The situation in both the U.S. and the U.K. indicates disenchantment with conventional political elites. Donald Trump has been playing heavily to white voters who have seen an erosion of jobs, and for those with jobs, no real wage growth. Against this backdrop of polarization, political discontent, uncertainty and nationalism comes Canada.
The saga of Nosey the African elephant has been escalated to The White House, as animal welfare groups renew their calls to confiscate the ailing elephant. This, after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently renewed, Hugo Libel's license to exhibit the elephant, despite 200 Animal Welfare Act (AWA) offences and Nosey's deteriorating health.
During the Trudeau-Obama talk in D.C., it was clear that amongst the lobbyist and government relations crowd at the talk, there appeared to be a heightened sense of anticipation for this visit; above what one would normally expect for a run of the mill head of state visit. And this is good news for Canada with Trudeau as PM.
A few years ago I decided to embark on a backpacking trip across Europe for two months. Towards the end of my travels, I found myself at the Sisteen Chapel in Rome, Italy. As I was standing there, enchanted by this insanely crazy masterpiece, I felt a soft whisper perk the tiny hairs on the back of my neck.
The U.S. decision on Keystone XL sent a clear message: Tar sands pipeline projects like the ones currently under consideration or subject to litigation in Canada -- TransCanada's Energy East Pipeline, Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Project, and Enbridge's Northern Gateway Project -- are not the way of the future.
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.
Whether or not one favors Mr. Obama's energy policy, there's one thing very clear about it: Canada's oil is not something that factors into Mr. Obama's calculations other than in the negative: it's not "American" energy, it's in the basket of "imported oil" that the U.S. wishes to curtail, and to Mr. Obama it's the wrong sort of energy.
Harper should be commended for speaking truthfully to Obama and the US, that Canada's oil and gas industry is critical to Canada's future prosperity. And that Harper will continue to fight to transport Alberta oil to the US regardless whether Obama rejects Keystone. In a few years, Harper will still be prime minister. Obama will have faded into history.
The thuggish Putin thinks that Obama and the U.S. are so weakened, that he had the chutzpah to pen a highly critical Op Ed Piece in the New York Times, criticizing, among other things, America's view of itself as exceptional and unique. And criticizing hypocritically the U.S. for contemplating a military action, when Russia has been supplying arms to Assad to assist his regime in killing and gassing 100,000 of his own people. According to liberal CNN on Wednesday night, all the panellists agreed that Putin's Op Ed piece in the New York Times, was Putin's way of flipping the bird to Obama and the American people. This is what happens to the U.S. when its President leads from behind, or worse.
The inadmissibility of chemical weapons on the battlefield was as early as 1899 an international principle of war. As is often pointed out, even Hitler -- himself the victim of a gas attack -- recoiled from their use in battle. The First World War scrubbed battle of its supposed virtues and in the place of heroism instituted the practical diplomacy of a League of Nations.
Obama and political strategist David Axelrod are confident that the Congressional Republicans will put aside their personal disdain for Obama and domestic partisan concerns and support Obama's limited military strike against Syria. I predict Obama will not obtain Congressional support and will suffer a humiliating personal and political defeat.
If there is no outside intervention in Syria, the prospect of a stable Syria coming out of this conflict seems increasingly remote. What may well be the eventual outcome is a fractured country with different Sunni, Alawite, Christian, and Shiite forces creating their own safe havens within the country's borders. We have seen this before, and it rarely ends well.