The Gathering Clouds

Things look increasingly bleak for humanity at large, as democracy–once hailed as the great liberator–is manipulated and subjugated.

We see this most clearly in the debate over the use of fossil fuels. Deposits of coal, oil and natural gas are the legacy of millions of years of life, before mankind was ever seen on Earth. It’s a wondrous treasure. However during the industrial revolution the inventors discovered how to use these deposits for fuel, and this proved a real game changer.

Scientists have known since the nineteenth century that burning coal releases heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and effectively changes the climate. The over-use of fossil fuels has become a growing menace. However, the special interest groups spent millions in disinformation campaigns. Today, wealthy democratic societies such as Canada, the U.S. and Australia are accelerating development of their coal and oil deposits.

Libraries and schools are everywhere in today’s world, yet the kinship between man and beast has never been more apparent. In the natural world it’s only common sense for predators to consume their downed prey before moving on to new targets. For us, though, this instinct has become highly dangerous.

Today as the Arctic opens up, oil producers cast voracious eyes on the last great preserves of fossil fuels. They know full well that accelerating climate change brings disaster to millions of people living in equatorial and coastal regions; however, there is no thought of changing their ways until the fossil fuel reserves are used up.

Has anyone ever thought that future generations might have a different use for these reserves? That is, other than fuel?

Well one obvious use would be in fending off the next ice age. Likely though, the future generations will be a lot more inventive than that!

How Canadians Lost Their Moral Compass

A few weeks ago, an article in The American Conservative mentioned US troops being instructed to ignore boy rape committed by their Afghan allies. This flashed me back to Christmas 2009, when our Conservative government prorogued Parliament, rather than let the torture issue be discussed. According to news reports at that time, Canadian troops were also ordered to ignore the screams of boys being raped.

It’s not difficult to see what’s right and wrong in this situation. Child rape is pure evil, and in a better world our troops would have arrested the perpetrators. If high-ranking English and/or American officers were involved, arrest them too! Instead of which, Canada withdrew from the Afghan mission.

Ten years later, the war still drags on. And the way things look today, the Taliban enjoy more credence in the Afghan countryside than the Americans do.

For a Canadian senior, this type of thing is highly disturbing. We’re a newer country and I loved seeing Canada take its place in the world as an independent country, standing for human decency.

Today these attitudes are largely discarded. With the Americans now so strong, we’re pulled toward behaving like a satellite state. This tendency is strengthened by the intelligence group, the Five Eyes, which is made up by the white, English speaking nations. The word “allies” is always on the politicians’ lips, even though there’s no major war.

A similar dynamic seems to underlie the Brexit move. The British would not cut ties aimlessly; they must feel they have somewhere to go. And, they definitely bring experience to the table. The U.S. could do worse than learn from them in the Afghan situation: forget propping up a bunch of perverts, and establish a proper imperial government.

Imperialism’s been around a long time, and it operates under one main law. “It’s forbidden to make friends with those who do not submit.” (This saying is attributed to Genghis Khan, but it rings as true today.) In other words when imperialism comes in, right and wrong go out the window.

Unfortunately for the old-style imperialists, our world has undergone rapid and massive change. Population has exploded and so has technology. Other countries have nukes too.

My gut feeling: the aggressive behavior which once created great empires is not just wrong in today’s world. It’s obsolete, and highly risky.

How Canadians lost their moral compass

A few weeks ago, an article in The American Conservative mentioned US troops being instructed to ignore boy rape committed by their Afghan allies. This flashed me back to Christmas 2009, when our Conservative government prorogued Parliament, rather than letting the Afghan torture issue be discussed. According to news reports at that time, Canadian troops were also ordered to ignore the screams of boys being raped.

It’s not very difficult to see what’s right and wrong in this situation. Child rape is purely evil, and in a better world our troops would have arrested the perpetrators. If high-ranking English or American officers were involved, arrest them too! Instead of which, Canada withdrew from the Afghan mission.

Ten years later, that war still drags on. And the way things look today, the Taliban enjoy more credence in the Afghan countryside than the Americans do.

For a Canadian senior, this type of thing is highly disturbing. We’re a newer country and I loved seeing Canada take its place as an independent nation, standing for human decency. Today these attitudes are largely discarded.

With the Americans now so strong, there’s a pull towards behaving like a satellite state. This tendency is heightened by the intelligence group, the Five Eyes, which is made up by the white, English speaking nations. The word “allies” is always on the politicians’ lips, even though there’s no major war.

A similar dynamic seems to underlie the Brexit move. The British would not cut ties aimlessly; they must feel they have somewhere to go. And, they definitely bring experience to the table. The U.S. could do worse than learn from them in the Afghan situation: forget propping up a bunch of perverts, and establish a proper imperial government.

Well imperialism’s been around a long time, and it operates under one main law: it’s forbidden to make friends with those who do not submit. (This saying was attributed to Genghis Khan, but it rings as true today) In other words, when imperialism comes in, right and wrong go out the window.

Unfortunately for the old-style imperialists, the world has undergone rapid change. Population has exploded, and so has technology. Other countries have nukes too.

My gut feeling: the aggressive behavior which once created great empires is not just wrong in today’s world. It’s obsolete, and highly risky.


Canada’s New Shallow

Now approaching the end of his first term, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can look  back on one major accomplishment: legalization of marijuana.

Not many know, and few would care, if Trudeau is a pothead himself. As a politician, his greatest gift might be empathy; he seems to have an innate ability to put himself in other peoples’ shoes, and feel as they do about important issues. Unfortunately, as with the controversy over climate change, this capacity can lead to stalemate.

Canadians rank with the highest greenhouse emitters in the world on a per capita basis. Trudeau supports the Paris agreement, and he wants to cut Canada’s pollution by taxing the use of fossil fuels. At the same time, Trudeau is onside with the corporations that exploit Canada’s natural resources, and he has the utmost sympathy for the workers employed there. Thus he plans to increase bitumen shipments to overseas markets.

Such a union of opposites can make for great poetry; in the real world though, Trudeau’s “pipe dream” undercuts his pretense of caring about mankind’s future here on Earth.

One weakness of Canada’s democratic system is that it’s difficult for many people to see beyond their own immediate needs. As with the wolves, the bears, the squirrels and the robins, their attention is fixed on the moment, and the daily requirements of food and shelter. Politicians’ jobs depend on convincing people that they are the best ones to look after their interests, so the leaders too, focus on the here-and-now.

In comparison to other countries, Canada is one of the most blessed. We have a small, fairly well educated population, in a huge area. If anyone can afford to give something back to the world, and show flexibility and ingenuity with regard to making a living, it’s Canadians.

Unfortunately at the present time, the required leadership is not there.

Coping with the post-truth world

The first U.S. strike on Syria, a year ago, came as a real shocker. Like millions of others, I’d seen the pictures of a gas attack on the internet. However I never expected such a response from the U.S.

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, had initially called for an investigation. Then a couple of days later, he stated that our closest ally had certain knowledge of the Syrian government’s guilt.

As a seventy-four year old who grew up in small B.C. towns in the 1950’s, I doubted this certainty. (Our steady diet of Westerns, in the movie theater and later on TV, instilled a firm belief that the once-common lynch mob justice is not the way to go. These were morality plays, and I’m glad for the indoctrination. We’ll always need trained lawmen to seek out the truth, wherever it leads them.)

Today’s war-torn Syria has several different factions fighting there, any one of which could have the motive and the expertise to stage something like this.

The situation was disturbing, so I went on-line and looked up “investigation into the Syrian atrocity.” That’s when I discovered The American Conservative. The writers at that site have spent their lives in public service, both at home and abroad. They’ve earned PhDs, and written books. Some have advised presidents. I appreciate their expertise very much, and find them quite enlightening.

Here in Canada the news media has fallen into even fewer hands, and it’s a downward spiral; steadily losing readership, they cut quality to stay afloat. Our national broadcaster, the CBC, still has world-class journalists; however the newer management shows little interest in world-wide news. Rather there’s a focus on imperial concerns.

Today, a year or so after the first strike on Syria, two similar cases have arisen.  First, a former Russian spy now living in England was targeted with a deadly nerve poison. Stating that the Russian government was probably the perpetrator,  England immediately expelled their diplomats. Several allied countries did likewise, including Canada.

Soon afterwards, Syrian citizens suffered a second chemical weapons attack. Jumping to conclusions once again, Britain and France joined with the U.S. in retaliation, striking several sites.

Britain and France played a significant role here after World War One, when they divided the Ottoman lands between them, and their participation lends support for the American assertion of Imperial authority in the area.

However many of the problems the Middle East faces today were created by Britain and France, and they won’t be solved by even more simplistic measures.

These are dangerous times.