As we enter 2015, the world faces a Pandora's Box of problems. Daryl Copeland writes:
Thanks to the emergence of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the much-maligned Global War on Terror (GWOT), which only a year ago seemed to be waning, has received an enormous boost. The name may have changed, but terrorism and radical Islam remain at the top of the threat list for most Western governments. While large-scale invasions and occupations have — for now — fallen into well-deserved disrepute, that space has been filled by a combination of drone and airstrikes, special operations, cyber attacks and mass surveillance.
Long-standing concerns over Russia’s stability and the security of its enormous nuclear arsenal have been exacerbated by the resurgence of revanchism in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and throughout the “near abroad.” The ongoing economic meltdown engendered by the oil price collapse has amplified the sense of volatility and uncertainty.
When the distribution of wealth within and between states becomes sharply skewed, economies and people suffer. This was the core message of the Occupy Wall Street campaign, and although that observation has since become mainstream, polarization continues. Meanwhile, last week’s round of climate change negotiations in Lima produced little, despite the findings of the latest — and highly troubling — IPCC report. Similar paralysis has afflicted efforts to remedy problems of diminishing biodiversity, resource scarcity, public health and pandemic disease, and other planet-imperilling issues rooted in science and driven by technology.
Canada used to play an important role in international diplomacy. No longer:
What of this country’s role and place? By my reckoning, Canada’s once-admired internationalist brand has been spoiled, mutating into something of a cross between warrior nation wannabe and fossil of the year. We have foundered on the shoals of lessons unlearned — think Afghanistan and Libya — and moved decisively to make matters worse.
After wisely passing on joining the disastrous misadventure in Iraq in 2004, Canadian Air Force and army personnel are now engaged, thus reversing earlier gains and creating new enemies by effectively signing on to GWOT II. On the home front, many NGOs are struggling due to the withdrawal of government support. Rights and Democracy, chartered by Parliament in 1988 to promote human rights and democratic development worldwide, was eliminated in 2012. The Pearson Centre for peacekeeping training was shuttered in 2013. The development research dedicated North-South Institute was closed down earlier this year.
Stephen Harper has done all kinds of damage to this country. And that damage is spreading out to the rest of the world. If we are going to re-establish our international prestige, 2015 must be the year we throw the Harperites out of office.