I see, in a report in The Guardian, that former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown “has urged world leaders to create a temporary form of global government to tackle the twin medical and economic crises caused by the Covid-19 pandemic … [and] … The former Labour prime minister, who was at the centre of the international efforts to tackle the impact of the near-meltdown of the banks in 2008, said there was a need for a taskforce involving world leaders, health experts and the heads of the international organisations that would have executive powers to coordinate the response.“
First of all, I am positive that the last thing the world needs is another G-something.
Second, I think Mr Brown is pi**ing into the wind as we used to say. The current tide of history is ebbing away from globalism, not flowing towards it.
The world, as I said just the other day, is seeing a resurgence of nationalism, some of it is a healthy response to supply chain problems, some of it is nasty and unhelpful, but it’s all here. Gordon Brown has got things exactly back-asswards.
I believe that this nationalist moment will endure for quite some time: years, certainly, a decade or more, more likely, it will probably be a generation before we see a return to full-scale globalization. In the interim Canadians must remember one thing: TINA².
(I forget now who coined this, but it was back during the free trade debates circa 1987/88. The originator explained that TINA applied not just doubly, but as the square of itself to Canada. TINA², the wag said, stood for Trapped In North America multiplied by There Is No Alternative. He was referring, mainly, to Liberal and NDP critics who desperately wanted Canada to align itself, somehow, with Europe, not with America. That was, (s)he said, a childish notion, like it or not, (s)he said, we are North Americans, we are trapped here, by geography if nothing else, and There Is No Alternative to making the best of it.)
I remain persuaded that, despite his incredible bungling of the COVID-19 crisis, Donald Trump will be reelected in 2020. I think that the Democrats will be badly split and, even if they somehow manage to unite behind either Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, President Trump will prevail. And, I think, another America Firster, quite possibly Nikki Haley, will be elected in 2024 and even again in 2028. When, eventually, the Democrats regain both the White House and the Congress, as they certainly will, but maybe not until the 2030s, they will be a different party: centrist, capitalist, pro-America and nationalist ~ they will be Harry Truman’s Democrats, again and I suspect (hope) that the post-Trump Republicans will be more like Eisenhower and/or Reagan than like DonaldTrump.
In any event, Canada remains inordinately dependent on the United States for our prosperity and for our security. Millions, tens of millions, indeed, may not like that but: TINA². I remain convinced that Americans want to withdraw back into Fortress America. Canada needs to ensure that they expand their vision, just slightly, and make it Fortress North America. That means that amongst other things, the knee-jerk anti-Americanism that has animated Canadian diplomacy and politics nearly continuously since 1967 must end. That will be hard, even for Conservatives, it will be impossible for anyone who is beholden to the Laurentian Elites.
Canada must adapt to the changes that are going to come even faster in America as a result of a combination of the fears which brought President Trump to power and the lessons we will all learn, from this current global crisis, about the nature of the global supply chains. We must understand TINA²:
- We are Trapped In North America ~ geography is an uncaring mistress; and
- There Is No Alternative ~ we adapt or we become a poor, lonely, friendless country.
That does not mean that we need to turn ourselves into the 51st state or an American colony. We can, and should still assert our sovereignty and independence in every area. We can, for example, push hard for an enhanced free trade agreement our CANZUK friends …
… an arrangement that might also include great freedom of movement and that might grow, too. We can remain firmly committed to working within the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, for example, even though, for now, anyway, America is opposed to both. But, both policy and politics are always about choices and when choices must be made Canada will have to side with the US over all others, because …
… the data might be five years old but the proportions haven’t changed much at all.
In defence policy, to get specific, Canada needs to shift its focus away from UN peacekeeping (and even away from NATO) and move, sharply and notably towards continental defence, including, especially, strengthening the continent by joining, as a full partner, in a new, continental ballistic missile defence arrangement that is run by NORAD. But, at the same time as we are doing that, Canada needs to assert itself in the Arctic by adding new ships, including the long-overdue major icebreaker, new surveillance and warning systems for both NORAD and national use, nuclear-powered submarines and at least one Northern military base. Being allied with the USA need not mean that should cede sovereignty to them but we must do our full and fair share to defend the continent we share.
Above all, we must manage four more years of Donald J Trump. The best way to do that is to pay less attention. We must accept him as he is, we must learn to ignore his more inane outbursts, and follow the main thread of his ‘logic’ which is, essentially, isolationist. We do not have to be isolationists, too, but we must be America’s trusted best friend and partner. We must allow banking and commerce (and working people) to flow, almost freely, across the border. We can still be greener than America, we can still be more liberal and internationalist, we can still be more friendly to legal, properly screened immigrants and we can still be more helpful to the less developed countries, but we must be any and even all of those things from within a solid, secure, North American base.
To do all that, to be the country we all, of all political stripes, want to be and to be peaceful, prosperous and secure, we need, above all, to get rid of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and replace them, quickly, with Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives. In this fast-changing era, leadership really matters.