National Newswatch

Performative Politics and the Redundancy of Borat

Oct 29 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — The buffoonish hamming, the slapstick vulgarity, the imbecilic racism, the bunko set pieces, the cartoonish misogyny, the elaborate dupery, the unseemly honeytraps … with such outrageous antics happening in the most powerful office in the world, politics, as has been noted, can be hard to mock these days. Sacha Baron Cohen, the British actor and […]

Trump Has Made ‘The Question’ so Much Easier to Answer

Oct 14 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — It hasn’t come up yet in this presidential election cycle, possibly because the answer seems so overwhelmingly self-evident, but it’s status as a quadrennial ritual is so baked into US political culture that, in the West Wing episode in which it figures prominently, it enters the action as simply, “The Question”. The Question is, “Why […]

Donald Trump, Power Tool of the New Barbarians

Oct 8 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — During the last two major global clashes between democracy and totalitarianism—unleashed by the rise of fascism that produced the Second World War and of communism that produced the Cold War—ideology was at the core of the battle, at least in theory. The process of seducing human beings as adherents until the obliteration of democracy makes […]

Donald Trump’s Dead Fish Debate

Sep 30 2020 — Lisa Van Dusen — In classic narrative warfare fashion, Donald Trump treated Tuesday night’s presidential debate in Cleveland not as a debate, but as an odious psychological warfare assault on his own country. By refusing to engage in anything other than lies, insults and bullying, Trump was expressing his contempt for not only the forum in which he was […]

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 […]