Wednesday Night #1395

Written by  //  November 26, 2008  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

On the eve of American Thanksgiving, we are delighted to be able to again use our absolutely favourite holiday illustration and to wish one and all a Happy Thanksgiving, despite the world’s travails.  

 

We had our fingers rapped last week for the somewhat flippant reference to the electioneers who seemed not to be paying as much attention to the economy as we. We stand (sit?) corrected. Everyone is paying attention to the economy and the financial crisis and we note that both Prime Minister Harper and Minister Flaherty (who are not, as far as we know currently electioneering) are using the dreaded “R” word, while the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is even gloomier, saying that the “worst assumptions may not be pessimistic enough” (now there’s an Eyeore line!).  And, of course, there is a chorus of economic invective from the various parties in election mode in Quebec, with Mme Marois claiming the PQ are better money managers than the Liberals. But it’s all pretty dull for those of us who are suffering pangs of withdrawal since November 4.

 

We note that the Obamas have chosen the school for their girls, but not yet the puppy. So, will have to content ourselves with the other news coming out of the transition team and that all seems to be good. Even David Brooks is positively effusive. The naming of Tom Daschle is an interesting development and one that may bode well for an enlightened policy and successful legislation on healthcare. The economic team announced formally today is being treated by the pundits as the proverbial dream team. We had wondered last week why Robert Rubin, so active on the airwaves prior to the election seemed to have sunk without a trace, but then ever-reliable Tony Deutsch pointed us in the direction of the explanation “… since joining Citigroup in 1999 as a trusted adviser to the bank’s senior executives, Mr. Rubin, who is an economic adviser on the transition team of President-elect Barack Obama, has sat atop a bank that has been roiled by one financial miscue after another.” [Citigroup Saw No Red Flags Even as It Made Bolder Bets]

 

As Peter Perkins will be with us again, we can expect a continuation of last week’s discussion of the economy and the global financial crisis, including the Citigroup bailout, this time with input from Tony Deutsch (who reminds us that the ABCP crisis is far from over here), Ron Meisels – recently returned from India and Bhutan – and other gurus.    

 

There is a special treat in store this Wednesday. Peter Perkins’ father-in-law, Charles (Chuck) Cogan, who was last with us for Wednesday Night 1361, will return for a reprise of the discussion of Afghanistan, Islam and his most recent book “La République du Dieu” a collection of essays, on the idea of God; on evangelism; on Islamic fundamentalism; followed by empirical chapters analyzing a number of conflicts between the Muslim and non-Muslim world: Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel/Palestine.
  

Equally fascinating is his previous book “French negotiating behaviour” which he wrote at the request of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), a publicly-financed think tank in Washington. He explains that the book is not so much on the nuts and bolts of negotiations, as it is on the cultural and historical strands which together form the tissue of French diplomacy and negotiations, which to us sounds much more fascinating than nuts & bolts.

Chuck  is a retired senior CIA officer with extensive experience in Afghanistan, so expect the deteriorating situation in that country and the Obama policy of greater U.S. engagement to also be on the agenda. It will be interesting to hear his comments on the BBC analysis piece, New realism in Afghanistan rhetoric  and he might also comment on the emerging Canadian policy regarding a new role for the troops in Afghanistan post 2011. Another related issue is Pakistan’s recent offer to withdraw its first-strike nuclear threat and push to create an economic union with India, and this just as a) Pakistan gets its 7.6 billion loan from the IMF and b) Nicholas Kristof offers a grim picture of the situation on the ground in his Sunday column and blog .
We cannot resist drawing your attention to the latest on the tar sands: Secret advice to politicians: oilsands emissions hard to scrub . We are not quite sure why this advice is so secret, surely this is a no-brainer, but perhaps if 7 maids with 7 mops …

The Report

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