The G20 summit this week, and the growing Syrian catastrophe, underscores the reality that we are living in a G-zero world. The bonds that once held nations together have severed, and there is nothing close to an international consensus on any hot-button matter being discussed today. Welcome to the G-Zero world, where we exist in a geopolitical power vacuum as the west declines and emerging nations (China, India) concentrate on their own domestic problems. It may be this way for a long while.
On Canadian Thanksgiving Monday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a major foreign policy address to the faculty and students of the Virginia Military Institute. He did not mention Canada once despite the fact that his vision of U.S. global leadership is like the Hollywood-budget version of Canada's indie foreign policy sensation. Should Romney become the 45th president of the United States, it will be essential, though, for him to recognize that U.S. leadership must be exercised in a spirit of partnership for it to be successful. The message to Ottawa in January can't be "Thanks Canada for doing the right things in world affairs -- we'll take it from here."
If there's one rule every one of the scores of broadcast journalists I've ever coached -- in Canada or overseas -- agrees with (at least in theory) it's this: the best broadcaster talks to one person, and only one person, at a time. And shares information with that person. Here some ideas on anchoring.
After decades of mistaken policy with the Middle East, the U.S. should do what's necessary to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, and get rid of Assad and his sycophancy to Tehran. America has a very poor track record with the Middle East, and will simply, eventually, have to do better than this.
A model of non-violence and civil disobedience in line with the Green Movement that began in 2009 is the best course for the future of Iran. International isolation and pressure on the Iranian state will lead the government toward further repressive measures. Military intervention will only make things worse.
The G8 Summit was oddly clarifying: With Europe riven with divisions over the euro and the sclerosis of welfare states in aging societies, the United States wrapped up in increasingly parochial domestic politics, Japan adrift and Russia backsliding into authoritarianism, Canada stood alone as a country with healthy economic prospects and a stable government.
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.