National Newswatch

John Turner, Brian Mulroney and the Grace of Bygone Grudges

Sep 20 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — There are few testaments to the Shakespearean reversals of political life more eloquent than the fact that, if someone had told you in 1984 that by 2000, Brian Mulroney would be on good terms with his erstwhile political opponent John Turner and no longer speaking to his old friend Lucien Bouchard, you’d have said they […]

How 9/11 Ended the Banality of Evil

Sep 10 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — Nineteen years ago this week, two passenger jets loaded with hostages to history, self-styled martyrs, and weaponized jet fuel hit the World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan, marking the unofficial dawn of the new millennium. In “Where were you?” terms, watching New York and America live through the shock and aftershocks of 9/11 from […]

Coercive Diplomacy and the Smug Bugger Factor

Sep 8 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — We’ve all seen governance and human rights norms incrementally weakened or obliterated recently to meet totalitarian standards rationalized by China’s geopolitical ascendancy but benefiting quite a few other interests. The latest instrument of this trend is “coercive diplomacy”, the diplomatic version of “illiberal democracy” — also oxymoronic, contagious and euphemistically designed to cover a multitude […]

It’s the Economics, Stupid: Corruption, Greed, and the War on Democracy

Sep 3 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — In “The 300,000-year case for the 15-hour work week,” a major essay in the Financial Times recently, anthropologist James Suzman soothingly offered an evolutionary rationale for a re-think about the nature of employment, framing the discussion as one about leisure time. “For more than 95 per cent of Homo sapiens’ history, people enjoyed more leisure […]

The Swindled and the Vile: America’s Bomb-less Blitz

Aug 13 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — Years ago, when I first lived in Washington, D.C., the city was so paralyzed by snow one January Saturday that friends who came for lunch stayed five days. I wrote a column about how a hostile power could simply wait for what, in Canada, would be a good ski day to invade and hang an […]

The Tragic Legacy of Bill Clinton’s China Doctrine

Aug 10 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — On March 8, 2000, then-President Bill Clinton delivered his most persuasive pitch to Washington’s foreign policy elite, Congress and the international community on the merits of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). With a key vote looming, the case was made in a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies […]

Welcome to the New McCarthyism

Aug 6 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — If Godwin’s law has been among the many casualties of reality-show fascism, it is quickly being replaced by the rule that, in any debate about China, the spectre of McCarthyism will be deployed—invariably by China—to chill criticism. “Current U.S. policy toward China is based on strategic misjudgments that lack factual evidence, and is full of […]

Ambassador Bob Rae: Clever Casting for a Kairos Moment

Jul 6 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — There are few prerogatives of prime ministerial or presidential power that are more creative than the ability to change a life and perhaps the course of history by appointing the right person to the right job. There’s an element of matchmaking to it, of major-league coaching and of Hollywood casting. For high-stakes titles, such as […]

Systemic Racism is Not a Sasquatch

Jun 19 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — As the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th has given birth to a modern uprising for racial justice, one peculiarly antideluvian notion has spannered the spokes of the constructive public dialogue we all knew would be forthcoming as we white people rose to the occasion and began engaging in the uncomfortable conversations […]

America’s Reality-Show Election: Trump vs. Anarchy?

Jun 11 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — Like many journalists, some of my earliest professional experiences involved dealing with the police. As a radio reporter working the late shift in Vancouver, I learned to navigate both the technicalities of my police scanner and the legalities of police reporting, and to respect the officers I dealt with both behind desks and at crime […]

Can the intelligence community save democracy?

May 21 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — Among the questions that loomed after September 11, 2001, was how intelligence agencies would handle the power they’d acquired through a confluence of unprecedented public license, massive funding, and new technology. As the internet fuelled a post-9/11 revolution in covert capabilities, that explosion in resources funded a multinational empire of contractors, freelancers, and off-the-books operatives. […]

COVID-19, Democracy and the Future of Work

May 13 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — One of the questions that arose in Washington in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis was to what degree the crash would fuel structural unemployment. Because the disaster was man-made and corruption-driven, it was not fuelled by organic weaknesses in the U.S. economy and so did not produce either cyclical (reflecting the normal […]

Trump’s Major Strasser Moment

May 4 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — The proverb, “A picture is worth a thousand words” has been most reliably attributed to Syracuse Post-Standard editor Tess Flanders, who reportedly used it while handling a piece about a meeting of the city’s Advertising Men’s Club in 1911. “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words,” Flanders presumably barked on deadline at a guy […]