Canadians look beyond America

For the first time in decades, Canadians are more likely to hold a negative view of the U.S. than positive. According to a survey by the Environics Institute, it’s the lowest ever with only 44 per cent saying that they hold a positive view of the U.S.

     image: openeurope.org.uk

It happened overnight says Doug Saunders:

“It is not a subtle drift – Canadians were overwhelmingly positive about the United States as recently as 2016, until Donald Trump’s inauguration put a majority into the anti-American column. The proportion of Canadians who see the United States as “a negative force in today’s world” is now almost 6 in 10, a 12-per-cent rise over 2008, making America by far the most negative country in the eyes of Canadians (Globe and Mail, April 16).”

Canadians see the U.S. even more negatively than even North Korea which is second at 46 per cent.

The U.S. and Britain used to be viewed as “standing out as a positive force in today’s world.” Now Germany is number one, Britain has fallen to second place, and Sweden has risen to third.

While we don’t share languages, we do see similar values in Germany and Sweden.  Those two countries took in two-thirds of Europe’s refugees during the crisis of 2016 at a time when President Trump was denouncing them. And they have avoided far-right governments, which make them look more like Canada.

Canadians look globally in terms of trade. Almost three-quarters of Canadians have a “very favourable” view on international trade. Even NAFTA is more popular than ever. Two-thirds of us say that it “helped rather than hurt” Canada -the highest level since the agreement took effect in 1994.

It may seem as though whatever Trump is against we favour, but it’s not just anti-Trumpism.

Peace defines Canada as much as war. Much has been made of the battle of Vimy Ridge as a defining moment for our country. However, peace played a significant role in shaping Canadian values. Pollster for Environics Institute, Michael Adams, says:

“In recent decades, Canadians have consistently named peacekeeping as their country’s most notable contribution to world affairs since Pearson’s Nobel Prize. This sentiment has held through both Canada’s World surveys that the Environics Institute has carried out, first in 2008 and in 2018 (Globe and Mail, April 16).”

Canadians are more connected than Americans. Anatoliy Gruzd, one of the authors of a recent report The State of Social Media in Canada, told CBC Radio’s Spark:

“Canada is one of the most connected countries in the world. There are twice as many Twitter users than the U.S. per capita. We are very outside-looking. We want to know world events (Mar. 11, 2018)”

Facebook is the most popular social medium with 84 per cent of Canadians having an account. YouTube is second at 59 per cent.

Canada is a nation of immigrants and, unlike the current U.S. president, we value them as an asset not a liability. Canadians look to the world, not only because trade is vital to our economy and to keep in touch with families in home countries, but because we see ourselves as part of a global community.

 

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Government as theatre

The Trump administration doesn’t make sense as government. He has no coherent foreign or domestic policies. He fires trusted advisors regularly. White House staff wake up each morning and check their Twitter feeds to find out what bizarre direction the country is now going in.

    image: NPR

However, the Trump administration does make sense as theatre. Not exactly Shakespeare, although there may be comic elements. More like professional wrestling says Naomi Klein:

“It’s hard to overstate Trump’s fascination with wrestling (Harper’s magazine, Sept., 2017).”

He has performed at least eight times in World Wrestling Entertainment, enough to earn a place in the W.W.E. Hall of Fame. In the “Battle of the Billionaires,” he pretended to beat wrestling champ Vince McMahon and shaved McMahon’s head in front of the cheering throng.

Trump honed his infotainment skills in front of live audiences. As president, whenever he wants a feel-good moment he assembles crowds of supporters and whips up the crowd with the standard rhetoric of wrestling.

His campaign followed the and true wrestling script: invent heroes and villains. Mock the villains with insulting nicknames like “Little Marco”, “Lyin’ Ted.” Stir up the crowd with over-the-top insults and chants like “Killary,” and “Lock her up.” Direct the crowd’s rage at the designated villains: journalists and demonstrators.

“Outsiders would emerge from these events shaken, not sure what had just happened,” says Klein, “What had happened was a cross between a pro-wrestling match and a white-supremacist rally.”

President Trump’s plans to meet with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, if it ever happens, will have the circus-like feel of a wrestling match. Each leaders boasts of having a bigger rocket than the other. They trade insults, Trump calling Jong-un a “little rocket man.” Jong-un calling Trump a “Mentally deranged dotard (senile old man).”

Trump will promote the match as having high stakes. If Trump wins –and in wrestling, the hero always wins- Kim will have to eat humble pie. Trump will symbolically shave Kim Jong-un’s head.

That’s how Trump will spin the meeting. The reality is a bit different. Trump is not bargaining from a position of strength. While he does have the potential to bomb North Korea out of existence, that would also destroy much of South Korea. Kim Jong-un’s stature is elevated to that of a world leader as a result of the proposed meeting with Trump.

Trump is not bothered at all about the political reality, his concern is ratings. Klein explains:

“So Trump sees himself less as a president than as the executive producer of his country, with an eye always on the ratings. Responding to the suggestion that he fire his press secretary, he reportedly said, ‘I’m not firing Sean Spicer. That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in.’”

It’s a mistake to think of Trump as a politician. He ran for office as reality show host and won because he isn’t a politician. He is skilled at attracting attention to himself with crude, audacious, contradictory, untrue and insulting remarks.

It works. In a world that’s increasingly narcissistic, Trump is skilled at drawing attention to himself with his clever wrestling shtick.

World domination plan falling into place for U.S. president

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” Robert Browning.

After the attacks on the morning of September 11, 2001,  U.S. President Bush’s mentors didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. They were looking for a provocation that would justify implementation of their plan but this was beyond their wildest visions.

defense

The first highjacked plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York at 8:45 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.  The second tower was hit twenty minutes after that, and the third hit the Pentagon an hour later.

Soon after the initial attacks, President Bush took off in his jet from Sarasota, Florida.  He needed time to let it sink in.  High in the stratosphere, he struggled with mixed feelings of horror and guilt.  The president had been told of such attacks only a month earlier.  On August  6,  intelligence briefings had warned him of al Qaida plans and he had done nothing.

On the ground below, the twin towers collapsed into a hellish inferno, a fourth highjacked plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, the White House had been evacuated, and a nervous nation wondered where their president was.  What would he tell the people?

Three hours the president’ realized that this was no time for admissions of guilt.  He landed in Louisiana and hurried to an underground bunker air force base to tape a TV message.  On the little screen he looked pale and shaken as he said “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.”

A few hours later the president was flown to another fortified location at the Strategic Air Command headquarters in Nebraska where he consulted his mentors.  What to do?  He didn’t need to think for long.  The plan had already been drafted years ago by the hawks in his father’s presidency, including vice president Dick Cheney.

The plan’s four installments were recently declassified under the title of Defense Strategy for the 1990’s, or the Plan for short.  “The Plan is for the United States to rule the world,” writes David Armstrong in his article, Dick Cheney’s Song of America (Harper’s Magazine, October, 2002).

When peace broke out in 1990 after the fall of the Soviet Empire there was a real threat to U.S. military.  Doves and peaceniks wanted a reduction in military spending.  Cheney saw this threat to his dream of military conquest of the world.  And he didn’t like the competition from his so-called friends.  A strong European Union and the rise of the Asian tigers threatened U.S. world commercial dominance.

Cheney’s plan called for continued military spending against unspecified threats – – he couldn’t suggest war against his allies.  To the question “what threat,” Cheney was unwilling to say.  The Plan’s audacious goal of world domination would have offended the sensibilities of the most Americans.

Its co-author, Colin Powell, called on the U.S. to be the “biggest bully on the block.”  It called for world supremacy through force;  invasion of Iraq to destabilize European oil interests; demonization of North Korea to destabilize Asia and counter efforts to reunite the Koreas, giving a reason for continued U.S. military occupation.

What Cheney needed some horrible event to galvanize public.  He needed “some catastrophic and catalyzing event-like a new Pearl Harbor,” as the president’s brother, Jeb Bush, had suggested.

The Plan grew more credible with each passing hour.  The president rehearsed the answers.  Could he convince Americans that an attack on Afghanistan was justifiable, despite evidence that al Qaida had left and spread around the globe?  Easy.  Could he sell the idea that, while they were in Afghanistan, they might as well invade Iraq and toss out Saddam Hussein and his fictional weapons of mass destruction?  No problem. Could he convince Americans that Iran and North Korea were the next targets because they were part of some unsubstantiated “axis of evil”, despite no logical connection between the countries?  He could.

Today, Bush’s Pearl Harbor had been delivered to him.  He had the right stuff to be the chief bully of the baddest army in the world.  When the president returned to Washington at 7 p.m. on September 11, he was ready to rumble.  World domination was within his reach.