I am no fan of the far-left Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. His worldview is flawed and his actions are based solely on maintaining left-wing power over Canada. Last week, he made a huge tactical error by going after Saudi Arabia for human rights violations using Twitter. It has hurt Canada and achieved nothing.
And I fully support it.
It’s the first and probably last time I knowingly support an action by Trudeau, but it’s an important one.
Here’s the background:
On Friday, Canada’s foreign-affairs Twitter handle urged the “immediate release” from imprisonment of the Saudi women’s-rights activist Samar Badawi and others detained for similar activities in the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia issued a blistering response, quickly and sometimes harshly turning its state-run media to bash Canada.
In less than a week, Saudi Arabia then expelled its Canadian ambassador, froze all new investment, canceled all flights to Toronto, pulled thousands of students from Canadian institutions, barred its citizens from getting medical treatment in Canadian hospitals, and reportedly sold off all its Canadian assets.
This oddly Trumpian move was likely done in an attempt to score political points. I won’t give him so much credit as to herald him as brave. However, the way in which this was handled is, in my unpopular opinion, the right way to go.
Saudi Arabia has been one of the worst opponents to human rights for decades. The Kingdom has been protected by America and other nations because of their petroleum influence as well as the vast wealth they throw around the globe. While many have heralded their recent shift away from traditional human rights offenses that have been their hallmark, these moves are far from being adequate.
In other words, this is still a backwards nation that holds way too much sway while getting away with pretty much everything they do.
Critics of Trudeau say his tactical error has hurt Canada. They are right. But it’s a temporary pain that they’ll feel. Critics will also point out that this does nothing to advance the cause of coaxing Saudi Arabia to act more civilized, more modern. On this criticism, I completely disagree.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has ambitions that go well beyond ruling the Kingdom. He wants to be a world leader, one that controls the Middle East and influences every nation across the globe. To do this, he will need to be universally revered. That means detractors and critics must be hushed.
If we put aside the notion that Trudeau’s actions were self-serving, we can see some benefit in it. Whether or not other world leaders are willing to do the same or continue to cower in fear to the Crown Prince remains to be seen.
What Trudeau has done is speak out against an oppressive regime in a way that most, including the U.S. President, would never dare to do. Is it a tactical mistake to do so? Of course. Was it the right thing to do? I believe it was.
Robert Wood Johnson on the failed Iran deal
As ambassador to the United Kingdom, Robert Wood Johnson understands the situation in Iran. He’s acutely aware that sanctions against Iran are the only thing short of military intervention that can prevent them from producing nuclear weapons in the near future. The Iran deal, the alleged hallmark of President Obama’s and Secretary of State Kerry’s legacy, has been clearly demonstrated as an utter failure.
Iran has not backed down. They’ve only placated the world when absolutely necessary with lies on top of lies. The United States is fighting back by pulling out of the deal and laying sanctions on Iran, but they need more to join the fight. Johnson is calling on his host nation to follow suit.
“Far from becoming a more responsible member of the international community, as we had all hoped, Iran grew bolder.”
Source: The Hill
“It is clear that the danger from Iran did not diminish in the wake of the [2015 Iran] deal,” Johnson wrote. “Far from becoming a more responsible member of the international community, as we had all hoped, Iran grew bolder.”
“It is time to move on from the flawed 2015 deal,” he continued. “We are asking global Britain to use its considerable diplomatic power and influence and join us as we lead a concerted global effort toward a genuinely comprehensive agreement.”
Tariffs on Turkey: Bad for the economy but damaging to a dangerous dictator
Say what you will about President Trump’s foreign and economic policies. Whether you support them or not, it’s hard to deny that they’ve made things much more interesting.
The latest move by the President to impose stiff tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum may seem in line with how he’s been treating the national and world economies recently, but more is at stake with this move than previous ones.
There are two factors at play that make this move different from previous tariffs. First, it is not purely economic but is a response to Turkey continuing to hold pastor Andrew Brunson for allegedly supporting the coup attempt of 2016. Second, the tariffs come at a time when Turkey’s currency, the lira, is in free fall.
It was already starting to show signs of failure when leaders from both countries pushed it even further down. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan added more challenges for the lira when he asked his people to convert their foreign currency and gold, a sign of trouble that will likely have the opposite effect.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday called on citizens to convert their hard currency and gold into lira, after the local currency tumbled to a record low this week, reflecting investor concern about a widening diplomatic rift with the United States.
Erdogan, in a speech in Ankara, also said Turkey was diverting to the Chinese market to overcome what he said were “subjective evaluations” from ratings agencies. Erdogan has repeatedly railed against credit raters, saying their downgrades of Turkey’s sovereign debt to “junk” status were politically motivated.
Seizing on the free fall, President Trump made matters worse for for the lira with the sanctions:
“I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!” Trump wrote.
Losses in the the Turkish lira deepened on Trump’s tweet, falling as much as 20 percent vs. the U.S. dollar in Friday trading.
Erdogan is now calling this an economic war with the United States and claims he will not back down. Meanwhile, the Euro and other currencies are also feeling the heat:
“You’ve had a fairly sharp move lower in the euro and it’s broken through key technical levels as well,” said Richard Franulovich, head of FX strategy at Westpac Banking Corp in New York.
The euro dropped below technical support at $1.15 to $1.1421, down 0.91 percent on the day and the lowest since July 2017. Against the yen, the euro slid 1 percent to 126.79 yen, a two-month low.
Now, the criticism and praise of President Trump’s moves will be debated for days, maybe weeks.
As I’ve stated on many occasions, I’m not a fan of tariffs. They are misunderstood by most, particularly the President, and no longer yield the results they did in previous centuries. From an economic perspective, I oppose this move.
The bigger picture is how this is being used as a pressure tactic against Turkey. Currently, I like it a lot. That opinion could change based on how things go, but moves like these that apply pressure against a dangerous dictator of the false ally that Turkey has become are welcome. It isn’t just about securing Brunson’s release, though that’s extremely important. Turkey is a rising power on every spectrum that is increasingly turning to Russia and China for help instead of their “friends” in NATO.
The strategic importance of Turkey as a hub that connects Europe, west Asia, and the Middle East cannot be understated. In an ideal situation, Turkey would still be a good ally as they once were. Erdogan has taken advantage of two past U.S. Presidents and seemed poised last year to start taking advantage of President Trump. That doesn’t seem to be happening anymore.
Is this the right way to handle Erdogan? Probably not. Whether it is or not will be revealed in coming weeks. One thing is certain: we’re seeing things being done from the White House that we’ve never seen before and may never see again. It’s troubling, but at least it’s entertaining.
If anything, new sanctions on Russia are too light
Russia is quite upset that the U.S. State Department has imposed new sanctions on them in response to a biological attack on NATO soil. These sanctions are harsh, but they do not go far enough. Assassinations of this type should be a thing of the past. Russia needs to be reminded that the Cold War is over.
The US has said it will impose fresh sanctions on Russia after determining it used nerve agent against a former Russian double agent living in the UK.
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were left seriously ill after being poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury in March, though they have now recovered.
A UK investigation blamed Russia for the attack, but the Kremlin has strongly denied any involvement.
Russia’s semi-regular dismissal of international law must be stopped. This will not happen with a slap on the wrist, as these sanctions equate to in the long run. They should be made to feel real pain for such actions. It’s good that there’s action, but one has to question the fortitude with which these sanctions were produced.
While the State Department did indicate they would impose more sanctions in 90 days if Russia does not have an appropriate response to these, there’s little reason to believe they will comply. The sanctions involve the export of sensitive electronic equipment and material. Unfortunately, all that will do is push Russia and China even closer as they can get everything they’re losing by going to China.
We will see what the new sanctions look like in three months. In the meantime, this is all just a show to demonstrate that we’re “doing something.”