Wednesday Night # 1774

Written by  //  March 2, 2016  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

March is certainly coming in like the proverbial lion with Tuesday night’s blizzard

Lion KingAnd Donald Trump’s victories in Super Tuesday primaries – come to think of it, The Donald sort of looks like a much-less-noble cartoon version of The Lion King.

Once again we lament that we simply do not understand the American [primary] voter. Apparently, neither do the GOP stalwarts. Surely by now they realize that they created this monster with their obstructionism in Washington? Now what can they do beyond wringing their hands? Not easy to put the genii back in the bottle. Jonathan Bernstein argues in Trump vs. #NeverTrump that “many but not all of the normal incentives pushing parties to unify won’t apply if Trump is nominated. This leaves top Republicans with a difficult choice — and strong reasons to pull out the stops to defeat Trump before he grabs the nomination.”
While it is no surprise that Bloomberg columnists are anti-Trump, even Fox News opinion makers are on the same wavelength. William Whalen believes he has the answer Super Tuesday’s over. Can Trump still be stopped? Yes. Here’s how. Warning, he hints at a Cruz-Rubio ticket (comparing it to Reagan – Bush!).
At CNN, 6 takeaways from Super Tuesday makes some interesting points, but the fact is that for any Liberal or middle-of-the-road Republican, the alternatives to Trump are no better.
Are we really witnessing the end of the ‘American Empire’?
How did this happen? See  Trumped

Although the primary results dominated most of North American (and much international) media, there were other matters of import.

First, what appears to be very good news from Iran where President Hassan Rouhani and moderates have made big gains. We suggest you take a look at Vox Sentences: What to make of Iran’s election results for a round-up of international media views.

There were also elections in Ireland– for those who haven’t been paying attention, The Guardian sorts it out – sort of. “One of the benefits of a proportional representation system is that it allows Irish voters to deliver multiple messages, and they have certainly done that. The clearest message has been sent to Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael party, whose campaign slogan “Keep the Recovery Going” had no resonance with the more than 60% of people who say they have not experienced its benefits.”
The Globe & Mail makes the results easier for North Americans to understand “Ireland’s divided parliament mulls awkward pacts, second election.” Maybe proportional representation is not the perfect solution for those attempting to reform the electoral process in Canada?

In a different, but equally contentious type of election, FIFA has a new president. Foreign Policy – and the rest of the world – asks Can FIFA’s New President Root Out Its Institutional Rot?
AS FP reminds us:
“Changing FIFA, a non-profit that generated $2 billion in revenue in its last World Cup year in 2014, is a tall task. There have been accusations of bribes in connection with the awarding of the World Cup, television rights, and regional tournaments for years. These allegations, especially in connection with the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, gained traction with the ongoing U.S./Swiss investigation. Some 40 individuals and entities have been indicted by the United States in connection with the corruption investigation.”

Marc Champion argues cogently on Bloomberg that the five European Union states that still refuse to recognize Kosovo need to relent. Recognize Kosovo or Pay the Price. While recognizing all of Kosovo’s problems e.g.
“Nationalists are growing stronger in the Balkans as elsewhere in Europe. In Kosovo, they have gelled in the Self-Determination party, which is demanding that Mustafa’s government resign over its acceptance of an EU-brokered agreement that gives limited autonomy to Kosovo’s ethnic Serbs in an area close to the Serbian border. They are furious, too, over the government’s agreement to settle the border between Kosovo and Montenegro. Opposition legislators have repeatedly released tear gas in parliament.
Populist appeals are striking a nerve. Unemployment in Kosovo is 35 percent, and a staggering 61 percent among people under 25. Kosovo has become the poorest corner of the Balkans, in part because it has become so isolated in terms of trade, investment and travel. This in turn has driven hundreds of thousands of Kosovars to look for work abroad — in the EU.” He points out that precisely because the EU doesn’t recognize Kosovo, those problems are exacerbated.

We cannot ignore Syria, currently enjoying a very fragile “cessation of hostilities”
Jeffrey Sachs’ recent article on Project Syndicate Ending the Syrian War is well worth reading, both for its clear-eyed analysis of how the Syrian war arose and his point-by-point solution:
“Ending the war requires adherence to six principles. First, the US should cease both overt and covert operations to overthrow Syria’s government. Second, the UN Security Council should implement the ceasefire now under negotiation, calling on all countries, including the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and Iran, to stop arming and funding military forces within Syria.
Third, all paramilitary activities should cease, including those of so-called “moderates” backed by the US. Fourth, the US and Russia – and, indeed, the UN Security Council – should hold Syria’s government strictly responsible to desist from punitive actions against regime opponents. Fifth, the political transition should take place gradually and with confidence building on all sides, rather than through an arbitrary, destabilizing rush to “free elections.”
Finally, the Gulf States, Turkey, and Iran should be pressed to negotiate face to face on a regional framework that can ensure lasting peace. Arabs, Turks, and Iranians have all lived with each other for millennia. They, not the outside powers, should lead the way to a stable order in the region.
On that final point, it is worth referring to Gwynne Dyer‘s earlier article: Any Russia fight will be lonely one
Turkey (and Saudi Arabia) have almost certainly been put on notice that if they choose to start a local war with Russian forces in Syria, they will have to fight it alone.

The Financial Times has published three excellent investigative documentaries with the common theme of The Great Land Rush “A global race has begun for one of the world’s most precious resources – land. Big investors are pouring in billions. They promise progress. But their arrival can upend livelihoods – and spark life-and-death struggles. FT correspondents report from Ethiopia, Myanmar and Indonesia. With support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.” Highly recommended, especially the account of Norway’s attempt to literally bribe the Indonesian government to put a stop to the appalling deforestation resulting from the spread of coal mines and oil palm plantations that has made Indonesia the world’s biggest deforester, losing an area as big as 100,000 soccer pitches in one year.

We look forward to IRPP’s forthcoming volume Redesigning Canadian Trade Policies for New Global Realities
Of particular interest to us is the chapter by Jacques Roy By Road, Rail, Sea and AirThe Role of Transportation Networks in Moving Canada’s Merchandise Trade of which an advance copy is now available.

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