Archive for the ‘World Politics’ Category

“What the world needs now…”

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Got an interesting e-mail the other day from a fellow commentator on Canada’s left coast. He had an excellent suggestion on what Canada should do about the currently growing estrangement from a badly run United States of America. He sees it as an opportunity for an independent Canada to become an honest broker for our world.

He wants us to create peace rather than be failed peace keepers. He sees our newfound freedom from the Americans as an opportunity for Canada to not only offer to broker but to enforce the peace. He sees us as taking Canada to a new level in world affairs.

He sees Canada as having been used as something of a foreign Legion by the Americans. The best example of this is when the Americans dumped their failed Afghanistan campaign on us.

I thought of it as Art Eggleton’s war. He and Prime Minister Paul Martin were duped by the Americans and their own military experts. It was the only war Canada ever lost. We were just another bunch of foreigners feeding our rations to the Pashtuns. They have been killing foreign soldiers for centuries and are getting very practiced at it.

He and I both agree that it was shameful that Canada never had enough troops in Afghanistan to make a difference. Thankfully we got out and those left came home to mourn our dead.

The problem I see to this plan for enforced peace is that we need a larger and better equipped military capability to undertake the role. We need ground support aircraft and aircraft that can give us control of the sky in troubled areas. We need rapid mobility and better intelligence in likely areas of need. We never want to go in blind. And it has to be clear up-front that decisions on the ground take precedence over the armchair experts at the United Nations.

We could be the world’s problem solvers. It would take commitment. The biggest problem is that these small police type actions often create more problems than were there in the first place. The Middle East for example is like a wack-a-mole game that nobody is allowed to win. We got rid of that dictator in Libya and have done worse in the long run.

Our advantage in this are the people from those troubled countries, who came to us for refuge and a better life. We need to interview and study what these people have to say about their former home and its needs. It can help come up with solutions.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Chuckles’ Scheer, meet Donald Trump.

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

Did you hear that Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer, Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in Ottawa, wants to move the Canadian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem? He must have heard that is what U.S. President Trump intends to do. That is a very bad move by Chuckles.

The problem is that the Canadian conservative leader wants to pander to the Jewish vote in Canada. He assumes it is the same reason as Donald Trump is supposedly pandering to the American Jewish vote. That is wrong.

Chuckles does not seem to be aware that Donald Trump is not political. He never has been and he panders to nobody but his lumpenproletariat followers. He has been doing business with New York Jews all his adult life. They have likely influenced his attitude about Arabs and Muslims. It boils down to: Jews good; Arabs bad. It would take a good psychiatrist to break that down into the whys but it means Trump sees Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu as an ally.

Netanyahu was visiting Washington the other day and in their joint news conference, the news media tried to get some clear answers from the American president about his proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum. Netanyahu was visibly amused by the byplay. It seemed to this political apparatchik that Netanyahu should be asked by the Canadian Jewish community, why he thought the proposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum were that funny?

The preponderance of Jewish voters in three electoral districts in Toronto and two in Montreal can be important in federal elections. Those five MPs are usually Liberals. Stephen Harper used ever trick in his book to try to win Irwin Cottler’s Mount Royal seat in parliament when Cottler stepped down at the 2015 election. Despite the concerted effort, a Liberal still won.

What Scheer also does not seem to understand is that Canada has maintained a very clear policy. As a friend of Israel, we maintain Israel’s right to exist and believe the time for moving embassies around is when there is a clear and lasting peace established by Israel and its Arab neighbours.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Small men. Big rockets. Bad news.

Monday, March 5th, 2018

What are the similarities between Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un? They all think they have the biggest, fastest, most invincible nuclear weapons. They all think of themselves as wielding immense power. They all fear for their position in a true democracy.

How would Mr. Putin survive in a country with a free news media? Would he get away with arresting his political opponents? Is North Korea allowed to have political opponents? Mr. Trump might like to get rid of his. In the mean time he is busy convincing his claque that they have to ignore the fake news of the news media. How many followers does he have for his twits this week?

How can a country such as Russia be the first to circle earth with its Sputnik and brag of the super speed of its rockets when it cannot even make a decent refrigerator? How can North Korea brag of rockets that can reach North America, when its people cannot get enough food? Maybe all three of these leaders are putting the emphasis on the wrong objectives.

Mr. Trump has been particularly bad at selecting priorities. His immigration stand has been hateful and hurtful to people less able to defend themselves. In a nation built by those “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” as described by Emma Lazarus, Mr. Trump is a boor and bigot, channeling his tunnel vision of the world to America’s millions of jingoists, religious right and other losers.

It is the abject failure of politics to evolve and develop in America as a system “by and for the people” that has brought the country to a state so like the other two oligarchies of the military.

Trump saw the frustration and used it. He saw the failure of Americans to vote in a corrupted system and took advantage of it. He saw the anger and fed it. If anything, Trump out-did his counterparts in North Korea and Russia. He achieved power in a land that thought it was free. He was turned loose as a child in a candy store. He yanks at the levers of power and delights at the consternation. He abuses his country’s allies and friends.

As Orwell showed in his book 1984, it is the tensions of war that keeps the proletariat focussed on the enemy instead of the inadequacies of their leadership. Obviously, more Americans need to love Big Brother.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

They are killing their children in America.

Monday, February 26th, 2018

It seems that Bashar al-Assad needs the Russians to help him kill children in Syria. Many world organizations have already charged al-Assad with crimes against humanity.

But what about Donald Trump’s crimes against humanity? Is he not culpable when he caters to his friends in the National Rifle Association (NRA)? Does he really think the NRA can teach teachers to shoot back? There will be no more basketball hoops on school property. They will need the space for the teachers’ shooting range.

But what good would gun-toting teachers be? There was an armed and trained guard outside that Florida school recently and we hear he was afraid to go where he could hear someone was shooting. I gather he was fired before President Trump could pin a medal on him.

I do not want to be critical of our American friends and neighbours but as long as you allow guns to be distributed as generously as Cracker Jack prizes, children will continue to die.

You can hardly put a bounty on NRA members. There are many Americans already working hard to solve this problem peacefully. It needs lots of reason, encouragement and a big stick. There are obviously some Americans in need of re-education. You can start with the members of Congress.

You can tell them that carrying a gun does not make anybody safe. There is always somebody with a bigger gun with a longer range.

And people really have to get over the idea that automatic weapons replace the need for accuracy.

In any country, there are people who are mentally and emotionally unsuited to be walking around with guns. When you insist on everybody having a right to their weapon of choice, you know that you are going to have some mistakes made. It is inevitable. People will die. And regrettably young people will also be in the line of fire. If you think your Second Amendment rights are more important than the lives of children, you have a serious problem.

And thinking of that problem—and if you are angry about it—you should put some purpose to your anger. Target the elections this November. Plan ahead, work ahead and organize ahead. You want to support candidates for congress who will support firm gun control. Not this namby-pamby stuff they spout—real gun control.

All you might save is the life of another child—carelessly cut down by people who should not have guns.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

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