Democratic Ideals and Reality: An Enduring Tension
A century ago, a British member of Parliament and geographer, Halford Mackinder, wrote one of the famous books of geopolitics, Democratic Ideals and Reality. The book discussed the tension between what nations want (“democratic ideals”) and what they often get (geographic “reality”).
That tension seems especially topical this week. Read more
The Korean War, fought from 1950-53, was a result of two earlier wars in the 1940s: the American-Japanese War, which ended with the destruction and occupation of Japan in 1945, and the Chinese Civil War, which ended in a Communist victory (and Nationalist retreat to Taiwan) in 1950.
With the Communists and Americans as the only powers in East Asia following these wars, the Korean Peninsula was split in two, each side taking a piece for itself. Read more
NAFTA stands for the North American Free Trade Act, but President Donald Trump does not.
After campaigning on a promise to repeal the act, then adapting his position to that of merely supporting the act’s renegotiation, Trump recently announced that he would no longer tolerate the status quo arrangement for American imports of dairy and forestry products originating from Canada. Read more
As Donald Trump returns from his first international tour as American president, one thing that stands out is, as usual, the difference between his and Barack Obama’s approach to diplomacy. Whereas Obama’s first Mideast destinations were Turkey and Iraq, Trump’s were Saudi Arabia and Israel, a country Obama did not even visit until his second term in office.
Trump’s trip also included stops in Brussels, Sicily and the Vatican in Rome. Along with Saudi Arabia and Israel, these represent four of the five most significant allies of the United States within the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean region: Italy, Israel, the Saudis and the EU.
The fifth ally, which appears to have been snubbed, is Turkey. The Turks were not honored with a stop during Trump’s first trip to the region, as they were during Obama’s.
Turkey failing to make it onto Trump’s travel itinerary might seem to be of little significance, if it were not for the flurry of unpleasant events involving the Turks and Americans that have occured this same month. Read more
Why Ontario Plays Such a Central Role in Canadian Politics
Canada is often considered to be a haven from geopolitics, a nation relatively free from economic want or political cant. But if by geopolitics we refer simply to the influence of geography upon politics, Canada may in fact be a prime place to study it, if only because the country posseses so much of the former when in comparison to the latter.
The basic fact of Canadian geopolitics is this: more Canadians live in the city of Toronto than live in the 2,500-kilometer expanse of land separating Toronto from Alberta. Read more
In the recent presidential election, Donald Trump received the support of 45 percent of voters who have college diplomas, 37 percent of voters who have graduate degrees and just 35 percent of college-age voters. But, of course, Trump won the presidency in spite of these numbers, because he is set to receive 57 percent of the votes in the Electoral College.
Democratic voters are not at all happy about this. Many are now calling for the abolition of the Electoral College (or at least wishing that it was not so incredibly difficult to abolish). They are unhappy that both Donald Trump and George W. Bush were able to reach the White House even after losing the popular vote.
I am sympathetic to this view and if it were up to me I would agree to replace the Electoral College with another type of voting system — though what system exactly would be best I am not certain about.
That said, I would like to point out a few things to the Democratic supporters who have been discussing this issue of late, if only because I have yet to hear anyone mention them: Read more
Barack Obama was elected at a time when political anxiety in America was relatively high, particularly among Democratic voters who disliked George W. Bush’s seeming lack of sophistication.
The feeling was that the United States had wasted trillions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan and thus helped to ruin America’s economy and divert attention away from more serious adversaries like Russia and especially China.
The economic failure was seen as being confirmed by the financial crisis that began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers a month or so before the election.
The foreign policy failure was seen as being confirmed by, among other things, Russia’s invasion of Georgia three months before the election, followed one day later by the extravagant opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. Read more