Last year, Canada took in some 39,000 Syrian refugees and Canadian cities from coast to coast have made great efforts to help them adapt and assimilate. The U.S., on the other hand, let in a grand total of roughly 13,000 refugees, an embarrassing number given our population is only a tenth of theirs.
It used to be that the United States had a national purpose and a sense of community. For years, America had a commitment to common social goals as evidenced by Roosevelt's New Deal, Kennedy's New Frontier and Johnson's Great Society. That now seems a distant memory. After the Reagan-Bush years came Bill Clinton and another decade of selfishness and corporate greed. Although the books were eventually balanced, it was at the expense of the neediest as the gap between the haves and the have-nots widened into a chasm.
They say that Twitter has created a powerful new way for everyone to engage in political dialogue. I'm not so sure it's a good thing. One has only to look at the dysfunctional American political environment, the rise of Donald Trump and the decline of the European Union to see that the inmates take over the asylum.
On February 12, Harper vowed to appeal a federal court ruling that would allow Muslim women to wear a niqab during citizenship ceremonies. Speaking to the press about the matter, Harper said, "That is not the way we do things." He added that, "This is a society that is transparent, open and where people are equal, and I think we find that offensive." This is a classic example of opportunistic feminism, which so many white men like to make use of from time to time.
Reagan should rightfully be honoured as America's father of deregulation but it's hard to see how this designation deserves a reward. Financial deregulation initiated by Reagan helped cause a recession during his first term and was the crucial first step which ultimately led to the global meltdown of 2008.
It wasn't too long ago when Canadians were shouting at the top of their lungs about George Bush, the Iraq War, Guantanamo Bay, Gay Rights and a myriad of other "American" issues. But the tides have turned quickly. Canada is now what the U.S. was in the George W. Bush days. I can't point to exact moment, but all I can say it happened really fast.
News that four former Guantanamo detainees have filed a complaint against Canada with the UN Committee Against Torture for the Canadian government's failure to arrest George W. Bush has caused quite a tempest in our teapot. Evidence of Bush's involvement in authorizing war crimes and torture goes far beyond the reasonable grounds necessary for law enforcement.
We now see every week the crumbling of foreign policy of the United States. The War on Terror was not without mistakes, but the War on Drugs has been a disaster in every respect. Only 20 years ago, the U.S. bestrode the world, the only super power, strong by any measurement. Today it is quavering, waffling, semi-bankrupt, lurching from one mistaken and often hypocritical policy to the next.
International relations scholar Henry Nau suggested two metaphoric approaches to U.S. foreign policy. The first is the jigsaw puzzle. The second is the chess game. The United States will determine whether it wants to play chess or jigsaw for the future of North America. The question is, will Harper decide to play nicely with the others?
In Afghanistan, Obama is all but conceding defeat. We saw it in Vietnam when then-President Richard Nixon assured that the withdrawal of American troops meant "peace with honour." But it's still a country where, if the Taliban have power, Sharia law will flourish, women will continue to be persecuted, niceties like amputations, stoning, honour killings and such will blossom.
The reluctance of the United States to be involved even peripherally in an almost open-ended series of concurrent Middle Eastern conflicts is understandable. But Syria is aflame. Its regime has been a notorious terrorist exporter for decades, and is the chief conduit for Iran into the Arab world, the principal supporter of Hezbollah and Hamas.