National Newswatch

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 […]

The Audacity of Logic: Joe Biden’s Super Tuesday

Mar 5 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — When James Clyburn, the elder statesman of South Carolina Democratic politics and African-American political icon, took the stage Saturday night in Columbia to celebrate Joe Biden’s remarkable win in the state, he didn’t quote Yogi Berra. A student and teacher of history, Clyburn plucked from time the words of America’s most famous tourist. “If Americans […]

When is a Peace Plan not a Peace Plan?

Jan 29 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — In the old days — not the old days in Middle East terms, but the pre-post-truth old days when things were normal…like, 10 years ago — the Israeli-Palestinian stand-off was generally considered by invested observers to be a sort of holy prototype for conflict resolution. Its notorious intractability, epic and fine-print complications and the heartbreaking […]

Oops: Donald Trump, Iran and the Perils of Multiple Choice

Jan 6 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — Of all the sectors, industries and cultural phenomena — from coal to oil to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors — that have benefited from Donald Trump’s unlikely presidency of the world’s flagship democratic superpower, ironic nostalgia may be the most unappreciated. In the same way that Trump’s impeachment has made us pine for the days when […]

The Decade of Deception

Dec 30 2019 — Lisa Van Dusen — Among the usual end-of-decade wrap-ups and best-and-worst compilations, the content commemorating the tick-over from 2019 to 2020 includes some that package the past ten years as the “Decade of Distrust” or mistrust. (Distrust is when you stop believing; mistrust is when you don’t believe in the first place). This characterization of a period that began […]

‘Twas the Week Before Christmas

Dec 20 2019 — Lisa Van Dusen — Twas the week before Christmas and all through the world, Stock in Xanax inflated as the s***show unfurled. In a Washington split like a log with an ax, They were impeaching a president—not the one with the sax. As the details emerged of a hit on Ukraine, America’s mayor broke up with his brain, For […]

Policy Q&A: Recovering G7 Sherpa Sen. Peter Boehm on Biarritz Schadenfreude, Trump and the Future of the G7

Aug 22 2019 — Lisa Van Dusen — Before retiring from a distinguished foreign service career last year, Senator Peter Boehm served as Canadian sherpa to the 2018 G7 in Charlevoix, Québec. Ahead of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, he spoke with Policy Associate Editor Lisa Van Dusen about his Biarritz Schadenfreude, the emotional roller coaster of Charlevoix, those notorious Donald Trump […]

Charlottesville’s self-evident truths

Aug 16 2017 — Lisa Van Dusen — Like so many places in the American South, Charlottesville is beautiful and haunted. Thomas Jefferson haunts the iconic University of Virginia campus he designed like an invisible chancellor, just as Sally Hemings and hundreds of other slaves haunt Monticello as self-evident truths in the course of human events. In 2010, I took a guided tour […]

Donald Trump, disruptive surrealist

Jan 29 2017 — Lisa Van Dusen — Ten days into the previously unthinkable Trump administration, the outlines of a conceptual framework through which to view the new American president’s political philosophy are beginning to emerge amid the fog of confusion and perpetual avalanche of tweets. We can safely conclude that Donald Trump is not a realist, after a week that began with […]

Spooky Action at a Distance and the Redefinition of Power

Jan 9 2017 — Lisa Van Dusen — The Le Carré-ish tale of Russia’s narrative manipulation of America’s presidential election is more than a geopolitical inflection point, it’s an object lesson in the redefinition of power. In the two decades since the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution brought on by the internet, power has shifted from the post-Cold War status quo of […]

The Perfect Post-truth President

Nov 18 2016 — Lisa Van Dusen — Among the many unsettling developments of the incipient Trump era, Oxford Dictionaries this week declared “post-truth” its international word of the year. The term is defined by the dictionary as an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” […]

President Trump? Everybody take a Valium

Nov 12 2016 — Lisa Van Dusen — The propulsion of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States has unleashed a sort of cognitive digestion process comparable to the five stages of grief that might be called the five stages of belief: astonishment, disorientation, stabilization, verification and panic. “Mixed feelings” doesn’t really begin to describe the cocktail of emotions that Mr. […]

Canada: The New Rogue State in a Crazy World

Oct 31 2016 — Lisa Van Dusen — In the single 24-hour a day multinational feed that is now the global policy universe, Canada has posted something distinctive in the content stream with the signing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). In a world where division, intractability, rejection, belligerence, xenophobia and protectionism have become the norm, Canada is the new rogue […]