Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Monday December 16, 2019
Boris Johnson and the Coming Trump Victory in 2020
Donald Trump, in his telling, could have shot somebody on Fifth Avenue and won. Boris Johnson could mislead the queen. He could break his promise to get Britain out of Europe by Oct. 31. He could lie about Turks invading Britain and the cost of European Union membership. He could make up stories about building 40 new hospitals. He could double down on the phantom $460 million a week that Brexit would deliver to the National Health Service — and still win a landslide Tory electoral victory not seen since Margaret Thatcher’s triumph in 1987.
The British, or at least the English, did not care. Truth is so 20th century. They wanted Brexit done; and, formally speaking, Johnson will now take Britain out of Europe by Jan. 31, 2020, even if all the tough decisions on relations with the union will remain. Johnson was lucky. In the pathetic, emetic Jeremy Corbyn, the soon-to-depart Labour Party leader, he faced perhaps the worst opposition candidate ever. In the Tory press, he had a ferocious friend prepared to overlook every failing. In Brexit-weary British subjects, whiplashed since the 2016 referendum, he had the perfect receptacle for his “get Brexit done.”
Johnson was also skillful, blunting Nigel Farage’s far-right Brexit Party, which stood down in many seats, took a lot of Labour votes in the seats where it did run, and ended up with nothing. The British working class, concentrated in the Midlands and the North, abandoned Labour and Corbyn’s socialism for the Tories and Johnson’s nationalism.
In the depressed provinces of institutionalized precariousness, workers embraced an old Etonian mouthing about unleashed British potential. Not a million miles from blue-collar heartland Democrats migrating to Trump the millionaire and America First demagogy.
That’s not the only parallel with American politics less than 11 months from the election. Johnson concentrated all the Brexit votes. By contrast, the pro-Remain vote was split between Corbyn’s internally divided Labour Party, the hapless Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish National Party. For anybody contemplating the divisions of the Democratic Party as compared with the Trump movement’s fanatical singleness of purpose, now reinforced by the impeachment proceedings, this can only be worrying.
The clear rejection of Labour’s big-government socialism also looks ominous for Democrats who believe the party can lurch left and win. The British working class did not buy nationalized railways, electricity distribution and water utilities when they could stick it to some faceless bureaucrat in Brussels and — in that phrase as immortal as it is meaningless — take back their country.
It’s a whole new world. To win, liberals have to touch people’s emotions rather than give earnest lessons. They have to cease being arid. They have to refresh and connect. It’s not easy. (Continued: NYTimes)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday October 10, 2019
Turkey Begins Offensive in Syria After U.S. Stands Aside
Turkey has begun its military offensive into northeastern Syria to force back Kurdish militants controlling the border area, days after President Donald Trump said the U.S. wouldn’t stand in the way.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of the operation, code-named Spring of Peace, on Twitter and said it would also target Islamic State. Russia, Iran and a top EU official urged Turkey to act with restraint amid concerns that renewed chaos in Syria would lead to a jihadist resurgence and push the Kurds, America’s allies in the fight against IS, into the arms of President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey has battled Kurdish separatists for years and had repeatedly warned it would not allow the creation of a Kurdish proto-state on its immediate border. Once it seizes the area, Turkey plans to resettle 2 million Syrian refugees, most of them Arabs, in the border zone, further complicating a combustible situation.
A small forward group of Turkish forces first entered Syria early Wednesday at two points close to the Syrian towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, according to a Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Turkish planes and shells pounded the towns as the incursion began. Residents fled though Kurdish forces had vacated positions before the attack, which is expected to involve tens of thousands of soldiers backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers from NATO’s second-largest army.
Turkey’s advance follows a dramatic reversal of U.S. policy. Trump told Erdogan in a phone call on Sunday that dozens of American troops who’d been working closely with Kurdish forces in the fight against Islamic State would pull back, effectively clearing the way for a Turkish incursion.
The White House statement appeared to surprise allies at home and abroad. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said they would defend their “own people,” potentially relegating the battle against Islamic State.
The Kurdish YPG militia that forms the backbone of the SDF has been one of America’s closest partners in the fight against Islamic State and is holding thousands of jihadist fighters and their families in camps and detention centers in northeastern Syria.
While Trump said Turkey would become responsible for the detainees, who include foreign fighters from Europe, it was not clear if there was a mechanism in place to transfer them to Turkish custody. Trump was criticized at home for a decision that could see Islamic State fighters escape or regroup.
A number of Trump allies, including Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, said the move was “a shot in the arm for the bad guys.” Analysts said a U.S. pullback could ultimately play into the hands of Russia, whose military intervention helped turn the tide of the Syrian civil war in favor of Assad. As the Turkish offensive got underway, the Associated Press reported that the YPG had asked Russia to mediate talks between them and the Assad government. (Source: Bloomberg)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday September 27, 2019
Donald Trump’s bizarre New York meeting with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky: ‘I’ve made him more famous’
As an impeachment storm rages in Washington, to say that Donald Trump’s tête-à-tête with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was hotly anticipated would be the understatement of the week.
And it delivered: their appearance before the media in New York was tense, bizarre and funny all at the same time.
On the right: Trump, 73, the one-time real estate mogul and reality television star, now the Republican president of the United States.
On the left: Zelensky, 41, a one-time comedian, now president.
A summer telephone conversation between the two men is at the centre of a political firestorm in the US capital, and prompted opposition Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry against Trump.
In his usual dark blue suit and red tie, Trump – literally sitting on the edge of his seat – was anything but relaxed.
Zelensky, sporting a three-piece black suit, seemed far less anxious and settled easily into his armchair.
The tension in the room was palpable, but the conversation started on a lighter note, and even seemed like a surreal comedy act.
“He’s made me more famous and I’ve made him more famous,” the billionaire Trump quipped at the start of the meeting, to laughs from the press corps.
“It’s better to be on TV than by phone,” Zelensky replied with a bit of a knowing grin, speaking in English, a language in which he was fairly comfortable.
Then the tone shifted significantly.
Did the leader of the world’s only superpower put pressure on his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the family of Joe Biden, one of the Democrats vying to take on Trump in the 2020 election?
Zelensky hesitated and stammered before answering: “I think you read everything. (…) I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved in the democratic, open elections of (the) USA.”
Then he was more precise: “We had – I think (a) good phone call. It was normal. We spoke about many things, and … so I think, and you read it, that nobody pushed me.”
Trump chimed in: “In other words, no pressure”.
And then the Republican leader got angry. (Continued: South China Post)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday September 24, 2019
‘How dare you’: Teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg scolds world leaders at UN climate talks
Scolded for doing little, leader after leader promised the United Nations on Monday to do more to prevent a warming world from reaching even more dangerous levels.
As they made their pledges at the Climate Action Summit, though, they and others conceded it was not enough. And even before they spoke, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg shamed them over and over for their inaction: “How dare you?”
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres concluded the summit by listing 77 countries that committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, 70 nations pledging to do more to fight climate change, with 100 business leaders promising to join the green economy and one-third of the global banking sector signing up to green goals.
“Action by action, the tide is turning,” he said. “But we have a long way to go.”
Businesses and charities also got in on the act, at times even going bigger than major nations. Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced Monday that his foundation, along with The World Bank and some European governments, would provide $790 million in financial help to 300 million of the world’s small farmers adapt to climate change. The Gates foundation pledged $310 million of that.
“The world can still prevent the absolute worst effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing new technologies and sources of energy,” Gates said. “But the effects of rising temperatures are already underway.”
As the day went on Monday and the promises kept coming, the United States seemed out in the cold.
Before world leaders made their promises in three-minute speeches, the 16-year-old Thunberg gave an emotional appeal in which she scolded the leaders with her repeated phrase, “How dare you.”
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here,” said Thunberg, who began a lone protest outside the Swedish parliament more than a year ago that culminated in Friday’s global climate strikes.
“I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you have come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.
Thunberg told the UN that even the strictest emission cuts being talked about only gives the world a 50 per cent chance of limiting future warming to another 0.4 C from now, which is a global goal. Those odds, she said, are not good enough.
“We will not let you get away with this,” Thunberg said. “Right now is where we draw the line.”
As this all played out, scientists announced that Arctic sea ice reached its annual summer low and this year the ice shrank so much it tied for the second lowest mark in 40 years of monitoring. (Hamilton Spectator)