BRICS: Neocolonialism or economic pragmatism

Economic_integration_stages_(World) Since GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade) morphed into the WTO (World Trade  Organization) in 1995, there has been a plethora of trade organizations emerging that are representing various regions, globally. GATT was  founded in 1948 and was a compact between post WW2 industrial nations to promote trade that was sanctioned by the U.N. With that, we are experiencing an alphabet soup of trade organizations that represents over 75% of the global population, considering the graphic. Being a member state in such an agreement provides multilateral economic and political muscle in those times that support needs to be drawn from similar like-minded actors.

We  can see the struggle that Canada had adopting Free Trade (1989) and then expanding that to NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) in 1994. The liberalization of tariffs has made Canadian goods more attractive for importers to justify spending dollars out of their budgets on Canadian products. Yet, has membership in a  trade organization lost some of its eminence. Evidently, BRICS members (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) feel stronger united, and, with a burgeoning response to reliance on the World Bank, politically invigorated.

The new BRICS bank with authorized capital of 100 billion, and a separate  contingency reserve of another 100 billion, promises to detract from Western leaders influence in domestic affairs, as we have seen in the aftermath of the situation in the Ukraine with regards to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Current sanctions will have a deleterious effect on Russian trade (a shift toward greener energy may weaken demand for Russian oil and gas,) though, in a prolonged standoff with the West, Russia can tap some reserve cash to smooth over some difficulties.

As a catalyst for its members, the new bank acts as a gateway for membership unto BRICS and thus,expand the group. Hence, members  become privy to economic stability or political malfeasance from any of its members. President Putin relishes the moment as the strength of BRICS offers a ballast to the prospect of losing Ukraine to membership in NATO. The “new cold war” is fought over abbreviations, not on the ground (some Crimean’s may disagree.)

The UN Security Council is in a decades long stalemate that requires little leverage against the P5 (five permanent members) who need only to vote against proposed sanctions to veto a bill. Expansion of the P5 is another inglorious matter considering the short-shrift the UN received from the US over invading Iraq   in 2003.

The new bank will provide developing members, such as India, the financial means to invest in and promote new infrastructure projects, while abstaining from political dialogue related to ideological  differences; the World Bank is quite hesitant to loan funds to developing nations that rely on coal generation for their energy needs (see China &  India.)

Though, China, with its economic might, hardly requires a slush fund in the event of recessionary times or a blunt cold shoulder from the World Bank. However,  should domestic matters become untenable in the wake of internal dissension (up to 100,000 incidents per year of civil disobedience,) China has a strong support group to fall back on for another day. Neocolonialism appears to be the undercurrent for the motivation of BRICS.  South Africa, which boasts 11 official languages and is a disparate population, faces no imminent threats within its borders, although income inequality remains a problem.

For BRICS, neocolonialism and economic pragmatism are forces that should propel this group towards greater economic stability, provide them with a counterweight against western nation-states that question their internal policies, while allowing them time to modernize their legal system and democratize.

As of 2013, the five BRICS countries represent almost 3 billion people with a combined nominal GDP of US$16.039 trillion and an estimated US$4 trillion in combined foreign reserves.[1][4]

As of 2014, the BRICS nations represented 18 percent of the world economy.[5] 1.

“World Economic Outlook”. IMF. April 2013 data. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 4.

“Amid BRICS’ rise and ‘Arab Spring’, a new global order forms”. Christian Science Monitor. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 5.yahoo.com: “BRICS to launch bank, tighten Latin America ties” 11 Jul 2014

List of free trade agreements

World Cup of Gaza? Israel & Palestine renew hostilities

West_Bank_&_Gaza_Map_2007_(Settlements)   On July 8, Germany routed the Brazilian soccer team 7-1. It was unexpected and unprecedented in World Cup history. Politically, we have seen tension building again between Israel, and mostly, insurgents in the West Bank and Gaza,  fuelled by the disappearance and recovery of three young Israeli males: Naftali Fraenkel 16, Gilad Shaer 16, and Eyal Yifrach 19. Some are claiming outright retribution by unknown Israeli assailants who kidnapped a Palestinian youth, and, according to autopsy reports, was burned alive. The young Palestinian youth: Mohammed Abu Khdeir  was just 16 years of age.

The Palestinian government, which boasts delegates from Hamas, the reputed terrorist enclave, has been involved in rocket fire on Israel that is reaching far north into the Jewish state, Israeli territory not thought vulnerable by Hamas crude munitions. However, with all things political in the Near East, Iran has reportedly been supplying militants in the West Bank & Gaza with superior technology that has Israel concerned.

As much as Arabs dislike  each other, they agree on one common trait – their enmity of Israel. Israelites will counter that they have no overt malevolence towards Palestinian’s, only that Israel must defend itself because it’s neighbours would be all too happy if it perished. The aftermath of Jewish statehood is a proxy war, a Cold Near – Eastern war that promises no solution and no conclusion,  unlike the World Cup event that captivates devotees of soccer fans every four years.

According to Reuters, the collateral damage numbers approximately 182 Palestinian’s, including 30+ children, in this latest exchange of hostilities. ProCon.org indicates that from 1967 at the outset of the first intifada, to 2012, 8184 Palestinian’s  lost their lives due to Israeli conflict,   compared to 1518 Israeli casualties. Solutions are necessary to bring peace to the region and settle both Israel and establish a secure Palestine so that it may benefit from international recognition, law, trade, and security.

Palestinians do have the “Right of Return” as expressed in Resolution 194 that was passed by the UN General Assembly in 1948. Unfortunately, as this was passed by the General Assembly and not the Security Council, it remains problematic for Palestinians to reclaim any land that they may have been forced to relinquish to Israel post 1948. Approximately, 840,000 Palestinians were displaced after the re-zoning of Palestine after 1948, according to  Farsoun and Zacharia (1977.) Israel has been steadfast in maintaining any land that it has seized through conflict with Palestine. Between 1967 and 1974, 4425 Palestinians were forced from their homes as Israel was creating a secure buffer zone for those seeking access to the Wailing Wall.(Anthony Coon, 1999.)

The U.S. remains vigilant in protecting Israel due to the tragic circumstances surrounding ‘The Holocaust,’ its energy interests in the region, and geopolitical proximity that acts as its own buffer zone between  North Africa, Central Asia, and oil producing states such as Kuwait, and Iraq – that proved fruitful in the 1st Gulf War (1990-1991.) For Israel, it can take comfort ,  in part, as it has tacit support from multilateral channels such as the U.S., Canada & EU, to name a few.

In a “répéter la performance,” President Obama has  stated that he will work towards a cessation of hostilities in the region, while condoning Hamas for repeatedly launching rockets into Israel. Sadly, loss of innocent life continues to be the endgame between these two warring neighbours. Herbert Simon wrote about and coined the term “satisficing” to promote decision making that seeks the best alternative solution available. Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto (1848 – 1923) introduced a similar term: “Pareto Optimal” and “Pareto Efficient,” that is distinct for economists.  Pareto Optimal explained Given the complexities of Near East policy, it makes some sense, (even for an idealist like Pres. Obama,) to measure their options carefully, particularly, after the debacle that former President George W Bush and his administration provoked by circumventing the UN with the  intent to ‘rush to war’ alongside unfounded evidence against Iraq. The fallout was detrimental to the U.S. in foreign policy circles (yes, the U.S. left a mess in Iraq) that is threatening to slide the country into turmoil once again, as (now former) Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki faces challenges from ISIL and the Levant, not to mention Shi’a and Sunni opposition within his government.

Tibetans have to be watching this stalemate with a jaundiced-eye given the oppressive conditions that they have encountered since China’s occupation and are currently experiencing, the minimalist attention that the Tibet – issue receives from the International Community, and  U.S. support for trade initiatives with Beijing, that fail to link human rights to trade agreements.  According to exile sources, estimations suggest  that up to 260,000 people (Tibetans)  died in prisons and labour camps between 1950 and 1984. (http://www.tibet.org/Why/occupation.html). For comparison purposes we see that, although the U.S. has a principle role to play in multilateral relations since the close of WW2, it, for better or worse, it curry favours to those nation-states that provide the greatest financial opportunity (widgets or cellphones.)

The “Arab Spring” has provided democratic reforms and a warning shot to those states that are mired in past ideologies that restrict democracy, to modernise their political system . Change has been difficult for some, notably, Egypt. The Arab Spring has concerned Beijing; internal protests could expand  should reforms continue to drag on slowly within China under current President Xi Jinping. Unfettered U.S. funding for Israel delays democratic reforms for Palestinians. Perhaps America fears a sweep of democracy in Gaza and the West Bank would continue east, leaving their role opaque in Middle East policy.

The collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th c sowed the seeds of colonialism in the Near East, Britain also had influence (early 20th c) within Tibet briefly occupying Lhasa until a treaty resolved the conflict. History aside, change is afoot; let us hope it reaches those individuals and nation-states that truly need it. Hamas is flouting international law with their ongoing bombing campaign;  Israel has a right to defend itself. A unified Palestinian government has thrust the Palestinian administration towards uncertainty and leaving it unable to speak with one voice,reminiscent of the Arafat era. Competing factions, Fatah and the PLO had difficulty agreeing on issues much like Hamas and Palestine President Abbas (Fatah brand.)  Still, as Diana Buutu explains regarding Israeli interference in Palestinian politics…”Once again, Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are now facing elections. The next round of PLC elections will take place this month, and most certainly, Israel will attempt to ensure that these elections are not free. Whether by determining Palestinian candidates and political parties, by blocking Palestinian participation through the erection of military checkpoints, or by denying Palestinian political prisoners the right to vote (in spite of the fact that many Palestinian prisoners are themselves candidates for PLC elections), the self-proclaimed “Middle East’s only democracy” will attempt to ensure that the Palestinian exercise of democracy is not free.” – from www.thisweekinpalestine.com http://blogs.denverpost.com/hark/2014/06/25/god-bless-presbyterians/3216/

With an area of 139 square miles, and a 2014 estimated population of 1, 816, 379 according to Wiki, Palestinians are living in very condensed quarters in the Gaza Strip; 13, 069 per square mile. “Nearly one-third of the registered Palestine refugees, more than 1.5 million individuals, live in 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.” UNRWA (United Nations Relief & Works Agency)

Final Score: Germany: 1         Argentina: 0 To be continued: Palestine: 1650                Israel: 66

“In a boost to Israel, the U.S. Congress approved $225 million in emergency funding for Iron Dome, sending the measure to Obama to be signed into law. The House of Representatives approved the funding by a 395-8 vote late on Friday, several hours after the Senate passed it unanimously.” reported by Reuters on August 2, 2014 . ???

Modern Totalitarianism

troopsIn “Comparative Government,” Samuel Finer describes Stalinist Russia as a system that evoked the determination of a single person. The hallmarks being that the state police and bureaucracy (that were subordinate to the Communist Party,)  wielded as much power as the leader (Stalin, in this case) would prescribe to it. A “de jure” grasp on the control mechanisms of government has seen Liberal governments fiefdom in democracies sustain itself inside Japan and Canada with the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party)  and The Liberal Party of Canada. Much has been accomplished in a  Post WW2 period through the adoption of  “First World” social planks.   I’m sure there are other notable examples, the point being that it is in the vanguard of modern democracies to expend resources to capture the attention of voters and maintain that control through whatever means possible, FaceBook and Twitter, be damned.  Voters saw this in Ontario recently. The lack of meritorius candidates did not impact voter turnout, which was the highest level in 24 years. Still, 52.1% voter turnout hardly provides a vote of con/fidence for our electoral system. As I said in a previous post, “Proportional Representation” can provide voters with more options at the ballot- box and reinforce the strength of our Democracy.

The collapse of the USSR has transcended so many areas of our lives on a social level: Globalisation has created soft borders and opportunities for many folks who were strictly limited to outward mobility prior to 1991. I can’t recall issues of “Temporary Foreign Workers” or “outsourcing” gracing the news media as it has in recent times.

There were seeds of discontent sown during the 1970’s and 1980’s with the angst in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  Harvard Prof -Samuel Huntington (1927 – 2008)  predicted the rise in Islamic fundamentalim would eventually cast a shadow over those nation-states that were in any way, impromptu or otherwise, supporting Israel,or, ipso facto, Capitalism.

Indeed,  a “cult of personality” is fostered through the leadership and manifest through the mass media to the public. We saw this in Nazi Germany, and most recently with the Kim family in North Korea.Huntington said in “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” that “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion […] but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.

There is continuity in the Islamicisation of the world as borders have become softer. The presence of the “burka” in government institutions in Quebec has caused a stir in recent memory. Perhaps,  noteworthy for Canadians would be legislation passed in 1990 that allowed for the adornment of a turban and kirpan for RCMP officers. Calgary professor, Aaron Hughes, was faced with Islamicisation inside his classroom recently when he found a message on his blackboard supporting “jihad” and Hamas. Hughes stated that “I would have to go teach this class as a victim staring my aggressor in the face.” Professor Hughes left his position at the University of Calgary when colleagues refused to acknowledge the situation as problematic.Hughes, who is Jewish and knows a thing or two about Islamic Studies (his PhD) now teaches out of the University of Rochester, which begs another question: how can Canadian schools attract and sustain talent? That is for another day, however. Reid Southwick, Postmedia News, June 26, 2014.

Middle East policy remains the epicentre for discord and the sequestering of anti-West sentiment towards Israel with the election of Hamas in 2007 as leader in the Palestinian Parliament. Despite Hamas ties to purported terrorist states such as Syria and Iran, life inside Gaza and Israel remains fairly constant in an ongoing proxy war between pro-democracy nation-states and Islamic nation-states that are fundamental in religion and traditional in lifestyle.

Modern Totalitarianism can be  observed through the lens of the Syrian conflict pitting state against citizens, with some assistance from the U.S. to bolster the militants cause. The announcement of an Islamic Sunni caliphate that has gained traction and credibility in the Middle East is sure to cause alarm to its neighbours, and the U.S. As ISIS,  now known as “Islamic State,” the group is operating as a Theocracy within traditional Totalitarian principles; hardly modern.

Proponents of Syria include Russia, who has used it’s UN Security Council seat to block anti Assad resolutions. Modern Totalitarianism may be characterised  for it’s reliance on, or membership in  IGO’s (Intergovernmental Organizations)  to influence Foreign Policy without the high cost of military intervention. Thus, the post WW2 rebranding of  the League of Nations to the U.N., formation of NATO, and Warsaw Pact, helped to sow the seeds of dissension among competing Nation-States, while containing collateral damage.

The recent crisis in Ukraine and Crimea is analogous to China’s occupation and annexation of Tibet  in 1949, though, the UN, still in its nascent stage, and a reformulated post war International Community, could not muster the resources to challenge Russia or China in a Security Council showdown.

The crisis in Bosnia – Herzegovina gave rise to Western powers mandating NATO to intervene and assign peace-keeping units. We can see that, if it moves at all, Modern Totalitarianism moves slowly, not unlike Capitalism or well-developed  bureaucracies (tall or flat.) Consider that the victims are still similar; basic freedoms are constrained among the general population, though a mature military and other organs of the government remain steadfast with their appetite for political and economic power.

CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalist) reports that  56 journalists have been killed since 1992 inside Russia. China has unleashed another wave of suppression on Tibetans that restricts free publications and “illegal publications that promote separatism, terrorism, extremism, and Tibetan independence” as reported by China’s Xinhua news agency. To quote ‘The Tibet Post’…”In Tibet today, Tibetan writers, intellectuals, musicians, artists, environmentalists, and religious figures are being arbitrary arrested, imprisoned and tortured by Chinese authorities for merely posting an article to a blog, writing an essay, editing a magazine, sending information by text message, or singing songs that express the suffering of the Tibetan people.”

American Democracy goes through stages of rebranding according to the elected party, its principles, and membership. Strains of Modern Totalitarianism creep out periodically, and this was evident in the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison (Republican Guard or Republican Party ?)

The U.S. was a signatory of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in 1948; the U.S.S.R. abstained. Meanwhile, (now-former) Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki has found competing Sunni & Shiite a “tempest in a teapot,” that is threatening to throw Iraq into civil chaos, once again. The need to “power-share” in the 21st century is necessary to minimise conflict, Messrs. Maliki & Jinping.

With American warships planted on the periphery opposite “Islamic Group,” the situation  provides a political game of brinksmanship, which should not escalate into a large-scale conflict as everyone involved seems to have a willing dance partner. Cha- Cha- Cha.

China’s raison d’être for consensus building

Dr. Sonny Lo proscribes 6 reasons for positive predictors

to democracy in Hong Kong

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/09/26/553463964/wary-of-unrest-among-uighur-minority-china-locks-down-xinjiang-province

Wary Of Unrest Among Uighur Minority, China Locks Down Xinjiang Region 26/9/2017

 

In “Chariots” I wrote that: “For China, democratisation and discrimination are incompatible because of the high economic cost to change including its legal system, fixed currency, and the maintenance and expansion of social programs. Coupled with the loss in power to ruling elites, democratisation leaves an opportunity for restive provinces such as Tibet, Uyghur, and Xinjiang that have separatist ambitions, to pursue statehood.” The depth  of  terrorist activity in restive provinces inside China continues to be a problem for Chinese officials. The week of June 16-21 saw the execution of 13 people who were involved in two separate incidents:  one incident  in Xinjian province that resulted in an attack that left 24 policemen dead.   Another attack at Tiananmen Square left five people dead and 40 injured when a car crashed into a crowd. Other incidents have Beijing authorities blaming Uighur  separatists  for the malaise. While China ponders the menacing grip of insurgents in these regions, it would be canny for them to “changer de cap” at a point where resistance among its citizens and escalation of violence towards public officials needs to be considered by President Xi Jinping,  Premier Li Keqiang, and the Ministry of the Interior. How can Chinese officials stem the tide of the frequency and scale of incidents from manifesting into a “slugfest” between restive states and public officials?

In an earlier post, I mentioned the notion of power-sharing, and, I believe, this is the “modus vivendi” towards a peaceful long-term solution for Xinjiang, Uighur, Tibet, and China. Remarkably, Tibetans choose self-immolation to express their dissatisfaction with China’s oppression, not outright violence, apart from the unrest in 2008 during the preamble to the Beijing Olympics. Reuters reported today that close to 600,000 votes had been cast in an unsanctioned poll regarding democratic reform in Hong Kong that has been chastised by both Hong Kong and Chinese officials as illegal. The protest group: “Occupy Central” has sanctioned the poll. To further antagonise the movement, Beijing’s recent release of a “White Paper” has left many of the pro – democracy movement in Hong Kong  readying for and exercising their strength to mount an offensive against a system that was thrust onto them in 1997 after Britain ceded control to China . The situation has been divisive, plotting pro-democracy groups against pro-Beijing groups. The message that Hong Kongers are sending is that they want choice at the ballot box, and not the proposed muted selection of three candidates that is being offered.

Does China deserve clemency? If so, what form of clemency should that entail. Democratisation will garner them attention and a stronger sense of kinship in the International Community vis-à-vis stronger membership in trade organisations and multi-polar collective security organisations such as  NATO and  a stronger role within the UN. However, China must clean up it’s policy regarding  human rights and capital punishment, freedom of speech, the press, and assembly; not to be confused with the “managed democracy” that currently exists within Russia. If we consider reports out of Tibet, memories of Russian gulags come to mind, and still exist in North Korea under the Kim family.

China’s holding of U.S. debt reached 1.317 trillion as of November 2013, according to Ian Katz of Bloomberg. Coupled with exports to the U.S. of 440 billion in 2013, provides a measured response from Washington towards Beijing on its Human Rights record. For an unfair comparative purpose, consider the U.S. approach to Cuba and the still active “Helms-Burton” bill that prohibits American businesses from trading with Cuba. American omnipotence is apparent in the International Community with matters of trade and when political ideology differs from their guiding principles. Still, because of this influence, more can be accomplished to help those in Tibet. “Students For A Free Tibet” report that through their collective action” 21 U.S. Senators have signed a letter and forwarded it to Secretary of State – John Kerry in advance of his recent trip to China.

From a strategic standpoint, much needs to change to see reform in Tibet and other restive provinces, as well as China. China’s army and defence mechanisms need to falter in order to allow insurgents an opportunity, including civilians, to breach the political structure and affect change. China’s military has grown stronger with its military spending surpassing 145 billion that utilises drones and cyber weapons , according to Phil Stewart of Reuters on June 6, 2014.  With an active Front – Line military personnel of 2, 285, 000 according to GFP.com, China has the resources for a ground battle, that  should concern its neighbours in the region, and the U.S., who count Japan and South Korea as allies and have 28,500 troops in SouthKorea, and an established military bases in Japan.

Despite Chinas growing hegemony, it remains vulnerable, and if chosen, needs to democratise slowly to keep the basic structure of the PRC operative.  Predicting a change in ideology is impractical, to say the least.   Citing the internal strife, it is possible for change in 20 years or less,  in my very humble opinion. Much will depend on the ruling elites, their ability to constrain corruption, manage as a voice of moderation in a new time, and be free of past influences such as Princelings (President Xi Jinping is facing corruption questi0ns) as well as linkages to- former leaders. Mindful of the benefits of partnership in liberal trade associations, major importers of Chinese goods may seek to leverage with other nation – states, comparable Finance Ministers and economists, in order to link trade to Human Rights and ideology. Perhaps least of their worries are the Tibetans who are self-immolating and causing only particles of nuisance for Chinese authorities in the press and social media circles. Vigilance is imperative to repair the issue in Tibet; China,  it seems to me that …”you have to make your own breaks.”

 

 

Tibet & China: A Consociational (Power-Sharing) Approach

 

A few years ago,  U of Waterloo –   Professor emeritus, Peter Woolstencroft taught a course on the issue of power-sharing between two governing bodies. Usually, one nation-state may hold more sway over a smaller region that may be close to encroaching on it, or, as we have seen recently with Russia-Ukraine, they (Russia) have a tacit belief that this parcel of land (Crimea  Ukraine) , belongs in their hands, for historical or strategic reasons.

 In Chariots of Fire, I explain that, historically, Tibet & China have never shared a consociational arrangement in their history. Tibet, had a similar Patron – Priest relationship with  the Mongolian Empire & Godan Khan, offering military prowess to Tibet and Sakya Pandita. China claims Mongolian power had become vulnerable and China, not Mongolia,  were the proper stewards of Tibet. Historically, we see Tibet in a vacuum after WWII and the transition in China from Chiang Kai-shek who was Chairman of the National Military Council, and then President of the Republic of  China for one year during China’s transition to a communist economic model.

Tibet was considered mired in its feudal past and in need of modern infrastructure. China, with Mao in firm control saw Tibet as a pearl, a stratagem to influence its position in Asia and an independent India, which was partitioned in 1947 into Dominion of Pakistan and the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh.

The Dalai Lama – Tenzin Gyatso- was 15 years of age in 1950 when China made promises of modernisation without loss to Tibetan monastic and cultural values. Chinese authorities procured a ’17 Point Agreement’ in 1951 that laid out terms for these changes that seemed palatable at the time for the young Dalai Lama,  who was without peer  or regent to guide in governmental and spiritual matters. However, by 1959, The Dalai Lama had seen Chinese hysteria denigrate the typical Tibetan way of life, and socialism manifest through the central government in Beijing.  The Dalai Lama, upset with the state of affairs in Tibet,  failed to generate an effective uprising, and on March 10, 1959 he was spirited out of Tibet and into exile  in Dharamsala, India.

China has maintained total control over Tibetan affairs since this point in time (1959.)  There continues to be a degradation of monasteries, spiritual artifacts, the incursion of nuclear waste and pollution, deforestation, and strict limits on what people can practice regarding Buddhism and how they conduct themselves in public, so, as not to criticize Chinese authorities, which is punishable.  Indeed, it is punishable to possess and or display a picture of the Dalai Lama.  The continued oppression has led to a period of revolt since 2008, where individuals – mostly monks or nuns – are “self – immolating” to create awareness of the suppression that is taking place inside  Tibet.

The international community failed to answer Tibet’s  call for help after China invaded Tibet in 1949.  The United States has taken an interest in Tibetan affairs, and at one point was training CIA officials  to counter Chinese authority, however, this has ended around the time of the Nixon/Kissinger administration.

As the number of Tibetans that self   – immolate continues to rise, the international community needs to look at the issue of human rights abuses in Tibet.   The dilemma is that the international community is quite happy with inexpensive Chinese goods that helps to bolster their economies, similar to Western nation-states reliance on middle eastern oil to drive our economies.  Though, the price of that oil has spiralled into a stratosphere that makes it not as an attractive commodity as it was before OPEC was instituted (Currently, crude oil has plummeted.)

The number of demonstrations and conflicts in China continues to escalate and put pressure on the PRC.  Reuters reported  on June 16, 2014 that China had executed 13 people for terrorist attacks in Xinjiang province, providing an example of Chinese oppression in restive provinces. Hope abounds that democratization will find its way into China and spread west to Tibet.

A  consociational  approach to the Tibet issue provides Beijing an opportunity to work with the international community and the Tibetan government in exile on a power-sharing arrangement that provides benefits to both sides, while everyone saves face.

Consociationalism defined:

http://pesd.princeton.edu/?q=node/14

 

 

Proportional Representation: A clarion call for Ontario

 

Ontario voters faced with questionable choices at the ballot box, surprised many political pundits by granting incumbent, Kathleen Wynne and The Liberal Party, a reprieve.   The campaign was a rancorous affair resembling more of a U.S. model that has found it’s way north in recent memory. Amidst all the squabbling over copious amounts of tax dollars frittered away on gas plants, proposed public sector layoffs, and growing provincial debt, it seems a tall order to ask a small group of people to do what is right for Ontario’s faltering economy. Fix it! The credit rating agencies are warning anyone who cares to listen that Ontario’s credit rating will be downgraded. To service our debt will mean that compounded interest rates will push the Province’s debt – ceiling higher (are we watching our cousin’s in Michigan whose state has filed a bankruptcy petition.) Toronto’s hand will be stretched open a little further to allow Ottawa to pull from it’s grab- bag of transfer payments, more funds, to help Ontario make ends-meet.

Prime Minister Harper smiles knowing that when Ontario elects a Liberal government, Canada hires a government on the opposite end of the political spectrum to balance the political structure. (Trudeau – Davis/Mulroney – Peterson/Rae, Chretien- Harris, Harper-McGuinty.)   As the credit agencies circle Wynne and her Finance Minister? decisions are going to have to be made to curb the deficit. Enjoy the honeymoon, Ms Wynne. The way of doing business in Ontario, and how the political  system functions is out of balance. Note: Ontario’s anorexic manufacturing base, that is, and has been abandoning the lucrative Southern Ontario market for approximately twenty years. This  requires fresh thinking soon, as eventually we  will all come- a- cropper when the printing press slows down, the government refuses to raise the debt-ceiling, or the credit agencies downgrade our rating acting as a proxy-cabinet .

 

‘Proportional Representation,’ according to Oxford is”An electoral system in which parties gain seats in proportion to the number of votes cast for them.”  Sounds pretty reasonable, and fair. However, a lot of heavy – lifting and currency needs to be wielded in a not so proportionate way to make it a reality.

As we hope to rebuild our economy in Ontario, we should consider philosopher John Locke’s (1632-1704) notion that, “For, when any number of men have, by the consent of every individual, made a community, they have themselves made that community one body, with a power to act as one body, which is only by the will and determination of the majority.”

Proportional Representation is the “quid pro quo” to the antiquated “first-past-the-post” system that we are currently mired in, which, breeds “gerrymandering,” “logrolling,” “pork-barrel” or what have you, to pit one against the other, no matter the medium. So, let us think long-term in the aftermath of the Ontario election,  and in the future about systems of governance  and people in our community.

For a list of nation-states employing ‘Proportional Representation’ please click on the following link from Wiki: Proportional Representation

gerrymandering: Manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favour one party or class. (Oxford)

logrolling: North American 1 • informal The practice of exchanging favours, especially in politics by reciprocal voting for each other’s proposed legislation: they have gained leverage on Capitol Hill by a talent for political logrolling [from the phrase you roll my log and I’ll roll yours] (Oxford)

pork-barrel: North American • informal Used in reference to the utilization of government funds for projects designed to please voters or legislators and win votes: the lesson that power is based on the pork barrel and purchased with patronage (Oxford)

First-past-the-post: British Denoting an electoral system in which a candidate or party is selected by achievement of a simple majority (Oxford)