Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Art of Chaotic Diplomacy

The world is still getting used to Donald Trump the President. Seasoned politicians and government officials at home and abroad cannot figure him out. Since his election, Trump has not acted or behaved like any politician before him. His approach to complex issues has been far from being presidential or diplomatic. However, so far, despite criticisms from his detractors and supporters alike chaos seems to be working very well for him. Is this a new era for diplomacy?

It is often said that in negotiations: ‘if you have no options, do nothing’. This is what past administrations has done with regards to North Korea and Trade. They may have negotiated but in the end too many times the U.S, according to Trump, have been on the losing end. Trump, a successful business man, has a different approach to negotiations. As the author of ‘The art of the deal’ he understands that going into a negotiation one must have a ‘best alternative to a negotiated agreement’ (BATNA). To think, that according to his detractors, Trump does not have a plan when he makes statements about North Korea, NAFTA or any policy for that matter, is not only foolish but insulting. He may not be a conventional politician but is far from being stupid, and the world better start understanding his tactics.

Let us take foreign affairs for a start. He does not like globalism, hence he disparaged the Climate Paris Agreement, and he forced NATO allies to pay their fair share, and always threatens to pull out or of existing agreements. He bombed Syria without telling the United Nations, and promises to cut U.N’s funding. Not your usual diplomatic moves, but the results have proved him right. As for North Korea he has called Kim Jong-un ‘little Rocket man’ denigrated him and sent aircraft carriers and military hardware to the region in response to North Korea’s continued missile and nuclear tests. By increasing sanctions he was able to get China on his side and now agree to meet Kim in a summit talk. This latest move has attracted criticisms from many quarters. Mostly from the same people who for decades have not been able to do anything and instead allowed the regime to increase and perfect its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. While I do not believe for one minute that these talks, if they happen, will get the desired results, in my view it will be a start to put the dictator on notice that his country could be attacked and destroyed.

As for trade his refusal to join the TTP and re-negotiate NAFTA, is not surprising since these were campaign promises. From a U.S point view trade agreements as they exists are in many cases unbalanced. Many countries including China have had preferential treatment, and the U.S, Mexico and Canada have progressed under NAFTA which in many instances need a review as a result of new technology. Trump’s imposition of 25% and 10% tariffs on steel and aluminum respectively is a tactic that will force countries to renegotiate now long overdue agreements, due to advances in technology, logistics and demographics, and more importantly because of the rise of China and India as growing economies. I suggest Canada and Mexico must come to the table with new ideas that include a removal of barriers on dairy products, and immigration policies at the southern borders of the U.S. Let us be quite clear, as a free trader I do not like tariffs, because they are a tax in another word, but if it used as a strategy to get better fair trade in a free market I am all for it.
What has been called chaos by the left and other perennial politicians is just another way of doing politics by Trump. His negotiation tactics which includes labelling, demeaning his opponents are a way to disarm his opponents. It may not be pretty but it seems that it produces results. Diplomacy as practiced by many of his predecessors has not worked in the case of Iran, North Korea and China. Trump believes that a different approach could be the answer to these thorny and dangerous problems.
 As a businessman he is used to hiring and firing his staff. He seems to be using the same management skills for his cabinet, as the revolving door keeps opening and closing on some of his personnel. The latest being Secretary Rex Tillerson, who has on a few occasions disagreed publicly with the President on foreign affairs. Let us remember that Secretaries and other government personnel serve at the President’s pleasure. He can hire and fire anyone on his staff.
Too often Canadians have followed the Democrat and liberal media rhetoric that Trump does not know what he is doing. Diplomacy is a very important part of governing; however history has shown that not all diplomatic decisions have been good for the world. The ‘Peace in our time’  decision by Chamberlain was not the best one ever. Obama followed in Chamberlain’s footsteps with his failed responses to the invasion of Crimea, East Ukraine, as well as the failure of his ‘Red line’ in Syria. His Iran deal made seems to be creating more problems in the Middle East than resolving dangerous terrorism and sectarianism issues. North Korea has been a thorn in the side of several administrations for over two decades. Now that NK possesses nuclear capabilities the negotiations are going to be more difficult. Empty talks and diplomacy through the U.N has not and will not work.
In Canada as reported by the National Post, we have civil servants like “Canada’s G7 sherpa Peter Boehm saying that the previous Conservative government “suppressed” everything diplomats tried to do during its decade in power. Others have complained that the Conservatives shackled senior public servants and foreign envoys and required them to clear almost all public communications with their political masters in Ottawa.” Canada and the U.S may have different constitutions, but in my view diplomacy should be conducted according to the government’s policies not at the behest of civil servants. If Canada chooses to allow diplomatic civil servants to dictate policies, this is not the case in the U.S. Let this be a warning to Canada’s NAFTA negotiators.
As a businessman Trump is used to hiring and firing his staff. He seems to be using the same management skills for his cabinet, as the revolving door keeps opening and closing on some of his personnel. The latest casualty being Secretary Rex Tillerson, who has on a few occasions disagreed publicly with the President on foreign affairs. Let us remember that Secretaries and other government personnel serve at the President’s pleasure. He can hire and fire anyone on his staff.
Diplomacy that worked, according to Reagan was ‘Peace through strength’, unlike Obama’s ‘outstretch hands’ or ‘smart power’ which never worked. If Trump’s chaotic diplomacy works, the better for the world. We should not criticize Trump because of his blustering style.  Maybe we should wait and see and hope that his approach bears better results.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Swamp is about to get more Dangerous

During his presidential Donald Trump repeatedly said that he would `drain the swamp`. He was referring to the establishment running the Congress and Senate of the United States. So far his promise seems to be unfulfilled, and his efforts are about to get worse.

In my book Conservatives: Dead or Alive? I wrote that Mitt Romney blew his chances to become President when he did not rebut Obama in his last debate. Instead of attacking Obama when he was rebuked for saying that ‘Russia was the greatest threat to the U.S’ he remained silent. At this point his election was doomed. However, I also said that he may return in 2016 to challenge Hillary Clinton, but he did not. When Trump threw his hat into the Republican primary, Mitt Romney immediately called him a ‘Fraud’ and became a member of the “No Trump” cabal.

In a twist of fate, when Romney ran for President he called on Trump to support him, but in a change of heart and sheer jealousy he did not reciprocate. Despite their differences, Trump considered Romney for a potential position as Secretary of State, but that is water under the bridge. Since then, President Trump has had quite a few achievements: a growing economy, getting  rid of numerous regulations, the defeat of ISIS, higher employment for everybody including Hispanics and African-Americans,  and lower taxes, to name but a few. Most people would not recognize these achievements since they are not widely reported in the liberal media. Instead the media has focused on collusion with Russia and other administrative snafus.

To achieve these goals Trump has had to deal with many obstacles. The Democrats still reeling after the Clinton defeat have no intention of collaborating, but his worst opponents have  included some members of his own party led by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. These two stalwarts of the Republican Party have done everything to obstruct many of Trump’s agenda. McCain in a grand standing display on the Senate floor stopped the repeal of Obamacare.  Graham who had been trying to get on the President’s good side, for a while, did not support Trump’s proposal to get rid of DACA and improve the existing United States immigration morass. Remember that these two Senators both tried to become President at one time or another. In a disastrous campaign against Obama, McCain lost in 2008. As for Graham he tried to run in 2016, but received less than 1% in the GOP primary. In other words they are two losers in the eyes of the American electorate.

Re-enter Mitt Romney on February 16, 2018, when he announced his intentions to run in the vacated Senate seat in Utah. It was speculated that when Senator Orrin Hatch retired that Romney would try to replace him. Now it is official, he will do so and more than probably will win the race and enter the Senate. In his announcement to run, while Romney avoided direct onslaughts on Trump he did say:  Utah welcomes legal immigrants from around the world -- Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion. And on Utah's Capitol Hill, people treat one another with respect." This statement is a direct hit on Trump’s intention to reform the immigration system that has plagued the country and many former presidents who have tried to do so.
 If Washington needs reform, Romney will not be the one to help doing so. In fact, in my opinion, he will join the other two losers, McCain and Graham, and oppose many if not all of Trump’s efforts to ‘drain the swamp’. He has already been endorsed by his former running mate Speaker Ryan, and will no doubt be endorsed by many others in the party who see Trump as a disruptor and enemy of the establishment. So where does all this lead us to?

There is my point of view and opinion: Romney will be elected to the Senate, and in the year’s leading to the 2020 Presidential primary he will play nice but oppose Trump when his vote may not be needed to pass legislation. Then in a move reminiscent of Edward Kennedy’s attempt to become president, Romney will challenge Trump in the primary and if he wins the swamp will survive to the applause of the establishment, the RINOs and the left.

The moral of this piece is that we should beware of larger alligators entering the swamp; they usually eat their young - just like Conservatives

Thursday, 8 February 2018

The Trump Saga: Collusion or Conspiracy?

Ever since Trump was elected President of the United Sates, the delusional left has been trying to get him out of office. It first started with accusations of collusion with Russia, then it became obstruction of justice. Do we have a ‘vast left-wing’ conspiracy in the United Sates?

Collusion is defined as a secret understanding for a fraudulent purpose. The Democrats imply that meetings between the Trump campaign and Russian individuals are acts of collusion to subvert the elections. Notwithstanding that Adam Schiff, the Ranking Democrat  Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has appeared on Kremlin backed RT. However since there are no statutes to criminalize such acts according to Lawyer Alan Dershowitz who states flatly that “even if it were to turn out that the Trump campaign collaborated, colluded or cooperated with Russian agents, that alone would not be a crime, unless the campaign asked them or helped them to commit criminal acts such as hacking.” As a result of the Democrats alleged accusations of collusion, special counsel Robert Mueller, was appointed to investigate the Trump campaign, apparently based on the contents of a so-called ‘Trump Dossier’.  So far there has been no evidence of collusion, and the charge of obstruction of justice has been added to the investigation, because the President fired the FBI Director James Comey. As the investigation progresses we see many twists to the case as former Trump campaign personnel are being charged with money laundering, giving speeches in Russia and other meetings with Russians. Yet there was no alleged collusion when in 2012, President Obama was overheard over a hot microphone telling President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia he would have "more flexibility" to negotiate with Putin after the election.

The real question is why was the special counsel appointed and what is the evidence for surveillance of the Trump campaign under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant? It seems that there was a concerted effort by certain members of the FBI and the Department of Justice to either protect Hillary Clinton or to subvert the election of Donald Trump. As more texts and e-mails are being found and declassified we are starting to see a pattern of true collusion to hurt Trump. The real source for a FISA order seems to emanate from the ‘Dossier’ for Fusion GPS authored by Cristopher Steele.
Christopher Steele is a former British spy who had previously worked for the FBI. The Dossier was first funded by Republican no Trumpers, and then was financed by both the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC. Furthermore it seems that the FISA order was obtained without the judge being informed that the Dossier’s information came from Russian sources.
The FISA snafu may be only the tip of the iceberg. It is now revealed that members of the FBI were talking about a meeting of a ‘secret society’  in text messages exchanged between two senior FBI officials named Peter Strzok and Lisa Page during and after the 2016 election. In addition coming to light is the relationship between Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and Steele who was hired by Fusion GPS where his wife, Nellie Ohr works.
Another interesting connection is the case of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe who with James Comey, was responsible for Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails investigation.
McCabe’s wife was given $467,000 by then-Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's a friend of the Clintons’.

There is no doubt that the Trump saga is turning into a political football between the Democrats and the Republicans. Hate or love Trump he was elected President, but the delusional left who cannot believe they lost an election that they should have won will continue to look for collusion or obstruction of justice. By the way the President can fire anybody he wishes, including the Director of Deputy Director of the FBI.

 Memos between different political factions will not solve the problem. If it is decided to investigate Hillary Clinton for the deleted emails and her actions when dealing with the sale of uranium to the Russians, this will further acerbate the political divide. There are still other troubling issues to be examined. What was discussed between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch on a tarmac in Arizona?  What was the role of the Obama administration and the State Department in the obtaining of the FISA order? How much did Obama know? The problem is that the United Sates maybe going down the path of a constitutional crisis that could be even greater than Watergate.

While all this may be a U.S problem, as a Canadian I am also very worried about the role played by the Canadian media in reporting these events. Every day we are bombarded by  one sided news about collusion with the Russians, and obstruction of justice by Trump. As an example Global’s Dawna Friesen starts every night with a segment about Trump, using sources like ABC, NBC, CBS and of course CNN, all members of the liberal mass media. I opined that since Friesen found out that many Canadians are worried about her reporting of events, she decided to defend herself in a the segment titled  'Reliable sources under the age of misinformation' Friesen interviewed Brian Stelter CNN’s Senior media reporter. The subject discussed is about the attack on the media by Trump and others. Problem is that there is no analysis from the other side of the issue. If Canadian reporters are worried about the truth they should do their own analysis and stop being the sycophants of the Liberal left.
Who do we believe? Who is colluding? Who are the conspirators? Is there a secret society against Trump? Is the ‘deep state’ trying to undermine the Trump Presidency? Remember the 'truth is out there' the media just has to work harder to find it, instead of relying on the same distorted sources. The media used to be the guardian of the truth today it seems that the Liberal media has lost all credibility.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Trudeau and Islamophobia

As we enter a new year, politicians seem to be ready to ratchet up their control on citizens’ thoughts. Political correctness has taken over in our education system and now governments want to punish us for speaking out. What are the dangers of legislation concerning Islamophobia?

In many industrialized world, there seems to be a reaction to governments’ bad policies regarding the influx of immigrants from Islamic countries as a result of increasing terrorists attacks, citizens are expressing their feelings about Islam. However governments are imposing laws that protects free speech against Islam, but not against any other religion. The meme of “Islamophobia is now used to muzzle citizens’ angst and fears.

The late Christopher Hitchens said that Islamophobia – "A word created by fascists and used by cowards to manipulate morons." Well it seems that the Trudeau government has chosen the path of using the word to manipulate public discourse and garner votes by controlling speech. Furthermore his actions since becoming Prime Minister have shown a complete lack of distinction between photo-ops and policy making. It is said that one may be guilty by association. Well Trudeau’s association with certain groups and more importantly his public pronouncements, or lack of it, about terrorism clearly shows a  bias.

From an unbiased point of view, I would agree that singling out Muslims as a violent monolith, would be very wrong, but ignoring that the majority of terrorism acts have been perpetrated by people either of the Islamic faith or affiliated to an Islamic Jihadist group would be very dangerous.

What is truly disturbing is that many governments are now influencing the media in their reporting of terrorism. In Canada as in other countries the media and governments take a long time to declare an incident as an act of terrorism, even when it is clear that it is perpetrated by a Jihadists shouting ‘Allahu Akbar.  Recently in Edmonton a truck was used to plough into a crowd as the driver proclaim his faith, but to date the crime has yet to be labelled an act of terrorism.
Our Prime Minister mistakenly takes every opportunity to show his policy of ‘inclusiveness, and diversity by associating himself with causes and persons of dubious affiliations. To ensure that his message gets across he encourages laws to be passed in Parliament to either control speech or even punish speech against Islamic terrorism.

Trudeau’s silence on the protest in Iran is further proof of his political position. It seems that he is following a script used by Obama during his presidency. Play along to be loved by everybody, and yet ignore the risks posed by Islamic terrorism. What is interesting is that in Canada we are using laws to protect the use of the Niqab, and Burka, while today the women of Iran are removing their Hijab in protest against a regime that oppresses them through laws that imposes what they can wear.
In recent past, Trudeau has met publicly with the returning family of Joshua Boyle, who is now been charged with criminal offences.  Boyle is the man who converted to Islam  married and  then divorced Zaynab Khadr, who once lived in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Afghanistan. Zaynab Khadr is the sister of the convicted terrorist Omar Khadr .What is being ignored is that Boyle decided to take his wife to Afghanistan and was captured by the Haqqani network, who according to his statements had offered him to join them.  His whole story of abduction and torture, is still debatable, or are yet to be confirmed. The question is why Trudeau would decide to make his meeting with the family so public?. Why would his government agree to give $10.5 million to Omar Khadr and considering similar legal cases by former terrorists to get compensations?

Sam Harris said: “There is no such thing as Islamophobia. his is a term of propaganda designed to protect Islam from the forces of secularism by conflating all criticism of it with racism and xenophobia.”  If Harris is correct, should we not be worried that our Canadian free speech rights are being infringed for political reasons?
What worries me is that governments may use their powers to muzzle ordinary citizens from expressing their concerns about a religious threat of terrorism. I have many friends of the Islamic faith, I know that they are not terrorists, but I must also acknowledge that given past terrorist acts that there is a certain element emanating from that faith that threatens us. Does that mean that as a writer and member of the public, I will be under the scrutiny of my government and perhaps charged with a hate crime for expressing my opinion? Has Canada under the Trudeau government reached a point where censorship has reached Stalinist proportions? Is it time to question the actions of the Prime Minister or is it too late?

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Canada: A Nation of Trade Morons?

English classical economist David Ricardo (1772-1823), put forward the theory of international trade, called the theory of comparative advantage.  It forms the basic claim of economists that free trade operates to the advantage of every nation, the advanced as well as underdeveloped or oppressed nations. But today, more often than not, politics is interfering with the basic objectives of the theory; this is clearly more evident in Canada.

Since 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect, we have seen strong economic growth and rising prosperity for Canada, the United States, and Mexico. NAFTA, like other Trade Agreements has shown that free trade increases wealth and competitiveness, and delivers real benefits to families, farmers, workers, manufacturers, and consumers. However not all participants in free trade have honoured their agreements. In many instances we still see trade deficits among participants. It is one of the reasons for Trump’s demand for a re-negotiation of the current agreement.

While Trudeau’s government is trying to play hard ball with the U.S, it is the type of proposals he has put forward that is worrisome. For some observers there is too much emphasis on including ‘progressive ideology’ in free trade agreements. Instead of really negotiating the factors of comparative advantage, Trudeau has included the rights of labor, gender, environmental and other social issues in the debate. In my view these demands will be obstacles rather than negotiating factors. To Canadians who too often are paying higher costs for too many goods, it is time that we take down some barriers and negotiate in good faith, 

In my view abolishing the soft lumber subsidies and the constant irritants that is supply management will benefit rather than harm Canadian consumers. By the same token we should be negotiating to get better access to more markets in the U.S for the goods that we are better at producing, for example our oil and other natural resources.

It is not only Trudeau who does not understand the benefits of free and fair trade. When it comes to free trade, Canadians have no idea what it means. We are a nation of protectionists. We have barriers for everything; from the movement of labor to the free movement of goods and services. We have more restrictions within the country than we have with other nations. Canada as yet to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement among all the provinces, and instead of seeing trade barriers fall, we see more barriers being erected.

Preaching from the environment altar , provinces have started an internal battle against oil from Alberta. Quebec opposes a pipeline east, and BC stands in the way of a pipeline west. We want trade with China but we cannot find a way to get oil to them, while we buy oil for the eastern provinces from a communist regime in Venezuela.

In a political move to protect Bombardier from a trade dispute with Boeing, the Prime Minister chooses to buy used F-18 planes from Australia instead of purchasing new F-35 from Boeing.

 Internally Canada does not fare very well either.  The NDP government of Alberta imposed a tax on craft beer brewed outside of the New West Partnership (British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan). In another case of sheer protectionism, The Supreme Court of Canada will hear a Crown appeal of a New Brunswick ruling overturning a ban on bringing alcohol across provincial boundaries.

In a new twist, Alberta’s NDP Bilous is furious at Saskatchewan over a few trucks and Brad Wall in his last days as Premier gets into the fray and we now have a potential war between the neighboring provinces. It looks as if the days of free traffic flow between Alberta and Saskatchewan are over. Drivers of heavy equipment, trucks, or cars to the work site with Alberta plates instead of the green and white plates of Saskatchewan “will have a week to comply or be sent home.

At home and abroad, the idea of free trade has reached a watershed moment. When PM Brian Mulroney negotiated the trade agreement, he was a leader who understood the concepts of comparative and competitive advantage. But today across the world the forces of populism led by Trump is causing havoc with Ricardian principles. It is not that free trade is bad, but it is the claim that fair trade no longer exists. The progressives have taken over the ideas of free trade to politicize their ‘open border agenda’. Instead of promoting the free movement of labour they insist that it should be the free movement of people, no matter whether they are skilled or unskilled, whether they are legal or illegal. Furthermore trade imbalances and deficits are the main reason for the need to re-negotiate existing agreements.

Unfortunately for Canadians, who in the main are totally uninformed about the ramifications of free trade, are led by a leader who has no concept of Ricardian principles. Instead he seems to be under the influence of some progressive agenda to promote social causes around the world, to the detriment of economic advantages for Canada. He has already botched the TPP and mangled any possible trade with China.

Furthermore, mired in his environmental convictions Trudeau has been unable to get a free trade agreement between provinces. However, Canadians, in general, are to blame for this situation, which may well cost us in the long run. As a nation we are too insular, and protectionist. Understandably we are a small country demographically, but we must open our trade borders internally as well as internationally. We have much to offer, and we must take advantage of our resources and abilities. The 21st century can belong to us, if we embrace free trade
We need real leaders on trade in Canada, not protectionist provincial politicians who would look no further that their next election when making decisions on trade. We need Canadian consumers to understand that there are better ways to reduce prices and costs, and that includes a freer market and the free movement of goods and services.

Instead of following the lead of the mass media and blaming Trump for our trade woes, maybe Canadian trade morons should look in the mirror and embrace the notion that Trump may well save us from ourselves.