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-  ThreeHundredEight.com 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 308.com, 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.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/06/05/ndp-poll-mulcair-election-ekos_n_7521306.html

http://www.threehundredeight.com/p/canada.html

 

 

 

Statelessness and Modernity

1393781240_abe14492bf_o

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. <http://www.unrwa.org/palestine-refugees.>

2)Stories From Syrian Refugees. “Facts and Figures.” 13 May 2015. 15 May 2015. <http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/syria.php>.

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.<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_diaspora>.

4)CBC News. “Aboriginal homelessness an ‘epidemic’, York researcher says.” 28 March 2014. 12 May 2015. <http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/aboriginal-homelessness-an-epidemic-york-researcher-says-1.2589861.>

5)Karaspan, Omar. “The Impact of Libyan Middle-Class Refugees in Tunisia.” Brookings. 17 March 2015. 15 May 2015. <http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/future-development/posts/2015/03/17-libyan-refugees-tunisia-karasapan.>

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. <http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=ST/ADM/SER.B/910>.

8)”Poverty rate in ‘Tibet’ still highest in PRC.” Tibetan Review. <http://www.tibetanreview.net/poverty-rate-in-tibet-still-highest-in-prc/.>

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.

Many challenges ahead for Tibetans in 2015

30 october 2012-001 monks-arrest-tibetIn 2015, the mantra remains the same for Tibetans just as it has since March 1959: democratisation & discrimination continue to be mythical ideals. Empowering Tibetan’s will require a visceral approach to freedom by the International Community in order to mitigate against the harsh conditions that victimise Tibetans on a daily basis. Approximately 142 people have self-immolated since February 27,2009. The issues affecting Tibetans include: degradation of religious symbols, inability to express  one’s adherence to Buddhism in an overt manner (monks and nuns will continue to wear monastic robes), the cordoning off of the Tibetan population by the incursion of Han Chinese for purposes of labour, and the continual “modernizing” of the delicate Tibetan landscape (see the Qinghai-Tibet railway.) As the sludge of nuclear waste, and the consequences of building large dams to produce hydro-electric power incur  damage to the environment that includes  deforestation, and the disruption of the  flow of rivers, as well as other organic water systems.  Therefore, because of  an aggressive infrastructure program orchestrated by the erudite CCP to bolster growth throughout the Tibetan Plateau, a quid pro quo is inevitable. On the one hand, this expansion  will provide jobs for Han migrants and, hopefully, assimilate Han and ethnic Tibetan’s into a closer relationship with the central government and, of course, themselves.1  Consequently, the opportunity cost to the environment is beginning to mount. According to Denise Thompson, a researcher for Dharamsala based non-profit NGO  – LHA Charitable Trust- “Tibet now has 14 percent more lakes than it did in 1970, and more than 80 percent of existing lakes have expanded, flooding surrounding pastures and rural communities. Ironically, because this flooding is uneven and unpredictable many pre-existing lakes have dried up completely and several large wetland areas have become deserts.”2

For Tibetan’s loyal to the Dalai Lama, the situation remains difficult, as displaying a photo of His Holiness will result in repercussions from Chinese authorities, who have labelled him a separatist “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” There is an opportunity for Beijing to reach out to Buddhist’s in general, and within its own borders to preserve this historical way of life, while promoting religious freedom. Of course, Chinese officials will have to accept Islam and those same officials will contend that Xinjiang Province presents many difficulties with its Islamic adherents and notions of separatism. The key difference between Xinjiang and Tibet is that Tibet was an autonomous region up to the 1949 occupation. Chinese authorities perceive Xinjiang and Tibet as unsophisticated in their infrastructure and ideology, and, most importantly a part of China proper.

Protracted negotiations between the TGIE (Tibetan Government In Exile” and the CCP have little hope for a “power-sharing” arrangement at best, while a successor to the Dalai Lama seems muted as Beijing has made unstated claims that they will appoint their own Dalai Lama when the current one passes  away. The concern should be very real as the original Panchen Lama(Gedhun Choekyi Nyima) has been missing since May 17,1995. Beijing appointed his successor (Gyaincain Norbu) on December 8, 1995.3 The Dalai Lama acknowledged in a December 16, 2014 BBC article that China’s exuberance to modernize may well mean the demise of the position of Dalai Lama, that has existed since 1391; at least, the notable incarnations of Dalai  Lama’s. His Holiness explained to the BBC “”There is no guarantee that some stupid Dalai Lama won’t come next, who will disgrace himself or herself. That would be very sad. So, much better that a centuries-old tradition should cease at the time of a quite popular Dalai Lama.”4

It is very difficult for Sikyong Lobsang Sangay  to garner any credibility as Head of the Tibetan Government in Exile when the International Community deems Tibet part of China, and are enthralled with inexpensive Chinese goods to grow their economy. As China’s economy stagnates slightly, they can be reminded of the Swiss currency that is being devalued starting in January 2015; a devalued renminbi might pave the way for Tibetans to become more active managing the government  apparatus. This could be the penultimate quid pro quo , or,at least an obvious sign of democratic reform leading to a more prosperous and spiritual future. Robert Barnett, a professor of modern Tibetan studies at Columbia University stated ““The people pushing these policies can’t really see the ‘smaller’ issues of preserving culture and the environment, it is like using a bulldozer to herd mice.”

How can we help Tibetans. Of course, making a donation will help, though, being careful as a consumer can be an effective device if we minimise our purchase of Chinese made products and write our  Head of State or Department of Foreign Affairs.

United States: http://www.state.gov/contact/

Canada: http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/contactpm

Great Britain: https://email.number10.gov.uk

France: http://www.elysee.fr/ecrire-au-president-de-la-republique/

Italy: https://servizi.quirinale.it/webmail/

Brazil: https://sistema.planalto.gov.br/falepr2/index.php?IND_IDIOMA=I

India: http://pmindia.gov.in/en/interact-with-honble-pm/  (registration necessary)

Australia:  https://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm

Japan:  https://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/forms/comment_ssl.html

 

 

1)”Tibet:Taming the west, The Communist Party deepens Tibet’s integration with the rest of the country.”The Economist.  21 June,  2014. 18 December 2014.

2)Thompson, Denise. “Global Warming – Tibet’s problems are the World’s problems too.” Tibet Nature Conservation Network. 18 November 2014. 18 December 2014. <http://www.tibetnature.net/en/global-warming-tibets-problems-worlds-problems/>.

3)Tibetan Buddhism’s second highest lama, below the Dalai Lama.

4)”Dalai Lama concedes he may be the last.”  BBC News China. 16 December 2014. 18 December 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-30510018>.

 

 

A Thousand Plato’s

Greek-Philosophers

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.

Xi cracks down on corruption; Beijing, Moscow imposing their will

UnknownJohn Stuart Mill wrote in “From Consideration on Representative Government”… that “There is no difficulty in showing that the ideally  best form of government is that in which the sovereignty, or supreme controlling power in the last resort, is vested in the entire aggregate of the community; every citizen not only having a  voice in the exercise of having of that ultimate sovereignty, but being, at least occasionally ,called on to take an actual part in the government…”1

 

China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam lay claim to belonging to an exclusive membership regarding socialist regimes. While Russia is labeled a “managed democracy,” current actions by the Russian state harken back to a time when the U.S.S.R. commandeered a network of fifteen counties. Some scholars might say that China survived because of Soviet failures, though, a pragmatist might point out the USSR was a victim of oil market volatility. Leon Aron noted that oil that was selling for $66.00 a barrel in 1980 had fallen to $20.00 a barrel in 1986 based on 2000 prices.2 Though Russia may be victim of “Dutch disease” (resource based economy with poor growth in other sectors) China continues along unimpeded as the “factory of the world.” China focusses its power at the Center, as Lieberthal explains that “the  weight of Chinese history  significantly enhances the Center’s role” owing to  China’s culture that values obedience and desires a competent and honourable government; values that contrast with western democracies. Deng Xiaoping’s “southern tour” in 1992 lay the groundwork for a more open system, faster economic growth, and dialogue between administrators at provincial and lower levels of government. China’s membership in the WTO (World Trade Organisation) in 2001 instilled a sense of ownership of the economy among these public officials towards the goal of “quadrupling the GDP by 2020,” according to Lieberthal. China’s ascent to  number two as a global financial power  has manifest in growing – pains that the country is struggling to manage, notably pollution and corruption among public officials and higher ranking executives with private corporations. 3) Recently, Huang Haitao, deputy director of CCTV 8 was placed under detention. As CCTV is Chinas public broadcaster, pressure to provide authorities with growth measures that ensure profitability have drawn others into serious conflicts since Xi Jinping assumed command of the PRC in March 2013, hence his fulfilling a promise to cut down on corruption.Xi’s anti-graft crusade has caught those that are involved with special-interest groups versus some members of the Party – elite.  Further, Xi has created confusion by providing amnesty to incumbent and retired Standing Committee members allowing them immunity from the corruption probe. This posturing by Xi sends mixes messages to markets and the general population, some who may have protest designs belonging to employment, familial, or health issues.

Despite Vietnam and China being neighbours and sharing similar political ideology, they are conflicted over China’s incursion into territorial waters to place an oil rig. No one is the wiser, simple semantics and curiosity. 4. The situation has Vietnamese worried; if China can cradle Vietnams marine borders, approximately 222 km off of their coast, what is to prevent China from setting up shop on mainland Hanoi. American and Japanese defense , are observing a similar, though, expansive campaign by Russia to force its will and borders on Ukrainians.  The Economist reports that Vietnam has threatened to take China to international court over the territorial issue. Ukraine may well observe this situation for its own perusal. And now, Beijing is imposing conditions of the voting protocol for Hong Kong citizens. “Occupy Central” in Hong Kong promises to fight these fixed electoral mandates that will see only pro Beijing candidates compete for the top job in Hong Kong.It is noteworthy for Hong Kong citizens to reflect on China’s promise of goodwill when entering Tibet more than sixty years ago.

China has enough issues within its borders; perhaps, this  (Vietnam/Hong Kong) is cause to deflect attention away from corruption, protest movements, and an economy that is softening ever so slightly.

 For Mill,  he might see hope in China turning towards Democracy on a stronger level. Certainly, membership in BRICS is symbolic,at the moment. Given ongoing tensions within Russia and China, BRICS may provide a ‘Warsaw Pact’ for member-states, with a new facade. The question remains: can we live without inexpensive goods from China and cheap labour from India? Ditto for our energy needs that Russia placates to. The old saying is that the “customer is always right.” Time to exercise those rights.

 

Nicholas Bequelin 林伟 @Bequelin (From Twitter) Senior Researcher, Asia Division, Human Rights Watch.
The rule of law in Hong Kong has eroded faster in the past few months than it had over the whole period from 1997 to 2014.

Regarding the unrest in Uighur  and Xinjiang Provinces, Bequelin notes  5 “So there is no way to express disagreement with party policies in Xinjiang for Uighur people. The only tolerated political attitude is unqualified loyalty to the party and state, because the yardstick for the party is ethnic unity.” For Beijing, at least, a terrorist is a terrorist. Because democracy is constrained, unrest is punishable among conflicting groups. Threats of the “Arab Spring” remain worrisome for Chinese officials.

 

References

 

1) John Stuart Mill. “From Considerations on Representative Government.” Readings in Social and Political Philosophy. Ed. Robert M. Stuart. New York: Oxford University Press. 1986.

 

2) Lieberthal,Kenneth. Governing China. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 2004.

 

3) Schiavenza, Matt. “China’s Anti-Corruption Crackdown Increasingly Targets CCTV, Flagship Network.” International Business Times. 15 August2014. 28 August 2014. <http://www.ibtimes.com/chinas-anti-corruption-crackdown-increasingly-targets-cctv-flagship-network-16600>.

 

4.The Economist. “Vietnam and China: Through a border darkly.” 16 August 2014. 31 August 2014. <http://www.economist.com/node/21612234/print>.

 

5. Forsythe, Michael. “Q & A: Nicholas Bequelin on Why Tensions Are Rising in Xinjiang and Beyond.” New York Times, Sinosphere: Dispatches From China. 2 May 2014. 31 August 2014. <http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/02/q-a-nicholas-bequelin-on-why-tensions-are-rising-in-xinjiang-and-beyond/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1&>.

 

 

 

Political Agendas; Social Constructs

color-obam-netan-abbas-webFor the political maelstrom that is Palestine & Israel, it is plain for all to see the implications of behavior and agendas, that spur those arduous responses  between HAMAS and the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces.) Left holding the bag, so to speak, is the massive population of Palestinians who live day to day, in fear of the next Israeli shelling. In fairness to Israelis, the constant bombardment by HAMAS militants with rockets isolates citizens, leaving them vulnerable and fearful. What choices do the Israeli government possess in order to sustain peace, resolve the territorial impasse, and come out shining in the eyes of the international community. Herein lies the difficulty when approaching multi-lateralism and solutions to age-old issues that have vexed one administration to the next for Palestine, Israel, and their associated allies.

Six Criteria To Determine Agenda – Setting  In “Policy Analysis for the Real World,” Hogwood and Gunn outline six criteria that help to frame an issue and categorize it for agenda-setting. They are 1) crisis issues 2) particularity (e.g. impact of pollution on all beings) 3) emotive and garnering human interest & sympathy 4) the issue has widespread appeal 5) issues that raise concerns about power & legitimacy in society 6) issues that are attracting attention for the time (driving and talking on a cell phone or texting.) Suffice it to say, if we consider the Palestine issue or the Tibet issue, most would agree that #1,2 & 3 apply to both cases, though #2 affects predominantly the Diaspora for both groups, and those civilians living inside Tibet, Gaza, and the West Bank. One could argue that there are spillover affects to other regions, such as Xinjiang Province or Egypt.

Nonetheless, it is reasonably safe to conclude that the quotidian oppression that is a long-term issue and will continue have no meaningful solution in sight. As predominant “agenda-setting” issues, how is it possible to raise these concerns higher up the “to-do list” of  governments (even though these hierarchies are transformative through the election process (save for the five nation-states including China that operate a command economy.)

Perhaps if we take a brief look at democracy and Islamism, a better understanding of Near East policy is partly achievable through historical evidence. In “The Ups And Downs Of Islamism (July 2014) Tarek Masoud references scholar and writer, Shadi Hamid to illustrate the power structure in Near East politics. Hamid, who interviewed Former Egyptian President: Mohamed Morsi, concluded that most political organizations vying for power were moderate in their message to attract voters, however, once elected, returned to their roots; see HAMAS and the Muslim Brotherhood. Still, Islamism carries with it a conservative approach to how one lives their lives, particularly, in nation-states where religious ideology prevails through theocracy (Roman Catholicism, Iran and Saudi Arabia to name a few that exist, and the CTA or Tibetan Government in Exile that has maintained an ecclesiastical/administrative  power structure since the 13th c, according to historians.  Moreover, one could say that it is a lifestyle choice among Islamists in their respective countries and not an agenda for change. Contrary, though, is the advent and strength of Islam that has threatened the status-quo in western democracies such as France, Canada, and Germany to name a few nation-states. This raises important questions about “rights” and democracies. The aftermath of September 11, 2001 has evoked a sentiment among civilians and governments alike to manage our borders with vigour to avoid any replication of the disasters that occurred  in recent memory.

The issue of excessive collateral damage in Palestine has raised awareness of the brutish tactics of Israel towards Palestinians and how to better manage the political situation inside Gaza, without resorting to bombing campaigns that are deadly and extremely costly to infrastructure. Perhaps, with pressure from the international community through social media and petitions, a voice for moderate change can be heard.  The International Criminal Court at The Hague can sway positive opinion regarding the U.N. through its seeking of charges against those responsible for, in particular, bombings of UN shelters. Secretary – General Ban Ki Moon responded…”This attack, along with other breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated and those responsible held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act.”3

Agendas seem to be words and thoughts that individuals act out according to how people understand or how we want a particular outcome to be, regardless of the actors involved. Whether they (agendas) are benevolent or malicious depends on the actors and the circumstances, however, they can be considered symbiosis (beneficial to both parties) or antibiosis (antagonistic.) For human beings, most of us go about our lives with agendas because it is human nature to communicate with external stimuli. For some it is about personal development, for others it may be in the guise of profit or rent – seeking. This is where circumstances can become frail because we may begin to put a particular groups interests ahead of our own concern.

Sadly, for Israel and Palestine, China and Tibet, they have put their interests at the forefront. For Palestinians, they are victims of their political representatives who choose to fire rockets to gain international (and Israel’s!!!) attention due to the blockade that restricts their movement and trade. For Tibetans, they are without any military support to further their cause or gain attention in the international community. Their recourse: self-immolations;    131 Tibetans have self-immolated since 2009. I explain this in better detail in my book: “Chariots of Fire: A Tibetan Historical Perspective.” It is available in print or Kindle with links at the top of my page.

1. Hogwood, Brian W. & Lewis A. Gunn. “Policy Analysis for the Real World.” Oxford: New York. 1988. 68.

2. Masoud,  Tarek. “The Ups and Downs of Islamism.” ¨Journal of Democracy.” July 2014.

3 Arora, Deepak. “Ban condemns latest deadly attack near UN school as ‘moral outrage and criminal act.” http://www.thetribuneonline.com/un.htm. 3 August 2014. 6 August 2014. 

Rent -seeking explained Tibetans facing oppression x2