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The Closing of the American Mind

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In 1987, Dr. Bloom wrote a scathing critique of how society has failed democracy in the perennial book, The Closing of the American Mind. Dr. Bloom concluded society was more “impoverished” due to the character development being fostered by America’s universities. His central thesis focused on how concepts of openness and moral relativism have ironically led to the closing of the American mind.

He argued that openness has led to the deprivation and eradication of critical thinking. Today, decades later, the society he once critiqued, finds itself at a similar crossroads. Society seems to be at a precipice where the culmination of tensions related to race, economic disparity, and other issues appear to be fracturing the very foundation and social consciousness that has prolonged the existence of American society. Today’s downturn can be traced back to one of the most important pillars of society, education.

Education

The primary contributor to this phenomenon has been the education system especially America’s colleges. Starting with the primary and secondary education system, the country is witnessing a large disparity in the quality of education being provided to its youth relative to other countries. The US has been on steady decline in terms of how her student’s fare. Despite concerted efforts, the graduation rate for high school still lingers around 70% but even worse, 80% of those who graduate high school is not remotely prepared for their first year of college. The governing paradigm behind the US’s current approach to both its primary and secondary system requires a dramatic change, it is archaic at best. While American Universities have historically been second to none in terms of research as well as academics it is slipping more and more. A pedagogical shift is needed.

The most perilous issue at hand is critical thinking or lack thereof. The intent behind the American education system as well as the four-year American degree is that it certifies that the graduate is an individual that not only has demonstrated commitment in achieving and successfully passing a rigorous course of study but also acquired skills and knowledge into the fundamentals of a certain subject. However, more importantly, it demonstrated that whomever the degree was bestowed upon developed certain intellectual faculties that would allow them to employ logic as well as critical reasoning abilities to solve any problem. This skill, in particular, is what has allowed American society to flourish and innovate. The universities use to produce educated individuals who were able to debate what is right and wrong in a civil manner. Unfortunately, colleges are beginning to fail more and more in this respect. They are not creating the renaissance-like student as was initially intended with the premise of a 4-year degree. Such a well-rounded individual would help alleviate society’s burden, instead, today’s students are contributing to its decline due to a sense of false bravado that has been granted to them with their college education. Today’s students due to the relative peace, economic prosperity and false bluster have developed a sense of entitlement. Whereas in reality, they are perhaps more close minded due to the false veneer that has been created by their own inflated sense of worth. The university, which was supposed to be the Socratic utopia of creating the enlightened masses, has become an assembly line that churns out heavily indebted zombies and parrots. The sheer number of colleges and conferred degrees has exponentially skyrocketed to the point that bachelor degrees are becoming futile in almost every subject aside from engineering and the sciences. Society has created a false belief that everyone should go to college and it is a right rather than a privilege for those who were academically successful. Today, students of all calibers are entering college rather than those who performed well academically. While American colleges are still notable due to the massive endowment and research money poured into them, many are devolving from being renowned for centers of innovation to infamous for its campus parties. The price of colleges has continued to unabatedly rise exorbitantly for what appears to be a more worthless piece of paper as each day goes by. With the higher influx of students with all sorts of academic ability, standards have lowered and lowered in order to help better accommodate such students. The transformation of colleges into for-profit centers coupled with the unlimited loans from the government to support this fruitless endeavor has created a major government initiative that has failed. This failure, in particular, has one of the largest consequences to society as a whole. This slow regression of society is witnessed in all aspects and professions today as intellectual capacity is producing diminishing returns.

Politics

According to a recent Pew study, Americans have at no time been as partisan and divided as they are today. While the trend has been observed dating back to the 1960s, unfortunately, data has only been consistently recorded since 1992. While the American political system was created to be a forum for a variety of political ideologies in which the voters can view and subscribe to, today it has downgraded from being a congregation of beliefs to more of a vitriol battlefield of who can further their corporate and big money interest rather than fulfill the desire of their constituents. Unfortunately, many Americans find it hard to believe but on a national scale, the two major parties are not so much different than each other.

Social beliefs are used as a veneer to help create this illusion of differentiation between the two parties making it easier for voters to choose what candidates they can select. While a nation’s social direction is important and should not be neglected, the reality lies in the fact that Americans, for the most part, do not want to be dictated to in how they live their lives. Politicians in their natural finesse are able to contour the discussion of social issues as a topic of fear and imposition on people’s everyday lives. Most people tend to be more emotionally responsive rather than logical about their decision. Equipped with such psychological depth, politicians and consultants have transformed the elections from matters of substance into a popularity contest. Sophistry has become a most sought after trait by those seeking office.

The question goes back to how has this state of affairs come into being? How did statesmen transform into dreaded and corrupt politicians? While the government, in its best form, is a necessary evil, as Thomas Paine had put it, a democratic government only denigrates in complicity with its citizenry. A true democratic nation such as the US can only move away from its roots as a republic under the auspices of the same citizenry it serves. Whether it is the influence of corporate lobbying in legislation or big money in the elective process, all this has occurred thanks to the acquiescence of the voters. While not every American needs to be a full-blown political affairs guru, it is a civic duty to know what or whom they are voting for. Yet, too many times by too many people, Americans despite arguing for change, reduction of political corruption and favoritism, vote into power those who continue the bickering, stalemate, and impotence that is government today. The power of the ballot box has been ignored for too long and the voter, not the system, has created the leviathan that everyone bemoans today. Even to this day, as Americans continue to complain about all these plaguing issues of the electoral system, they do not take responsibility for their choices. Despite the continuous grievances and Congress’ historically low approval rating, the same officials are reelected almost every election. Politico reported that 90% of incumbent Congressman and 91% of incumbent Senators were reelected in recent elections. Political scientists are quick to point to the amount of money raised, television ad, etc. that was employed by the incumbent to secure his/her seat. In reality, the source of the blame is being ignored, the voters.

Many are quick to label politicians stupid, ignorant, etc. and while these labels may be true for certain politicians they are not applicable to all. There are many savvy and intelligent officials who have to simplify their speeches, points, or goals to catch the attention of the voter. This is the nature of politics in America, the oversimplification or “dumbing” down of information into slogans, so it can catch the attention of the potential voter. To further induce potential voters, certain words are intermittently interjected into conversations, rallies, etc. to help increase a candidate’s popularity. Such a demotion of ideas by politicians reflects once again the society they partake in. Voters as people are subconsciously biased and do not like to feel inferior around others as well as disliking what they perceive as negative. Self-worth is measured by social status, thus when an intelligent politician discusses intricate subjects with the level of complexity needed, voters are turned off whereas the politician seeking office rather than serving the public sings the necessary ode to the delight and content of the voter is elected.

As society regresses more so towards emotions and becomes largely devoid of logic and facts, the emergence of a dystopia resembling what the fictional movie Idiocracy was attempting to resemble takes hold. In such a society there is a lack of any sense of social responsibility, an inconsistent set of principles pertaining to human rights of its citizens and those abroad, and a continual hindrance to the pursuit of intellectual curiosity sometimes for the sake of inclusiveness or political correctness.

Society has been demonstrating a tendency to become “dumber.” A study carried out by a team of researchers concluded that there has been a markedly exponential growth in technological advancement since the Victorian age, but a shrinking in human intelligence over the same time period. It is estimated the average individual is approximately 13.4 IQ points less intelligent than their Victorian Era counterpart. This is somewhat noticeable with the untenable understanding of geography, science, and history demonstrated by most people in the US and around the world. When one looks to society, its role models and those who are held in high esteem today, it seems to have drastically altered than several decades or a century ago. Today, reality stars, movies stars, and athletes are bequeathed extreme adoration and epitomize the majority of society’s highest aspirations, unfortunately to its own detriment. This in itself resembles a society with a sense of void and lack of worthiness that should be better inculcated. The lifestyle that is portrayed by these “role models” appeals to the most inner compartments of people’s wants and desires. It is that lifestyle they appreciate and believe that would be most gratifying. Those lifestyles are almost always glitzy, flashy, and vapid. While education is not solely to blame, it is a major contributor to the development of character and critical thinking faculties. These members of society are doomed to never escape the most minimal echelons of Maslow’s hierarchy.

Erosion of Ideals

The culmination of all these issues is starting to manifest itself in a very grave threat to society through the erosion of ideals and principles that define American society. As each side rushes to blame the other for allowing such a decimation of the American character, in reality, both are to blame. While the left critiques the right, it ignores the fact that across American college campuses a new phenomenon of shutting down right-leaning speakers or even centrist liberal speakers is taking hold. In order to preserve certain ideals, they are partaking in an epidemic to limit free speech. Even if that speech is hate speech, it should not be stymied; it could be condemned and ignored but not impeded. Such a precedent only opens the floodgates for future limitation of speech based on emotions. While those on the left are ready to critique, justifiably so, former President George Bush for his actions (Iraq War and drone strikes) and legislations (Patriot Act, etc.) for some mysterious reason they are blind to their liberal leaders such as President Obama and Hilary Clinton, who have done similar, if not worse, in the same arena.

The same is applicable to those in the right, while they have employed labels such as regressive left or social justice warriors to project a negative connotation; they sometimes seem to have a short memory on the causation for certain failures that was created by Republican leaders such as President Bush and his predecessors. The failure to focus on Afghanistan has allowed for the Taliban to regain total power in that country, while presenting farcically based intelligence led to the war in Iraq that not only destabilized the region and world but gave birth to ISIS. They forget the deficit spending and corporate welfare that President Bush engaged in, which did not help the national debt.

Long gone are the days where a Socratic, intellectual and informative discourse can be held between people on opposite side of the political spectrum such as conservative commentator William Buckley Jr. and liberal linguistic and activist, Noam Chomsky. Such public debates helped inform both sides of the aisle on the opposing side’s opinion, train of thought and sometimes allowed for reconciliation through understanding or compromise.

This plaguing issue in today’s America is once again due to the character formation of the population through the education system. The art of learning how to learn is no longer instilled in students, but instead whether in primary, secondary, and even post-secondary, the focus is memorization of material and regurgitation. Without learning how to critically think and analyze, these students become parrots, mimicking what is fed to them based on those whom they align with ideologically. In addition, thanks to the inflationary practices of universities via reducing standards and graduating students as if they are an assembly line, an implicit enablement of such people in society is taking place on a mass level. In reality, what is being created are hollow individuals in society with a false sense of intelligence and knowledge that will end up further dividing this nation and bringing the eventual decline of America, if it has not already started.

Conclusion

The society that Dr. Bloom critiqued was vastly different than today’s society. While certain societal inequities have been remedied in the past few decades, others have begun to become a nuisance of its own. As the consequences of the cultural and sexual revolution were setting in, the changes were something of a perturbation to people from Dr. Bloom’s era. As those effects settled, one of the biggest impacts they have had has been the education system and the philosophical ways students are being taught. Nowhere more is this detrimental effect observed than America’s universities. Today students are being mass produced without the focus on their development into open-minded, inquisitive, informed, and critically thinking individuals. It is these college-educated individuals that are expected to run the future corporations, states, and country. Unlike, students of the past, today’s students are being produced by the groves at colleges who are more interested in profits than the actual quality of the graduate. As a result, colleges have become more of a rite of passage for most young Americans rather than a medium of knowledge. Undergraduate programs have become more widely known based on party rankings rather than academics. Instead of young graduates possessing knowledge and ability to think critically, colleges and society, in general, are producing more parrot-like citizens who are more interested in vitriol partisanship than actually debating and holding a conversation in which all points are discussed and analyzed. Humility and modesty, traits of most educated individuals, are evaporating and being replaced with hubris and arrogance. Due to social media, popular culture propagated by reality TV, and the lack of a properly educated population that can analyze and think judiciously not emotionally, a vicious future is being implanted for America. One of the most important functions of a college or university is to protect the concept of reason and logic. As Dr. Bloom said, “Education is the movement of darkness into light” but today it appears education is moving society back into darkness.

Luis Durani is currently employed in the oil and gas industry. He previously worked in the nuclear energy industry. He has a M.A. in international affairs with a focus on Chinese foreign policy and the South China Sea, MBA, M.S. in nuclear engineering, B.S. in mechanical engineering and B.A. in political science. He is also author of "Afghanistan: It’s No Nebraska – How to do Deal with a Tribal State" and "China and the South China Sea: The Emergence of the Huaqing Doctrine." Follow him for other articles on Instagram: @Luis_Durani

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The Canal System and the Development of the Early American Economy

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The prosperity and development of the United States that it enjoys today did not come out of thin air. This is especially true in its early days of economic development which has a lot to do with the construction of the transportation system. In the beginning, it was the development of water transportation, then the railway, next followed by the highways. The construction of these major transportation systems supported the early development, prosperity, and rise of the U.S., laying the foundation for it to become a major world power.

The early water transport in the U.S. is rather interesting, and it mainly aimed to connect more places in the country by excavating and expanding the canal system. According to incomplete statistics, the total length of canals in the U.S. is 18,000 km. This 18,000 km long canal was of great significance to the early economic development of the country. This well-connected water transportation system has greatly enriched the exchange of commodities, promoted trade, and enabled the convenient transportation of raw materials, salt, whisky, energy coal, and many other products within the country. The domestic market of the U.S. had also expanded, and its national economy transformed from weak to strong.

The longest and the most well-known canal in the U.S. is the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal is named after the lake and starts from the Niagara River which originates from Lake Erie. It spans upstate New York and joins the Hudson River in Albany, the capital city of New York State, with a total length of 574 km. It is not only the longest canal in the U.S. but also the sixth-longest in the world. Back in the early 19th century, before the automobile existed, there was an urgent need for a transportation route from the Atlantic coast to the Appalachian region. A canal was proposed to run from Buffalo on the east shore of Lake Erie through the canyons of the Mohawk Valley to Albany on the upper Hudson River.

In 1817, the New York State Legislature approved the construction of the Erie Canal. After much arduous work, the canal was finally opened on October 25, 1825. Its total length is 584 km (363 miles), The channel was cut 12 m (40 feet) wide and 1.2 m (4 feet) deep. In order to solve the problem of water level drop, a total of 83 locks have been built in the canal, each lock is 27 m by 4.5 m, allowing the navigation of flat-bottomed barges with a maximum displacement of 75 tons (68 tonnes).

The Erie Canal was the first express transportation to provide the east coast and west interior of the U.S. much faster than the animal-pulled carts most commonly used at the time. Not only did it speed up transportation, but it also cut transportation costs along the coast and inland by 95%. Fast canal traffic made western New York more accessible, resulting in rapid population growth in the Midwest. The canal had as much impact on the development of the upper Midwest as it did on the development of New York City. Many pioneers flocked west through the canal, into Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois, Indiana, from where they shipped agricultural products through the canal to be marketed in New York, and the return journey was loaded with industrial goods and supplies to the west. Manufacturing industries emerged on both sides of the canal, supplying a steady stream of products to New York City. From Buffalo to New York, land freight once reached $100 per ton, and it was only $10 by the canal. In nine years, tolls had paid back the cost of the construction of the canal. By the time the toll was abolished in 1882, the revenue from the canal had been used to pay for the construction of several canal spurs, and there was substantial tax payment as well.

The canal has been expanded several times. After its reconstruction in 1909, it has become 544 km long, 45 m wide, and 3.6 m deep. By the 20th century, New York had developed a network of canals connecting Lakes Champlain, Ontario, and Finger, and the Erie Canal remained the central route, capable of navigating barges with a capacity of 2,200 tons. The establishment of the Erie Canal connected the water transport of the Great Lakes with New York Harbor and became the main waterway of the navigable canal system in New York State. The freight from Lake Erie to New York only required the cost of one-tenth of the former, making the city, much smaller than Philadelphia and Boston at that time, rapidly developed into the largest port and city in the country. The construction of the Erie Canal played a major role in promoting the economic development of the eastern United States and New York. The population of New York in 1820 was 123,700, and the population of Philadelphia was 112,000. By 1860, the numbers rose to 1.08 million and 566,000 respectively. Consequently, New York thrived as a port city. In 1800, only about 9% of all foreign goods in the United States entered the United States through New York Harbor, yet by 1860, that percentage jumped to 62%. The strengthening of New York’s status too indirectly led to the gradual establishment of Wall Street’s status. In this regard, the Erie Canal contributed greatly to such progress.

In addition to changing urban patterns and the rise of industry, the Erie Canal had a far-reaching impact on the U.S. economy, gradually transforming it into a consumer-led economy that determined the subsequent U.S. economic landscape. Culturally, the opening of the Erie Canal also boosted the Protestant revival movement known as the Second Awakening. Western New York was one of the main areas of this movement, and a crucial reason for this was the opening of the Erie Canal. In the small towns emerging on both sides of the canal, various sects began to proselyte in places where their churches had yet to be common, and some emerging religious groups took root there and rapidly developed, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons.

Other than the evangelization along the Erie Canal, many new trends of thought also made their appearance there, such as the early feminist movement, the abolition movement, and utopianism, which all found their initial supporters in the emerging towns in that region. Hence, the construction of the Erie Canal played a driving role in the changes of the American cultural pattern.

From the day the Erie Canal was built, the vast area between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River, especially the Midwest around the Great Lakes, was no longer the frontier of the United States, but was connected to the east coast and became the heartland of the country. The economic and social changes it brought about had put the U.S. on the first step toward becoming a great power. The central and western regions could industrialize swiftly, forming the Great Lakes industrial areas, mining areas, and urban belt. All of these were inseparable from the Erie Canal, therefore it is not unreasonable for many to consider the opening of the Erie Canal as the official beginning of the first industrial revolution in the U.S.

There are numerous canals within the U.S. According to incomplete statistics, the country has built a total of 18,000 km of canals. The entire country has also become an organic whole because of these canals, which not only effectively enhanced the ability to resist droughts and floods, but also greatly developed the American economy and market.

Final analysis conclusion:

The construction of the canal system played an important role in the early transportation improvement, trade flow, market expansion, cultural dissemination, and urban development of the United States. This, in turn, has greatly promoted the development of the American economy and played an important role for it to become a major power.

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Aligning values into an interest-based Canadian Indo-Pacific Strategy

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an explicit challenge to the post-WW 2 order. This order has brought peace and stability and created the conditions for economic growth in the global north and Global South. It has also brought relative peace and economic integration in the Europe and in the Indo-Pacific.

Today, this order is now being challenged by Russia today but also by China. The consequences could mean that a might-is-right approach and Machiavellian approach to foreign policy will become the new normal for countries like Canada, a self-described middle power.

A Machiavellian order is an order in which larger countries can bully, cajole and pressure, mid and small size countries to do what they are demanded is an explicit challenge to Canadian interests, as well as the interests of like-minded countries such as Japan, Australia, South Korea, European countries and countries in the Global South.

The Trudeau Government has clearly and explicitly criticized the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Ottawa has coordinated with other middle powers and as we speak through the G-7 Summit in Germany on how to handle Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

Unity will be important, especially as energy security becomes more and more critical of an issue for Central and Eastern European countries. The growing food crisis that has manifested as a result of the Russian invasion is also an area that the G-7 will need to coordinate to provide relief to many countries in the Global South.

This message will be further discussed at the NATO summit in Spain. Here, Japan, South Korea, Australia New Zealand will join the NATO members to demonstrate their shared commitment to a rules-based order to pushing back against aggression to change the current order and to find ways to work together to support the Ukraine and resist Russian aggression. Here, Canada has an important role in terms of energy security and food security.

With ample access to energy and food resources, there is a possibility for Canada and other partners such as the U.S. to divert some of its significant grain and energy resources to the Europe to help alleviate some of the stress associated with the invasion of Ukraine.

Coordinated military support as well will be important to ensure that the Ukrainians can resist and eventually take back territory that was taken by force by Russia.

There is an interesting paradox in Canada’s approach. While explicitly criticizing Russia’s might-is-right approach to foreign relations in Eastern Europe and particularly with Ukraine, Canada continues to waver in using the same language in the Indo-Pacific.

The Indo-Pacific region is also facing a might-is-right approach to reshaping the Indo-Pacific order. The use of lawfare, gray-zone operations, military force and belligerent threats all are aimed at reshaping the Indo-Pacific order in such a way that creates a Chinese centric regional order in which China’s neighbors as well as stakeholders that engage in the region will think about China’s interests before their own interests and their interest with Washington.

Canada needs to continue to invest in the Indo-Pacific. A good place to start will be to explicitly state Canada’s concerns about that Machiavellian approach to foreign policy in the region and the efforts by China to reshape the region such that states lose aspects of their autonomy. This will require an Indo-Pacific strategy to be built on a clear objective of how Canada sees the Indo-Pacific Region evolving forward and how Canada would like to contribute to that broader vision of the Indo-Pacific.

Japan, Australia, the United States, Germany, Denmark, and the E.U. have laid out their own Indo-Pacific strategies. They focus on maritime security, a rules-based order, transparency, development and importantly, good governance. We see little rhetoric concerning progressive issues as well as little mention of the core values such as democracy, human rights and freedom of press. This is intentional. These countries and associations understand the heterogeneity within the region.

The-Indo Pacific region is home to soft authoritarian regimes, socialist regimes, democracies and monarchies. Unfortunately, each has very different views about democracy, human rights and progressive issues.  

Where they are aligned is in their interests. Their interests are focused on trade, economic integration development, the digital economy, resolving territorial issues through dialogue and consensus-based decision making and not excluding any country region or political entity from the region’s political economy.

Simply, associations and regions like ASEAN, South Asia and the E.U.  see inclusivity as a key criterion to the Indo-Pacific peaceful evolution This means any Indo-Pacific strategy that emerges out of these countries does not exclude China or strive to eject non-democratic states.

Rather, their Indo-Pacific strategies focus on inculcating peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region through development, trade, infrastructure and connectivity, institution building, good governance and deterrence.

In the Canadian case, the broader vision for the Indo-Pacific should echo but not necessarily replicate the Indo-Pacific Visions of the country’s mentioned above. Canada’s priority should be peace, stability, open access, a transparent, rules-based order that ensures Canada can have free access to economies and societies throughout the region.

At the same time, Canada’s interests in the Indo-Pacific should include shaping the region such that traditional security issues such as territory issues in the South China Sea, East China Sea, the Taiwan Straits and the Himalayan plateau do not devolve into kinetic conflict that fundamentally disrupts the region’s development and stability.

Traditional security issues are not the only issue that can affect Canada’s interests in the region. Non-traditional security issues such as climate change, terrorism, transnational diseases, extremism are all potential concerns for Canada as it could create instability in the region, disrupt their economies, destabilize supply chains as well as create problems for trading partners.

As Canada celebrates another Canada Day, it should reflect upon what are the key elements of an Indo-Pacific strategy.

Here a six-fold approach may be a useful approach to creating an Indo-Pacific strategy that helps achieve Canada’s national interests in the Indo-Pacific region. A first pillar of an Indo Pacific strategy should be one of Inclusive Development.

Here, Canada can help build stability, improve governance and contribute to broad inclusive development in the region. Through support for NGOs, investment in infrastructure and connectivity, coordinating with regional stakeholders and ensuring that inclusive development results in sustainable and replicable development in the region. Importantly, inclusive development in the region should de-emphasize the progressive character of inclusivity found in the domestic context of Canada as it is less prioritized in the region. This does not mean that a progressive approach is absent but it is sensitive to the local cultures and societies.  

A second pillar should focus on Canada’s comparative advantages, Energy and critical mineral security. Based on improvements in environmental technology and technologies that are used to exploit both energy resources and critical minerals, Canada should make this the second pillar of their Indo-Pacific strategy as an open, reliable source of energy and critical minerals.

Canada could carve a position within the Indo-Pacific region in which it is the key provider of energy and critical minerals to industries that use both products. We’ve seen in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, that energy security has become timely and we expect that energy security and critical minerals to be subject to weaponization in the future in the build-up to or in a conflict.

Consequently, Canada can contribute energy and critical mineral significantly by making this a key pillar in their strategy.

A third pillar should focus on coordinating and investing in Middle Power Diplomacy. In short, Canada needs to coordinate with other middle powers such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand European powers to ensure that the US China Strategic competition does not shape them. Rather, coordination shapes the dynamics of the US China Strategic competition in such a way that it decreases and or attenuates the negative effects on countries we’ve already seen Canada engage in middle power diplomacy with some success.

The 2020 Agreement, in which Canada marshaled middle powers and other countries to join a Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations following the arrest of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in China is a good example. We also saw Canada bring together middle powers and the United States to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in January 2018.

 More coordination of middle powers in the areas of good governance, transparency, energy cooperation and financial cooperation would be a unique but also important contribution by Canada in the Indo-Pacific.

Here, one could easily imagine Canada working with the Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) to provide energy security, health infrastructure, good governance to the Pacific Island nations.

We could also see Canada contribute to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework by marshalling middle powers to support this standard setting agreement that will shape how we think about trade. The standards that we use to negotiate new technologies ,the internet, cyber as well as AI.

A fourth pillar should be supporting Economic security, infrastructure and connectivity. Here Canada needs to find ways to consolidate its own economic security so that is more resilient against economic shocls, outside Canada, as well as inside Canada.

The COVID 19 pandemic is a good example of an external shock to the Canadian economy. We had challenges in terms of acquiring personal protective equipment and other goods as China shut down their country to manage the initial Covid-19 outbreak.

The current COVID-19 policies in Shanghai and Beijing further consolidates the logic that Canada needs to build resilience into its economy, to invest and protect its own economic security.

Internally, the floods in the fall of 2021 in British Colombia also disrupted Canadian exports abroad.

Economic security, resilience and infrastructure and connectivity can help ensure that Canada’s economy remains online and integrated into the global economy and resilient against external and internal shocks. This will require bolstering infrastructure and connectivity at home so that we have world class infrastructure that is resilient against internal shocks.

Also, Canada has a role in contributing to infrastructure and connect to the within the Indo-Pacific region. While we have limited capacities, we have capabilities that can piggyback onto existing infrastructure connectivity programs that are associated with the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. The Japan-India-Australia resilient supply chain initiative and bilateral and other multilateral infrastructure and connectivity initiatives that have come online over the past three or four years. All of this will be important for Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy in ensuring that Canada’s economic security is based on a resilient economy that is bolstered by infrastructure connectivity at home and abroad.

A fifth pillar for Canada will continue to be focused on security and in particular, Maritime Security in the Indo-Pacific region. With sea lines of communication in the Indo-Pacific responsible for about $5.5 trillion in trade every year and energy resources being transported through the key arteries located in the Indian Ocean, Malacca Straits South China Sea, Taiwan Straits as well as East China Sea, Canada has an interest in ensuring that the sea lines of communication remain open, governed by international law and free from coercion.

Cooperation in sea lines of communication will need to take place within existing frameworks or new frameworks. Quad plus arrangements have already taken place in January 2021 Canada participated in the Sea Dragon 21 exercises to provide an opportunity for Canada to monitor and observe Quad exercises.

We also see Canada engage in sanctions monitoring in the East China Sea in an effort to prevent sanctions invasions by North Korea. These activities continue to need to be expanded by working with like-minded countries within the region focused on maritime domain awareness search and rescue, humanitarian relief and disaster assistance and dealing with non-traditional security challenges such as illegal fishing, piracy and others.

While this is not an easy task, this pillar of a Canadian Indo-Pacific strategy is important to contributing to the region’s peace and stability as well it is important for protecting Canadian imports and exports to the region. In 2021, more than $21 billion of Canadian goods went through the region this sum continues to increase as Indo-Pacific nations look to Canada to secure energy as well as agricultural products. Ensuring that sea lines of communication remain open, stable and peaceful will continue to be a critical part of any Canadian Indo-Pacific strategy.

Lastly, a sixth pillar of a Canadian Indo-Pacific Strategy should focus on Climate Change.

The Indo-Pacific region is hosts the three most populated countries, Indonesia, India and China. It is also home to ASEAN. Collectively, the population of the Indo-Pacific region is at least 3.5 billion and the current development patterns suggest that they will have severe water and food security issues as their environment degrades do to climate change and global warming.

More extreme weather systems, the salination of the Mekong and Bangladeshi delta’s as sea levels rise will change the ecology of these critical production areas that that will create social instability, economic stress and likely political instability associated with economic refugees moving to find safer, more predictable geographic locations to leave and work.

We will also see tropical diseases and insects push north and southward disrupting agricultural and social systems.

Canada has a clear interest in investing in climate change mitigation, promoting environmentally friendly governance and business systems and technology transfer that lessen the negative impact of climate change. The scale of the problem will require Canada to pursue this sixth pillar through regional and global coordination.

With a pragmatic and realistic approach that is based on understanding the heterogeneity of the Indo-Pacific region, a Canadian Indo-Pacific Strategy should include but not be exclusive to: Inclusive development, Trade and Economic Residence, Climate Change, Maritime Security, Energy and Critical Mineral Security, and Middle Power Diplomacy.

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How ‘Democracies’ Degenerate Into Minoritarian Right-Wing Governments (Aristocracies)

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In America, a woman’s right to an abortion of a pre-conscious (earlier than 20 weeks) fetus is no longer recognized by its federal Government, though, by a 59% to 41% margin (and 67% to 33% among American women, who are the people directly affected), the American people want it to be. That’s one example of America’s dictatorship (minority-rule). (This statement about it isn’t a commentary on the ethics of abortion, but on the polling on abortion, in America.) But there are many other examples of America’s being now a minority-rule nation. 

For example: in February of 2008, a U.S. Gallup poll had asked Americans “Would you like to see gun laws in this country made more strict, less strict, or remain as they are?” and 49% said “More Strict,” 11% said “Less Strict,” and 38% said “Remain as Are.” But, then, the U.S. Supreme Court, in June 2008, reversed that Court’s prior rulings, ever since 1939, and they made America’s gun laws far less strict than the gun-laws ever had been before; and, thus, the 5 ruling judges in this 2008 decision imposed upon the nation what were the policy-preferences of actually a mere 11% of Americans. 

Then, in 2014, there was finally the first scientific answer to the question of whether America is a democracy or instead a dictatorship, when the first-ever comprehensive political-science study that was ever published on whether the U.S. Government reflects the policy-preferences of the American public or instead of only the very richest Americans found that, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy”; and, so, “Clearly, when one holds constant net interest-group alignments and the preferences of affluent Americans, it makes very little difference what the general public thinks.” 

In other words: America, which nominally is a (limited) democracy, is actually an aristocracy, NOT a democracy at all. Each one of the ways in which America’s laws and their enforcement reflect what the country’s billionaires want, but NOT what the country’s public want, those proposed pieces of legislation have become laws just as much, as happens when the billionaires and the public have the same policy-references regarding the given policy-matter, as when they don’t. This means that the aristocracy always get policies that are acceptable to them, but the public often do not. The result is conservative government regardless of what the public wants. No aristocrat is progressive (for majority-rule — “democracy”); all are instead either overtly conservative (for “fascism,” another term for which is “corporationism”), or else noblesse oblige or hypocritically conservative (“liberals”), people who are pretending to care about the public as being something more than merely their markets (consumers they sell to) or else their workers (their employees or other agents, such as lobbyists). When the public are conservative or “right wing,” (not progressive or “left wing”), they are elitist, not populist — and, especially, they are not left-wing populist (or progressive). Donald Trump was a right-wing populist (which is another form of aristocratic policy-fakery, besides the liberal type — either type is mere pretense to being non-fascist). But no aristocrat is progressive, and this means that in a corrupt ‘democracy’, all of the policy-proposals that become enacted into laws are elitist even if of the noblesse-oblige or “liberal” form of that. The Government, in such a nation, always serves its billionaires, regardless of what the public wants. That’s what makes the country an aristocracy instead of a democracy.

As the former U.S. President Jimmy Carter had said in 2015, commenting upon the profound corruption in America:

It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we’ve just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. … At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell.

In France, one of the primary sources of the dictatorship is the dictatorship’s intensification in 2008 from a new Constitutional provision, Section Three of Article 49, which facilitates rule-by-decree (“executive decree”) from the President, when the Parliament is opposed to his policy-preferences. This Section gives the aristocracy an opportunity to override Parliament if the other methods of corruption (mainly by France’s having no “ban on donors to political parties/candidates participating in public tender/procurement processes” — predominantly arms-manufacturers who are donors) are insufficient to meet the desires of the aristocracy, but, otherwise, France has remarkably strict laws against corruption — far stricter than in Germany, and in Russia — and thus the French Government represents mainly corporations that sell directly to the Government. Consequently, when “all else fails,” and the Parliament turns out to be inadequate (insufficiently imperialistic) in the view of France’s billionaires, Section 49-3 is applied by the President. (America, like France, has strict laws against corruption, but they are loaded with loopholes, and, so, America has almost unlimited corruption. America’s legislature is even more corrupt than is France’s.) Ever since France’s Tony Blairite Socialist Party (neoliberal-neoconservative) Prime Minister Manuel Valls started in 2016 to allow French Presidents to use the 2008-minted 49-3 Section to rule by decree and ignore Parliament, France has increasingly become ruled-by-decree, and the Parliament is more frequently overridden.

After the recent French Parliamentary elections, the current French President, Emmanuel Macron, who has often been ruling by decree, will do so even more than before. As the Iranian journalist in Paris, Ramin Mazaheri, recently said: “Elections at just 46% turnout are a hair’s breadth away from not having democratic credibility, but that must be added with [to] the constant use of the 49-3 executive decree and the certainty of a Brussels’ veto for any legislation they don’t like. It combines to modern autocracy – rule by an oligarchical elite.”

Perhaps low voter-turnout is an indication that the nation will have a revolution. After all, both America and France did that, once, and it could happen again, in order to overthrow the aristocracy that has since emerged after the prior one was overthrown. Someone should therefore tabulate how low the voter-turnout has to go in order for a revolution to result. The post-1945 American Government has perpetrated incredibly many coups against foreign governments, but perhaps the time will soon come when dictatorships such as in America and France become, themselves, democratically overthrown. Both countries have degenerated into minoritarian right-wing governments. At least in France, the public seem to be becoming aware of this fact. Neither Government now has authentic democratic legitimacy.

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