Wednesday Night #1743

Written by  //  July 29, 2015  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Following last Wednesday’s excellent SRO discussion of Greece and the EU with Kimon, plus the excitement of the wonderful Wayne Larsen Gazette Story about Wednesday Nights that was published on Saturday, and attracted some wonderful old and new contacts, we are hard put to maintain the same level of intellectual stimulation.

HOWEVER, with Cleo Paskal‘s return this week, accompanied by Retired Canadian Foreign Service officer Sven Jurschewsky, we are confident that we can meet your expectations. Sven Jurschewsky has specialized in political-military affairs, international security and intelligence, and nuclear arms control, and has held senior positions at Canadian missions in Berlin, Bonn, Vienna, and Zagreb. He was a negotiator for Canada on the Charter for European Security and the 1995 extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. He headed the political section at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing during which he was responsible for the establishment of Canada’s diplomatic relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and was Political counsellor, at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi. He has written on India for the Vimy Report, most recently “India under Modi turns a corner, but questions remain” in April of this year.
In case you have missed some of Cleo’s recent activities: Report on Round Table Discussion (RTD) on ‘China’s Strategy from the South Pacific to the Arctic’ with Ms Cleo Paskal ; Cleo Paskal: The Military Crisis We’re Not Prepared For ; and thoughts on PM Modi at one year.
We will be interested in their comments on the legacy of former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam and relations between India and China, and particularly on the recent article in The Diplomat Sorry, Modi – China Still Doesn’t Take India Seriously — Despite efforts by India’s prime minister, China’s attitudes toward its neighbor have not changed.

And especially for Cleo: Earth’s Most Famous Climate Scientist Issues Bombshell Sea Level Warning — Could the oceans really rise 10 feet in the next 50 years?

The EU, Greece and the eurozone is the topic that just keeps giving. Among  recent articles, Lessons in resilience from rural Greece presents an articulate defense of the invisible economy that holds rural Greece together, but does not aid the empty coffers of government. In A Point of View: Why the row between Greece and Germany is like a lovers’ tiff,  the author sums up the situation with this rueful paragraph:
“It has been quite a journey, this love affair we all have with Greece. And like all turbulent love affairs, it has left some serious metaphysical baggage behind. When Greece’s critics, and especially Germany, complain today of a stubborn nation that refuses to leave its lax ways behind, is there not a feeling of betrayal in the air? Why can’t modern Greece be more like the ancient Greece we so adored, it seems to ask. And when the Greeks make sarcastic references to the overbearing demeanour of Germany’s politicians, do we not sense an underlying, deeply-repressed wish to be, well, just a little more Nordic in their approach to life? They have the sea, the sun, the olives – would a touch more organisation not make their lives easier?”

President Obama’s trip to Africa is generally seen as a success. His reception in Kenya was nothing short of a triumph, however he was not shy about delivering a sharp message on human rights abuses and corruption Obama in Kenya: An upbeat tone, but notes of discord, too.
And in his speech to the AU in Ethiopia, he called on the organization to ensure leaders respect their constitutions and step down when their term ends, specifically mentioning Burundi, whose president Pierre Nkurunziza has controversially been re-elected for a third term. “Sometimes you will hear leaders say ‘I’m the only person who can hold this nation together.’ If that’s true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation.”. [Take that, Stephen Harper!]
On social media, a completely different African topic has overshadowed the president’s message. The story of American trophy hunter dentist Walter Palmer who shot Cecil, the iconic lion of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park after luring him away from the conservation area has outraged animal lovers, conservationists and genuine sportsmen. The (UK) Daily Mail’s Piers Morgan says it best: I’d love to go hunting one day with Dr Walter Palmer the killer dentist… so I can stuff and mount him for MY office wall. In fairness, though we are not inclined to be fair in this case, the Safari organizer and professional hunters who set the scene are also beneath contempt and have been detained.

Canada
Stephen Harper is tossing a herd of cats amongst flocks of pigeons in the run-up to the election, notably his numerous patronage appointments, refusal to name any new senators, which could generate a constitutional problem (Harper’s constitutional disobedience a dangerous game to play) , appointments of  Justice Bradley Miller to the Ontario Court of Appeal and Justice Russell Brown to the Supreme Court Then, there is the debate over Christmas in July aka Universal Child Care Benefit, brought to you by jolly old Pierre Poilievre. In the face of derisory comments to the effect that “a typical family in the middle to upper income range would lose about a third of the enhancement of the Universal Child Care Benefit through tax and they would also lose the benefit of the child tax credit,”, he maintains that “There is literally no circumstance where anyone could be worse off, because the increase in the Universal Child Care Benefit is so large that it compensates for everything else.” Oh goody! At the same time, there are major indications that the economy is in trouble, not a happy situation for a government that prides itself on its good management of the economy. And let’s not forget the disenfranchising of Canadian expats, upheld by the very same Court of Appeal that was recently joined by aforementioned Justice Bradley Miller. Did anyone realize that Donald Sutherland is among the disenfranchised?
The polls show the Liberals in third place just three months before the general election, and with increasing conjecture that the writ may be dropped early. Eve Adams’ (welcome) defeat for the nomination in Eglinton-Lawrence has brought lots of knives out. Justin Trudeau’s embrace of her as a newly-minted Liberal was a sore point for many Liberals and now that she has been defeated, voices on all sides are questioning his leadership – more fodder for editorialists (Eve Adams raises the question of leadership) and “he isn’t ready” attack ads.
We have not yet read Jeff Rubin’s The Carbon Bubble, but listened with great interest on Tuesday to the rebroadcast of the interview with him on The Current, “Jeff Rubin: Popping Canada’s ‘Carbon Bubble’.” He presents intriguing arguments that the decrease in demand for oil and therefore in oil prices, the parallel drop in the Canadian $, reduction in pipeline proposals, all present opportunities for Canada. The Carbon Bubble is bursting and it is time to embrace new industry boosted by the climate change Carbon has created. He is especially bullish on the potential for agricultural expansion in the West in the wake of global warming. Possibly somewhat over the top, but worth a listen.
Although we pride ourselves on being equal opportunity critics, we will refrain from commenting on the NDP this time in deference to the just-announced candidacy of our friend Julien Feldman for the nomination in NDG/Westmount, but the surcease will indeed be brief!

For your calendar:
8 September: “ISIS: The State of Terror.” A Discussion with J.M. Berger
The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University is pleased to invite you to an evening with J.M. Berger for a discussion of his latest book ISIS: the State of Terror.
Berger, one of North America’s leading experts on violent extremism, will talk about ISIS’ online recruitment strategies and the genesis of their propaganda narrative. This is a timely discussion relevant to policy students, professionals working in the military, police forces, international relations and diplomacy.

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