Thursday, March 08, 2018

I've Got an Idea to Rescue Justin From His Slump

Unfair or not, Justin Trudeau has taken a hit in the public's mind over his pretty clumsy trip to India. With JT et famille sporting an elaborate wardrobe of Bollywood's best fashions, the Indian press took the piss out of him pretty relentlessly. The local scribblers piled on.

Now Trudeau's approval numbers have dropped to within spitting distance of Tory leader, Andrew Scheer's. That's Andrew "Chuckles" Scheer people, a guy with all the charisma of a recycled catheter.

Maybe JT should consider upping his game. He could start by reversing himself and honouring a major campaign promise - electoral reform. I would like it even better if he went for electoral reform and pipelines but that's probably too much to ask. 

Trudeau promised that 2015 would be our last first-past-the-post election. In short order he reneged on that committment but his "can't" sounded more like "won't."  His claim that it wouldn't work here, even though it works elsewhere, was utterly unconvincing. We would even accept the preferential ballot option if he insisted. Just do it.

Or maybe Justin can change course. Maybe he should transform himself from just another free trade mule into a Renaissance Man befitting of his legendary father. (full disclosure. what follows is taken from an email I wrote to a fellow blogger this morning)

I have long argued that Canada needs some serious redecorating. Ever since George H.W. Bush started this “coalition of the willing” business, America has treated certain allies, Canada included, as its de facto Foreign Legion.  Desert Storm was, arguably, a good cause – driving Iraq out of Kuwait. Kosovo – meh. Afghanistan, well we all lost our minds at the 9/11 attacks streamed live into our livingrooms. We even bent the rules around Article 5 in that, 1) – the US never attacked by Afghanistan, and 2) – at the time the US invoked Article 5 it was not truly “under attack.” Picky, picky.

Where we lost the plot was when Bush/Cheney decided America should turn to invading Iraq rather than finishing what it had begun in Afghanistan. We knew from Hans Blix and his team of UN inspectors that Saddam wasn’t hiding a mountain of WMDs. It was pretty obvious that Washington thought it could roll in and basically grab the oil for US energy giants. Why was the only Iraqi ministry US forces secured the oil ministry?

The US decided to offload much of the Afghan mission to free up troops for Iraq and wanted a Foreign Legion. Rick “Big Cod” Hillier talked Paul Martin into taking the combat gig in Kandahar with a laughably token force of just 2,000 personnel, no more than half combat ready, to a province whose area and population mandated a combat force of between 20 to 30,000.  Martin didn’t know any better. Hillier probably did know, definitely should have known , but obviously didn’t tell his prime minister. It’s right there in the US Army/Marine Corps field manual, FM-3/24.

We lost our war in Afghanistan, the first military defeat in Canadian history. We lost badly. War is a state of armed conflict used to achieve a political outcome. That sought outcome was defined by Stephen Harper. We were there to stay. We would never cut and run. We would stay until the Taliban had been vanquished, effectively eradicated. We would make Afghanistan safe for democracy and a restoration of human rights (as they had once enjoyed under the country’s last king). We did none of those things. The Talibs are resurgent. The government is a hopelessly corrupt amalgamation of warlords from five main ethnic groups. Little boys’ bums are all the rage again and the struggle for women’s rights languishes. Meanwhile we definitely chose to cut and run.

Then along came Libya, a not so tidy war that Obama basically offloaded on Europe. Harper staged a victory fly past over Parliament Hill for that one even as Libya itself descended into an intractable, second phase civil war, this one substituting Islamist radicals for Gadhafi.

Syria? ISIS has been driven out, more or less, for now. It has been reduced from a rebellion to an insurgency to what is today essentially a terrorist movement. That’s the thing with these guys. They can morph from one state to another, often rather effortlessly, and that enables them to be flexible, mobile. They’ll be back, probably in another guise.

I have gone on at some length on these events because the world has become no safer for all of our post 9/11 misadventures. If anything we’ve demonstrated, repeatedly, that all the King’s Horses and all the King’s Men are no longer a sure path to a meaningful, lasting victory. We have all the watches but the bad guys have all the time.

We are returning to a more challenging era, one akin to the last Cold War, another win that we utterly failed to consolidate as we allowed triumphalism to get the better of us. That Doomsday Clock is now closer to midnight than it has been since the Cuban missile crisis. Around the world but particularly in Europe, Eurasia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the greater Asia Pacific region all the way to Australia, Russia and China, everyone is madly rearming.

America is being overtaken, economically, by China which is fast making inroads into the Middle East, Africa and even South America (whatever happened to the Monroe Doctrine anyway?). We have seen a number of these major power transitions over the centuries. At various times in the modern period the dominant spot belonged alternately to the Spanish, the French, the Dutch, the Brits and now the Americans. Before that came the Greeks, the Romans, the Mongols, etc.

Here’s the thing. History tells us that these transitions tend to be difficult. Two-thirds of them result in war. Is war in the offing between the U.S. and China? From what I’ve read over the past ten years, China’s military leadership is quietly bellicose.  At some level they want to exact revenge for China’s “century of humiliation” at the hands of us white folks – Opium Wars, etc.?  That thought came to mind when I found an essay in the Proceedings of the US Naval Institute wherin an acting service officer complained bitterly that China was overtaking the United States “without a fight” as though that was unthinkable.

It would be tempting to dismiss that view as the work of a hothead only his sentiments go deeper in that, all the way back to the Project for a New American Century, the neo-cons (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith, Perle, Wolfowitz, Libby et al)  developed an “over my dead body” policy prescription that was subsequently embodied in the Bush Doctrine. That doctrine provided that America reserved the right to institute pre-emptive war against any nation or group of nations that challenged America’s economic and military domination.  Seriously, look it up.

The backbone of American airpower today and into the future are its stealth warplanes, the F-22 and F-35. Those are not dual purpose aircraft. They’re not defence oriented. There are simply too few F-22s to handle the job and the F-35 has a series of deficiencies that make it marginal in the air defence role. They are primarily offensive weapons designed to “take the fight to the enemy” and not just any garden variety enemy either.  They are purpose built to operate in heavily defended, hostile airspace.  One American general called the F-35 his “kick in the front door” weapon. Do you remember that the Japanese ran a dress rehearsal of their Pearl Harbour attack to test their shallow-draught Long Lance torpedoes in an appropriate anchorage? The USAF staged a similar “proof of concept” exercise called Operation Chimichanga that simulated a stealth first strike attack on China. Do you the Chinese maybe didn’t hear about that?

Whether it’s North Korea or the South China Sea or maybe just two countries getting into each other’s faces, this is not a very placid time. For Canada, however, it may be a time to begin loosening the ties that bind us to American foreign and military policy, perhaps by aligning Canadian  policy more directly with our western European allies. It doesn’t mean we won’t pick up the phone when Washington calls but maybe just not on the first or even the twenty-first ring.

If you follow this global rearmament business as I do you’re drawn to the conclusion that the world has absolutely no shortage of state of the art weaponry. State of the art everything. Hell even the city state of Singapore has six modern and very capable submarines.

How about we zig where everyone else chooses to zag by decoupling ourselves from Washington and restoring our credibility as an honest broker nation? Communications between rival nations (at all levels) are apt to become more strained in this overheated and armed-to-the-teeth milieu that has become our new reality. The need for a trustworthy intermediary may be greater now than ever before in Canadian history. It's a job suitable for the nation that gave the world the concept of peacekeeping, an initiative that earned Mike Pearson the Nobel Peace Prize.


Trailblazer said...

How about we zig where everyone else chooses to zag by decoupling ourselves from Washington

Long overdue.
Even the Brit's 'special relationship' is bollocks.

The USA sucks in it's neighbours to fight their wars decided by their foreign policy and expects the neighbours to purchase USA weapons .

The USA now designs weapons that are reliant upon their mother ship be it Trident or the F35.

Today Trump said something about tying trade to other countries increasing their defence budgets!
Nothing more than the USA deciding other nations foreign policy.


Jay Farquharson said...

the salamander said...

.. needs .. deserves 3 rereads ..
as i already read once..
that a Mound grand slam

Northern PoV said...

"How about we zig where everyone else chooses to zag "
Principled for. pol.? That's soooo 20th century.

Like Brian supporting Mandela when Thatcher and Reagan were villifying him?

And Jean Chretien?
Canada's position on Bush 2/Iraq War 2 ... this feat (yes feat, defying the Yanks while Blair was licking boots!)) exceeds anything Pearson or Trudeau Sr managed to do in their for. pol.
We should revere these little piece of our history, and celebrate them as a Heritage moments ... and use as a template for your call to action.

Trudeau Jr? he's a write-off along with the entire current "leadership" class in Ottawa.

Northern PoV said...

Oh, but Justin saved us! He called the big bad bully down south and got extension.... err exemption ... whatever

Anonymous said...

Notley has jumped the shark. It turns out that she is in fact a prize idiot, along with our tap-dancing, always on show, dead between the ears JT, and his corporate crew of neoLiberals.

I'm 100% behind you on this one. We are about to get that prize idiot outfit BP drilling in our Nova Scotia waters, again with no cleanup safeguards from the Liberals. All these pols see is money for themselves following idiotic, "sell the public down the road" time in the Commons or Legislatures.

Notley is about as social democratic as Atilla the Hun, trying to outdo Neanderthal Jason Kenney in Alberta popularity so she can win the next election. H L Mencken always said politicians' first yearning is to remain in office, rather than keeping to their original agenda. I used to think Notley was smart, but she turns out to be as venal as the next common ir garden variety pol.


Anonymous said...

Anyong......everything mentioned in this blog was all in the name of "money". I am tried of hearing how people are not able to live on 2 million dollars but need 2 billion.