Keeping the lid on foreign affairs
And Donald Trump
Suave, deliberate and up-front is one way of describing Nicki Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations. With no prior national security experience she has nevertheless emerged as an outspoken foreign policy figure, while coping with a double-barrelled assignment: overseeing the world’s troubled and figuring out what’s in President Trump’s mind and his often contradictory remarks on foreign policy. That said, she’s not afraid to speak her own mind. She recognizes outright that there “is no doubt that Russia meddled in the US election.” But at the same time she does have the President’s ear saying that “he has given me a lot of leeway to just say what I think and interpret what he thinks," According to CNN, “Nikki Haley has displayed unusual prominence as a face of the Trump administration in its openings months.”
Banning nuclear arms
A step in the right direction
Sooner or later if the world wants to avoid another Hiroshima it may have no other choice than to get rid of nuclear weapons altogether. That’s the stark reality which has sparked leading activist Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) to manage a very successful operation to achieve the first-ever United Nations treaty to ban nuclear weapons ─ adopted by 122 nations. At this juncture this is not sitting well with the non-signatories of the new treaty, the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. These countries rely on the nearly half-century-old Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. But as Beatrice Fihn points out “15,000 nuclear weapons around the world have not managed to deter Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions and a new approach is now needed.” It may take, however, a catastrophic event to bring the great powers and their surrogates to realize THAT EARTH’S VERY SURVIVAL IS AT STAKE and have them declare the use and possession of nuclear arms illegal.
Removing trade barriers
Back to the future
With free-trade pacts being a much sought-after commodity world-wide, Canada’s Preston Manning put in a wider context when considering the elimination of trade barriers within Canada. Canada’s 150th anniversary was a timely reminder, he said in a Globe and Mail editorial, as Confederation had established a two tiered foundation: a political union and an economic union. While the former is a reality, the latter remains a work in progress. Witness the Energy East pipeline and the Trans Mountain pipeline, as well as the need to bring electric power from Newfoundland and Labrador across Quebec to US markets. These projects and others according to Manning are lagging behind while Ottawa has all the tools it needs to combat interprovincial barriers through the federal power to “regulate trade and commerce.” His suggestion: create a federal authority with powers to investigate internal barriers to trade in order to hasten a one Canada economic union.
No holds barred for Silicon Valley
Denmark’s Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, who regulates commercial activity for the EU, admits being a loyal Apple customer. But that hasn’t stopped her from taking aim at this technology giant, and others such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Described by Wired as “a liberal in the classic style, who believes in free speech, free assembly, free trade – and choices free from undue influence, Margarethe Vestager has fined Google £2.1 billion as part of its Google Shopping antitrust case, declaring that “Apples tax benefits in Ireland are illegal”. She is also pursuing Amazon (over tax evasion), Qualcomm (for selling chips below cost) and Facebook (over its acquisitions of WhatsApp). But the big test will be her antitrust case against Google, which accuses the search giant of using its dominance to stifle competition. It must be said that the European Union is in a league of its own when it comes to opening its borders to free competition, protecting consumer choice and fair pricing in its 19 euro zone countries.
A president full of promises
A France open to the world
The impressive emergence of Emmanuel Macron is reminiscent of that of a young Napoleon Bonaparte. The new president of the Fifth Republic, barely 39 years old, bold and sophisticated, has won two major electoral battles: the presidential elections followed by the legislative elections a few months later – thereby leaving the traditional parties of the right and left in the dust. At the centre of the political spectrum, Emmanuel Macron can now begin his own revolution – that of “deeply reforming French political life” in the midst of endemic unemployment and terrorist threats. He aims at nothing less than an “extraordinary renaissance” for France. He is, accordingly, positioning himself to play a leading role in resolving many latent conflicts, whether a unified Europe, the environment, or Syria. In evidence are not only his privileged talks with Angela Merkel, but also, and especially, the carefully orchestrated visits to Paris of Vladimir Putin and the Donald Trump.