… it is something that Prime Minister Trudeau needs to consider:
The closest George Orwell got to say this appears to be an extrapolation, in a 1993 Washington Times essay by Richard Grenier, of As George Orwell pointed out, people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. The absence of quotation marks indicates that Grenier was using his own words to convey his interpretation of Orwell’s opinion, But Orwell did say:
- In his 1945 Notes on Nationalism, that pacifists cannot accept the statement “Those who ‘abjure’ violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.”, despite it being “grossly obvious;” and
- Quoting Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Tommy‘ (in 1942) “making mock of uniforms that guard you while you sleep,” and noted that Kipling’s “grasp of function, of who protects whom, is very sound. He sees clearly that men can be highly civilized only while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them.”
But my point is that Orwell may not have said the exact words ascribed to him, but he did, clearly, understand that the Liberal (Laurentian Consensus) ideals that seem to animate Justin Trudeau’s green, feminists, big spending and ‘sunny ways’ agenda are possible only when people who, very often, do not share the Laurentian Elites’ world views are ready, willing and able to “guard and feed” them all … and to work in the oil fields and in the mines and on fishing boats, and, and, and, nearly ad infinitum, and pay their taxes and watch as their notions of what their country ought to be are pushed aside in favour of progressive ideas and ideals.
But this, the earl 21st century, might not be fertile ground for the progressives. The realist agenda hasn’t fared too well, either. Instead, starting a decade or more ago, a hard edged populist agenda is taking hold in the world: people are starting to vote against the established narratives that run the gamut from feminist, green and sunny through to aggressive realism and have landed, instead, on a “what’s in it for me?” sort of populism that causes Americans, for example, to question why the hell they should even bother supporting their best friends and neighbours.
Consider this interview with Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, the US National Security Advisor ~ the guy who, very often, gets the last word before President Trump decides something:
WALLACE: I want to talk about the military option because you are saying that’s on the table. I have been to the region. I’m sure you’ve been to the region, too. You go to the demilitarized zone.
It’s 30 miles from Seoul. They have thousands of short range missiles that are aimed at Seoul, a metropolis of 25 million people, also 25,000 U.S. troops. If we were to launch a preemptive strike against their nuclear program, their missile program, we’re talking about human catastrophe, aren’t we?
MCMASTER: Well, yes, and this is why the president said, this is something we don’t want to have to do. But what this president has done is he’s now connected what our military options are with what we’re trying to politically. For too long, those two things were disconnected from each other. So, you need the viable option, the military option, to help make what you were doing diplomatically, economically, with sanctions, viable, to be able to resolve this problem short of what would be, as the president said, a major, major war and a humanitarian catastrophe.
WALLACE: But, precisely to that point, can you envision a situation where North Korea becomes such a threat that we’re willing to take that risk of a fuselage of short range missiles hitting Seoul, a metropolis of millions of people?
MCMASTER: What the president has first and foremost on his mind is to protect the American people. And I don’t think anyone thinks that it would be acceptable to have this kind of regime with nuclear weapons that can target, that can range the United States.
WALLACE: President Trump, changing just a little bit, but same region, said this week that South Korea should pay for the missile defense system that we have installed there, the THAAD system, $1 billion. There is a report today that you called your South Korean counterpart and said, no, the old agreement was that we the United States pay that billion dollars and we’re going to stick by that.
Is that true?
MCMASTER: Well, the last thing I would ever do is contradict the president of the United States, you know? But — and that’s not what it was. In fact, what I told our South Korean counterpart is until any renegotiation that the deal is in place. We’ll adhere to our word.
But what the president has asked us to do is to look across all of our alliances and to have appropriate burden-sharing, responsibility-sharing. We are looking at that with a great ally, South Korea. We’re looking at that with NATO.
And what you’ve seen because of the president’s leadership, more and more nations are contributing more to our collective defense.
WALLACE: So, the question of who pays the billion dollars is still up in the air?
MCMASTER: The question of what is the relationship on THAAD, on our defense relationship going forward, will be renegotiated as it’s going to be with all of our allies. Because what the president has said is, he will prioritize American citizens’ security and interests. And to do that, we need strong alliances. But also to do that effectively, and a way that is sustainable economically, we need everybody to pay their fair share.
WALLACE: I’ve got two more quick questions for you. President Trump came into office talk about hoping to improve relations with Russia, but over these first 100 days, and I want to put this up on the screen, we’ve learned that Russia has violated the INF missile treaty, they defended Syrian President Assad against our claim he used chemical weapons, and they are now arming the Taliban in Afghanistan, oftentimes against us.
In these 100 days, General, have relations with the Kremlin gotten better or worse?
MCMASTER: Well, I don’t think they’ve gotten really either better or worse. The Russian behavior as we’ve seen, you know, the annexation of Crimea, the invasion of Ukraine, the support for this murderous regime in Syria and now arming the Taliban — these are all things that’s clearly cut against Russian interest, especially in connection with the relationship with Assad in Syria and to arm the Taliban.
None of these groups — the Taliban groups are not monolithic or homogenous. They overlap with others. In the Taliban’s case, they overlap with groups like the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan, and then other terrorist groups that posed a great threat to Russia.
So, here you have a Russian president acting against the Russian people’s interest and doing it I think kind of just reflexively. And so, can we shift the relationship such that there is room for cooperation in key areas where our interests overlap?
WALLACE: But you don’t see that now.
MCMASTER: You don’t see that now. I think that’s what we are looking for is changes in behavior. We need changes in words and the nature of the relationship, but what we really need to see is change in behavior.
WALLACE: Final question — 100 days end, is there a Trump doctrine in foreign policy that’s taking shape? We’ve clearly seen that this president is more willing to use force than Barack Obama was both in the missile strike in Syria — we got it up on the screen. Also, that huge MOAB bomb that was dropped in Afghanistan.
But so far, General, he doesn’t seem to back that up with a clear strategy in fighting ISIS, in winning the war in Afghanistan.
MCMASTER: His strategy is to advocate for the security and interests of the American people every day and to ensure that we are doing all we can to advance our security and the interest of the American people. You see that with the acceleration of the campaign against ISIS, in Syria, in Iraq. Also, you see that with a very effective operations against ISIS Khorasan in Afghanistan, as well.
You see that with combining of military force when necessary, with diplomatic and economic actions. Not — I mean, not regarding military force as separate from what we want to achieve politically.
And so, I would say, it’s competing, recognizing that we’re in competitions, where American vital interests are at stake, and advocating for the security of the American people and our interests.
He also has devolved responsibility down to where it belongs. The White House is no longer deploying three helicopters somewhere or having a very strict cap on forces so that you deploy helicopters but don’t send the mechanics with them, for example. Or you contract guards to guard U.S. infantrymen.
So, he’s doing things that have made our policy execution much more sensible.
WALLACE: Let the commanders in the field determine what they need?
MCMASTER: Yes, with civilian oversight, with policy direction and with the president ensuring that we’re combining what we’re doing militarily to what we want to achieve politically, and our diplomatic and our economic efforts all interconnected.
What jumped out at me was this: “what the president has asked us to do is to look across all of our alliances and to have appropriate burden-sharing, responsibility-sharing. We are looking at that with a great ally, South Korea. We’re looking at that with NATO … [and] … The question of what is the relationship on THAAD, on our defense relationship going forward, will be renegotiated as it’s going to be with all of our allies. Because what the president has said is, he will prioritize American citizens’ security and interests. And to do that, we need strong alliances. But also to do that effectively, and a way that is sustainable economically, we need everybody to pay their fair share.“
President Trump clearly, unequivocally favours the rough men who “guard and feed” America over all the others ~ and, being the elected president of the Americans that makes good sense. But he is demanding that we, also, pay part of the price for protecting America’s vital interests. He is not, à la Truman and Eisenhower through Bush and Obama, saying that America’s interests and those of e.g. Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark and so on are coincident and that we need to work together, he is saying that he doesn’t care about our interests but if we want e.g. access to his rich markets then we have to pay a share for doing what America needs to have done … and that makes good (American) sense, too and, even more, it make sense to Americans.
Where does that leave Canada? Where does that leave Justin Trudeau’s agenda and the Laurentian Elites‘ agenda? Gasping for breath, I would suggest, like a fish out of water. The US is not, for the first time since the late 1930s, acting as a cooperative ally. It is, instead, acting as a schoolyard bully … demanding that we play its favourite game and give it a share of our lunch money, too. Team Trudeau’s agenda, no matter how popular in Canada or around the world, doesn’t count for much.
What to do?
Press the pause button, I think, on parts of the Laurentian Elites‘ agenda: don’t abandon all of it ~ keep active in leading the global climate change parade, but do not expect much to happen and stop spending big money on it. Scale back the carbon tax until it is almost negligible. Move, quickly and aggressively on free(er) trade with Australia, Britain, China, India and, and, and, while shoring up the nascent CETA and NAFTA. Do an about turn on defence: scrap the 2016 Defence Review, announce that Canada will increase defence spending towards 2% of GDP and will increase the size of its military, especially its Navy. Recognize, in short, that, for now, anyway, the old, American led, liberal world order is off the table, replaced by a beggar-thy-neighbour, self serving populist political model that allows for little nuance … in short: do what we must to pacify the schoolyard bully.
Make no mistake, President Trump has a strategy ~ it is one that I don’t much like and that, I suspect, Prime Minister Trudeau doesn’t want to understand, but it is a strategy and he has the means and, I think, the will to pursue it. He also has, I believe, sufficient support amongst his fellow Americans. Justin Trudeau has a programme, too, one that enjoys broad, but not deep support amongst Canadians. My sense is that Trudeau’s programme is no match for Trump’s strategy.
Ooops … somehow my last paragraph got edited out when I posted this.
President Trump may never have “worked” a day in his life but he understands and he has tapped into the fears of those “rough men” (and women) who “guard and feed” America and he is governing in their perceived interests. Prime Minister Trudeau is a creature of the Laurentian Elites and he is governing in their perceived interests. My bet is Trump trumps Trudeau because Orwell, no matter what he said, was right.