Monday, June 18, 2018

There's a Lesson for Us in This.

Canadians have always taken for granted our "special relationship" with the United States and the longest undefended border in the world, yada, yada, yada.

Integrating our economy with America's seemed like a no-brainer. Hey, they're just next door. They're our only "next door." One thing led to another and eventually we integrated other aspects of our national identity such as our foreign and military policy. In many ways we were the dutiful branch plant to Washington's Head Office.

For years I've been questioning if we hadn't lashed Canada's boat too tightly to America's leaky ship. Were we making ourselves unduly vulnerable to the vagaries and fortunes of the American state?

Before Trump I never imagined that an American president could exploit this "special relationship," weaponize it and turn it against us. However this sadistic son-of-a-bitch has spent his entire life discerning and then exploiting the vulnerability of others. He's a predator, always has been. He's left a mountain of devastation in his wake - investors, lenders, creditors - anyone who gets within range.

Before Trump I don't think any of us imagined we would be where we are today but here we are. Our willing integration with the United States is our Achilles' Heel. If America turns schoolyard bully, we have to hand over our lunch money or take a pounding.

Yeah, but surely that's just Trump. He might be gone in a couple of years. Only it's not just Trump. Congressional Republicans, other than a few who aren't seeking re-election, are doing nothing to defend this "special relationship." Any idea that the "bought and paid for" legislative branch is Trump's co-equal, capable of independent action and holding Trump in check,  is now a dark farce.

This isn't a trade dispute. It's an attack. That "special relationship" business is nonsense. You can't have a relationship, special or otherwise, without two parties.

Canada needs to re-align dramatically but it may already be too late for that. At least we can come to our senses and realize America may no longer be our friend.


Deacon Jester said...

Not only is America not our friend America is uniquely our ball & chain and we locked it onto ourselves willingly with our eyes half shut.

Anonymous said...

Canadians have always been asking for America's approval, to see us, look at us, accept we are good people. Will Ferguson's Book "Why I Hate Canadians" says it all. Anyong

Owen Gray said...

There is nothing to be gained by appeasing The Elephant.

Scott in Montreal said...

It's tough imagining that though. Between troops embedded in NATO and NORAD, the 70% (if memory serves) or our economy dependant on trade with the USA, and the natural co-existence that generations have taken for granted within companies and institutions of learning, we are very thickly entwined.

I have relatives and friends on the other side of the border, and happy memories of vacations there. Some ninety percent of Canadians live within 100 miles of the border.

But I doubt Trump will leave the presidency any way but through his death. And for an complete miserable ass like him, that could take many years.

Jay Farquharson said...

Keep in mind that our economic relationship with the US, started in the 1930's,

and we arn't completely "helpless":

The Mound of Sound said...

We do ourselves no good service if we assume there'll be some magical reset in the US/Canadian relationship after Trump leaves the White House. That is naive. Had that even been possible you would have seen bipartisan defiance of Trump's trade wars. There's been none beyond some minor grumbling.

Does that mean it couldn't happen? No. It means that it isn't prudent to increase our exposure to a breakdown that may well persist to our detriment. It means that it is prudent to anticipate a "rainy day" outcome and re-align ourselves accordingly, if we even can.

When you find yourself mistakenly traveling down a dead end road you have to change course, turn around. That doesn't mean it won't have consequences but you do have to choose.

A good start is to imagine where we would want Canada to be in 10-years, 20-years and 30-years so that we can figure out what we can do to achieve those goals. How do we reduce our dependency on the American economy and hence our vulnerability to the whims of whatever idiot they next put in their White House?

Lorne said...

I also wonder, now that the beast of demagoguery has been fully unleashed in the U.S., whether politicians who succeed Trump will take some very bad lessons from his presidency and try to apply them. We would be foolish to expect relations to return to normal once the Orange Ogre is gone.

Deacon Jester said...

The US has crossed the line now. Soon Trump will have to announce some kind of final solution, possible even using those words all unknowing. The USA we've known is gone. Dead and gone. It won't be back. And it will get worse - so much worse you won't believe it.

Anonymous said...

A flyweight can't hope to beat Mike Tyson by trading punches. His only hope is asymmetric warfare, i.e. a kick to the nads and a chair to the head. Similarly, Canada hasn't a chance against the US by following our current strategy of hitting them with the same value of duties. The US can deal out and absorb a lot more punishment than we can.

We need to go asymmetric, and as law prof Amir Attaran says, that means targeting Big Pharma's patents:

The U.S. holds more pharmaceutical patents and other intellectual property licences than any other country. But that strength could become a vulnerability if Canada took action to suspend American patents on Canadian soil. Canadian companies would then be able to produce those drugs....

Attaran believes the tool already exists in trade law governing drug patents. He points to a historical example: Back in the days before the 1989 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, Ottawa routinely granted domestic drug companies the right to manufacture U.S. drugs — a practice that ended when the FTA and NAFTA were signed.

"If you want to go there, Washington, and start behaving in a pre-NAFTA, pre-free trade way, as by imposing tariffs, well, then we're also going to behave in a pre-free trade way, as by taking your patents," Attaran said.


Trailblazer said...

Knocking big pharma could well be an excellent retaliation.
It would be popular in Canada and ,again, entice americans to cross the border for prescription drugs.
Hitting big pharma and buying European aircraft to replace the CF18 would really show our displeasure.


Trailblazer said...

Blogger Owen Gray said...
There is nothing to be gained by appeasing The Elephant.

Read the National Post and the comment section and you would think that we should roll over and have our tummies tickled!
Having had our tummies tickled we would then be quite happy to chase the ball.

I get the feeling that opposition to the USA's tarifs is greater in the West than central Canada!


Karl Kolchak said...

IF America turns into a schoolyard bully? Newsflash--we already were. Just as the people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Syria. Ask those hopelessly imprisoned in our offshore gulag in Guantanamo or those who Obama droned to death.

All Trump did was drop the mask and show you what America is really all about. The problem America is not Trump--the problem with America IS America.

The Mound of Sound said...

Lorne, there has been a course of increasing accumulation of power in the executive branch. I can't recall when an incoming president shed powers his predecessors had wrongly appropriated, even when unconstitutional.

Absent some sort of unlikely Congressional uprising the next guy should be able to perpetuate Trump's excesses.

Some, like Chris Hedges, have claimed that America is in some "pre-revolutionary state" but it's hard to see any sign of that. There is a powerful pro-Trump base and the remainder seem largely distracted or enfeebled. What reason is there for hope much less confidence that the American people will stop this? I just don't see it.

The Mound of Sound said...

What I don't understand, Karl, is how did this nativism take hold in your country? How did Americans, the most advantaged people on the planet, come to see themselves as victims beset by everyone else, every other country? This xenophobia that Trump plays like a harp had to have come from somewhere well before Trump reached the national scene.

I noticed a CNN interview with Steve Bannon in which Bannon said he doesn't believe Trump has ever lied. Bannon claims what we see as lying is just Trump's vernacular by which he communicates with his followers. WTF?

Jay Farquharson said...

Keep in mind who writes letters to the editor to the Grope and Flail,.....

Jay Farquharson said...

Funny old world, Germany is now the country full of refugee's and the USA is now the country full of Nazi's.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that Bannon seems to have done his time in purgatory and is everywhere in the media these days. What's up with that? Has he kissed and made up with the Mercers or is someone else financing him? Enquiring minds want to know.


The Mound of Sound said...

Well put, Jay.

Trailblazer said...

A good start is to imagine where we would want Canada to be in 10-years, 20-years and 30-years so

I have asked, many times, just what is Canada's foreign policy , other than that dictated by the USA?


the salamander said...

.. a lot of good analysis in your essay & in the comments as well.. good observations. but we knew this was coming, we just didn't how many legs the scary creature would have. Social media has really changed everything.. a president who tweets and drones endlessly.. and a base (a disgusting base) that now has a 'voice' to spew whatever.. just like Trump. A corrupt diseased political environment is the perfect environment for a scumbag like Trump - who appoints his children and greasy thugs like Bannon, Miller et al. Why didn't Sean Hannity get appointed as well? Oh that would have limited his income below that of Alex Jones. Trump is a predatory parasite.. who's time grows short, very short. Its either a bullet or a bullet named Mueller & his salty crew. 'Whitch Hunt' ? There are almost 25 in Muellers indictment or plead out bag.. and no doubt more on the way. The big one though is Trump & family.. And one can't help noticing that the lawyers for the thugs are retaining counsel. Cohen, Hannity.. maybe Newt Gingrich all thinking 'presidential pardon' .. but what if Mueller spits the indictments up by State, as well as Federal charges? The Trumps are screwed in New York State.. per the Trump Foundation travesty.. but that lunacy is a Trump specialty.. tie it up in court till he's completely senile and maybe Javanka or the genius sons will cover the massive liabilities and fines.

This is The Descent Into The Maelstrom.. unfolding as we watch.. Its Lord of the Flies meets Animal Farm all wrapped up in one fat rancid deceiver, fraud and serial liar. I look forward to Stormy Daniels lawyer pulling the legs off Trump et al before he goes to hell.. Reputation ? Legacy ? The Benedict Arnold of our era. People in New York knew the facts.. and so no surprises.. Trump is essentially and ego driven contrarian, intent on trashing anything Obama.. You called him a predator.. I see him more as a parasite, like a lawn grub or a lamprey eel may be more realistic.. but once hooked or in a net will thrash around. He discovered a void in the GOP and look where that got North Americans.. a coward & bully, a serial liar deceiver, a womanizer mysoginist, who really doesn't 'like' anyone but himself.. and all the posturing and screetching about football players, the flag etc.. just that.. posturing. God forbid this guy gets anywhere near foreign policy or wars

The Mound of Sound said...

Our foreign policy, Trailblazer, has fallen into lockstep with America's. Nowhere is this more evident than in our policy on Israel and the Palestinians. There was a time when Canada would have served as an "honest broker" but that's over. Our voting record in the General Assembly has been the same as the Americans, always pro-Israel. That places us at odds with Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. We're in the tank for Israel.

Many people are rightly outraged at the way migrant toddlers, even babies, are being stripped from their mothers. Yet we have no outrage at the way Palestinian toddlers and babies suffer in the Gulag of Gaza. Most of those gunned down by Israeli army snipers within the "wire" that demarks the Gaza prison camp have never been out of that hellhole. Canada, meanwhile, just looks the other way.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, Cap, Bannon has brought his insurgency road show back to his homeland. Who's funding him? Who knows but I suspect he's not skipping any meals.

The Mound of Sound said...

Sal, you nailed it when you said we're witnessing a descent.

I'm focused on the looming Clash of the Titans between Washington and Beijing. A trade war between the US and China could be quite different from the scuffle Trump has started with Canada, Mexico and Europe.

The Trump/Xi conflict is the war for Top Dog status. This could be China's opportunity to cement its ascdendancy. History tells us that most of these superpower transitions lead to warfare. That was predictable when ships were made of oak, cannon were cast iron and fired grape shot. This transition will be the first we've seen in the Nuclear Age.

I would bet that Xi has a critical advantage. He can probably weather the domestic reaction to a recessionary trade war much better than Trump. Trump's base will be hit. They're quite vulnerable. But it will be the Kochs, the Coors and the Adelson's who will be gunning for him if they see he's launched a ruinous trade war without much chance of success.

It's Xi's advantages that I find most worrisome. Trump is not a rational, stable person. How will his emotional frailties come into play if he senses that he's losing, in danger of being exposed as rash, even stupid?

Look who now surrounds Trump - Pompeo, Bolton, Navarro - not terribly rational people. They've got his ear and they know how to play on Trump's basest instincts, his paranoia and, yes, fear.

Maybe this irrationality will work to Trump's advantage, sort of like how Kissinger tried to persuade the North Vietnamese that Nixon had gone postal. Maybe not. Maybe Xi will choose to fight another day. Maybe he'll dig in and let this loose cannon roll across the deck. Who knows?