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America's tortured domestic politics are hampering its foreign policy – CNN

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This story was excerpted from the August 24 edition of CNN’s Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Click here to read past editions and subscribe.

(CNN)It’s getting hard to remember when the US had foreign policy victories.

Two decades of post-9/11 warfare are ending with the United States effectively handing back Afghanistan to the same fundamentalist power, the Taliban, that was in control when it started. The war in Iraq, fought on false pretenses, not only distracted from the Afghanistan War but turned into a costly, morale-sapping disaster. A US-led bid to prevent genocide in Libya left anarchy behind. The campaign to crush ISIS in Syria saw the US ultimately deserting America’s Kurdish allies. And ex-President Donald Trump’s whole term alienated America’s friends and offered legitimacy to its autocratic foes. No one is now sure which path Washington will pursue in the world more than four years in advance.
It’s not all been terrible. The US did prevent Afghanistan being a terror haven for 20 years where al Qaeda could operate with impunity, though that is now in doubt. It seriously degraded ISIS in the Middle East. The Obama administration finally killed Osama bin Laden. And new diplomatic openings with nations like India have spanned administrations. The Western alliance has wobbled in recent years, but it survived.
But America’s tortured domestic politics are hampering any long-term coherence in its foreign policy. The US negotiated a deal to quell Iran’s nuclear program, walked out, then wanted back in. It entered the Paris climate deal, left, rejoined and a Republican president would probably quit again. Relations with Israel are so politicized — in both countries — that a US role that led to Israel-Palestinian handshakes on the White House lawn is long gone. Russia’s election meddling worked because it exploited and exacerbated America’s internal estrangement. The Afghan withdrawal was based on domestic political factors, not global strategy.
The world is a different, more volatile place than it was after the Cold War. And US military might still offer a security umbrella without which its allies in Europe and Asia cannot thrive. There’s unity on the next big challenge — confronting a rival superpower, China — if little agreement on how to do it.
But the democracy-threatening political and cultural battle tearing America from within has cost the power that guaranteed stability for 70 years, the capacity to exert coherent, consistent leadership in the world.

‘You have been accused of helping the Americans’

The Taliban have issued a death sentence for one Afghan man whose brother worked as an interpreter for US troops. In a threatening letter, the fundamentalist group wrote: “You have been accused of helping the Americans. You are also accused of providing security to your brother, who has been an interpreter.” It continues: “You chose this path for yourself and your death is eminent [sic], God willing.”
The letter underlines the risk that thousands of Afghans have undertaken to help US troops over the past two decades — and contradicts assurances that Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid made last week, as the group tries to project a more moderate image to the world. “Nobody will be harmed in Afghanistan,” Mujahid said. “Of course, there is a huge difference between us now and 20 years ago.”

‘You are not a horse. You are not a cow’

At last, some rare good news on the pandemic.
The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday granted permanent authorization to the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, which had previously been administered on an emergency basis. The certification not only confirms the scientific case that the dose is safe and effective — it also could convince holdouts skeptical of what they viewed as an “experimental” drug to get vaccinated, and could give state and local political, medical, educational, military and corporate leaders more incentive to mandate vaccines.
The next big step in ending the pandemic could come when doses are finally approved for kids. As schools restart, many parents are frantic about the Delta variant, which is proving more dangerous to youngsters than previous manifestations of the novel coronavirus.
Of course, the politics of a pandemic that has unleashed an ideological culture war on the right have not abated. More science won’t change minds made up for political reasons. But vaccine rates are rising as the Delta variant rages across the heartland, especially in conservative, Southern states where inoculation rates were low. At a rally in Alabama on Saturday night, even Trump advised fans to get the shot, which his administration helped develop. But boos from his crowd mean he’s unlikely to spend political capital to push vaccines hard.
And get this crazy twist. Following crank “cure” claims for substances like hydroxychloroquine and Trump’s infamous musings on disinfectant, some people have been tempted by ivermectin, a drug used to deworm livestock, which was featured on conservative and social media. While some Americans are loath to take an FDA-approved drug, it seems they’ll happily gobble down medicine for animals.
The FDA was forced to tweet: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”

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Politics Briefing: Annamie Paul exits as leader of the Green Party of Canada – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

Annamie Paul has announced her departure as leader of the Green Party of Canada, calling the experience of being at the helm of the party the worst one of her life.

Ms. Paul’s exit comes after a challenging election for the Greens. She placed fourth in the Toronto Centre riding she ran in and, nationally, the party saw their share of the popular vote fall from 6.55 per cent in 2019 to 2.3 per cent.

Although they won a seat in Ontario – Mike Morrice was the victor in Kitchener Centre – they lost the Vancouver Island riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith, one of two seats they held at dissolution.

Ms. Paul said she was not up to trying to keep her leadership role by securing at least 60 per cent support in a leadership review to be held within six months.

“I just don’t have the heart for it,” she said, citing conflict within the party – particularly with the federal council that governs it.

She noted that there were insufficient resources to compete in the campaign, including the absence of a national campaign manager, and that she realized the campaign would be a challenge.

Ms. Paul said she knew the Greens would likely not do well, and she would take the blame, but she decided to proceed because of candidates who had committed to run for the party, and the need to show that “someone like me could get as far as I could.” She is the first Jewish woman and Black person elected leader of a federal party.

“When I was elected, put in this role, I was breaking a glass ceiling. What I didn’t realize at the time is I was breaking a glass ceiling that was going to fall on my head and leave a lot of shards of glass that I was going to have to crawl over throughout my time as leader,” she said.

“For those Green Party members who have taken great pleasure in attacking me and calling for assaults against me and calling for organization against me and suggesting I am part of a conspiracy against the party, you may take small comfort but please know there are many more people like me than you and you will not succeed in the end.”

Without elaborating, Ms. Paul warned members of a continuing struggle for the soul of the party.

And she said she would look for other ways to serve and pursue her interest in public policy, “This was always about service and I have been outside of politics for most of my life so I know there are other ways to serve.”

Overall, she said, “It has been the worst period of my life in many respects.”

She then left without taking media questions.

Ms. Paul, a lawyer, was elected Green Party leader in October, 2020, succeeding interim leader Jo-Ann Roberts and Elizabeth May, the party’s leader from 2006 to 2019.

Fundraising challenges meant that while other party leaders travelled widely in Canada in search of votes, Ms. Paul rarely left Toronto Centre.

The limited campaign effort followed months of conflict between Ms. Paul and members of the party’s governing federal council, which sought at times to oust her.

Also, the Greens only nominated candidates in 252 ridings, not all 338.

Before the election, the Greens lost their only seat outside British Columbia. Jenica Atwin, who won the riding of Fredericton in 2019, defected to the Liberals in June. She held on to the seat in last week’s election.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

THE TWO MICHAELS

WHAT NEXT? -The emotional return of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor to home soil after nearly three years of arbitrary detention was warmly embraced by Canadians this weekend, but their ordeal will have long-lasting implications on this country’s relationship with China.

CHINA’S CLAIMS ON THE RETURN OF THE TWO MICHAELS – Two Canadians detained in late 2019 who were allowed to return to Canada in a prisoner swap were released on bail for health reasons, China’s Foreign Ministry said Monday.

HUAWEI AND 5G – A long-delayed decision facing the federal government about whether to ban Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. from the build-out of Canada’s 5G wireless networks is back in the spotlight after the return of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

CHINESE STATE MEDIA ON CANADA-CHINA RELATIONSHIP – The release of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is an opportunity for a reboot of bilateral relations with the United States and Canada but “toxic political rhetoric” could still “poison” the atmosphere,” Chinese state media said on Monday.

MICHAEL KOVRIG, IN HIS OWN WORDS – “I’m running on about two hours of sleep in the last 24 hours so I don’t have any exciting plans just yet,” Michael Kovrig, speaking, on Sunday to Global News’ The West Block in a brief interview available here.

MEANWHILE

KENNEY SPEAKS OUT – Premier Jason Kenney rejected calls for a “hard lockdown” during an appearance on a radio program Sunday, the same day his province’s former top doctor signed a letter calling for immediate “fire break” measures to deal with surging cases of COVID-19.

THE NEXT LIBERAL LEADER? – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s job as Liberal Party leader seems secure, but The National Post is ranking possible successors in case Mr. Trudeau exits. Ranking begins here.

NEW JOB FOR BAINS – CIBC has hired former Liberal cabinet minister Navdeep Bains as vice-chair, global investment banking. Mr. Bains stepped down as innovation minister in January and did not run in the recent federal election. Story here.

THE CASE FOR A FEMALE DEFENCE MINISTER – Canada’s only female defence minister was in 1993. Is it time for another? The Canadian Press assesses the issue here.

KEEP O’TOOLE AS TORY LEADER: BRAD WALL – “I don’t think the Conservatives should be changing their leader right now, but they really need to reach out and say, `We had a strong platform from Western Canada’ and maybe they ought to stop trying to win in Quebec because it just ain’t happening no matter what they do. That embarrassing bow to Bill 21 or endorsements from [Quebec Premie François] Legault didn’t help. Maybe it’s time to fashion a new strategy.” – Mr. Wall, the former Saskatchewan premier, on The Roy Green show – available here – over the weekend. Mr. Wall also talks about country music singer Colter Wall – his son.

THE MODERATOR OF THE ENGLISH-LANGUAGE LEADERS’ DEBATE SPEAKS OUT ON `THE QUESTION.’

Shachi Kurl (president of the Angus Reid Institute, and moderator of the 2021 English-language leaders’ debate) on the debate question, during the leaders’ debate, that caused a storm in Quebec: “So here was the question: “You deny that Quebec has problems with racism. Yet you defend legislation such as Bills 96 and 21, which marginalize religious minorities, anglophones, and allophones. For those outside the province, please help them understand why your party also supports these discriminatory laws.” To those asking me to take it all back: I stand by the question. Unequivocally. I stand by it because the question gave Mr. Blanchet the opportunity to talk to people outside Quebec, about secularism, about laïcité. He could have shared the Quebec perspective with the rest of Canada. He chose not to.”

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

“Private meetings,” according to an advisory from the Prime Minister’s Office.

LEADERS

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves François Blanchet addresses members of caucus during a meeting in Shawinigan, and takes media questions.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul, in Toronto, announced her resignation as leader of the party, but did not take media questions.

No schedules released for other party leaders.

OPINION

The Editorial Board of The Globe and Mail on the Conservative need for big-city seats:Canada is mostly urban and suburban, and becoming more so every day. In fact, the map of Parliament will be redrawn over the next couple of years, in light of the 2021 census. Since the last census, Metro Vancouver gained more than 400,000 people. Calgary gained more than 300,000, Ottawa a quarter-million, Montreal more than half a million, and the GTA roughly one million people. All those places will be getting more seats before the next election. That’s the Conservative Party’s future.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the hard lesson of the the situation with the two Michaels:Politically and economically, a lot of damage has been done to Canada-China relations. Now there will be a rush to try to undo that damage, particularly in the business community. But not so fast. There remains an unavoidable need to work with China in some areas, but Beijing’s long-standing call of “win-win” relations has to be distrusted more now, because when push comes to shove, China reserves the right to decide what is a win for each party. We know that because push did come to shove.”

Ann Dickie, Sanjay Ruparelia (Policy Options) on the need for additional research into why the expansion of special voting arrangements didn’t stop a worrisome decline in turnout in recent provincial elections: “Many democracies have confronted a key challenge since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020: how to balance public safety and electoral participation. However, many of the changes introduced to meet this imperative were already in existence, at least in part, before the pandemic arrived, and their ramifications will extend beyond our current election cycle. As the world becomes more digitally oriented, electoral modernization via special voting arrangements (SVAs) – from early and postal voting to proxy voting – is vital for all countries and constituencies seeking to combat apathy, disaffection and exclusion.”

Send along your political questions and we will look at getting answers to run in this newsletter. It’s not possible to answer each one personally. Questions and answers will be edited for length and clarity.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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Letter: Playing politics with the virus – Cowichan Valley Citizen

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Playing politics with the virus

Have always been of the opinion that politicians worldwide chose to play politics with the COVID-19 virus instead of stopping it from spreading by closing their respective international borders. Either they learned nothing from the Spanish flu pandemic which spread worldwide via the soldiers returning from the First World War or they chose to ignore it?

It appears that these viruses have a definitive life cycle. The Spanish flu faded into oblivion after the forth wave. The P.H.O for B.C informed us that all pandemics have four waves. So if they knew how the COVID-19 virus would react, how many waves there would be etc. why did they not take steps to prevent it from arriving in Canada? Politics, is my opinion. How many elections have we had in Canada, called by political parties whose only ambition is extending their power base and time in office?

My cynicism and distrust of the motives for the handling of this virus were confirmed while reading the following.

Dame Sarah Gilbert, the lead scientist from Oxford University, and the brain behind the vaccine manufactured in India as Covishield, stated the following: “The virus cannot completely mutate because its spike protein has to interact with the ACE2 receptor on the surface of the human cell, in order to get inside it. If it changes its spike protein so much that it can’t interact with that receptor, then it’s not going to be able to get inside the cell. So, there aren’t many places for the virus to go to have something that will evade immunity but still remain infectious.”

Dr. Gilbert is reported as saying that the virus that causes COVID-19 will eventually become like the coronaviruses which circulate widely and cause the common cold.

She also stated, “What tends to happen over time is there’s just a slow drift, that’s what happens with flu viruses. You see small changes accumulating over a period of time and then we have the opportunity to react to that.”

“It has been pretty quiet since Delta emerged and it would be nice to think there won’t be any new variants of concern. If I was pushed to predict, I think there will be new variants emerging over time and I think there is still quite a lot of road to travel down with this virus,” she said.

So thanks to our political masters, we are going to have this virus around for some time. Wonder if they think the cost in financial and human terms was/is worth it?

Ian Kimm

Duncan

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Green Party chief Annamie Paul resigns, calling it ‘worst period’ of her life

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Annamie Paul announced her resignation as head of Canada‘s Green Party on Monday after losing in her own district in last week’s parliamentary election, stepping aside just under a year after becoming the nation’s first Black leader of a mainstream national party.

Paul, 48, said she felt she was never truly allowed to lead the fractious environmentally focused party and was not interested in going through a fight to remain its chief. She called her time as party leader “the worst period in my life.”

“When I was elected and put in this role, I was breaking a glass ceiling,” Paul told reporters in Toronto. “What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was breaking a glass ceiling that was going to fall on my head.”

Paul came in fourth in her own Toronto constituency – won by the Liberals – and the Greens dropped 4 percentage points nationally in the Sept. 20 election compared with 2019. They won only two seats in the 338-seat House of Commons compared with three two years ago.

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won a third term, albeit with a minority of seats in parliament.

Paul, a Toronto lawyer, beat out seven other contenders to win the leadership of the party last October. But she has for months been in a battle with the party’s federal council, which tried to oust her before the election. The party did not provide funding for Paul to hire a campaign staff or a national campaign manager.

“I just don’t have the heart for it,” Paul said, referring to going through a leadership review invoked by the party immediately after the election.

Of the discord within the party, Paul said she had never been given the opportunity to lead and “I will not be given that opportunity.”

Jenica Atwin, one of the three Green parliamentarians, left the party in June and joined the Liberals. Atwin was elected as a Liberal last week.

Atwin has said her exit was in large part due to a dispute over the party’s stance on Israel. Paul is Jewish. Atwin on Twitter criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. A senior adviser to Paul, Noah Zatzman, posted on Facebook that some unspecified Green members of parliament were anti-Semitic.

The Greens had appeared to be well-positioned going into this year’s election, as most Canadians indicated that fighting climate change was one of their priority issues. But Liberals and the left-leaning New Democrats promoted their own climate plans and capitalized on the sense of chaos within the party.

Paul said during the campaign that she had thought several times about quitting, but wanted to stay and fight for important causes. Paul was the second person of color to head a federal party in Canada after Jagmeet Singh took over the left-leaning New Democrats in 2017.

 

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Will Dunham)

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