D.卡尔顿 罗西
D. Carlton Rossi

Authoritarianism


                       




How not to deal with authoritarian leaders and regimes

Normally, the author writes about China and specifically about how the actions of SOE's and state sponsored actors will affect Canada's security and prosperity. He speaks from experience having lived in China for decades. However, he also lived in another authoritarian regime for a period of two years. That country was the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As a matter of fact, he stills holds a valid driver's license for the Kingdom.

Very few are unaware that the world is moving to the authoritarian model. If one looks at history then one might conclude that things today resemble the world at the time of the Great Depression. There was and there is the belief that a strong leader is needed in an authoritarian regime to deal with what seem to be intractable problems. This development is regrettable, but perhaps inevitable--even though the authoritarian model is both a symptom and contributor to many problems.

Our Canadian leader--Prime Minister Trudeau--is a populist who governs on charm, good looks and name recognition. One cannot say that he is authoritarian; for example, he has a healthy respect for rule of law. He certainly doesn't show the authoritarian bent of a President Trump with whom he doesn't know what to do. However, it seems that Trudeau does entertain rather romantic and sympathetic ideas as did his father to certain communist leaders such as Fidel Castro and Xi Jinping.

The origin of Trump's love of dictators may reside in narcicissim. According to Heinz Kohut in The Analysis of Self the narcissist lacks inner experience. "They must look to another person's reaction to gain any sense of themselves." In Trump's case, his narcissism appears to be an extreme form of personality disorder.

While Justin Trudeau is not short of narcissism, for instance, with respect to selfies and his love of costumes, he is defined not so much in terms of psychology but rather in regard to philosophy. He is a relativist as is his brother and as was his father. When abroad he listens to different views and generally does not disagree. To paraphrase an old saying "When in Beijing do as the Beijingers do." The problem though arose with respect to the Chinese when he tried to impose Canadian standards on them in China when they did business in Canada. Since they will be in Canada he wishes them to do as Canadians do.

It seems contradictory that Justin Trudeau would try to impose liberal, progressive ideas through trade on communist regimes such as China. Does he really expect the hardened Chinese Communists to become relativists, too? When in doubt they don't listen to relativists but double down on Marxism.

Trudeau and Freeland also wish free-trade with the People's Republic of China which is anything but free as it is run by one man whose power is unchecked. They allow a discussion on an extradition treaty since the Chinese are not interested in free-trade. Why would they be interested in free-trade when they already have a favourable balance of trade? Our Canadian leaders seem unconcerned that an extradition treaty with China will undermine the very Charter of Rights and Freedoms that Trudeau's father established. The Chinese want to erode the Charter, too!

Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland believed that they could inject progressive, liberal ideas on China through its free-trade with Canada. For example, they wanted the male-dominated, patriarchial leadership of China (wherein males outnumber females 119 to 100 throughout the country) to respect the rights of women in Canada. Don't hold your breath on that one. They wanted the Chinese to recognize the status of the First Nations. Didn't they realize that Chinese leadership was vehemently opposed to separatism and in fact wants to expand its influence over Taiwan and further into international waters of the South China Sea through the construction of man-made islands.

The Liberal team also thought that it could inject those Liberal progressive ideas into the trade discussions with the Americans under a conservative administration led by Trump no less. The Americans simply countered that the negotiations were about trade. They stated that any non-trade, progressive ideas were a non-starter.

Chrystia Freeland is a rising star in the Liberal government. She is respected for her negotiating skills. That means she can talk. She can talk in several languages. Apparently, though, she has been doing more talking than listening regarding Saudi Arabia according to David Mulroney who was the former ambassador to Beijing. Her main interest is talking about women's rights which she reminds us are human rights. She posted a tweet directed to the Saudis about a woman imprisoned for protesting the imprisonment of her brother who had himself been a protester. The Saudis protested about Freeland protesting on behalf of a protester. The result was that the Saudis have cut trade and contact with Canada.

Trudeau and Freeland don't seem to realize that everything is not a win-win situation--especially when one is dealing with a stronger opponent. To paraphrase Trudeau, trade is not a hockey game. Presumably, he meant a situation where one side wins and the other side loses. He believes that both sides can win. To the author this sounds like "I'm okay you're okay dribble". Hasn't he noticed that Canadians go to hockey games as much to see the fighting as they do the hockey; afterall, it is based on Indian lacrosse where opponents lay sprawled across the field. Hockey fans want to see their player bash the other guy. Scoring is a highlight, but a knock-out is a higher light. It's the game of "skatie-punchie", cross-check to the "wallboards" accompanied by the organ of percussion-concussion.

Trudeau's approach to trade reminds the author of a bouncer who employs win-win strategy to belligerent drunks in a bar at happy hour or for that matter to a referee who is sandwiched between two hotheads in the dying moments of a hockey game. The outcome is a broken nose for the bouncer or referee. Perhaps Trudeau didn't learn as much from boxing as did Nelson Mandela who was made an honorary Canadian citizen. Mandela learned to size-up his opponent and to learn his weaknesses in order to exploit them.

Freeland now faces a compound conundrum much of her own making. In 2017, she was presented with a video which seemed to show that Canadian-made armoured vehicles were being used to suppress the Shia minority population in Saudi Arabia. By the way, it was a strong "seem". She talked about the issue, but that's as far as it went. She did not recommend the restriction of export permits. How can she continue to allow the export to Saudi Arabia of armoured vehicles which may have been used to suppress the Shia protesters when she protests the arrest of a protester. This is clearly a double standard.

Despite the author's reservations about style over substance which he observes at the highest levels in the government of our country he still wishes those leaders to succeed for the sake of rule of law, human rights and Canada. Potentially, the Saudi situation could represent a turning point in our approach to foreign policy (especially as it applies to human rights and trade) even if that occurs by accident rather than design. It's time to act and not to talk. It's time to act rather than react all the time.

The author sees no reason for Chrystia Freeland to apologize for a tweet. Tweets are not diplomacy. She has the right to express her opinion whether or not she uses the word "immediate" or another word similar to it or whether it is in English, Arabic or both. It falls under freedom of speech. She is free to tweet about freeing a protester in a foreign country who is a Canadian.

On the other hand, the author has not been criticized nor has he faced the consequences of tweets that he has sent himself because he has sent none. He doesn't listen to the rants and raves of President Trump nor to the tweets of others. He also doesn't believe in the Aether Bunny in the upper regions of the air beyond the clouds.

Why has Saudi Arabia taken such forceful retaliatory actions against Canada? The Saudis say it is because they will not tolerate criticism of Saudi law. Many critics say that Saudi Arabia chooses to make an example of Canada in the area of human rights because it regards it as a country it can intimidate as opposed to imitate. Others say that Saudi Arabia has the tacit assent of the Trump administration.

The author's view is that Saudi Arabia cannot accept criticism coming from a woman which begs the question how much is Saudi Arabia really reforming? Recently, a woman led the successful movement for the right of females to drive in the Kingdom. She is not driving anything now because she has been arrested. She has been driven out of the public eye. She has been driven to jail.

The sale of Canadian-made armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia which may have been used to suppress protests is unconscionable. The contract must be terminated. It seems that there are at least two ways in which this can be done. One could say that unless Samar Badawi is released then the contract will be cancelled. This might be interpreted as a threat and lead to more repercussions. The better approach would be to cancel the contract on the grounds that Saudi Arabia cancelled a Canadian wheat and barley contract.

One might speculate that the termination of Saudi sales to Canada of wheat and barley was due to US pressure. In other words, the Saudis probably will import more US wheat and barley as a substitute for Canadian grains. If the US were behind the announcement of the termination then Canada may find that sales to other countries are affected by US pressure, too. The Trump administration may be trying to a small degree to assuage the anger of farmers who are a large part of its base.

In summary, a win-win strategy is win for the other side and lose for our side. Talk is cheap and our leaders realize this because while they talk they don't depend on talk of others such as Trump, but rather wait for him to act. Then, they act belatedly and reservedly with advance warning. Whether the Saudi response was due to a tweet which they interpreted as criticism of their law or because they thought they could bully Canada or a culture-trade war inspired and assented to by the Trump Administration or because they will not listen to a woman about anything are rather now mute issues. In response, Canadians don't want the government to stand up nor to stand guard but rather to stand against this assault. Let's see no more of wobbly-wonky win-win or worse yet win-win-win. The columnist John Ibbitson says correctly regarding the Liberal government's approach to internationalism that "All this appears to be part of a general Liberal incoherence on foreign policy."

Dedicated to my new acquaintance--Alexander-- who is a Martial Arts Expert in multiple disciplines.


D.卡尔顿 罗西
D. Carlton Rossi

2018年8月16日