Last year, I had an interesting dialogue with a professor regarding American foreign policy. My interests revolved around Cold War policy so quite naturally in this exchange, we discussed differences and parallels between the Cold War international order and the contemporary one.
At one point in the discussion, he expressed an opinion that at first perplexed me. He said that, despite its obvious dangers and the state of panic it caused, he missed the Cold War. The reason is comprehensible if one considers the perspectives of those tasked with interpreting, formulating and carrying out a grand strategy.
Throughout the frenetic Cold War era, the nemesis and objective was perspicuous. As too was the policy by which Americans could accomplish the goal of containment. The brainchild of the diplomat, George Kennan, the containment strategy was meant to obviate Communist expansion through “strong resistance” to Soviet encroachment and the diffusion of its Marxist-Leninist ideology. There were some addendums or deviations, but American policy and its objective were constant, logical and usually formulated within the broader scope of containment.
In 1991, America emerged as the dominant superpower, and there was a euphoric vindication of liberal capitalist democracy. But this brought with it the conundrum about which my professor was speaking. How would America define its role in the world with this power? What was the proper foreign policy with which to proceed in a unipolar world?
As scholar Michael Mandelbaum remarked, “Power is to sovereign states in the international system what money is to individuals: the more they have, the wider is the range of uses to which they can put it.”
In the post-Cold War era, there has been ongoing vacillation on the question of how involved the United States should be in world affairs and what its mission is. As the supreme superpower, it has embarked on Wilsonian nation-building projects to “make the world safe for democracy,” such as the Bush administration’s efforts to liberate and rebuild Iraq. It was an ill-fated commitment to democratizing areas that are immensely hostile to Western liberalism and plagued by tribalism for which solutions are beyond the West’s means.
President Obama’s policy is often described as a “policy of retreat.” Oftentimes, there was an asymmetry between Obama’s public utterances and how he dealt with foreign powers. Relying on rhetorical grandiosity, he rarely followed it with action and his administration was recklessly feeble in the face of adversarial aggression, and servile to America’s foes.
Donald Trump’s predecessors showcase how global commitment and withdrawal are injurious if taken to the extreme. The past decade or so has proved that America can’t overextend itself, but it shouldn’t let insularity take over and succumb to the isolationist temptation. It would thereby be abandoning its responsibilities as a liberal superpower.
Despite his sporadic nature, Trump has had the opportunity to conduct foreign policy in a way that, in some sense, reflects a “principled realism.” The blunders like his dealings with North Korea notwithstanding (I have copious quibbles about some of his decisions), the Trump Doctrine may prove to be rooted in a realism that emphasizes calculated actions not based in sanctimony but the genuine national interest; and tough deterrent actions to enforce order and sway enemies against acting on their pernicious ambitions. These are noticeable in the handling of the Iranian regime and China’s theft of intellectual property.
Ross Douthat pithily summarizes the strategy as “maintaining American primacy on a more manageable footing, while focusing more energy and effort on containing the power and influence of China.” A reorientation of American foreign policy is necessary as the world continues to morph into a multipolar one, and a disorderly one.
As China advances towards becoming the global hegemon, some have described the current geopolitical landscape as a new Cold War. What could be a protracted conflict between the still ideologically Marxist China, its allies and America may evince a renascent Cold War order. However, there are some important differences if this is the case.
It will be a more strenuous task for Americans to make a case for liberal capitalism’s superiority as China’s economy has boomed significantly. This is a benefit of what Niall Ferguson calls “Chimerica,” the economic relationship between China and America that has largely deteriorated. Though Trump’s trade war has the potential to stall China’s economic trajectory, Ferguson has insisted that it nevertheless is in a position to be a more formidable rival than the Soviet Union.
While the bipolarity of the first Cold War made it much easier to develop a grand strategy, the approach to a new one would have to take into account all the antagonists with which the West contends for global influence; the main force being the villainous tripartite of China, Iran, and Russia.
The current venue for the contest is Venezuela, where in close cooperation with allies, the United States is attempting to have Nicholas Maduro’s socialist dictatorship toppled and replaced by a democratic government headed by centrist, Juan Guaido—whom the United States and many other governments have recognized as the legitimate president.
So far, the Trump administration has made use of economic sanctions and has not been reticent about its support for the opposition.
There has been no shortage of truculent voices deriding what they see as the treacherous policy of “regime change.” A “Hands Off Venezuela” movement has sprouted, and there have been protests at which one can hear perceptive slogans like: “No coup! No war! No sanctions!”
The anti-American stance in this instance is piquant to two coteries. The first group consists of wide-eyed socialists who are mourning yet another failed revolution and steadfastly believe that it wasn’t the fault of socialism. In other words, they side with Maduro when he blames America and “monsters who want to destroy Venezuela” for the recent blackouts and electricity rationing.
George Ciccariello-Maher of The Nation provides a nice example of the orthodox Marxist analysis. He blames America for Venezuela’s woes, makes excuses for Maduro’s rule, and denounces Guaido as a “candidate for empire” trying to bring about an “unconstitutional coup.”
The second group is doctrinaire libertarian isolationists who adhere to a meretricious idea of “peace” and detest intervention in any circumstance.
Since reasoning with the first group is a lost cause, I’d like it if the second group enlightened me on why peace would prevail if America disengaged from the region. How would this quell any security threats?
China and Russia have both resolutely supported Maduro. Russia recently sent planes carrying about 100 troops to Venezuela for “bilateral consultations.” China has also provided moral and financial support by designing disinformation and propaganda campaigns to amplify anti-Americanism in Venezuela.
Having had a long presence in South America, Iran is a committed ally of Maduro. Tehran has utilized Venezuela as a primary base from which it can inflame the anti-American virus and attract new devotees to its radical Islamist cause. The terrorist group, Hezbollah, has been allowed to establish a base for its terrorist finance networks.
So all those who deride American policy and urge obeisance to a nation’s sovereignty should ask themselves if these inimical actors should be free to meander in and out of Venezuela with impunity.
An unapologetic resuscitation of the Monroe Doctrine would be an intelligent course of action. The behaviour of the malevolent trio begs for a response that’s accordant with James Monroe’s 1823 proclamation that the United States should not tolerate any foreign power wishing to “extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere” in a manner that is considered dangerous to hemispheric security.
National Security Advisor John Bolton has stated that “We’re not afraid to use the phrase ‘Monroe Doctrine’ in this administration.” Also, if Maduro continues to consolidate power in spite of Washington’s efforts to hasten change, military action has been considered. Given the fervour of the antagonists and the growing difficulty of aiding Maduro’s opposition through purely diplomatic means, this may have viability. With that said, the response must be rigorous, measured, and pursued in continued cooperation with allies in the Organization of American States and NATO.
If we are witnessing an epochal shift in international relations, American strategy must be coherent and firm. To face a radically rogue China, Putin’s nostalgic nationalism and fanatical Islamists in Tehran, protecting its backyard should be a preoccupation of American policy. As Josh Hammer of The Daily Wire proclaims, “it’s time to make the Monroe Doctrine great again.” In this new era, if Venezuela is the first test of America’s probity and resolve, America must pass it.
Liberal Transport Minister Marc Garneau is “very concerned” by the anti-pipeline protestors who have blocked the tracks between Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal, according to CBC News.
These protests have crippled Canada’s infrastructure, particularly due to the fact that the protestors are blocking one of the busiest intersections of the countries transport network.
The protestors have blocked the tracks in Bellville, Ontario, which serves as the epicentre for all routes between Canada’s two largest cities and the capital of the nation. All passenger trains and freight trains have been blocked.
CN has chosen to shut down all train travel until the dispute is resolved, despite the fact that the train company received an injunction to remove the protestors from the tracks.
These protests have effectively shut down all passenger travel between these cities, and are having a significant impact on the transport of food and commercial goods. The effect on the economy if this blockade continues will be severe.
These protests have been ongoing since Thursday when demonstrators began to gather at the tracks. Since then, the protests have only gained more traction and attracted more demonstrators to the scene.
The demonstrators say that they are standing in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en chiefs. However, the northern B.C.First Nation officially supports the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
So far, Via Rail has had to cancel 157 trips in the Toronto-to-Montreal corridor: 24,500 passengers have been affected.
Most Ontarians are not for the government raising teachers’ salaries by 2 percent according to a poll formulated by The Star. Most people, however, do agree with the education unions on things like the number of students in a classroom and e-learning.
The opt-in poll was made by Campaign Research and included 1,536 people. It ran from Feb 6 to 9.
Nick Kouvalis, the principal strategist at Campaign Research said that most people “do not want to give the teachers a more than 1 percent raise,” and added, “but teachers should be encouraged that the public is still with them during these rotating strikes.”
The poll shows that 45 percent of people disagree with the teachers’ request of a 2 percent salary increase—opposing the 1 percent cap set in place by the government. Only 35 percent of people agree with teachers while 13 percent do not support either side and 8 percent are unsure.
Just 12 percent of people believe that teachers should not receive any pay increase while 32 percent support a 1 percent increase. Another 9 percent of the public believe that the teachers should receive an increase of more than 2 percent.
The public does not disagree with teachers on all issues though. While the government wants 2 of the 30 classes required by high school students to be taken online, teachers believe that the 30 classes should all be taken in the school classroom. The poll shows that 52 percent of the public agree with teachers on this issue while 28 percent disagree.
The public also agrees with teachers that the number of students per classroom should not be raised. The government wants to raise the amount of students per class to raise from 22.5 to 25. The poll finds that 52 percent of the public also agrees with teachers on this subject while 36 percent agree with Ontario’s government.
A cruise ship that has been stuck at sea after there were passengers discovered to have coronavirus is getting a little help from an adult website to entertain them while they’re quarantined: some skin flicks.
Approximately 7,300 passengers aboard the Diamond Princess and World Dream cruise have been stranded and docked Hong Kong and Japan as a direct result of the coronavirus epidemic.
251 Canadians are docked in Japan after it was announced on Sunday, that six more people tested positive for the virus. The cruise ship now has a total of 70 cases onboard with the remaining passengers stuck on board and quarantined with little to do for entertainment.
CamSoda, a Miami-based pornography company has offered quarantined passengers full complimentary access to their webcam services according to Fox Business reports.
Daryn Parker is CamSoda’s vice president and he elaborated on the decision in a statement to the press, “They are not only dealing with the fear of infection, which is terrifying, but boredom,” stated the release. “We like cruises just as much as the next guy, but without activities or human interaction, the boredom must be crippling.”
“In an effort to keep their minds off of the coronavirus and to help with the boredom, we’re offering passengers and crews the ability to have fun in a safe and controlled environment with camming.”
“Camming” is a more interactive approach to traditional pornography whereby individuals can perform in front of their webcam at home or in a studio for a live audience and the viewers pay for the experience through tips and site tokens. There is also the ability to chat in real-time with the sex worker.
CamSoda is asking that passengers and crew aboard the cruise to send them proof of travel documents via email to [email protected] according to the New York Post. CamSoda will then respond by sending the individual 1,000 free tokens which can be used to pay for the webcam live-stream performers.
Many towns and schools have been forced to evacuate after New South Wales sees heavy rainfall throughout the region. The rain has put out some of the wildfires that have been burning for months according to CTV News.
According to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, over 200 millimetres of rain came down on the region in just one day. Sydney saw more rainfall than the city has seen since 1990 at 391.6 millimetres over four days.
On Monday, the New South Wales Department of Education closed many schools due to flooding in the area.
Since Friday, more than 30 fires were put out by the heavy rainfall according to the New South Wales Fire Service. The Fire Service released a Tweet saying that the rain was the “most positive news we’ve had in some time.”
James Morris of the Fire Service noted that the Currowan fire was put out by the heavy rain on Saturday. That was a giant fire that had covered about 500,000 hectares in 74 days.
Morris also noted that the persisting fires will most likely be extinguished by the continuous rain.