Following on from yesterday, but with another prime minister, half-way around the world from the Netherlands and Prime Minister Mark Rutte … but with the same question: Why Can’t He Be Our Prime Minister? Did Canada make some cosmic blunder for which we are being punished? Is there some reason we get Justin Trudeau while Singapore gets Lee Hsien Loong? Are they doing something right? Are we doing something wrong?
The dangers of Cold War 2.0 turning into a hot war are on a lot of minds these days. In an insightful essay in Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore explains that “Asia has prospered because Pax Americana, which has held since the end of World War II, provided a favorable strategic context. But now, the troubled U.S.-Chinese relationship raises profound questions about Asia’s future and the shape of the emerging international order. Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, are especially concerned, as they live at the intersection of the interests of various major powers and must avoid being caught in the middle or forced into invidious choices.“
He explains, very clearly, that “Asian countries see the United States as a resident power that has vital interests in the region. At the same time, China is a reality on the doorstep. Asian countries do not want to be forced to choose between the two. And if either attempts to force such a choice—if Washington tries to contain China’s rise or Beijing seeks to build an exclusive sphere of influence in Asia—they will begin a course of confrontation that will last decades and put the long-heralded Asian century in jeopardy.“
This is familiar ground for Prime Minister Lee. I commented, just over a year ago, about his brilliant analysis of the East Asian security situation and I said that “I sincerely hope that everyone who cares about the global strategic situation, especially Andrew Scheer and his team and Prime Minister Trudeau’s team, too, reads an/or listens to and heeds Prime Minister Lee’s sage words.” At the time I had a reasonable expectation, given the SNC-Lavalin scandal and so on, that Canadians might see past much of the mainstream media’s relentlessly partisan, anti-Conservative campaign and dump Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in favour of Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, but marching in gay-pride parades turned out to be the defining issue of 2019 and …
But, once again, I read what Prime Minister Lee writes and I have to ask: “Why Can’t He (Lee Hsien Loong) Be Our Prime Minister?” Is there something in our water that makes Canadians ignore their own vital national interests, then overlook a string of obvious ethical failures and, finally, elect a lazy, demonstrably incompetent trust-fund-kid to the highest office in the land? Is there something wrong with us?
By the way, for those interested in how Cold War 2.0 needs to work itself out, Prime Minister Lee’s analysis (link above) is a “must-read,” right to the very end.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is, like Justin Trudeau, the son of a famous, former national leader. But there the similarities end. Lee Kuan Yew was a far better leader than Pierre Trudeau and Lee Hsein Loong is a very high achiever in his own right: a brilliant scholar and soldier of considerable note. Lee Kuan Yew ⇒ was, quite literally, the father of his country and he created what is, arguably, the world’s most successful democratic political party: Singapore’s People’s Action Party has held power, uninterrupted, since 1959. That’s over 60 years of de facto one-party rule in a pretty vigorous democracy. The People’s Action Party, which just won another election last week, is the very definition of the Canadian Liberals‘ dream of being the “natural governing party.” Maybe having policies that work for the country, rather than being ideologically driven, and also having ethical leadership really do make a difference.
Maybe Canadians can learn something …