We are all endeavouring to enjoy the fading days of summer before the hyper-activity of the federal election fires up. The political parties have used the warmer days to hit the hustings in an attempt to tenderize voters for the melee that is about to ensue.
But this election will be held against a backdrop of darkening clouds. Put plainly: the world is getting scarier and regardless of what transpires in our domestic politics, Canadians and the winner of the electoral contest will have to turn outwards to prepare themselves. The more one thinks about, the more dire things seems to be.
Just some examples:
- The riots in Hong Kong have dominated the news cycle for days. Things have gotten out of hand for the Chinese government and they are expected to brutally dispel the protesters . This is one hot spot that is already placing pressure on the Canadian government prior to the election, since some 300,000 Canadians live in the region.
- China is active on other fronts as well. Their trade war with America is already having significant effect, leaving many economists warning that it will lead to a global recession just a decade after the global financial crisis that led to so many changes in work and corporatism. And with China holding over one trillion dollars in U.S. treasury bills, what would happen if they called President Trump’s bluff and dumped those bonds? Fortunately, for now at least, the Chinese government is showing more caution than the Americans.
- This past July was the hottest month on record. The effects have been destabilizing and it’s becoming clear that only the most urgent of action among nations can mitigate the oncoming climate crisis. How will Canada respond?
- With Prime Minister Boris Johnson being elected by only .2% of the British population (Conservative members), it looks inevitable that his government (held buy only a majority of one) is careening toward a no deal Brexit. Britain is in trouble and knows it and a fall election is inevitable. The implications are dire, not just for Europe but for all of Britain’s main allies and trading partners, including Canada.
- The on-again off-again “bromance” between Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un might be mildly entertaining, but the four missiles launched by North Korea this month as a “direct warning to America” reveal once more that Jong-un has no intention of doing away with the nuclear potential and could easily be provoked to lash out if pressured too hard.
- Last month, Vladimir Putin celebrated his 20th year in power. How did he celebrate? By cracking down on dissidents and any political opposition. He vowed once more to keep Syria’s President Assad in power and opened up new avenues for building strong ties with China. As America abandons its global leadership role, Russia is proving more than willing to fill the gap.
- The problems between America and Iran aren’t going away anytime soon. The Strait of Hormuz remains a vortex for all that could go wrong with regional tensions and global oil supplies. With America pulling out of its peace arrangements with Iran, there aren’t any guarantees that just one incident couldn’t spiral out of control.
- If there is a sleeping “time bomb” in the world today it is the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan – both possessors of nuclear warheads. Indian Prime Minister Modi’s cancelling of Kashmir’s special status has led to heightened tensions. Kashmir represents the largest Muslim territory India has and the decision isn’t going down easy. Neither India or Pakistan’s government is a model of stability and diplomacy. Foreign experts around the world are watching this more closely at the moment than any other region.
- And what of a global recession within the next year? Is it possible? Turbulence in the financial markets is causing many economists to believe it inevitable. We all know what happened during the Great Recession only a decade ago. The damaging global potential exacerbated by Donald Trump’s needless tariff war with China will affect every nation that has any economic arrangement with either country.
Global commentator Pankaj Mishra has been observing the unnerving rise in such dangerous situations for the past decades and notes:
“Future historians may well see such uncoordinated mayhem as commencing the third – and the longest and strangest – of all world wars that approximates a global civil war. Unquestionably, forces more complex than in the previous two great war are at work. The violence, not confined to any fixed battlefields or front lines, feels endemic and uncontrollable.”
Alarmist? Perhaps. Yet “uncontrollable” is an apt description for how things feel. Mishra’s warning is not as out of place as it would have been a mere decade ago. The world is a more dangerous place at present and one can only hope that Canada’s upcoming election won’t be so consumed by domestic intrigues that the larger threats go unnoticed and unaddressed.