Groupthink: The tyranny of governing

Groupthink: The tyranny of governing

The developed world has an elaborate, yet contrived way of going about its business regarding governmental affairs in general, and foreign policy, in particular. As I was emailing with a professor in Asia this week, the reality of “Groupthink” a management term that denotes the notion of a team who is all too agreeable towards changes or the status quo of company policy, affects most humans on a daily basis. Sure, “kitchen table” politics help shape who we are and what influences us as individuals through our family and friends; however, in 2017 and with the threat of military conflict staring down the barrel of a gun on the Korean Peninsula, the bedrock of Groupthink is a notion that is strongest in authoritarian nation-states. A cult of personality is obvious in North Korea with the Kim dynasty and in Cuba with the Castro brothers maintaining an iron – grip on the island. China still maintains an identity with their leaders, though, nothing like during the  Mao era. The United States glorifies its Presidents with extravagant inaugurations and during the annual State of the Union Address. So, who holds the most power in their respective bureaus? The American President is constrained by Congress and American allies; authoritarian regimes by lack of resources, China the lone argument as it is the “factory of the world.”

The notion of Groupthink, then, rears its ugly head in various cabinets no matter the ideology. Individual Members of Parliament (Canada etc.) in some cases are permitted to vote with their conscious on various legislation and are held in line by the “Party Whip” on other matters that might bring about the downfall of the government. Is that Democracy or tyranny of the few? In the case of North Korea, Kim Jong – un has shown little tolerance for individuals within his circle who might flinch regarding the direction of his leadership.

In the case of Democracy, not going along to get along may cost you your political life or your station within the Party. In the Authoritarian nation – state, questioning the leadership may cost you your life or years of hard labour. What is the preferred platform is a rhetorical question.

As the U.S.S. Carl Vinson draws near the edge of North Korea, the potential for a miscalculation on the part of North Korean or the United States looms large. The result might be numerous casualties in South Korea followed by a mass exodus of refugees from North Korea into mainland China and South Korea. Yet, if Kim survives, the goal of regime change remains as distant as before any actual conflict that may take place on the Korean peninsula in 2017. Fifty – nine cruise missiles did little to dissuade Assad in Syria. If Kim plans on striking the U.S. or any of its allies in the region, all bets are off on predicting the outcome with an uneasy China deliberating over a potential refugee crisis or the U.S. flexing their military might in South Korea and Japan.

The political game of brinksmanship continues. For now, it is rhetorical and  a potent serum for sustaining power. Stay tuned.

Fear not the Trump Train…but more guns???

Donald Trump is being vilified in the media and by his fellow Republicans as toxic waste for their hopes to wrest The White House from eight years of Democrat control. Many navel gazers of the Washington political scene have railed against the depth or height of partisan politics on Capitol Hill for generations. One only need to observe The State of the Union Address to see the sanctimony being levied across the floor before a decided line that separates both political parties from heaving insults and other artifacts upon their adversaries. The 2016 SOTU saw Republican House Leader-Paul Ryan, with parched mouth, unable to sit still while President Obama delivered his final speech. Observing Obama’s final address, I realised the Americans got it right with a maximum of two terms per President. Barrack Obama appeared tired from the rancorous debates, and general malaise that goes with being the worlds top- cop. It is fair to note that he inherited an America,easter-storm-2
unlike his predecessor, George W. Bush. The 2008 America was headed for a financial tsunami, and had lost respect among allies for some dubious foreign policy measures; primarily the second Gulf War incursion.

As the Primary season forges ahead, an anomalous political street-fight has created a wedge between those Republican’s that support Donald Trump for the top of the GOP ticket, and everyone else, including Democrats and “soft” Republicans. Trump has come a long way since The Apprentice and has galvanized support as he goes about winning state after state. However, his “take no prisoners” diatribe against his opponents has left the GOP feeling susceptible to the sure-footed eloquence of Hilary Clinton and her ensemble of campaigners, including husband and former President Bill Clinton. For Trump, this is akin to going to a gunfight with a knife. Couple that with Tea-Party’ers and hard Republicans, and success would seem fleeting at the Republican National Convention from July 18-21 never mind upsetting the presumed odds on favourite to win in November, Hillary Rodham Clinton. So, how can Donald Trump assuage the fears of veteran Republican stalwarts like James Baker, a former Secretary of State in the George H W Bush administration, who warned the living world or those with bandwidth aplenty, that a Trump victory would make planet Earth, less safe. The Donald is beginning to see his shadow as he courts members of the GOP faithful, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan to bring support and credibility to his campaign, while measuring his tone to appeal to Independents, the immigrant-vote, and those voters who may be tempted to jump-ship to the Democrats, in November. Trump might consider former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his failed attempt to throw niqab bearing Islamic women under the  bus in the last Canadian election that saw Harper exiled to Dante’s Inferno in Alberta, all references aside.


What might Trump maintain in his toolkit of policies to temper fears of his victory in November?

First, he needs to bring in a moderate to run as Vice-President on his ticket. Former opponent and Ohio Governor John Kasich offers experience with managing deficits and has knowledge of foreign affairs. He is the perfect foil to fears elicited by Democrats, the protest movement, and even The Pope. That Kasich brought forward “The Balanced Budget Act” of 1997 which balanced the federal books for the first time in decades (a strong economy and shrinking military budget did not hurt), plays to his strengths as an administrator and fiscal conservative that Republicans know and trust.  There is a rumour that Newt Gingrich and Trump have had discussions about a political liaison, though, it remains to be seen if the two men and their ego’s could get out of each others way long enough and develop the necessary chemistry to convince voters of their ingenuity and salience to manage the worlds top economy and military. Worries of Trumps’ demagogical approach to immigration and trade can be diminished with a Kasich-Trump ticket, particularly with former leaders like former Mexican President Vicente Fox screaming bloody murder over a fence dividing the border of the two countries. Most American voters would agree with Trump’s countenance to obliterate terrorism, though,at the expense of immigration, will not appease those voters that may be directly or indirectly affected  by restrictions to Islamic migration to America. What better way to stir up a firestorm than annihilating the approximately 6.67 million Muslims living in America.1 With or without the benediction of the Bush family, the Republican Party has found it’s legs under Donald Trump and has a solid chance to form the next government in late November. Should the GOP stumble and face another term in the political wilderness, Marco Rubio is the sexy pick for 2020, and a viable choice for a top job such as Secretary of State, should America turn right this November. In that scenario, Canada can expect an even higher debt load to improve our military and face the wrath of potential tariffs on exports. A Trump America will be bolder like the person, which is not terribly disarming after 8 years of a sedate Democrat administration.

In light of the horrendous events in Orlando, Trump re-iterated his policy of a temporary ban on Muslim immigration. And why not in the heat of an election battle. However, stating that more Americans with more guns would prevent incidents like Orlando and others from happening is asinine.2  A measured approach to immigration and tough legislation 0n firearms sales, sellers, and eligibility to own deadly objects like guns, makes sense. Recent findings by CNN report that the U.S. has 5% of the worlds population and 31% of the worlds mass shootings. 3 For this, I am happy to live in Canada where we have enough gun violence with stringent firearms legislation.





1 “America Muslim Population in 2014.” 14 May 2016. <>.


2.“If you had some guns in that club the night that this took place, if you had guns on the other side, you wouldn’t have had the tragedy that you had. If people in that room had guns with the bullets flying in the opposite direction right at him… right at his head, you wouldn’t have had the same tragedy that you ended up having.” Trump quoted on CNN.

Trump.Donald. “Trump says more guns would have prevented Orlando massacre .” New York Daily News. 13 June 2016. <>.

3.Willingham, A.J. “US home to nearly a third of world’s mass shootings.” CNN. 13 June 2016. <>.


Rhetorical ideas

David_-_The_Death_of_SocratesIn the realm of ‘Classical Conditioning’ introduced by Ivan Pavlov, some observers of Homo sapiens from the Paleolithic era and other species from the animal kingdom, can agree on the manifestation of language, both verbally and physically, that their existence in large part stems from the ability to communicate their needs through cues, or what Umberto Eco described as “overcoding.” Indeed, most of us can appreciate the nuances of visual cues that act as a prelude to what our mind is telling our mouths to utter in defense, in hunger, vocation and in love.

Rhetoric was founded in Greece, says Kennedy, “as an art of persuasion in public address.” The lineage was founded through the sophists and continued through Aristotle to the present day. We can see it expressed as an art through law and its regalia, including a robe and a wig to foment respect, tradition, and quite possibly to intimidate an opponent. It is not the mere words that accentuate the argument; it must, as Shakespeare concluded- “The first thing we do, lets kill all of the lawyers.” Ah, but was the Bard feeling threatened by the optics of law in his own backyard, his own theatre, we might ask. Apparently, old William was bashing administrative justice, fees, and petty lawsuits. The importance and the galvanizing of law through discourse found its orbit through the Sophists, which continues today.

However, most need to see Rhetoric as an art that is expressed in daily communication with our families, our teachers, politicians, and actors and actresses. The art of rhetoric has been expressed through electronic media and was very effective in containing damage by Canadian political parties in the most recent election. The success of the Liberal Party had much to do with the skill of the “spin team” to reassure the electorate that their leader was capable and “ready” to perform the duties of Prime Minister. In this regard, social media and political advertising embodies the spirit of rhetoric, including the logos, kairos, and the agon. The energy and skill of Justin Trudeau in rhetoric regarding his message became effective as he gained confidence throughout his campaign. He economized his energy and his message was skillfully applied in a manner that denied any negativity, while doing precisely what good rhetoricians do: colour the language for personal gain or survival. For the Liberal Party, they not only survived the kairos, they bludgeoned their opponents on to a clear and four-year mandate with little restriction.

Kennedy indicates that there is difficulty in establishing a starting point for Rhetoric, a “genus” as it were, and it would seem Athens is the best that we can do. But, moreover, he extends that Rhetoric is a kind of energy that is fermenting in each one of us before a single syllable is spoken; R is the fuel, words are the fire. Kennedy is not satisfied with semantics and rhetoric; he contends that “rhetorical energy is found in physical actions, facial expressions, and gestures.” Currently, the heated campaign for political office in Canada is pitting one rather dry orator: Stephen Harper against an aspiring neophyte in Justin Trudeau who embodies plenty of energy, moxie, and overcoding to continue a legacy that began with his father, former Prime Minister Pierre and a very skilled rhetorician who once quipped “that the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.” And yet, in hindsight government began creeping into our lives on a more expansive level beginning with the Trudeau government, and Justin’s wish to foster that legacy. When watching anybody including ourselves talk, in a mirror or whatever, we can see the a priori energy or the ethos, which demonstrates good character of the speaker, the speakers ability to elicit a response in their audience using empathy- the pathos, and the speakers call to arms or the defense of their argument using logic – the logos. This is precisely how Aristotle summarized the validity of the ‘argument’ through rhetoric.

Kennedy here spends a good bit of time deducing the implications of rhetoric on the animal kingdom. And as Kennedy indicates, animals need to play to develop their conditioning so that they can catch prey, defend themselves, and learn “the communication code and rhetoric of the species.” This is precisely what children are being taught by their folks, friends, and teachers, through the art of rhetoric and discourse, from an early age. Pavlov found that ringing a bell on its own caused his dogs to salivate, a conditioned response. Receiving the skill of rhetoric can induce in humans the tendency to communicate our energy and thoughts in a timely and responsible manner without the use of anaphora. Recently, Michael Richards, a comedian and actor made reference to his outburst at a comedy-club in 2006. Those that know him from television media see his character as easy-going and innocent. Kennedy may find Richard’s personality and station in life at the time of his outburst to mimic the animal kingdom that requires survival instincts and experience. The media scripts rhetoric for public consumption, and in this sense is teaching humans about candor and intimacy. How humans should interact in a manner that can spread out through politics and religion is vested through our priests, political leaders, and family. We’ve all become part of Pavlov’s experiment. Our parents teach us “kitchen-table” political views. My folks would instill as voting other than that of the Liberal Party, anathema-using logos as the motivating element. Rhetoric in this regard becomes cryptic when individuals are cast out of context. Kennedy is correct to indicate government’s use of rhetoric in delivering message to the masses, through, “letteraturizzazione”, though, mainly used in creative writing, has found a voice in contemporary political thought. Modern Propaganda is concerned only with provoking an individual into taking action, as Jacques Ellul described in “The Characteristics of Propaganda.”Consider how humans react to intrinsic and extrinsic events that affect them spiritually, and economically. When we do not understand these issues in our lives, we ask the cosmos for guidance, not unlike the Athenians. Moreover, the process of government is similar, such as Germany and New Zealand that endorse tactical voting. One could argue that, ultimately, the leaders will have their way as Germany’s Merkel stated in 2010 that multiculturalism had failed Germany and in 2015, endorsed the integration of thousands of Syrian refugees, much to the dismay of some Party members.  However, as we have seen in the Canadian political debates, anaphora is the most popular girl at the party.


Chariots of Fire: A Tibetan Historical Perspective

A history of the Tibetan Plateau to the present, with current concerns and potential solutions to China’s occupation. Two covers. of FireN4

Chariots-alternate cover


For Whom the bell tolls in the 2015 Canadian election?



A recent poll published by the Huffington Post from Canadian pollster- EKOS, posits a grim outcome for incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper with 29.2 % of respondents supporting the Tories compared to a Liberal swoon at 23.9%, while the NDP lead the pack at 31.3%. The Green party holds up the bottom position with a 7.4% share of support.


This is shocking news on many fronts, as the Liberal Party appears to be in a free-fall of sorts with just over four months (October 19) left to mount a charge for, what appears, Third Party status in the Canadian House of Commons.Since the last election, according to EKOS, the Liberals have gained  4%points, the Conservative Party has fallen 10.4%, and the NDP are steady with a .7% increase in support. Surprisingly, and in a fait accompli, the Green Party has increased their share of popular support by 3.5%, almost double since the last election; time to break out the the Grey Goose, and celebrate, But not so fast for those stalwarts of a better planet.

However, for those Conservative supporters convulsing from a panic attack, the  polling site- reports a Conservative average of 30.8%, NDP  and Liberal Party average of 28.3 with median seat projections as follows: Conservative- 130, NDP- 107, and Liberal Party at 98.

As is typical, one month in the life of an election is an eternity. What can be surmised from these results? For Prime Minister Harper to re-elect a majority of his members, a security crisis will have to befall Canada in an important way. Probably nothing as dramatic as the recent attack on Parliament, though, an international incident would probably be enough to distract the electorate enough and frighten them into maintaining the status quo in Ottawa. In addition, the aftermath of the Mike Duffy trial must lay minimal blame at Mr  Harper’s feet or the PMO’s office. The NDP has an opportunity to ride the “Orange -Wave” from the success of their provincial brethren in Alberta by pushing Thomas Mulcair further out into the public sphere so that Canadians can see him for what he is: an astute and well-spoken leader that champions the middle class, (while raising taxes for the wealthiest Canadians and abolishing the Senate,) and has the integrity and chops to back it up. The Liberal Party, sorry Justin Trudeau, have shown their hand and it isn’t ready, quite yet, for prime-time. Could the Liberals sneak in and pull an upset? It is too late in the game for them, though, they can grow their base and seat counts by focussing on Ontario and British Columbia. The Green Party are victims of an antiquated “First Past the Post” voting system that offers no consolation prizes for voting percentage; according to, they are destined for two seats- the same number that was the apocalypse  from the 1993 debacle that was the Progressive Conservative tally after hard years of free-trade, the G.S.T. and a glib Brian Mulroney cabinet, (no matter the talent level.) An MMP (Mixed Member Proportional Representation) format would have undoubtedly never put either of Canada’s major parties in the position to pass legislation that the majority of Canadians wanted no part of (in Mr Mulroney’s  case) or corrupt budget balancing schemes such as borrowing from the E.I. Plan to balance the budget, compliments of Jean Chretien’s Liberal juggernaut. A potential consequence of MMP may be a fragmented Parliament that is bogged down in Question Period and cannot settle any business in an orderly fashion. A very strong-willed bipartisan Speaker of  the House can help bring order to all of the meanderings. In the meantime, in order for the Tories to catch the NDP or Liberal Party, Mr Harper should hope hockey and barley, run mad in Ontario this Fall.




Statelessness and Modernity


Concerning the Kurds, Tibetans, Palestinians and various Native groups, we observe the issue of statelessness as a fairly recent phenomenon in a multi-polar world. Given the apparent strength of this durable political machine, the question that leaves many political scientists scrambling for answers to is: how did western-based developed nation-states view these events so tardily, and how can we ameliorate some of these situations that affect millions of people on a daily basis.  UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) reports that 1.5 million registered Palestinian refugees live in 58 recognized camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.1 UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency) reports that conflict in Syria has led to the disbursement of 3,988, 857 Syrian refugees to neighbouring Turkey (1,758, 092) and Lebanon (1,196,560) comprising the majority of those individuals displaced through conflict between various groups and the Assad regime. 2 The Tibetan diaspora is reported by the CTA (Central Tibetan Agency) to number 127,935 with 94,203 living in India or residing in Indian refugee camps. 3 A York University researcher, Caryl Patrick, reported that in urban areas in Canada …”more than 90% of those living on the street are aboriginal” where 10% exist in Halifax; the problem extends across to Yellowknife where 95% of the homeless are aboriginal. Patrick explained in her report that the Canadian Aboriginal population comprises 4% of the Canadian population, indicating, an epidemic is upon us in Canada regarding the number of Aboriginal homeless on the street. 4) A Brookings article indicates that Libya has 2 million people abroad, mostly in Tunisia with 400,000 IDP’s (internally displaced people.) 5 The political crisis since the departure of Muammar Gaddafi during the Arab Spring uprising (that began in late 2010 and concluded, more or less by the middle of 2012) has seen Libya’s political structure fragment and the country teetering on a “failed state” status. The aftermath for Libyans has resulted in a power vacuum between Islamists, and two governments. The conflict has led to an exodus of migrants to Sicily in haphazard vessels that has been perilous, and in one instance resulted in mass casualties. Recently, there exists a mass exodus of migrants from war-torn Syria and Libya, both of which are affected by the incursion of Islamic State militants that operate under an extreme form of Sharia Law. Iraq’s government with the support of American air power is reclaiming territory claimed by Daesh and the liberation of Fallujah is upon Iraqi’s. Continuation of repressing this terrorist group must expand into Mosul and into Raqqa, Syria in order to send assurance to those individuals risking their lives to migrate to Europe in order to escape the barbarism of Daesh. Only then can a multi-national effort embrace the notion of putting in place a strong central government in Libya to restore order and signal stability to those that remain, and ultimately, encourage those who have defected to return home.

The international community is a resilient amalgam of ideologies that operate in a vacuum, with self-serving interests. Modernity in our current state is, after all, mostly a capitalist one that we operate in, save for the unfortunate folks in North Korea. China has democratized somewhat, though the sanctity of the vote and personal freedoms remain squelched by the various state apparatus, including labour conditions, a muted press, and dubious human rights policies. Tibet remains under lock-down, while Hanoi features a burgeoning private sector. The situation remains murky as we travel east to Syria, Palestine and Israel. Just to blow the top off of the whole thing, it is apropos to include the Aboriginal groups in North America and abroad, as well, in any discussion of statelessness. If asked, many Canadian Aboriginals would scoff at the notion of life on a reserve as anything but democratic. Suffice it to say, we have a lot of work to do, but, can achievement be accomplished in a multi-polar world torn by economic interests. There is the problem of mounting deficits that curtails the effectiveness of most developed nation-states.

Matthew Happold sums up nicely the aftermath of the post-Soviet world that has put pressure on formal power relationships, such as Russia’s intervention in Georgia, and recently in Crimea (2014) and the Ukraine. In addition, Happold notes that the collapse of the DOHA trade talks in 2008 remain mired in red tape that could foster economic growth globally with huge spin-offs to developing nations. Current criticism of trade agreements has thrust America into the spotlight over job losses to countries such as Mexico that offer cheaper labour and other costs compared to the higher corporate taxes that imperil North America and shunt growth. The emergence of robotics and technology is impacting the employment picture for future generations that cannot access the necessary tools to operate in a work force that has fewer humans producing products.

Indeed, the emergence of China as an economic and military power, particularly in Asia, continues to strain formal political relationships due to the intransigent nature of Beijing’s hold on dubious human rights policies and political beliefs. Finally, regional trading blocs and economic zones such as BRICS, and the United States hegemonic nature of managing terrorist threats, continue to create cleavages in international relations. 6

If we consider the absence of a super-power or a role – reversal for America with China, for instance; can a fragmented international community function effectively with a pre-eminent power subscribing to dubious human rights violations and environmental degradation, through policies that nurture it’s own economic interests and political salvation. This remains to be seen and could throw a greater divide between those nation-states that support it for economic or military purposes and those nation- states that oppose those creeds. In the latter case, a return to an early 20th c League of Nations rendering of global balance of power and Realpolitik; in the former, a return to a pre Cold-War period where American sovereignty and NATO countered the Soviet doctrine of Stalinism and the Warsaw Pact.

Therefore, one can hope that the international community can reconcile the issues of statelessness of Syrians, Libyans, Palestinians and Tibetans in a well-orchestrated quid pro quo in a bi-polar, or multi-polar universe that is the current form of political power.

It seems that a multi-polar world coalescing with a goal of collective security through an organization such as an expanded United Nations, can help to improve the length and scope of some refugee crises within a single organ (Security Council) with broad reaching powers, while dismantling an organization such as NATO, that has fomented anger in Moscow, and, is an icon of western political excess may promise an improvement in stabilizing relations between western powers and Moscow.

Many problems arise with a global UN and expanded powers (within its proscribed Chapter VII range to maintain peace and security,) such as, funding by member states, military budgets within member states, selling it to various levels of government as a viable mandate, and public acceptance. The latter two will be most problematic with the US Congress and Senate feeling their authority threatened (as will other nation-states and organs such as the E.U.) and the prospects of warfare among various NGO’S and INGO’S for monetary support to keep their jobs. Perhaps we might call that “concentrated outsourcing.”

Consider the strength of American funding for 2015 of the entire UN budget with a contribution of 22% or $654, 738,938,000.7 George W Bush famously battled with the UN over Iraq’s alleged WMD that the US used to unilaterally enter into a war, (many would say unfinished business) with Saddam Hussein. The strength of withdrawing funding becomes a war of words that ultimately ends with victory for those member states that write the biggest cheques. Most of us aren’t going to argue with our bosses too vehemently towards the end of the pay cycle. Such is the case with another UN organ – the ICC (International Criminal Court) that prosecutes those leaders accused of war crimes at The Hague. There was a strong argument for George W Bush to be charged for war crimes during the second Iraq war, though, how can the UN function with a diminished contribution from America if it’s President is being embarrassed internationally and the entire nation, with it. So, the argument for UN expansion has it’s merits to spread out the responsibility for global peace and the cost to achieve it (over the outdated mode of the P5) that puts far too much pressure on the United States and not enough accountability to the other four members, notably Russia and China. Some may argue that that is well and good, a quid pro quo for American President Woodrow Wilson who was instrumental in founding the League of Nations in 1920, though, the United States never became an official member during Wilson’s mandate, or during the League’s tenure from 1920-1946.

The U.S. military budget for 2015 was tabled at 813.9 billion, so, comparatively, the UN budget is nearing US military expenditures. Is the premise of “collective security “creating good value for America, whereby UN operational costs run tantamount to this degree of spending compared to US Federal interest payments for the year approximated at 229.2 billion. In it’s present form the UN seems a poor investment for the cost, particularly, for the U.S. with an investment to operate NATO for 2015 at U.S. 585 billion. The question becomes one of statelessness and how the international community is responding to Jus Post Bellum i.e. the reparations, post war that enable people to return home. In one instance, we can say that the Palestinians have been forsaken by the international community, since the formation of Israel. In addition, Tibetans have been largely ignored since the Chinese occupation, and Aboriginals within their own nation-states i.e. Jus soli – right of the individual born in a territory to citizenship, have been displaced since colonization.

Despite China’s claims, Tibet is still saddled with the highest poverty rate in the PRC, according to China’s Xinhua news agency as stated in a Fall 2014 report. 8

Statelessness will continue to imperil our best attempts to aid those folks who desperately need and are seeking a better life. Perhaps the present defragmented  multi polar world has left us without the focus that we had in a bi – polar orbit, now affected by social media, outsourcing, and severe budget deficits. This begs the question: is the modern state and the spirit of democracy compatible in a world fraught with terrorism? It seems so, but the international community needs to constrict the number of organization’s impacting collective security, while strengthening the few to collaborate with the many.

Currently, the refugee crisis in Europe is an ominous sign that politics and human rights are at odds with sound judgment. Where does global responsibility lay within the scope of regime change? Hopefully, before photos of young children washed up on a beach emerge to our shock and horror.



1)United Nations Relief and Works Agency. “PALESTINE REFUGEES.” 10 May 2015. <>

2)Stories From Syrian Refugees. “Facts and Figures.” 13 May 2015. 15 May 2015. <>.

3)Wikipedia. “Tibetan diaspora (taken from “127935 Tibetans living outside Tibet: Tibetan survey”.”  12 April 2010. 08 May 2015.  Press Trust of India. 2010-04-12. Retrieved 2010-12-17.<>.

4)CBC News. “Aboriginal homelessness an ‘epidemic’, York researcher says.” 28 March 2014. 12 May 2015. <>

5)Karaspan, Omar. “The Impact of Libyan Middle-Class Refugees in Tunisia.” Brookings. 17 March 2015. 15 May 2015. <>

6) Happold, Matthew. International Law in a Multipolar World. Routledge:London and New York. 2012, 2.

7) United Nations Secretariat. Assessment of Member States’ contributions to the United Nations regular budget for the year 2015. 29 December 2014. 9 May 2015. <>.

8)”Poverty rate in ‘Tibet’ still highest in PRC.” Tibetan Review. <>

Recommended Reading for “Agency and Strategy in Non-Western Political Thought (2015-16)” and Fall 2017 term at University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Week Six.

A Thousand Plato’s


Grumpy Old Sam

Currently, I’ve hit the books again for a Philosophy course. You know the one about “what makes a table a table” and “what makes Larry, Larry” sort of thing. And so, I leave it to Plato to explain this “folie”  through his prized prophet – Socrates. Plato’s works are based on discourse with Socrates and inspire a good deal of thought to aid in understanding human contemplation and intentions. I do recommend “Phaedo” for anybody that wants to tackle this approach to conceptualising situations, and who question how virtue plays into our everyday life; piety and impiety, notwithstanding. Which brings me to online book sellers who appear pious through their name….”Better World Books” but end up delivering something other than what they promised in the first place. But, this isn’t about shady Internet businesses or people. Hey, its the Internet, and, as I tell my son or anybody who cares to listen, “it” is 50% b.s. There are some great things happening on the web; how could I survive without on-line banking, email, Reuter’s or my Yahoo fantasy football team. Nope! Ain’t gonna happen. Originally, I had  zero interest in the blogosphere, Twitter and Facebook. Then, I struck, what appeared to be “paydirt” with Amazon’s capacity to publish books for aspiring authors, like myself. Aha! Not so fast! Pious? Yes and no. It turns out that the other 50% of the Internet are idling by waiting for their pound of flesh er… PayPal payments. Needless to say, self-publishing has been a learning experience along the lines of Plato, and now, Aristotle, as provided by the University of Waterloo’s capable Philosophy department.

The vanguard of Philosophy, espoused by Sophists in Athens around the 5thc B.C., was a platform for individuals to better represent themselves in front of the Athenian courts or among the political leaders of the day. Of course, they had to learn how to walk the walk in order to survive and become relevant in the eyes of their peers. However,  two things come to mind: 1) humanity hasn’t really come that far in a few thousand years (technology aside) and 2) those thinkers from this period set the bar incredibly high for their successors. Now, imagine Plato having to answer emails and defend himself on Facebook? And what of Socrates? Can you see him robed before an Athenian court, pounding away on his BlackBerry stating his innocence on prior BBM’s…”hey, everybody’s doing it” is what he might say, in a not so lascivious manner.

Today, we are inundated with news, much of which doesn’t evoke euphoria. But it is news, and better to know the “devil that we do know (or are aware of) than the one(s) we don’t.” So, while you are waffling through comments and checking to see if yours are “liked” or not, try not to take it personally as 999 Sophists push for relevance among the world court of popular opinion.