The Morning Consult poll released on March 30th headlines “Republicans Drive Biggest Decline in Voter Optimism since Trump Took Office: Record drop isn’t matched by a similar decrease in president’s approval rating.”
The U.S. budget-bill and its soaring federal deficits and debt, are driving this, as I pointed out on March 23rd, but I was mistaken at that time to interpret the data as showing more of a Republican disenchantment with Trump than a Republican disenchantment with congressional Republicans. It now seems clear that Republican voters aren’t moving away from Trump; they’re instead moving away from the Republican Party. Basically, there are as many Republicans as before, but their intensity of support for their Party is diminishing, and this declined voter-intensity will probably show up in November’s elections by a decreased voter-turnout at the polls in the mid-term elections.
The just-released MC poll was taken during 26-27 March, which was after my analysis on March 23rd, “Trump’s Base Abandoning Him”, had pointed out (correctly) that, “Increasing the size of the U.S. Government’s debt is, to Trump’s main base of political support (as reflected by the biggest online news-site that informs his electoral following), absolutely unacceptable. … The federal-debt issue is killing Trump politically. His voters don’t much care whether he starts World War III by his respecting and appointing such people as the super-neoconservative John Bolton. Bolton’s being loathed by ‘The libbys’ (liberals) convinces Trump’s followers that Bolton is ‘the right man for the job.’ By stark contrast, they’re rabid against Trump’s signing the Government’s budget bill. And, to them, that’s a much bigger issue than whether there will soon be a WW III.”
They’re not angry against Trump on account of their opposition to the soaring federal debt, such as I had inferred; they are instead blaming their Party for it.
Is Trump, consequently, like Reagan was, “the Teflon President”? Or, perhaps, instead, a tendency might exist for any authoritarian political party (such as Trump’s Republican Party, and also Clinton’s Democratic Party) to avoid despising its leader, regardless of how bad he or she might actually be (in this case, bad enough, even in the view of increasing numbers of Republicans, so as for Trump’s followers to start acknowledging that even when their Party controls all branches of the government, such as now, things become yet more “wrong track” than they had been before). After all: in authoritarianism, all praise goes upward to the leader, and all blame goes downward to the followers, and that’s exactly what’s now happening. Trump is home-free because he’s the leader, so only congressional Republicans receive their voters’ blame. (Perhaps, if Hillary Clinton were President, congressional Democrats would be the ones feeling the heat, as much as congressional Republicans are now. American voters were given a real choice only between two unappealing options, and the outcome could just as well have been determined by a coin-toss.)
Whereas Trump infuriated his base on March 23rd by saying he’d sign the budget-bill, Republicans are overwhelmingly blaming congressional Republicans, instead of blaming the Republican President, for this outcome, which so depresses Republicans.
The MC poll shows that among Republicans (including Trump’s core base): “there was a 22 point negative swing on the right direction/wrong track question, with 64 percent of Republicans saying the country is moving in the right direction and 36 percent taking the opposing view. In the March 15-19 survey, 75 percent of GOP voters were optimistic and 25 percent were pessimistic.” That’s a sudden +11% surge in national pessimism, and a sudden -11% plunge in national optimism, among Republicans, which, together, has produced a 22% swing amongst Republicans toward the pessimism-direction. (By contrast, “Among Democrats, net approval of the nation’s direction in the latest poll slid 8 points, while independents had a 14 point decline.” Those figures are obviously much smaller than the 22% decline amongst Republicans. Right after the budget-bill which so disturbed the Republican base, their national optimism plunged from 75/25 optimism, a 3-to-1 ratio, to 64/36 optimism, a 1.78-to-1 ratio — a huge and sudden fall — and the simultaneous appointment of the hyper-neoconservative Bolton had nothing to do with any decline of support from Trump’s base. But the soaring federal debt definitely does.
The Morning Consult article also says, “This time around, though, public opinion and political experts interviewed on Thursday struggled to reach consensus on why voter optimism declined so significantly.” In my March 23rd article, I had explained it on the basis of key data: the massive swing was amongst core Trump-supporters, because they are enraged that their Party is causing the federal debt to soar, which is thus clearly the biggest issue among Trump’s base. But are they really blaming only their members of Congress for that? They’re not at all blaming their Republican President? Seems so, on the basis of the data.
The Morning Consult article then provided analysis from some of those “political experts”: for example, “Henry Olsen, senior fellow at the conservative Ethics & Public Policy Center, said the drop could be attributed to volatility in the stock market or recent developments regarding a potential conflict with North Korea.” However, according to my methodology — and no methodology was provided for Olsen’s analysis — neither of those factors shows in any data as being even relevant. However, I was wrong to have assumed that Republicans would blame the President instead of their Party. Here is how this absolution of Trump for the Republican core’s rage shows in these latest two MC polls:
Looking more deeply into the latest Morning Consult poll: Amongst Republicans, job-approval for Trump is 45% “Strongly Approve” (and this 45% of Republicans would constitute yet another measure of his voter-base, as consisting now of 45% of Republicans) and 36% “Somewhat Approve”; while 10% “Somewhat Disapprove” and 7% “Strongly Disapprove.” The total Republican electorate is the group which includes his voting-base, and his voting-base is measured either by that currently 45%, or else by the readers at Breitbart News — which latter group can reasonably be assumed to be even higher “Strongly Approve” than is the 45% of Republican voters who show up in MC’s “Strongly Approve” column for Trump. By comparison against that 45%: The second-highest-approving group for Trump that was tabulated by Morning Consult was “Conservative” at 38%; the third-highest was tied between “Evangelical” and “Retired,” both at 31% “Strongly Approve”; and the fourth-highest was “Rural” at 27%. So, clearly, Trump’s voter-base is mainly Republicans — even more than it’s conservatives, or evangelicals, or retireds, or rural voters. (Democrats, therefore, would be, at the very opposite extreme: progressives, seculars, young, and urban. Those are the weakest groups for Trump.)
In the immediately-prior MC poll, on 15-19 March, Republicans’ job-approval for Trump was 48% “Strongly Approve” and 33% “Somewhat Approve”; while 7% were “Somewhat Disapprove” and 9% were “Strongly Disapprove.” So: in the interim between these two pollings, the “Strongly Approve” went down, -3% from 48%, and the “Strongly Disapprove” also went down, -2% from 9%; and this simultaneous decline at both ends of intensity, means that amongst Republicans, sentiments regarding Trump’s Presidency are moving toward lowered intensity. Though overall there was 81% approval of Trump by Republicans in both of the pollings, Republicans are now less intense than they previously had been regarding Trump.
Inasmuch as the main impact is therefore against congressional Republicans, and those are the very people who are running in the mid-term elections, this is yet another indication that the Democratic Party stands a chance of retaking either or both the House and the Senate. (Unless, of course, the anti-Bernie-Sanders — pro-Hillary-Clinton — Democratic Party faction continues its control of that Party so much so that voter-turnout on the Democratic side becomes likewise depressed in November — which could happen; it might even be likely to happen, because the Clintonites won the battle for the DNC’s leadership after Hillary’s defeat; they’re even especially seeking out candidates from the military.)
The Breitbart homepage on March 30th was dominated not by stories about the soaring federal debt (which the readers there are more concerned about than they are about any other issue), but by stories about gun-control
, though with sprinklings of other targets of hostility from conservatives, such as against prominent Democrats, and such as against perceived threats or dangers to Christianity in America. Whereas Democratic Party propaganda focuses on minorities and women as being victims, Republican Party propaganda focuses on the majority and men as being victims. The two Parties label opposite ends of the political power-structure as ‘victims’, which are being characterized, as such, depending not on economic class, but instead upon such factors as gender and ethnicity.
Both Parties focus away from economic class as being an issue, and make their voter-appeals on the basis of other factors, such as race, religion, gender, etc., in order to keep the focus away from the money-power matter — the aristocracy’s control over the country.
This is the standard way for political parties to operate. For thousands of years, partisan (cultural and gender) differences have been the way the aristocracy — the 0.01% who own more than the bottom 50% and who always fund politics — get each “I” among the public (the bottom 99.9%) to self-identify, so as to blame some “non-I” category (men, women, Whites, Blacks, etc.), instead of to blame the aristocracy, for any problems the particular “I” might have. The rulers’ purpose is to prevent their accountability — for each citizen, all blame will go either sideways, or else downward to that individual’s ‘inferiors’; and all credit will go only upward, to the person’s ‘superiors’. For examples of this: both Bush and Obama are viewed merely as former Presidents, instead of as also having been traitors; and both Charles Koch and George Soros are seen merely as successful businessmen and “philanthropists,” instead of as top gangsters, who shape and bend the laws, instead of merely break the laws. That’s normal.
Especially worthy of note is that the Breitbart site — where, on March 23rd, it was clear that the overwhelming concern of Republican voters is the federal debt — the response from Republican propagandists has been to turn away from the Government-debt issue, into strictly partisan issues, instead: that is, into, basically, distractions. Democratic Party propagandists, likewise, use this tactic, on their side (its Hillary faction especially does; its Bernie faction, which doesn’t control the Party, does not, but instead focuses on class-issues — and it loses because the aristocracy don’t want that type of political focus).
By thus confusing and distracting the voters, the same Establishment continues to rule, regardless of which of the two Parties is in control. Thus, for example, Americans went from invading and occupying Iraq for the U.S. aristocracy in 2003, to invading Libya for the U.S. aristocracy in 2011, and to invading and occupying Syria for the U.S. aristocracy since 2012, and increasingly to surrounding Russia by our weapons and troops (in Ukraine and in NATO) for the U.S. aristocracy, thus constantly all the while militarizing the U.S. economy. So long as the voters remain distracted and split by nationalistic or other partisan concerns, the Government remains the same, and it effectively controls the public (and public policy), in the ways (such as militarizing the economy) that the people who are in actual control require the public to be controlled, in America’s ‘democracy’. It’s like a guided economy, but the real “guides” are billionaires, instead of Government officials (who actually are indirectly being paid by, and serving, those “guides”).
For at least thousands of years, the aristocracy have commonly controlled the public by spreading dissension amongst the public, and especially by demonizing the residents (and especially the leadership) in a foreign territory that the given aristocracy wants to grab: ‘the nation’s enemies’. (For example, the Sauds and Israel’s aristocracy are America’s ‘allies’, while Iran’s and Russia’s are America’s ‘enemies’.) It’s the same now, as ever. In such a country, there’s no change, but there instead is ‘change’. So: usually, the ‘change’-candidate wins. And the more that things ‘change’, the more they just stay the same. And voters consequently become increasingly alienated from ‘their’ government, because it’s not really theirs. That’s what’s actually happening, to America, as shown by the relevant data.
9th Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles: Outcomes in 2022
The 9th Summit of the Americas—delayed for a year by the pandemic—attracted unprecedented scrutiny of Latin American and global media, already at the stage of preparations. It was not only the matter of Washington’s “invitation campaign” and the (predictable) response of Latin American leaders to it. Rather, the White House had been expected to offer new ideas, showcase new approaches, initiate new proposals, which would make it possible to confirm and solidify U.S. leadership in the Western hemisphere, particularly given the growing competition with China in a region of America’s traditional interests. Joe Biden failed to achieve a breakthrough: the final declaration proved to have a far narrower scope than expected, while Latin Americans demonstrated their agency on the global stage once again. The Summit of the Americas never became Joe Biden’s diplomatic triumph, but it would not do to underestimate Washington’s ability to play “a long game”, achieving the goals set in circuitous ways. Recent history knows a number of such instances.
The Forum’s main sensation was the pointed refusal of the leaders of five states (Mexico, Bolivia, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador) to attend the event in person. Some did not attend due to objective circumstances, but everyone who declined the invitation to appear at the summit had their own reasons, with the main being the White House’s high-profile decision not to invite the leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Traditionally, the hosts of previous summits selected the invitees, and scandals had been known to happen. In 2018, Peru did not invite Nicolas Maduro, and previously, the US traditionally opposed Cuba’s attendance (the country participated in the summit only twice).
Many observers have deemed Joe Biden’s rigid stance on the three states illogical, particularly given Washington’s simultaneous efforts to normalize relations with Havana and Caracas that have recently manifested in the easing of sanctions. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the ideological component has traditionally been of key importance for the U.S. in its relations with the region. Nor could Joe Biden ignore the harsh stance of most American elites; an invitation extended to these three states would have had horrendous domestic political consequences for the current administration. Tellingly, the White House also refused to invite its Venezuelan “protégé” Juan Guaido—Joe Biden only had a telephone conversation with him.
The refusal of several Latin American leaders to attend the Summit in person should be interpreted with care. Frequently, such a decision looked like a desire to trumpet their stance in Washington’s face, creating an opportunity for publicity, especially since most heads of state that ignored the event still sent large delegations, closely following the course of the Summit closely.
Nonetheless, even many of those presidents or heads of government who chose to travel to Los Angeles openly expressed their disagreement with Washington’s approaches, condemning the non-invitation of the three states. Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez and Belize’s Prime Minister Johnny Briceño were particularly stark in this regard. They were diplomatic, yet open in personally telling Joe Biden their grievances during the first principal session. The two leaders condemned both the sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela and the exclusion of these states from the list of invitees.
In his response, Joe Biden had to make conciliatory statements on the need to search for common language despite existing differences. Many observers viewed Latin Americans’ demarche as a manifestation of the U.S. weakening regional influence and a symbol of new geopolitical realities in the Western hemisphere. In fact, U.S. partners in Latin America traditionally dish direct criticisms or disagreements to U.S. leaders. Suffice it to remember the famous 4th Summit of the Americas in 2005 in Mar del Plata, where three presidents (Lula da Silva, Hugo Chavez, and Nestor Kirchner) “buried” the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA/ALCA) initiative, right in the presence of George W. Bush. Condemnations of anti-Cuban sanctions and of Cuba’s exclusion from forums have also become a tradition with Latin Americans. But when Washington appears to face consolidated Latin American opposition, this has a knack for switching work in many areas into bilateral format where the U.S. has far more opportunities for pushing through its stances and interests. For instance, when the FTAA/ALCA project failed, the U.S. rather focused on bilateral free trade agreements—over the next decade, Washington did conclude them with most of states of the region.
The language of initiatives
Washington’s main drive at the Summit can be defined as an intent to limit the presence of external actors in the traditional area of U.S. interests. China was not in any way involved in the Summit, U.S. officials did not mention Beijing in any of their speeches—yet, it was invisibly present throughout the event. During his main speech at the Forum’s opening on June 6, Joe Biden articulated new suggestions concerning cooperation, stressing that the Western hemisphere has enough resources of its own to handle its principal problems. The U.S. is trying to contain China’s expansion into the LCA, but it has failed to snatch the initiative from China so far. The Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, a new Washington-proposed initiative, can be seen as an attempt to offer an alternative to Chinese proposals for Latin America that include the “New Silk Road” project. Proposing strategic initiatives is a traditional form of communication of the United States with Latin America (whether at the time of John F. Kennedy or George H. Bush). The U.S. lost initiative in the region during Donald Trump’s presidency, with Joe Biden now striving to respond to the principal challenges of development: post-pandemic recovery, migration and security, digitization, rebounding investment, the “green” agenda. Many elements in the new initiative are not yet entirely clear. The White House has noticeably been preparing these proposals “in haste,” without elaborating every item in a careful fashion. It is also obvious that the U.S. intends to retain its leadership in such areas as digitization (as a snub against the Electronic Silk Road), military assistance and cooperation, logistics, green technologies.
However, many experts exhibit understandable skepticism when it comes to Joe Biden’s proposals. What is striking is the openly small financing Washington proposes, particularly if compared to the aid the U.S. is currently extending to Ukraine. Emphasis on the environmental agenda and respect for democratic norms can be seen as an instrument of future restrictions against those who do not comply with these requirements, at least in the eyes of Washington. Such demands are already a standard feature of trade agreements spearheaded by the U.S. (for instance, USMCA).
Each Summit of the Americas traditionally ends with a thematically expansive final declaration to cover all the problems in social, economic and political development. The current Forum’s organizers were expected to produce something of the sort. However, the attendees only adopted the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection at the end of the Summit, a document that boils down to Washington’s desire to “share responsibility” for resolving the migration crisis with all the nations of Latin America, both countries of origin and transit states. Certainly, the issue of Latin American migrants is a burning problem for the U.S., Mexico and states of Central America. The situation may be further complicated by the expected food crisis, which is spurred, in the White House’s opinion, by Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. The declaration includes a large set of measures on ensuring security for migrant flows, on combating the root causes of their exodus, and on bolstering regional coordination and cooperation in this area. The document was signed by 20 states (some abstained), including all the Central American states whose leaders were not present at the Summit.
Recognizing the importance of interactions in the matter of migration, Latin Americans must have been expecting something greater than just a call for “shared responsibility” from the U.S. Initially, the organizers had ambitious plans on a far larger range of issues rather than mere migration. Preliminary discussions focused on environmental issues and environmental protection; however, since Brazil refused to sign such a declaration (under the pretext of Brazil’s relevant legislation being stringent enough already), the document was not submitted for final signing. Washington did preliminary bilateral work with key manufacturers calling upon them to ramp up oil production and exports of agricultural products to counteract the energy and food crisis. In his main speech, Joe Biden said that these crises were mostly caused by the situation in Ukraine and Russia’s actions in particular. Washington possibly planned for the final document to tie condemnation of Russia’s actions with plans for collectively counteracting the mounting crises (if the U.S. had succeeded in getting Latin Americans to support such decisions).
Many observers interpret problems with attendance as well as the openly limited final decisions and documents as Joe Biden’s unequivocal diplomatic defeat and proof of Washington’s weakening stance in Latin America. However, the Summit of the Americas is only the “tip of the iceberg” of the multitude of America’s extremely complicated and multilayered relations with the region. The U.S. remains Latin America’s principal trade and economic partner and a crucial source of technologies and investment. Indeed, there was a certain dip in trading in the 2000s. Recently, however, Washington succeeded at largely regaining its standing despite China’s active expansion into the region. The U.S. is the integral security factor in Latin America, the main recipient of migrants, and it would not do to underestimate the U.S. influence on most regional governments in spite of their growing agency.
Having drawn its conclusions from the Summit’s failures, the White House will continue to “push its agenda through” in bilateral formats as it keeps all of its influence resources. At the final press conference, a journalist asked Antony Blinken on the issue, and the Secretary of State’s response encapsulates this approach. Commenting on the refusal of some to sign the Los Angeles migration declaration, he was confident that all countries will accede to it sooner or later, pursuant to targeted work with each state. Washington has “strategic patience” in spades.
From our partner RIAC
The Canal System and the Development of the Early American Economy
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.
Aligning values into an interest-based Canadian Indo-Pacific Strategy
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.
Why Russia’s Vaccine Diplomacy Failed Africa
In these difficult and crucial times, the strategic partnership with Africa has become a priority of Russia’s foreign policy, declared...
9th Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles: Outcomes in 2022
The 9th Summit of the Americas—delayed for a year by the pandemic—attracted unprecedented scrutiny of Latin American and global media,...
Can BRICS Make a Contribution to International Security?
The 14th BRICS Summit is being held in virtual format in Beijing, China. Under turbulent international situations, the question of...
Uganda Can Rein in Debt by Managing its Public Investments Better
In the wake of a waning COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and upon full re-opening of the economy, optimism—regarding expected acceleration of...
An Epitaph for Anniversary
On the eve of the NATO summit in Madrid, to be held on June 28-30, Julianne Smith, U.S. Permanent Representative...
The Lives of Rohingya Refugees in Malaysia
Authors: Harsh Mahaseth and Samyuktha Banusekar* The Rohingya in Myanmar fled to various countries, having been denied citizenship and persecuted...
Qatar World Cup offers lessons for human rights struggles
It’s a good time, almost 12 years after the world soccer body, FIFA, awarded Qatar the 2022 World Cup hosting...
Economy2 days ago
G7’s $600 Billion projects, no threat to Chinese BRI
Africa3 days ago
Russia Readies to Gather African leaders for 2nd Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
South Asia4 days ago
Why the implementation of the CHT peace agreement is still elusive?
Economy4 days ago
Digital Economy Development in China Shifts the Focus to the Production Side
East Asia4 days ago
Taiwan dispute, regional stability in East Asia and US policy towards it
South Asia4 days ago
Rohingya repatriation between Myanmar-Bangladesh
Americas3 days ago
Aligning values into an interest-based Canadian Indo-Pacific Strategy
East Asia3 days ago
Ukraine’s losses are China’s gains