Thursday, May 31, 2012

Giving Beijing a Bit of Backchat.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Billions of dollars in dirty money. You think it's not making us dirty?

In a police state like China you can never predict the lash that will cause the slave to turn on his master. Neither is it easy to discern, from all the dirty money greasing so many palms, which coin in which palm will mark the transaction that buys the final shred of decency from a democratic country like Canada.
The billions of dollars in ill-gotten Chinese capital fluttering around Canada these days is being strewn about by the same corrupt Communist Party billionaires who bully and persecute the likes of You Minglei, Li Jie’e, and Zhu Yufu, and who continue to engorge themselves from the captive labour of the Chinese people.
The amount of dirty money being poured into Canada by China’s corporate and Communist Party elites — the terms are almost always wholly interchangeable — has swollen 15-fold over the past five years. The primary beneficiaries of this spending spree are the directors and the shareholders of the companies involved in Canada’s overheated coal, oil and natural gas industries. There’s always a reason to look the other way.
. . .from my Ottawa Citizen column.

Here's where I'll be. If you're in Ottawa, you should come.

Friday, May 25, 2012

China in Ottawa, Monday, May 28: Be There.

When China Met Africa (Film) - China in Canada (Panel Discussion). May 28, 2012, 7 p.m., Library & Archives of Canada, 395 Wellington, Ottawa. Admission: $15 ($10 for students).
 "After the film we will have a panel discussion in the implications of Chinese investment in Canada with Award-winning journalist Terry Glavin, Human Rights campaigner David Kilgour, Terrorism and Security Specialist David Harris, University of Ottawa Professor Scott Simon, and Jason Loftus, Deputy Publisher of the Epoch Times Canada. Finally, we will then have a private reception - so please join us for an evening of film, discussion, and food & drink!"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

There's Seems To Be Something Wrong With The President's Magic Wand.

Libya, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan. . .further to The Charade in Chicago, my column in today's Ottawa Citizen makes the case that Prime Minister Harper was right to say yes to funding Afghanistan's security after 2014 and to say no to extending the Canadian Forces' troop training mission there.
I'm not impressed with Canada's new foreign policy direction at all, but still. On the Afghan front, the question is: what now?  Here's how I'd answer: 
The year 2014 is a presidential election year in Afghanistan. We can start with that. Canada should act now to re-dedicate its meagre resources in Afghanistan and assert its influence in NATO to the purpose of shoring up the organic defences every civilized society requires to function — a literate population, emancipated women, the rule of law, a free press and fully free and fair elections. No matter what else happens in 2014, an election that produces a credible result is the only thing that will matter in the long run.
For the skinny on Afghanistan's 2014 presidential elections I cobbled together an elaboration on the Citizen's editorial blogs page, here.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Charade In Chicago.

Is there anyone who believes anything the Obama White House says about Afghanistan anymore?
"Either the president isn’t leveling with us when he says we will pursue minimalist goals or he isn’t leveling with us when he signs a summit declaration that commits us to maximalist goals."
"If the US military failed at the height of the surge in rebuilding infrastructure through its provincial reconstruction teams, the idea that the opposite force will produce the same result – that the prospect of a withdrawal of US troops will force a weak state to become stronger – is just as fanciful."
"While President Obama and Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai posed for cameras and spoke warmly of their shared vision for the country after the U.S. departure, what they offered up was a kind of joint hallucination -- a better-functioning, more democratic, more stable Afghanistan that is patently impossible if it continues to be ruled by the weak and corrupt Karzai, if the country remains as fragmented as it is, if its neighbors continue to meddle in its affairs (as they will), if we deal in the Taliban as if somehow they were now changed men, if we turn our backs on the undoubtedly worsening plight of Afghan women, and if we ignore the fact that the single most successful U.S. agricultural development program in history was the restoration of Afghanistan's heroin industry."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is emphatic and unequivocal: no troops after 2014. Canadian soldiers did not fight and die in Afghanistan merely to provide an American presidential incumbent with whoppers to augment his campaign's talking points. Sorry, Mr. President, but no, that’s not what Canadian soldiers are for.
Playing whack-a-mole with the remnants of Osama bin Laden’s bedraggled jihadists is all the White House wants to stand from the former cause of a sovereign and democratic Afghan republic. Sorry, Mr. President, but the Democratic Party’s financiers are quite capable of paying for the liposuction and cosmetic surgery that has so disfigured your “Af-Pak” policy. That’s not what Canadian taxpayers are for.
One of the only important questions that remains:  "How many years after NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014 will it take before the government falls and Kabul is once again in the hands of the Taliban?"

Monday, May 07, 2012

When Things Just Don't Quite Add Up, Revisionism Won't Help You.

To my NDP friends, my latest in the National Post is about your party and the way "pacifism" is a shoe that fits you so comfortably you don't seem to notice you're even wearing it. 
In all the clever punditry that has followed Harper’s rejoinder to Mulcair, what seems to have been entirely forgotten, and most conveniently, too, is that for the generation of Canadian socialists who chose to walk in the CCF’s shoes in the post-war period, the disgraceful “pacifism” of certain of their predecessors was not a thing to lightly dismiss while getting one’s jollies with cheap jeers aimed at a Conservative prime minister. It was a matter to be properly remembered as a thing of great shame and error. 
But by 2006, NDP leader Jack Layton was unimpeachably established as J.S. Woodsworth’s rightful heir and successor. Deal with it: to merely call oneself “anti-war” was to establish one’s proper credentials as a Jack Layton New Democrat. It’s all one has to be (you don’t have to actually “do” anything) to claim to be “left-wing” and “progressive.” That is the party that Mulcair now leads, with Official Opposition status gained almost entirely by Layton’s populist and “anti-war” charms. The “questions” Mulcair asks about Afghanistan in the House are Jack Layton’s questions. 
If it's any consolation, I will have upset any number of Conservatives and probably Liberals too in my latest column in the Ottawa Citizen:. It's about Bill C-38, also called the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act.
 It could be a whole lot of things, depending on who’s doing the shouting, but the things that Industry Minister Joe Oliver and Environment Minister Peter Kent and Fisheries Minister Thomas Ashfield have had to say about its purposes just don’t add up. Here's just one body of evidence that appears to fall well beyond the reach of Ottawa's finely-tuned sense of "the priorities of ordinary Canadians":
An April 2011 Angus Reid poll found that 89 per cent of British Columbians wanted salmon habitat laws more strictly enforced, not less so, and 86 per cent said economic development should not come at the expense of salmon habitat. Seven in 10 respondents agreed with this statement: “Wild salmon are as culturally important to the people of British Columbia as the French language is to the people of Quebec.”

Friday, May 04, 2012

Spring Break In Afghanistan: Pundits Gone Wild.

A most peculiar and confounding week it's been, perhaps no less for the dead-certain types who think the "war on terror" is over but that somehow "peace with terror" is possible, always just around the corner, somebody will wave a magic wand, the Taliban will come around, you'll see, "no we can't" is just another way of saying "yes we can" and so on. I have a go at a sort of roundup of the tea-leaf-reading, here at The Propagandist.
It's mainly about how the chatter is about why Americans can't understand what their president can't explain, or perhaps it's why Americans can't explain what their president can't understand. You think it's easy? You try it.
The eminent Bruce Reidel gives it a shot mainly by avoiding it and drilling down towards bedrock. He has to bore through layers that are compacted somewhat by his commendable loyalty to his president, but it's always worth going along with Reidel because he knows a thing or two. Turns out that even if it were all merely about beating the stuffing out of al Qaida and if "the United States and its allies" could only do that everything would be fine, this is where that's at: 
"Today three of the five terrorists on America’s most-wanted list live in Pakistan. Bin Laden’s heir, Ayman Zawahiri, is the only one “hiding.” Mullah Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, commutes between bases in Quetta and Karachi where he enjoys the backing of the Pakistani intelligence service, the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) . . .The latest addition to the most-wanted list, Hafeez Saeed, the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba, does not even make any pretence of hiding. He is a regular on Pakistani television and often addresses large crowds of enthusiastic supporters at rallies the ISI helps to arrange. . ."
Ah, but "the tide of war is receding," as they say. What better time then to, oh I don't know. . . publish a book of Taliban poetry! The Guardian story has to be read in its entirety, otherwise you will think I'm making things up. "The poetry shows that the Taliban are people just like we are, with feeling, concerns, anxieties like ours."
Em, speak for yourself, Alex Strick van Linschoten. But since you brought it up, what rhymes with strapping a suicide belt onto a a teenage boy and sending him into a village to blow himself up and killing at least 20 innocent people today?
I'll leave the last word to Richard Kemp, the former British commander in Afghanistan: "What we need to remember is that these are fascist, murdering thugs who suppress women and kill people without mercy if they do not agree with them, and of course are killing our soldiers."