Tuesday, June 7, 2022

 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Canadian Immigration Policy and the Toronto Lobby's 'Century Initiative' Project

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the book about morals "The Code for Global Ethics" and his book about geopolitics "The New American Empire")


"The best way to resolve the opposition of both French and English groups [in Canada] is to swamp the French population under the steady stream of a methodically organized immigration, controlled initially, greeted on arrival and ensured of a privileged position in the colony." Lord Durham (John Lambton), (1792-1840), in 'Report on the Affairs of British North America', Jan. 31, 1839, (mainly written by Charles Buller)."

"Economic thinking about immigration is generally quite superficial. It is a fact that in different [rich] countries, reproducible national capital is on the order of four times yearly national income. As a result, when an additional immigrant worker arrives, in order to build the necessary infrastructure (housing, hospitals, schools, universities, infrastructure of all kinds, industrial facilities, etc.), additional savings equal to four times the annual salary of this worker will be needed. If this worker arrives with a wife and three children, the additional savings required will represent, depending on the case, ten to twenty times the annual salary of this worker, which obviously represents a very heavy burden for the economy to bear." Maurice Allais (1911-2010), 1988 Nobel Prize in economics, 2002.

"A people who is not master of its fate should limit its level of immigration to its capacity of integration. It is on this condition that cultural diversity can be positive. Otherwise, our roots and our identity are in danger." Rosaire Morin (1923-1999), Quebec journalist, 1966.


During the last federal election campaign in Canada, the issue of mass immigration for decades to come received virtually no attention.

Let us recall that during this election, the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) obtained 32.6 percent of the vote. Moreover, since the voter turnout was only 62.9 percent, the direct popular support the LPC received from all Canadian voters was only 20,3 percent.

Under such circumstances, it is difficult to arrive at the conclusion that the current Liberal minority government in Ottawa has received a clear and legitimate mandate from the people of Canada to substantially change the demographic composition of the country, for decades to come. This would surely be the result if a mass immigration policy is implemented over the long run.

• The Proposal of the Toronto lobby 'Century Initiative'

Few people know that an obscure political organization, founded in 2011 by a small lobby of businessmen and journalists from Toronto, and bearing the name 'Century Initiative', has proposed to triple the Canadian population by the year 2100.

Indeed, the Toronto group 'Century Initiative' asserts that Canada—which counted 37 million inhabitants at the last census in 2021, and which normally, according to official projections, should have 53 million in the year 2100, (with a natural population growth rate and an average immigration policy)—should aim instead at having 100 million inhabitants by the year 2100, and not 53 million, and that the Canadian federal governments should, for this purpose, adopt a very aggressive immigration policy.

At this extreme migratory rate, already one of the highest in the world, if not the highest, Canada would no longer be recognizable, demographically speaking, in less than one generation or two. A major population replacement policy would have been implemented, almost on the sly, without public debate, without a general consultation and without in-depth studies on the probable consequences of such a project.

According to the plan designed by the Toronto lobby, within barely 78 years, Canada would have several mega urban agglomerations of more than ten million inhabitants, a bit like China today. Indeed, it is forecast that metropolitan Toronto would increase its population from 8.8 to 33.5 million inhabitants; that metropolitan Montreal would expand from 4.4 to 12.2 million inhabitants; that metropolitan Vancouver would grow from 3.3 to 11.9 million inhabitants, etc. Several Canadian megacities would each have about the same population as some medium-sized independent countries.

[N.B.: On October 23, 2016, one of the co-founders of the 'Century Initiative' lobby, Toronto businessman Dominic Barton (1962- ), gave an interview to Global News in which he said: "It's a big number [100 million]—for me it's more than an ambitious number"... "It would obviously change the country considerably. It's a different vision... But I don't think it's madness!"]. Is this a hoax?

• Drawbacks and consequences of the 'Century Initiative' project

The implementation of the 'Century Initiative' project to triple the population of Canada in less than a century would result in numerous drawbacks and consequences, whether economic, political, social, cultural, linguistic, geographical or environmental.

Canada would suffer much more than a demographic shock. Indeed, besides profoundly upending the Canadian population, other impacts could be expected: more congestion, more pollution, increased diseconomies of scale with the overload of public services in health, education and transportation facilities, more ghettoization, more language conflicts, more crime, more insecurity, etc.

• Weaknesses in the main arguments of the 'Century Initiative' to triple the Canadian population

The two main arguments advanced by the lobby behind the 'Century Initiative' to triple the population of Canada in less than a century are:

1- Increase the political importance of Canada on the international scene, by ensuring that Canada is among the 45 most populous countries on the planet, by the year 2100;

2- Increase Canada's economic growth rate. This would be attained mainly through bloating the number of domestic consumers and workers through a program of mass immigration.

A question begs to be asked: Is 'bigness for bigness sake' a relevant reason to transform the demographic picture of Canada? Indeed, such an argument essentially rests on the dubious idea that the level of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and its bulimic growth should be front and center in matters of public policy. What about the quality of life, living standards of the population and their happiness?

There are several countries with a large population in the world, but they are often relatively poor, and their demographic weight does not necessarily translate into an enviable position on the international scene.

Short of wishing to become a heavily militarized empire, Canada already plays a relatively large role internationally. However, over the years, this role has been somewhat diminished from what it was under the government of Lester B. Pearson (1897-1972), the winner of the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize. It is not because of Canada's lack of demographic weight, but because the Canadian politicians who succeeded Pearson have not measured up. 

• With free trade, Canada does not need a very large population

Since January 1, 1989, Canada is in a position of free trade with the United States. Moreover, that agreement was enlarged to include Mexico in 1994.

In such a commercial environment, Canadian producers are by no means limited to the Canadian market to sell their products. They are able to reach high output levels, which generate economies of scale, by exporting part of their production to the American market. Similarly, Canadian consumers have access to imports from the United States, which increases the diversity of supplies and stabilizes prices.

• Living standards in the world are not linked to the demographic size of countries

A country's standard of living (GDP per capita) is hardly related to its demographic size. Rather, it would seem to be the opposite. This is clearly shown in the publications of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The UNDP publishes the Human Development Index (HDI), a global index ranking of countries according to the standard of living and quality of life of their inhabitants. This index shows the level of qualitative development (life expectancy, education, standard of living) of each country.

Barring exceptions, it is inevitably the small or medium-sized countries that occupy the first ranks, regarding the standard of living and the quality of life of the inhabitants, and not the most populated countries. In most cases, there is a negative relationship between the large demographic size of a country and their population's standard of living.

In 2019, for example, the top three countries for standard of living and quality of life all had less than 10 million inhabitants: Norway (pop. 5.3 million), Ireland (pop. 5.0 million) and Switzerland (pop. 8.5 million).

• Arguments related to the aging of the population and labor shortages

The 'Century Initiative' invokes two other arguments in favor of very high immigration levels. One is supposedly to compensate for the aging of the population (caused by a drop in the fertility rate and an increase in life expectancy). Another is to prevent a possible labor shortage cased partly by the retirement of the 'baby-boomers', that is, the population cohort born between 1945 and 1965 in Canada.

It is true that these two phenomena will require adjustments and complementary policies in the short and medium term, that is to say until around the year 2050, when the 'baby-boomer' cohort will have largely disappeared, but not necessarily in the very long term, stretched over a whole century.

For example, studies show that immigration as such does not substantially modify the age structure of a population, essentially because the majority of immigrants arrive in the country as adults and the family reunification program contributes by bringing in immigrants who are already elderly (spouses, parents, grand-parents, etc.).

On this topic, the demographic studies of Benoît Dubreuil and Guillaume Marois ('Le remède imaginaire'/The imaginary remedy) indicate that the contribution of immigration on a large scale is not necessarily a panacea for rejuvenating a population, and that it can sometimes accentuate its aging problem. Other studies come to the same conclusions, namely that it is impossible to reverse the aging of populations through a high level of immigration of foreign adults and elderly dependents.

• Means of mitigating the economic impact of an aging population through the year 2050

Other industrialized countries are facing the same problem of a demographic shock, and they resort to different means than relying on mass international immigration to deal with it.

For example, Japan is a prosperous industrial nation with an even older population than Canada, but it does not rely on international immigration to address the phenomenon.

Indeed, a country can instead put forward policies aimed at raising the fertility rate and the birth rate. Other policies may delay the retirement age in view of the increase in life expectancy. The same applies to measures to facilitate and increase the role of women in the labor force.

A government can encourage training in basic trades (computer specialists, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, technicians, etc.). In addition, as several companies are already doing, there is an opportunity to make greater use of robotics to perform labor-intensive tasks and raise productivity levels. And, ultimately, a selective immigration policy, based on identified economic needs, can rely on temporary foreign workers.

Regarding labor shortages, it is important to situate the issue in its overall economic context.

In theory, if a particular industry has a need for skilled workers, it is possible to adopt a temporary program to attract such workers from abroad. However, if one is talking about a generalized shortage of labor in the whole economy, which cannot be corrected through higher wages and training programs, that is quite another matter. On the one hand, if the rate of population growth naturally slows, consumption will also slow. The same would apply to some industries, which must adapt to a fluctuating demand or face increased competition with imports.

Moreover, as we saw earlier with the family reunification program, Canada imports many more consumers than workers with its mass immigration program. There is a danger of solving the problem of a labor shortage in one industry in particular, but simultaneously creating labor shortages in other industries, particularly in education and health sectors, in housing, in transport facilities and in private and public services and infrastructures in general. The economy could then face an endless spiral of labor shortages, with permanent tight labor markets that are created artificially and are inflated by a population that is growing too quickly through immigration.

• Political, linguistic and cultural impact on French-Canadians and on French Quebec

The 'Century Initiative' lobby seems unconcerned about the consequences of its extreme immigration project on French-Canadians in general, and on their status as a political majority in Quebec. If the Canadian government were to continue on the path of a "Canada of 100 million inhabitants" by resorting to an ultra-mass immigration policy, the place of French-Canadians in Canada could only decline dramatically over the coming decades.

It is a fact that during the 20th century, Canadian immigration policy has resulted in a continuous decline in the demographic and political weight of the French-speaking population. In 1941, the first language of 29.3 percent of the population was French. However, by 2016, it had fallen to 21 percent, a drop of more than eight percentage points in 75 years. If the 'Century Initiative' project is implemented, it is possible to foresee a fall at least as important during the next 75 years. The result would be a situation that would threaten the very viability and durability of the French language in Canada in the next century.

As far as Quebec is concerned (one of the four founding provinces of Canada in 1867), its demographic weight in Canada as a whole could fall to as low as 10 percent by the end of the century. And in Quebec itself, francophones could find themselves in a minority on the territory of their ancestors, for the first time in 500 years.

If the federal government under J. Trudeau continues to implicitly endorse the 'Century Initiative' project, such an extreme immigration policy is bound to de facto "marginalize" French-speaking Quebec and to weaken the place of French-Canadians in Canada.

[N.B.: Regarding the daily scandal of 'Chemin Roxham' (Roxham Road), the illegal border crossing in Quebec for tens of thousands of illegal immigrants and bogus refugees, with the help of professional smugglers—the only one of this nature in Canada—a solution must be found. In a democracy, if a government is unable to enforce the country's borders, its primary responsibility is to resign.]

Conclusion

When all is taken into consideration, the Canadian federal government should publicly reject the project of 'Century Initiative'. If, instead, it persists in finding inspiration for its immigration policy in the proposal of the Toronto group, the Canadian population will have to deal with a planned immigration tsunami in the future.

In a true democracy, the adoption of such a long-term public policy should be submitted to the people for approval. However, neither the proposal of Canada's 100 million inhabitants by the 'Century Initiative' lobby, nor the extreme immigration policy inspired by it, have been the subject of public debates or have been submitted to the population, either in a referendum or in a general election. This is a major breach of democracy.

___________________________________________________________



 International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book about morals "The code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles" of the book about geopolitics "The New American Empire", and the recent book, in French, "La régression tranquille du Québec, 1980-2018". He holds a Ph.D. in international finance from Stanford University.



Please visit Dr Tremblay's site or email to a friend here.

Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2022.

*** To receive new postings of Dr. Tremblay's articles, 
please send Subscribe, to carole.jean1@yahoo.ca
To unsubscribe, please send Unsubscribe, to carole.jean1@yahoo.ca
__________________________________________________________________________

© 2022 Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay







Thursday, March 3, 2022

The War between Russia and Ukraine has been Brewing Since 1991

 

Thursday, March 3, 2022

The War between Russia and Ukraine has been Brewing Since 1991

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the book about morals "The Code for Global Ethics" and his book about geopolitics "The New American Empire")

"I think it is the beginning of a new Cold War... I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way." George F. Kennan (1904-2005), American diplomat and historian, (in an interview with Thomas L. Friedman in the New York Times, May 2, 1998, about the U.S. expansion of NATO)

[NATO's goal is] "to keep the Russians out [of Europe], the Americans in and the Germans down." Hastings L. Ismay (1887-1965), first NATO Secretary-General (1952-1957)

"We [the State Department] have invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine." Victoria Nuland (1961- ), Under Secretary at the State Department, in a speech, Dec. 13, 2013.

"The North Atlantic Alliance continues to expand, despite all our protests and concerns... Despite all that, in December 2021, we made yet another attempt to reach agreement with the United States and its allies on the principles of European security and NATO's non-expansion. Our efforts were in vain... For the United States and its allies, it is a policy of containing Russia, with obvious geopolitical dividends. For our country, it is a matter of life and death, a matter of our historical future as a nation." Vladimir Putin (1952- ), Speech to the Nation, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022.

The tragic and illegal war of aggression launched by Russia (pop. 146 million) against Ukraine (pop. 44 million), its neighbor, on Thurs. February 24, 2022, has raised much emotion and many reactions in the West, and for good reasons.

Most people would much prefer that international conflicts between states be settled through diplomacy, or at the very least, through peaceful arbitration. Unfortunately for humanity, this is not yet the case. It is inadmissible that wars of aggression still rage today. In the end, it is ordinary people, the poor and the young, in particular, who end up paying, often with their lives, for the mistakes and failings of so called 'leaders'.

At a time when weapons are increasingly lethal and destructive, it would appear that there is no longer any credible arbiter in the world to avoid military conflicts. This makes for dangerous times.

Therefore, several questions come to mind.

Will Europe, which was a large battlefield in the first half of the 20th Century, become embroiled in military conflicts again, in the 21st Century? Has the United States, which controls NATO, pushed that alliance's expansion into Eastern Europe and Russia too far? Why do the institutions of peace that the world created after World War II seem to have withered away to the point of being incapable of preventing wars? Is it still possible to reform these institutions in order to prevent the world from falling back into the practices of past centuries?

Considering the complexity of today's world and the divergent interests involved, it could be useful to identify the main reasons for the deterioration of international order over more than the last quarter of a century, especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union, in December 1991.

• There is a clear danger of repeating the mistakes of the past in isolating countries from international life

The brinkmanship policy of isolating, humiliating and threatening foreign countries is a very dangerous approach in international relations. Such a policy, pursued against Germany by the French and other allied powers after World War I (1914-1918), through the imposition of heavy war reparation payments on Germany, is credited with having created the conditions that ultimately led to World War II (1939-1945).

Today, the world is again facing a European war between Russia and Ukraine, a war that should have been avoided, with a little more goodwill, leadership and perspicacity. Also, such a war of aggression illustrates very clearly how humanity risks returning to the geopolitical situation that prevailed before the Second World War.

It was a time when the League of Nations was paralyzed; much like the United Nations is today. It was also a time when major nations had been humiliated during the aftermath of World War I. They harbored resentment towards the victorious countries, which, in their eyes, only looked after their own narrow interests.

Let us remember that the United Nations was created in 1945 to prevent wars. But in the 21st Century, wars of aggression are still with us. Only during the past twenty years, the world has seen two major wars of aggression, both illegal under the U.N. Charter: the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, by the United States and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24 of this year.

This may be an indication that the politico-legal system put in place in 1945 to prevent war is not working, at a time in human history when a war involving nuclear weapons could be more than catastrophic.

• The dangerous mentality prevailing today at the State and Defense Departments in the U.S.

Analysts and decision makers at the U.S. State Department and at the Pentagon rely on war games with simulations of military strategies of action-reaction, using computers, as if foreign policy were a kind of video game. That leaves little space for rational thinking, human feelings and imagination.

Relying on such 'games' is very dangerous because such a use of programmed computers could lead to huge mistakes in real life, and because they can make destructive military hostilities seem trivial and inconsequential.

• NATO as a substitute to the United Nations

After the fall of the USSR, in 1991, some so-called 'planners' in the American government saw an opportunity to place the U.S. government as the sole arbiter of international foreign relations in the post-Cold War world. They viewed the United Nations as a cumbersome body where five countries (USA, Russia, China, U.K. and France) held sway over the U.N. Security Council with their veto.

The idea was to rely on the 'defensive' NATO, created in 1949 to secure peace in Europe, with the goal of countering the threat posed then by the Soviet Union. It was believed, no doubt rightly, that NATO would be more favorable than the U.N. to U.S. interventions in the world. However, contrary to the U.N., NATO is a war machine, which has no legitimate mechanism to bring about peace.

Even though in the past the U.S. government has often had the backing of the United Nations for its interventions abroad, humanitarian as well as military—the Korean War (1950-1953) was a good example of the latter—things changed in 1999. Then, under President Bill Clinton, U.S. Armed Forces started a bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, under the NATO flag, but without the authorization of the U.N. Security Council. This was a precedent.

Since that questionable decision, all U.S. military interventions abroad have been conducted under the cover of NATO, and not under the U.N. Charter. And that is where the world stands today.

• Why the beleaguered Russia is in a position similar to defeated Germany in the 1930's

The shock of the fall of the Soviet Union was to Russia what the shock suffered after its defeat in the First World War was for Germany. In both cases, these involved large populations subjected to foreign interference, lasting several years. The interests of these two countries were ignored in the new international order.

The fall of the Soviet Union raised two fundamental questions. The first: What would become of the two military defense alliances, the Warsaw Pact of 1955 and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) of 1949? Both were organizations of mutual assistance, mainly military, against each other during a period of Cold War (1945-1989). The second: How to achieve the reunification of West Germany and the German Democratic Republic (GDR)?

From a geopolitical standpoint, these two questions were interrelated, especially from a Russian point of view. Russia conserves the historical memory of having been invaded by two great armies, by France under Napoleon, in 1812, and by Germany under Hitler, in 1941.

The fall of the Soviet Union meant the automatic dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Would the same be true of NATO? Not necessarily.

Indeed, for the U.S. government, NATO was its main source of influence in Western Europe. Containing the Soviet Union was not the only objective in creating NATO. Therefore, the George H.W. Bush administration and its Secretary of State, James Baker, had no intention of dismantling NATO.

On the Russian side, the position was that if NATO continued to exist, either as a defensive or an offensive military alliance, it was essential that it commit to not expanding into Eastern Europe and not threaten Russia.

Declassified documents show that the government of George H.W. Bush, through his Secretary of State James Baker, and the governments of major member nations of the alliance, were willing to promise the Russian government that NATO would not expand into Eastern Europe, as long as the Russian government accepted the reunification of the two Germanys (1990-1991). History has recorded the colorful expression of James Baker, on February 9, 1990, to the effect that NATO would not expand "one inch Eastward".

• The growing influence of neoconservatives (neocons) in U.S. foreign policy

American foreign policy changed dramatically in the 1990's, notably under the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton (1993-2001), and even more so under the Republican administration of George W. Bush (2001-2009).

Even though President George H.W. Bush used to dismiss the neocons, at least those working in the U.S. government, as "the crazies in the basement" a small group of them did succeed in dominating American foreign policy later on. Their ideas provided the foundations of 'The New American Empire', (which is also the title of a book I wrote in 2004).

The neocon hegemonic mantra was very simple: The United States should take advantage of the demise of the Soviet Union and of its unparalleled military power to impose a "Pax Americana" similar to the Pax Romana during the Roman Empire.

In short, the United States must take advantage of its status as the undisputed military superpower in a unipolar world and adopt a very interventionist foreign policy, while putting emphasis on "national greatness". And above all, they rejected any policy of accommodation or détente with Russia, just as they had done toward the USSR.

Armed with this doctrine, subsequent U.S. administrations, from the Bill Clinton administration on, have more or less followed its dictates. In particular, they have de facto abandoned the U.N. as the arbiter of world peace, and instead have increasingly relied on NATO to impose a Pax Americana.

• The coup that overthrew the Ukrainian government in 2014

There is an important event not to forget. In 2014, there was a coup in Ukraine that overthrew the pro-Russian government of President Viktor Yanukovych, elected four years earlier, with strong support from the Russian-speaking population in the eastern part of the country.

The above quote of American Under Secretary of State for European Affairs, Victoria Nuland, would indicate that the U.S. government had spent billions of dollars to support various organizations in Ukraine.

In the fall of 2013, a protest movement called the 'Maidan Revolution' began peacefully in Kiev, the country's capital. The protestations were directed against the Ukrainian government and its refusal to sign a bilateral commercial trade agreement with the European Union. However, things escalated when initially peaceful protests turned violent, in February 2014. Then, despite elections being scheduled for May of the same year, the Ukrainian parliament summarily dismissed the incumbent president and formed a new government.

That episode may help in understanding the future turn of events in Ukraine.

• The war between Russia and Ukraine is to a large extent a response to the progressive military encirclement of Russia by NATO

Since 1991, Russia has opposed NATO's eastward expansion and has many times requested security guarantees that this would not happen.

Nevertheless, in spite of promises made by the George H.W. Bush administration and other governments, some subsequent U.S. administrations did go ahead and expand NATO eastward.

For instance, in 1999, the Clinton administration accepted that Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic join NATO. In 2002, George W. Bush accepted seven more eastern countries (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) into NATO. In 2009, it was Albania and Croatia's turn to join. The most recent adhesions to NATO are Montenegro, in 2017, and North Macedonia, in 2020.

Things went even further when, in December 2014, the Ukrainian parliament voted to renounce its non-aligned status, a step harshly condemned by its neighbor Russia. Ukraine—a former Soviet republic, which became independent in 1991—has made it clear that it wishes to join NATO. And more recently, in 2021, Ukraine became an official candidate for NATO membership. The rest is history.

• Conclusion


In these troubled times, an outside and independent moral authority should perhaps intervene to prevent the world from falling into the abyss of military conflicts. Possibly, an invitation could be made to either the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, or to Pope Francis, to serve as conciliator, in order to stop the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, before the Ukrainian people suffer irreparable loses, and before other countries intervene and turn the conflict into a world war.

And afterwards, the world had better recapture the spirit of 1945 and set about reforming its international institutions so that they are truly capable of preventing destructive wars, not in theory but in practice.


__________________________________________



 International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book about morals "The code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles" of the book about geopolitics "The New American Empire", and the recent book, in French, "La régression tranquille du Québec, 1980-2018". He holds a Ph.D. in international finance from Stanford University.



Please visit Dr Tremblay's site or email to a friend here.

Posted Thursday, March 3, 2022.

*** To receive new postings of Dr. Tremblay's articles, 
please send Subscribe, to carole.jean1@yahoo.ca
To unsubscribe, please send Unsubscribe, to carole.jean1@yahoo.ca
__________________________________________________________

© 2022 Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay





Thursday, January 6, 2022

The United States: A Push Toward Moral Decline, Political Extremism, Political Divisions and Violence?

By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the book about morals "The Code for Global Ethics" and his book about geopolitics "The New American Empire")

"Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of a private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism—ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd American President (1933-1945). (in 'Message to Congress on Curbing Monopolies', April 29, 1938)

"The flood of money that gushes into politics today is a pollution of democracy."
Theodore H. White (1915-1984), American political journalist, historian and novelist, (in Time magazine, Nov. 19, 1984)

"Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?" A Republic, if you can keep it".
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American inventor and U.S. Founding Father. (An answer to a lady's question at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787)

Poll after poll indicates very deep political divisions among Americans, with indications that such divisions are deepening, and even widening as a consequence of the the pandemic. Indeed, according to the most recent NPR/Ipsos poll, seven in ten Americans believe the country is in crisis and is at risk of failing.

Why so much pessimism and such disintegration?

· Major shifts in domestic policies over the last 40 years

Over the last four decades, there have been two important structural shifts in the U.S. that have profoundly changed the functioning of its political and social systems in a most negative way.

The first was the decision by the Reagan administration (1981-1989) to open American airwaves to extremist political groups. Indeed, in 1986, the Reagan administration and the Federal Communications Commission (FFC) abolished the 1949 Fairness Doctrine rule in licensing the airwaves to radio and television operators. That policy required the  holders of broadcast licenses both to "present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was honest, equitable, and balanced." The policy was formerly repealed in 1987.

Secondly, on January 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court made a controversial decision regarding the role of money in politics. Indeed, the court issued a 5-4 decision in favor of a plaintiff, Citizens United, which struck down restrictions on the amounts of money spent in the political arena by corporations, including nonprofit corporations, labor unions, and other associations, by declaring that "money is speech", which could not be regulated under the First Amendment.

That 2010 Supreme Court decision was an important break with the past, because it reversed century-old campaign finance restrictions, and it has enabled corporations and other special interest groups to spend unlimited amounts of money in American elections.

To the traditional rule of "one person, one vote", expressing the principle that citizens should have equal representation in voting, the U.S. Supreme Court has, in fact, added the rule of "one dollar-one voice" for corporations, nonprofit organizations and labor unions. The more dollars an outfit has, the stronger is its political voice and its political influence. As a consequence, this has moved the American electoral system closer to a de facto plutocracy and power politics for the super-rich and special interests. As former president Jimmy Carter (1924- ) said in 2015, the United States is now "an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery". 

These two influential decisions, in 1986 and in 2010—coupled with friendly fiscal measures by the U.S. government and an ultra-loose monetary policy pursued by the Fed in the aftermath of the 2007-08 financial crisis and during the 2020-22 pandemic—have been instrumental in entrenching the money oligarchy and the special interests of the ultra-rich in the United States. Their increased wealth has given them a dominant control over the political propaganda machine (print and electronic media), over the electoral process and the overall functioning of public institutions.

· Income and wealth inequalities are high and increasing in the U.S.

Income and wealth inequalities in the United States are presently more severely skewed in favor of upper-income Americans than over the last 50 years, while the U.S. middle class, where a clear majority of Americans used to belong, is shrinking. For instance, according to the Pew Research Center analysis, the relative share of U.S. aggregate income of American adults in the middle class fell from 62 percent in 1970 to 43 percent in 2018—a significant drop. During the same period, the share of upper-income Americans rose from 29 percent in 1970 to 48 percent in 2018. Even the share of lower income Americans has fallen from 10 percent to 9 percent.

The shifts in U.S. aggregate wealth among upper-income families and middle- and lower-income families have been even more pronounced than income inequality and are growing since the early '80s. 

For example, also from Pew Research, the share of American wealth held by upper-income families was 75 percent in 1983, but surged to 87 percent in 2016. Middle-income families and lower-income families saw their share of U.S. wealth decline. The former's share fell from 22.3 percent in 1983 to 11.8 percent in 2016, while the latter saw their share of wealth fall from 2.7 percent in 1983 to 1.2 percent in 2016.

Many factors can explain such a significant shift in the relative shares of income and wealth over the last half-century, in the United States, but also in the most advanced economies in Europe, in Canada and in Australia, in a less profound way.

The most relevant are: 

The process of rapid technological changes, deregulation and the rise of new industries have produced a profound transformation in the way communications and information in general are being transmitted almost instantaneously, through a proliferation of television and radio networks and computer networks.

In this new context, unscrupulous media won't hesitate to suppress information and offer superficial or biased analyses, going as far as to generate disinformation and fake news, where facts are denied and lies glorified. For this purpose, they can resort to psychological manipulation through the propaganda technique of the 'Big Lie'. In so doing, they can profoundly influence the masses in a chosen direction. This has opened the gates to demagoguery.

The advent of social media, for instance, was made possible by the Internet, with the support of ever more powerful microprocessors, and by interconnected computer networks. This is the technology that has allowed for the creation of numerous social communication platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and which have generated enormous personal wealth for some individuals.

The development of a more globalized economy has also transferred political power in favor of multinational corporations and banks, at the expense of national governments. Indeed, in the mid-1990s, there was an acceleration of economic and financial globalization, when low cost communication networks intensified the international movements not only of goods and services through cross-border trade, but also of financial capital and direct investment, work and technology, from high wage countries to lower wage economies.

Also, in many advanced economies, there was a relative institutional decline of labor unions, and this played a role in widening the gap between more skilled and less skilled workers and in enlarging the gap between the rich and poor.

Governments have also played an important role in exacerbating income and wealth disparities through fiscal policies, which lowered taxes on high incomes and transferred subsidies and grants to the wealthy. This has also been the case with monetary policies, which have created financial bubbles in the real estate markets and in the stock market, thus favoring the wealthiest among owners.

One must also add the policies of mass immigration pursued by certain governments, which have had a disproportionate negative impact on low-wage earners, especially when such policies increase the competition between less skilled workers.

It is not surprising that all these important technological and economic transformations, and the concomitant shifts in income and wealth disparities, have created political and social resentment among many low-income earners. They strongly resent being pitted against low-wage earners in less developed countries through free trade and more imports of labor-intensive goods, and, at home, through mass immigration. For these workers, it's a double whammy.

A substantial part of the current divisiveness and the refusal to compromise observed in the U.S. can be traced back to this increasing trend toward income and wealth inequalities between high income earners and low income earners.

· Violence and civil tensions are on the rise in the U.S.

Money and guns seem to be the modern gods of America. [N.B.: In June 2018, a Small Arms Survey estimated that there were 393.3 million guns, some military guns, in civilian hands in the United States, i.e. 120.5 guns per 100 inhabitants.]

This could explain why violence of Americans against other Americans seems to be so deadly, and while this is increasing and even encouraged in some quarters. In only one year, in 2020, there were some 43,000 people killed by firearms in the United States, an average of over 100 deaths per day.

Politically, the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, on January 6, 2021, failed in its objective of reversing the democratic results of the November 3rd 2020 election. However, evidence mounts that such a full-fledged and seditions attempted coup d'état had been well organized and planned in advance.

If so, this is likely to be a harbinger of unsavory things to come for the United States. About one third of Americans now think that violence against the government can be justified. Some observers are not even excluding a possible new civil war. They are troubled by the fact that the Pentagon pays to broadcast the conspiracy-prone Fox News network to its 800 bases around the world. 

Domestically, some instances of economic anarchy have occurred in the San Francisco Bay area, where organized mobs have been charging and looting stores. It would not be a surprise to see such a phenomenon spreading to other large American cities, especially if a serious economic recession were to follow the current financial excesses.

Conclusion

In matters of politics and social affairs, wisdom calls for ruling at the center in order to unite rather than divide. Governing for extremist interests, either left or right, only encourages the fragmentation of a nation.

Currently, several indicators show that the United States has entered a phase of internal self-destruction, due to a series of political, economic and technological factors, and because of all the disruptions that ensue, some of which have been exacerbated by the on-going pandemic.

If the United States were to continue on the same path of extreme political divisiveness, social disintegration, hatred between groups and dangerous economic inequalities, this could have profound consequences for itself and for its democracy, of course, but also for the entire world.

The end result of it all could be more moral decline, more political extremism and gridlock, more costly conflicts abroad and more violence at home. This does not bode well for the future.

__________________________________________



International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book about morals "The code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles" of the book about geopolitics "The New American Empire", and the recent book , in French, "La régression tranquille du Québec, 1980-2018". He holds a Ph.D. in international finance from Stanford University.



NOTE: Professor Tremblay's articles may be reproduced without charge by non-profit sites, provided they are complete and the source and author's name are clearly indicated. For commercial reproduction in a magazine or book or on line, it is necessary to obtain the express permission of the author (rodrigue.tremblay1@gmail.com) or his assistant (carole.jean1@yahoo.ca).

Please visit Dr Tremblay's site or email to a friend here.

Posted Thursday, January 6, 2022.

*** To receive new postings of Dr. Tremblay's articles, 
please send Subscribe, to carole.jean1@yahoo.ca
To unsubscribe, please send Unsubscribe, to carole.jean1@yahoo.ca
__________________________________________________________

© 2022 Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay



Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Is Today's Canada a True Democracy?

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2022!


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Year-end thoughts: Is Today's Canada a True Democracy?

Some people allege that Canada is a democracy. Let us look more closely.

• Canada has an unelected Head of State who is a foreign Monarch, named for life. That sounds very much like the Middle ages, doesn't it?

• Just as in the U.K., Canada also has an unelected 'Chamber of Lords', called the 'Senate' in Canada, where the oligarchy that rules Canada from Toronto and Ottawa places the servants of the system to oversee the elected House of Commons and amend or reject laws it doesn't approve of.

• The Canadian government can function after only receiving some 20 percent of support from the electorate, as is the case with the current minority liberal government, and still contend that it has a 'mandate' to change Canada profoundly. 

• The Canadian confederation has been substantially centralized since the fundamental changes made to the Canadian Constitution by politicians—without a referendum—in 1982. Canadian provincial governments, which previously had exclusive rights in the 1867 Constitution, such as the Quebec government regarding language, culture and education, have been forcefully placed under the tutelage of unelected judges named and paid solely by the federal government.

• Indeed, to complete this pyramid of power, Canada has a Supreme Court and other federal courts, filled with lawyers, among whom some have donated or rendered services to the party in power. These courts can not only revise the form of laws, but also change them substantially, or annul laws that have been democratically voted by governments, especially by provincial governments.

• And to top it all off, the Canadian federal government owns and operates its own radio and TV networks, in French and in English, which can spew out government propaganda at will.

A democracy? Canada's system of government is, at best, closer to being an oligarchic form of government, in which ordinary citizens do not have much to say, because the pyramid of power is inverted with the ultimate political power at the top, and not at the level of the sovereign people. We are far from a system of government "of the people, by the people, and for the people", in which the supreme political power in society rests with the citizens.

__________________________________________

P.S. We could add that the Canadian federal government has access to its own central bank, which can print money at will and impose a stealth inflation tax on the people.

__________________________________________




Professor Rodrigue Tremblay, 
emeritus professor of economics, 
Université de Montréal


Monday, November 1, 2021


The 'Night of the Long Knives' of November 4-5, 1981, and the Canadian Federal Constitutional 'coup de force' of 1981-1982 Against Quebec*

By Rodrigue Tremblay, professor emeritus of the University of Montreal and former minister

"One of the saddest constancies in the conduct of those in power is the utter inability that they all seem to acquire to admit the slightest mistake. They prefer to stumble of "run away" rather than simply admitting that they were wrong, that is to say that they are human. René Lévesque, Le Journal de Montréal, Dec. 1970.

"There were indications and polls that the government had for several months, and in most cases, they raised fears of a defeat of the sovereignist option. Nevertheless, the Parti Québécois had decided without possibility of repeal, and whatever the circumstances, that the consultation would take place during its first term. Wanting to give itself an obligation of result, the party created a calendar obligation!" Claude Morin, Les prophètes désarmés, Boréal, 2001, p. 209-210.

"In the assault on Québec by Ottawa in early November 1981, the aggressor was Pierre Elliott Trudeau... The gravedigger of Quebec's veto power was ultimately the current Prime Minister of Canada. — The justifications that Mr. Trudeau multiplies on this subject are pure intellectual boasting, a lying demagoguery." Claude Ryan, Le Devoir, Dec. 1982.

November 4-5 marks the 40th anniversary of events that have profoundly impacted the history of Quebec and its place in the Canadian Confederation.

It was, indeed, during the night of November 4-5, 1981, that secret negotiations—which took place at the Château Laurier in Ottawa, between the Canadian federal government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1919-2000) and the premiers of the nine English-speaking provinces, but in the absence and without the knowledge of the government of Quebec—led to the acceptance by the former of the constitutional project of the sitting Canadian Prime Minister. 

The entire constitutional process was a failure of democracy. The Canadian government did not hold any pan-Canadian referendum, or even a special election, to obtain the approval of the sovereign people for its 1981 constitutional project, which was subsequently incorporated into the Constitution Act of 1982, and which was never signed by the Quebec government.

In addition, Mr. Trudeau's project did not include, as had been promised during the 1980 Quebec referendum campaign, that the insertion of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Canadian Constitution would take into account the "distinct French character of the Quebec society" and that the government of Quebec had the responsibility to protect and promote this distinctiveness, while respecting fundamental freedoms.

• The thread of events that led to the exclusion of Quebec from the 1981 constitutional agreement and the Constitution Act of 1982

What triggered the Canadian constitutional negotiations process was the decision of the Government of Quebec to hold a constitutional referendum on May 20, 1980, in the hope of obtaining a 'mandate to negotiate, on an equal footing, a new constitutional agreement between Quebec and the rest of Canada', according to the principle of the right of peoples to self-determination.

However, a number of important political events occurred in Quebec in the winter and spring of 1980, after the referendum question was adopted, on December 20, 1979.

First, federal elections were held on February 18, 1980. The results gave strong electoral support to Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who regained the post of Prime Minister. The Liberal Party of Canada (PLC) obtained 68.2% of the votes in Quebec and elected members in 74 of the 75 Quebec ridings.

Second, the federal government decided to get directly and massively involved in the Quebec referendum campaign by holding debates in the House of Commons on the Quebec government's proposals, beginning on April 15, 1980.

The debates in Ottawa spanned two weeks, and they allowed Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau to partially eclipse Claude Ryan, the leader of the "No" campaign. Trudeau personally intervened also on April 25, 1980, when he wrote an 'open letter to Quebecers', in which he promised that he would do everything in his power "to reform the Canadian Constitution" in the event of a victory of the "No", but without specifying the content and direction of such a reform.

Indeed, Mr. Trudeau did not explicitly state whether such a reform would go in the direction of the nine autonomist recommendations for a 'renewed federalism' proposed by Claude Ryan, even if many Quebecers believed that this was going to be the case. The proposals of the "No" camp had been made explicit in a constitutional policy document called the Beige Book, which the PLQ published on January 9, 1980. These proposals were presented as an alternative to the manifesto of the "Yes" campaign entitled 'Equal to Equal'.

Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau was not registered with the "No" committee, as made mandatory by the provisions of the Quebec Referendum Act that tightly restricted all campaigning to the designated "Yes" and "No" committees with set budgets. Nevertheless, Trudeau intervened during an important rally for the "No" camp on May 14, just days before the vote, and made commitments that strongly contributed to the defeat of the "Yes" option.

Trudeau announced:

"If the answer to the referendum question is NO, we have all said that this NO will be interpreted as a mandate to change the Constitution, to renew federalism. I make a most solemn commitment that following a NO vote, we will immediately take action to renew the Constitution and we will not stop until we have done it. I make a solemn declaration to all Canadians in the other provinces. We, the Québec MPs, are laying ourselves on the line, because we are telling Quebecers to vote NO; [...] and we will not agree to your interpreting a NO vote as an indication that everything is fine and can remain as it was before."

In the end, on May 20, 1980, the constitutional mandate sought by the Lévesque government was rejected with a "No" vote of 59.56% against a "Yes" vote of 40.44%.

• The consequences of the 1980 referendum defeat for the Lévesque government and for Quebec

After its defeat, the Lévesque government made a number of strategic mistakes vis-à-vis the Canadian federal government, which had emerged as the big winner in the referendum fight, and which wanted to go ahead with constitutional changes as soon as possible.

The Lévesque government did not offer its resignation. Indeed, a government that loses a plebiscite must normally resign, because a plebiscite defeat is, in some ways, more important than an electoral defeat. To everyone's surprise, the Lévesque government did nothing. It acted as if such a defeat was a minor setback and that it could remain—even without a mandate—Quebec's negotiator vis-à-vis the Canadian government.

Even after Pierre Elliott Trudeau published his "open letter to Quebecers", on July 15, 1980, in which he admitted, not without a certain arrogance, that the "constitutional changes"  to come would go int the direction of a centralized and unitary Canadian federalism, the Lévesque government stayed pat. It made no protest against what appeared to be a clear betrayal of the promises made implicitly and explicitly during the referendum campaign.

When the Prime Minister of Quebec attended the first federal-provincial conference, held in Ottawa on September 15, 1980, to officially begin major negotiations on upcoming constitutional changes, he could not claim to have a mandate to propose constitutional changes in the name of the people of Quebec, since such a mandate had been refused.

Similarly, when the Supreme Court of Canada, chaired by Bora Laskin (1912-1984), a personal friend of the Canadian Prime Minister, ruled on September 28, 1981, that the Trudeau government only needed the support of a "sufficient number" of provincial governments to proceed with its constitutional reformand not their unanimous acceptance, as had been the case before—the government of Quebec found itself quite helpless and in a position of great vulnerability.

Indeed, the Lévesque government's strategy to oppose the federal government's unilateral constitutional goals consisted in joining with seven other English provincial governments to form the so-called Group of Eight.

However, this interprovincial opposition front was very fragile and in serious danger of collapsing, as a result of the complacent interpretation by the Supreme Court of Canada. Indeed, it was obvious that the Trudeau government had only to agree to the few requests from the English-speaking provinces to secure their support.

This was made all the easier since, without having previously consulted his colleagues in the Group of Eight, Prime Minister Lévesque had openly accepted Pierre Elliott Trudeau's trap proposal to hold a double pan-Canadian referendum on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and on an amendment process, an idea that profoundly displeased the English-speaking premiers and which they would want to avoid at all costs.

The breakup of the Group of Eight occurred on the night of November 4-5, 1981... and we know the rest.

• The consequences of the federal constitutional coup de force of 1981-1982 for the people of Quebec and for the French-Canadian nation

Three major consequences for the people of Quebec and for the French-Canadian nation as a whole followed the federal constitutional coup of 1981-1982.

1- Quebec's elected Parliament has since been placed under the arbitrary tutelage of a "government of judges", unelected and appointed by the sole Canadian government. [N.B.: In the German federal system, for example, the members of the German Constitutional Court are appointed equally by the Bundestag (the German parliament) and by the Bundesrat (a council of ministers of the Länders, or provinces)].

In such a context, it has become problematic for the Quebec government to legislate in the areas of language, culture, secularism and education, all domains that in the past fell under its exclusive jurisdiction. The most obvious example is the Charter of the French language, better know as "Bill 101", which was amputated of large provisions at the hands of federal courts.

2- Insertion of the political ideology of multiculturalism in the constitutional Act of 1982, (N.B.: Canada is the only country in the world which has put such a political ideology in its constitution), coupled with the adoption of a federal policy of super massive immigration and of population replacement overwhelmingly biased towards English Canada. Ultimately, the latter policy poses a threat to the relative political power and the the very survival of the French-Canadian nation.

3- A move toward increased political centralization at the federal level tends to de facto make Quebec—the only state where francophones form a majority in North America—a domestic colony, subject to the political diktats of English Canada. The result is a major breach of history and democracy.

Conclusion

The constitutional changes leading to an agreement during the 'Night of the Long Knives' on November 4-5, 1981, in spite of the formal opposition of the Quebec government, and which were subsequently introduced into the constitutional Act of 1982, have considerably reduced the sovereignty of the Parliament of Quebec in its areas of its competence.

Because of the new Canadian constitutional context imposed upon Quebec in the post-1982 period, the Quebec government is facing many obstacles in its primary mission to preserve Quebec's future as the only majority French-speaking society in North America.

______________________________________

* This text is partly drawn from the author's book in French: « La régression tranquille du Québec 1980-2018 », Montréal, Fides, 2018, 344 p.

______________________________________



International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book about morals "The code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles" of the book about geopolitics "The New American Empire", and the recent book , in French, "La régression tranquille du Québec, 1980-2018". He holds a Ph.D. in international finance from Stanford University.


Please visit Dr Tremblay's site or email to a friend here.

Posted Monday, November 1, 2021.

*** To receive new postings of Dr. Tremblay's articles, 
please send Subscribe, to carole.jean1@yahoo.ca
To unsubscribe, please send Unsubscribe, to carole.jean1@yahoo.ca
__________________________________________________________

© 2021 Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay





Monday, September 6, 2021

Disorderly Retreat from Afghanistan: The U.S. has become an Overextended Military Empire posing a Serious Threat to its long-term Security

 Disorderly Retreat from Afghanistan: The U.S. has become an Overextended Military Empire posing a Serious Threat to its long-term Security


By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay

(Author of the book about morals "The Code for Global Ethics" and his book about geopolitics "The New American Empire")

"If a state overextends itself strategically—by, say, the conquest of extensive territories or the waging of costly wars—it runs the risk that the potential benefits from external expansion may be outweighed by the great expense of it all." Paul Kennedy (1945- ), British historian, (in 'The Rise and Fall  of the Great Powers', 1987)

"As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize—or do not want to recognize—that the United States dominates the world through its military power. Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire—an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class." Chalmers Johnson (1931-2010), American author and professor of political science, (in an article in TomDispatch, 'America's Empire of Bases', Jan. 15, 2004).

"The task facing American statesmen over the next decades, therefore, is to recognize that broad trends are under way, and that there is a need to "manage" affairs so that the relative erosion of the United States' position takes place slowly and smoothly, and is not accelerated by policies which bring merely short-term advantage but longer-term disadvantage." Paul Kennedy (1945- ) British historian, (in 'The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers', 1987).

In 1987, British historian Paul Kennedy (1945- ) wrote a geopolitical book about how great powers rise and fall, in which he studied how economic and military factors can accompany or cause previously dominant  nations to lose their great power status. His main conclusion is that sooner or later a great hegemonic power will become overextended and its economy will struggle to keep its big military machine going. Indeed, an empire can increase its resources by launching wars abroad, at least for a while. However, sooner or later, a situation of permanent war and the military occupation of foreign lands result in more costs than benefits.

There are 193 countries that are members of the United Nations. But one country, the United States, operates an extended network of hundreds of military bases around the world, by far more than all the other countries taken together. Professor David Vine, in his 2020 book "The United States of War" established the total number of American military bases overseas to be close to 800 bases in more than 70 countries. This is enough to place the United States as the first truly global military empire in the history of the world.

Such a widespread collection of foreign military bases has two main consequences. First, it makes sure that the United States is likely to get involved in many foreign conflicts. And, second, it requires an important chunk of the U.S. public budget to be allocated to maintaining such a large military apparatus.

As a matter of fact, in the proposed total 2021-2022 U.S. budget ($6.8 trillion, of which $3.0 trillion or 44% is a deficit), $740 billion is allocated to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). However, U.S. military expenditures are much higher than those allocated to the Pentagon. For instance, the 2021 proposed budget for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) amounts to $243 billion. One must also add the nearly $100 billion that the U.S. Department of the Treasury spends on pensions for retired military personnel. Then there is the C.I.A. budget, which was $85.8 billion in 2020 and might possibly be higher in 2021. This amounts to $1,168.8 billion of military-related expenditures, or more than 17% of the total U.S. budget for 2021-2022.

· The overload of the office of American president

For many people, the American debacle in Afghanistan would seem to be proof that President Joe Biden is inept and incompetent, and that his advisers are clueless when it comes to making good decisions and to properly assessing a situation. This is a somewhat unfair appreciation of the circumstances. They are neither imbecile nor incompetent, but they could be overworked and distracted.

In fact, a case can be made that the function of American president has increasingly become way too complex and demanding for a single individual to handle, especially since the United States has assumed a global military role. The U.S. president has only twenty-four hours in his day like anybody else.

Indeed, the American head of state is obliged to manage a huge bureaucracy; he must tackle important domestic issues (pandemic, budget, Congress, etc.); and, as if this were not enough, he must also play the role of an emperor on the international scene and deal with Iran, China, Taiwan, Russia, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Israel, when not with North Korea, Somalia or Ukraine, etc. At the same time, the few trusted advisers who assist him are called upon to tackle many issues simultaneously. The president and his advisers can easily get distracted by the multitude of international problems that confront their administration.

· The United States and the fall of Saigon in 1975 and of Kabul in 2021

It may be informative to compare two important American military failures, in 1975 and in 2021

· The fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975

The first instance when a major military expedition turned into a genuine fiasco for the United States occurred in 1975, with the fall of Saigon, capital of South Vietnam. The city could no longer benefit from the protection offered by the US Air Force, since an agreement to withdraw American forces had been concluded two years earlier. The date of April 30, 1975, marks the hasty and chaotic withdrawal of the last 6,000 Americans to leave SouthVietnam along with 50,000 Vietnamese, after Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese army.

Indeed, it's very important to underline that in Paris, on January 27, 1973, the American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger signed an armistice treaty, called the Paris Peace Agreement. This agreement was concluded between the United States and South Vietnam, on the one hand, and the northern Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) and the Viet Cong, on the other hand. The agreement called for "an immediate cease-fire, the withdrawal of American military personnel within two months, the release of American prisoners, the end of the bombardments and the reunification of Vietnam by peaceful means."

The goal was to allow the United States to extricate itself "with honor" from the Vietnamese quagmire. However, it was nothing more than a soft surrender on the part of the United States. The "peaceful reunification" clause between the North and South Vietnams was untenable. It was, in fact, not respected by the DRV and its allies, even if it was paramount to the Nixon administration.

· The fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021

The parallel between the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, and the fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021, is troubling. In both cases, the U.S. government had previously entered into an agreement with the enemy to withdraw its armed forces from the country, leaving the government in place without military air protection. Similarly, in both cases, the withdrawal of American civilians and local allies took place in an atmosphere of haste and chaos.

The difference between the two is that in the case of Afghanistan, Donald Trump's administration left the Afghan governmentand even NATO alliesoutside of the negotiation process. The Trump administration signed an Accord of armistice with the Taliban, on February 29, 2020, in Doha, Qatar. The so-called "deal" was signed between American Special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad (under the supervision of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo) and the Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

The glaring absence of the Afghan government at the negotiating table greatly undermined its credibility. The fateful date of February 29, 2020, also marks the beginning of the demoralization and disintegration of the Afghan army, which felt abandoned and which could henceforth anticipate losing US military air cover and assistance in their fight against the Taliban.

The Feb. 2020 Trump-Taliban agreement called for the United States to reduce its forces from 13,000 to 8,600 over the next three to four months, with the remaining U.S. forces to be withdrawn in the following 14 months, or by May 1, 2021.

For their part, the Taliban pledged to put an end to attacks against American and coalition forces ❲but not against the Afghan army❳, prevent terrorism, including the obligation to renounce al-Qaida and "prevent this group or others from using Afghan soil to prepare attacks against the United States or its allies."

Trump's former Security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, has since called Trump's "deal" with the Taliban a "capitulation deal", because it was clearly paving the way for the Taliban to regain power in Kabul. As McMaster put it, "The Taliban didn't defeat us. We defeated ourselves!"

· A joint responsibility Trump-Biden for the 2020-2021 Afghan disaster

Initiated in October 2001, by Republican George W. Bush, both incumbent Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump wanted to end the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, without paying too much attention to the consequences. They believed that a military withdrawal without conditions could be done smoothly, and they counted on the collaboration of the Taliban to do so. —This was largely wishful thinking.

President Joe Biden was anxious to focus more on the current frictions that the United States has with Iran, China and Russia, and he endorsed the agreement reached by Donald Trump's government in February 2020, for a complete and definitive withdrawal of the American military forces from Afghanistan, no later than May 1, 2021.

He announced his decision on April 14, 2021. i.e. that the U.S. and NATO troops were going "to be out of Afghanistan before we mark the 20th anniversary of that heinous attack on September 11th", and that he was pushing back the final date for a complete withdrawal to August 31, 2021.

The option of extending the presence of a reduced U.S. military mission in Afghanistan until the country was truly stabilized and that there would be no possibility for a resurgence of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS)—and above all the Islamic State group in Khorasan (ISIS-K), as suggested by former American officials—was not retained.

Let's add that the Biden administration left behind billions of dollars of military equipment recuperated by the Taliban!

Neither Trump nor Biden figured out that this would betray twenty years of a direct American commitment in Afghanistan, and that a complete and precipitous military exit would leave many thousands of Afghans who had worked for the U.S. government in clear danger for their lives. Similarly, they didn't seem to have considered the worst-case scenario: that the Taliban would rapidly overthrow the pro-American government in Kabul and that total chaos would ensue. (N.B.: The C.I.A., for one, had predicted the collapse of the Afghan government and a quick Taliban victory if all American troops were to withdraw from the country.)

Nevertheless, even though both Trump and Biden were involved in planning the U.S. military exit from Afghanistan, it was the Democratic president who made the final decisions that led to the—preventable—August 2021 fiasco. This is why despite Biden's denial, it's likely that it will be the Democrats who will suffer an electoral backlash for his crisis mismanagement, in the 2022 and 2024 elections. It remains to be seen how important such setbacks will be.

· Conclusion

The experience of the last fifty years has shown that the idea that prevailed after World War II, that the United States could count on its military supremacy to impose democracy and capitalism on other countries, is past due. No country, whatever its military might, can impose its will on other countries forever. This was an imperial idea that American neocon thinkers resurrected after the fall of the Soviet Empire (USSR) in December 1991, but nothing good came of it.

Since Bill Clinton's administration (1993-2001), successive U.S. governments  have abandoned the United Nations and its peacekeeping mechanisms. They replaced U.N. operations with those of NATO, which are more flexible, for sure, but also much less legitimate. — This was a mistake.  A return to the legitimacy of a reformed United Nations Organization would seem to be the road to follow in the coming years, if the world is going to avoid falling back into destructive conflicts.

________________________________



International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book about morals "The code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles" of the book about geopolitics "The New American Empire", and the recent book , in French, "La régression tranquille du Québec, 1980-2018". He holds a Ph.D. in international finance from Stanford University.


Please visit Dr Tremblay's site or email to a friend here.

Posted Monday, September 6, 2021.

*** To receive new postings of Dr. Tremblay's articles, 
please send Subscribe, to carole.jean1@yahoo.ca
To unsubscribe, please send Unsubscribe, to carole.jean1@yahoo.ca
__________________________________________________________

© 2021 Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay