penny Collenette’s opinion, neither is right for the job they are attempting to do.

First of all, Theresa May is trying to do the impossible task of putting through a policy that she never did believe in. She is supporting BREXIT because she wants the job of prime minister, not because she is committed to the cause. She does not have a horse in the race. And people are following her? Where to? What kind of legacy is that? It would be like Winston Churchill being a Nazi sympathizer throughout World War II. May’s predecessor did the honourable thing and resigned. And yet Theresa May is putting her voters and their ancient homelands at risk. The United Kingdom does not have a future as some minor adjunct of the European Union. It has to have a leadership position that can help keep the EU together with the UK in common cause.

And putting Theresa May and representative Nancy Pelosi together is a farce. Pelosi is the wrong generation. She is from the past, a manipulator and a conniver from the old school. What the Democrats need in the House of Representatives is leadership. There has to be a democrat under 50 in that house who knows what the hell it needs in the way of leadership. Let Pelosi do the backroom backstabbing and let the country have some decent leadership for a change

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

American capitalism betrays us.

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Since 1908, when Sam McLaughlin started building auto bodies in Oshawa for William Durant’s Buicks, Canada has been part of what became General Motors. Through good times and bad times, in World Wars and in boom times Canadians have supported GM. Today, we stand betrayed.

The relationship was always a consideration through the Auto Pact and the first Canada-U.S. free trade agreement and then the North American Free Trade Agreement. We always trusted General Motors. It was always a consideration. We willingly put up the loans that GM needed to survive the American debacle of capitalism in 2008.

We should have been alerted when General Motors did not take up all the incentives the previous Ontario government was offering for the development of electric cars. To now say that Canada cannot be part of the electric trend is insulting.

But we know that American capitalism is uncaring. American industry is an oligarchy without morals. It cares not for honour.

American capitalism funded Donald Trump as president. American capitalism and American politics share an unholy corruption that works against the real needs of the American masses.

And America is a land that insults and belittles its neighbours. It is a land that references its Gods but is steeped in bigotry. It is a land that corrupts politicians, police and parsons. It is where lawyers are amused by the overwhelming corruption.

Canadians spent a long time struggling with the confusion of negotiating a better free trade agreement. They were dealing with public servants who also had to struggle with their own leadership.

But the point all along was that such a deal has to be based on fairness, not greed. It must be based on honesty, not advantage. It needs to be based on all parties building something better together.

But General Motors’ oligarchs have wiped away the frosting on the cake. They have told those Canadians: Fuck you.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Underlining the ignorance of Trump.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump is but an immature child playing at being the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. The point was so perfectly positioned the other day for all to understand by French President Emmanuel Macron. Vive la France!

It is when as a tourist you stand under the majesty of the Arc de Triomphe, trying to blot out the incessant horns of vehicles caught in the endless route of that traffic circle, that you understand the pride of the French. Macron was destined to say what he did in that setting.

The president named no names but listeners, including Donald Trump, could only add his name to each indictment. Macron told the world leaders in attendance that “patriotism is exactly the opposite of nationalism.” It was his belief that the millions killed in War I fought against the selfishness of nations fighting only in their own interest.

Macron denounced nations who stepped away from their treaties. He denounced those who put their own interests first. He believes it is their moral values that nations are denying in this way.

Mind you, after listening to Trump’s diatribes for the Deplorables during his run-up to the mid-term elections, you would assume those Americans had no moral values anyway. And the mixed results of those elections lead you to question both the common sense of the voters and the morals of the elected.

In an interesting follow-through to the French president’s speech, Canada’s Justin Trudeau took part in a peace forum where he put in a strong defence for the news media in their independent role of defending society’s institutions. He said that attacking the news media only fuels the cynicism that citizens have to all institutions that are there to protect us as citizens.

The world leaders had gathered in Paris to mark the 100 years since the armistice that ended World War I, also known as the Great War and as the War to End All Wars—it did not.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

In the grip of the political vortex.

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

Friends, foes and the pubic ask: “What the fuck is going on?”

The answer is that nobody really knows. Did you see the polls before the American mid-term elections? You got a lot of words but no answers. The pollsters knew that they had no answers. For years this politico has been producing a morning line that was noted for its accuracy in forecasting results. Not any more. My ability to forecast has disappeared into that vortex.

And it is a vortex. It is a vicious maelstrom, a state of constant confusion, a whirlpool sucking us into its oblivion. Politics has reached its own end of days. It is its time of self destruction. It turns into itself and eats its young. It has become perpetual confusion.

It staggers this apparatchik how the tables have turned. There are no rules of the political road left to ignore. What started out years ago as simply political manipulation has turned into deplorable duplicity. Where people used to just be annoyed at the unkept promises and self aggrandizement of politicians has become a palpable hatred.

The last provincial election in Ontario saw the destruction of a party whose leader quit rather than lead her party into oblivion. Instead of fighting it out to what could have been the obvious end, she cut her party adrift to the vicissitudes of a sea of angry and now confused voters.

Mind you, we used to say that nobody trusts politicians and not mean it. Now, we mean it. Nor do people trust the elites. They are losing confidence in the social safety nets and they are looking askance at the dog-eat-dog politics of today. Trust is gone. The one per cent are out for themselves and you can see the evidence to prove it.

Never, since the world-wide depression of the 1930s, have people been so distrustful. They are grasping at political demigods for surety they know does not exist. They are looking aghast at the money spend on political campaigns and are wary of the politicians and their backers.

And the Tammany Halls of politics stopped looking after their devotees years ago. If your parents were conservatives are you joining the party? And why would you even trust a political party?

There is more on this subject to come.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Exploring electoral ennui in America.

Saturday, August 25th, 2018

The one overriding perception of the 2016 American presidential election was that people were angry. Their disgust with Democrat and Republican party politics was visceral. A wise host and hostess tried to avoid discussions of politics among their guests. There was the common feeling that politics in America was not working. Washington was a quagmire. Politicians were failing to represent the people and there were many answers to the “Why?”

But what was at the root? Your senator or representative, Democrat or Republican, could always point at the other guy. There was no easy answer.

Take a look back at the campaign of Donald Trump. He broke all the rules. He hardly cared. The more the man proved himself shallow and unqualified for the presidency, the larger his claque grew. They supported him despite his limitations. They dug in their heels. They would shout down common sense.

And with the election of Donald Trump as president, the barbarian had breached the gate. As the incumbent, he was able to command centre stage as the court jester. What are you supposed to think?

Donald Trump has given succor to every tin pot dictator and aspiring tyrant in every country around the world. Let a mantra of lies carry you to your destiny, he tells them.

And yet this is a man who is becoming increasingly paranoid as he also realizes that the job of president is far beyond his capabilities. He is becoming the buffoon who entertains the troops. His rambling screeds at his ego-boosting rallies are becoming more and more incoherent.

Mr. Trump is not making America great again but destroying friendships with America. Under Trump, America stands alone, a pariah among nations.

But it is the lessons others are learning from the Trump experience that cause concern. Where can politics be headed when these egotistical supermen (and some ladies) decide they alone represent ‘Truth, Justice and their country’s Way’ in your local elections?

All the candidate needs to do is: Build on bitterness—conquer civility—defy definition—encourage evil—foment feuds—galvanize the gullible—hasten hostility—inculcate ignorance and the list goes on.

And candidates always have to remember that the news media are your enemy. Keep them guessing. You only have to pander to the needy. Promise them anything for their vote. Deliver at your whim.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

It should not all be about Trump.

Saturday, August 18th, 2018

The other day newspapers in North America and around the world joined in a paean for a free press. It needs to be said that where it failed was that so much of that valuable space was given so freely to U.S. president Donald Trump and that ilk. It was no palliative.

It failed when it gave much of the space to those who would destroy the free press that we do have.  It failed when it whined about detractors, their harsh words and scorn for their failures. It was not just the mote in their eye but their desperate search for new readers and subscribers. We could not read them all but we were concerned that, in those we did read, there did not seem to be much said about professionalism.

Press professionalism is something of a ghost. We talk about it but do not see it as often as we would want. Professionalism is a trust. It is the trust that the facts have been checked and double checked. It is the trust in a second opinion—call it editing—has seen the piece and declared it trustworthy.

And it takes experience. We are not all wonder kinder still fresh from journalism school. We have to learn to ask the right questions and not be afraid to ask them. We have to write the truth as we see it.

There must be some kind of a graduating ceremony in certain newsrooms. It is when a reporter stops writing news and switches to opinions. There really should be stiffer exams for that.

(I am obviously not talking about my efforts—here, you get what you pay for!)

Professionalism is something you get paid for. You go from trainee, to journey person, to professional. And a few get to master it.

You, as a reader, also have a responsibility. What is the point if you always agree with the media you are reading? How does that stimulate your thinking? What could be the point? If you never challenge the editors of your local newspapers, what does that say about you? When you are giving of your interest, you have a right to demand professionalism.

And us curmudgeons who complain from the sidelines are here in hopes we can also keep the newcomers honest. If we have an opinion you can appreciate; you will read us. If we do not; you will not. It is that simple. Readership is a barometer of whether any writing is of interest. The more you read, the larger, more interesting is your world.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Disciplining the diplomacy of diplomats.

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

She might be a bit smaller in stature but foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland is head-over-heels ahead of a conservative predecessor John Baird. Baird was something of an embarrassment throughout his tenure during the Harper era. And if Freeland knew enough to stay away from Twitter, we could give her even higher marks.

Who does she think she is; Donald Trump?

Freeland recently used Twitter to piss off the Saudis. How stupid could that be? What the hell does she think is the reason for countries having access to diplomatic channels?

Twitter is for children and show-offs. Twitter is for bad jokes. Twitter is for people who need to get a life. It is not a channel for diplomats.

If you really want to tell those Wahhabi Sunnis in Riyadh what you think of them, tell them to their face. A true Wahhabi knows that you are an infidel scorned by Allah and even worse, to them, you are just a woman. Why should those Bedouins give a damn what you think?

Your strength, as a diplomat, is in the country you represent. And you are representing a country that is recognized and respected around the world for its progressiveness in technology, in human rights, in respecting the ecology and its democracy.

And, it is why they will listen to you. If it is Canada speaking to them, they will listen. Their country might be barely out of the 19th century but they do understand our arguments in favour of human rights. Both countries gain by us training many of their medical specialists. And there are other areas of mutual interest.

This does not include our sell-through of American armoured vehicles. The fiction of those vehicles as Canadian is one that neither nation needs.

Admittedly, it is diplomacy that helps keep the world’s economics running smoothly.

And we should never forget that a very important venue for diplomacy is just down the road in New York. It is the United Nations. If you are worried about the Saudis threatening the peace in the middle east, take you concerns to the United Nations. Those diplomats enjoy a good squabble.

But never forget that it was the Brits who brought the Saudis out of the middle ages about 100 years ago. They are still a couple centuries behind. If we keep the proper diplomatic pressure on them, they just might listen.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump’s Divide and Conquest.

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

It has been worrisome lately that Justin Trudeau was heading off on a track that would take him too far from the liberalism we shared with his father. It is therefore important to note that he has done something with which a liberal can easily concur.

The younger Trudeau has made it clear to all that he stands for a three-country North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Both Trump and his agriculture secretary have stated that they would prefer to close a deal with Mexico before trying to resolve the remaining problems they say they have with Canada.

It would seem that the Americans are seeing Mexico as more desperate to maintain any level of trade agreement and Canada as the problem. They think they can bully the Mexicans to bring them on side and then, with Mexico locked in, they can strong-arm Canada to roll back some of the terms of the initial auto-pact that predated the Canada-U.S. NAFTA.

But when Donald Trump admits that he dreamed up the supposed deficits in trade with his country’s North American neighbours, he is not helping make his case for changes. His demand for a sunset clause coming every five years in the agreement would cause permanent instability. Companies dealing in major trade deals need to make long-term commitments to trading partners.

As things stand at this time, Mexico has a regime change in process that will take until December 1 to be completed. The incoming president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has already said that he stands with Canada on it being a three-country agreement. What the Trump negotiators are going to offer to change his mind, we will likely learn the seriousness of his commitment on that this coming week.

The strategy was obvious when the Mexican negotiators were invited to Washington this week and Canada’s lead negotiator foreign minister Chrystia Freeland is staying in Ottawa.

It was originally the intent to put NAFTA on the back burner for the three countries during the period of the Mexican presidential election that took place July 1, and then through the American mid-term elections in November. Should the American House of Representatives and the Senate come under the control of the Democratic Party at that time there could be a concerted effort to take control of trade away from President Trump.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Trumps do Europe this summer.

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Donald Trump and his lovely wife Melania are doing Europe this summer. Distaining the very pedestrian bus tours, the Trumps are using Air Force One and helicopters to speed their European journey. God forbid that they should have to meet and communicate with any of the lower classes.

It was bad enough in Brussels when Donald got into it with the Germans. In his typical ignorance of anything economic, he accused the Germans of supporting Russian natural gas sales. He could not understand the Germans buying natural gas from Russia. Maybe he can get his friend Vladimir Putin to explain it when they meet in Helsinki. The gas sales to Germany are the main source of hard currency to Russia. It would be crazy for the Europeans to cut off this critical trade with Russia.

Back aboard Air Force One, the Trump’s rested during their 30-minute trip to London. Nobody else would come to the airport to meet them in London so they were met by the American Ambassador. The London streets were already crowded with protestors, so they helicoptered to the American Embassy. The Trumps missed the fun in the streets. You really must admit that the Brits do good protests.

The Trump baby balloon was a big hit with the news media in London but they were throwing a party for the Trumps at Blenheim Palace out in Oxfordshire. It was a chance for the Brits to show that they also do good ceremony. Donald was not allowed to hold hands with PM Theresa May.

He held her hand the next day when he tried to explain an American reporter had got it wrong about what he said. He had complained that there would be no deal with the U.S. because May was trying to negotiate a soft Brexit instead of a clear cut off.

Later in the day, he was met formally by the Queen and 400 red-coated Grenadier Guards—complete with brass bands and pomp and ceremony. And if he could not get it right that, as a commoner, he was to walk behind the queen, they were going to load those Grenadiers’ rifles.

But before he got into any more trouble, the Trumps left for a weekend in Scotland playing at Trump golf courses. Donald would feel at home there.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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