Actions matter more than words, but in his speech to Americans, Obama's words overshadowed his actions. He spoke to hearts and minds, outlining an aspirational set of shared values on immigration. His subtext was 'we're not there yet,' but speaking ten steps ahead of hearts and minds is how to get there.
In Canada, Liberals don't try to convince Conservatives they think alike. They try to find other Liberals and actually enforce Liberal policies. There's already a Conservative party, so why run opposite them if the goal is just to be a different version of them sans a few social issues? There's already another party doing that anyway.
In an unfortunate coincidence (or convenient bit of political timing) last night, on the eve of 9/11, President Obama addressed the world regarding the looming threat of ISIS and laid out America's plan to arm Syrian rebels and engage and destroy this group of extremists. It's too open and shut. ISIS is bad. Something must be done. We are going to do something about it. Not a word of how we got here. Not a moment to contemplate how the next step might create the next open and shut situation. Many regretful events led to the horror of September 11th and many more continue to happen as a consequence of it. To ignore this and go forward without learning a lesson from the price those people paid is a shame.
Harper and Abbott have to understand that we can no longer have economies that exist outside of the ecological limits of our planet. Our reliance and exploitation of fossil fuels is endangering our future as well as our present and it needs to end. We need to transition to green energy and we need to keep more fossil fuels, especially high-carbon fuels like the tar sands, in the ground.
With President Obama's call for a "pause" in the floundering if not failed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, the U.S. gambit to use the promise of Jonathan Pollard's release as an incentive for talks has arguably now ended. The injection of Pollard's release -- the former U.S. naval intelligence analyst sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 for passing secret documents to Israel -- as a bargaining chip should not have happened anyway and here is why.
This ethic came under attack in the 20th century when Frans Boaz and Bertrand Russell introduced moral and cultural relativism. Boaz wrote there were no inferior or superior cultures, that all were equal and couldn't be ordered in an evolutionary scale. Russell believed the survival of democracy required tolerance and understanding of others.
A Keystone bomb would deliver several payloads: punishment toward anti-American Venezuela; proceeds toward Canada which buys more goods and services from the U.S. than the European Union does; punishment toward Russia by casting into the markets more Venezuelan oil and replacement of Venezuelan oil with Canadian oil that is $30 a barrel cheaper.
Crimea is a pity, and likely victimized by Moscow pressure, but the reality is that Ukraine is a failed state without a government, a constitution that can be enforced, an army that can be called upon to defend its people or an economy. If I lived in Crimea I'd vote for the devil I know (Moscow) rather than the devils to come (Kiev).
The West, and especially the English-speaking West, has wrongly taken sides in the present conflict in Ukraine. Instead of making empty promises or threats, our message should be clear and decisive: "What is happening in Ukraine is a matter that its population has to sort out for itself. But, if asked, we will work with all interested parties to mediate a speedy and peaceful resolution." No more, no less.
We're producing so much oil sands crude that we've overwhelmed cross-border pipeline capacity. Now the industry is stuck in a Catch-22. Profit margins have dropped dramatically. To reassure investors, bitumen miners talk about dramatically expanding production. But the more we produce, the more we exacerbate the supply glut.
Could rail realistically provide an alternative to the Keystone XL, aiding in the expansion of Canada's highly-polluting tar sands? The Keystone XL will undoubtedly support tar sands production, promote continued tar sands investment, and contribute to Canada's already-significant greenhouse gas output.
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.
Obama's "small footprint" action will, even if authorized by Congress, likely produce no advantageous consequence vis-à-vis American interests in Syria, but could illicit all of the bad consequences that are inevitably associated with acts of war. As the sports types say, he should go big or stay home.