The peculiar cult of Che Guevara

Guevara’s primary political instinct was totalitarian, with a propensity to violence

The peculiar cult of Che GuevaraIreland has just issued a postage stamp commemorating Che Guevara. Featuring the ubiquitous two-tone portrait created by Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick, the stamp marks the 50th anniversary of Guevara’s death on October 9, 1967. The postal service’s rationale is that Guevara had Irish ancestry and that Fitzpatrick’s artwork “appears on t-shirts, posters, badges and clothing…

China’s unsettling leverage over America

China's economic, social, political and military growth mean the superpower dynamics are shifting dramatically

China’s unsettling leverage over AmericaDoes China control enough U.S. debt to influence American foreign policy? During the Second World War, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt told British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to get out of the colonialism business. By leveraging Britain’s war debt to the U.S., Roosevelt influenced English foreign policy, opening new markets for the U.S. and for globalization.…

Putting a muzzle on those you disagree with

Mark Kingwell is vexed by the failure of democracy to silence the speech of those he disagrees with

Putting a muzzle on those you disagree withMark Kingwell is what is commonly called an intellectual social critic. He has an impressive list of advanced degrees and has published books on difficult topics such as baseball, cocktails and democracy. He’s paid by the taxpayers of Ontario to teach philosophy to their university-going young people. But a recent article in the Globe and…

‘Be not afraid.’ Why the words of John Paul II still resonate

No force on earth is more powerful than a movement that embraces the truths of personal empowerment, forgiveness, courage, acceptance and love

‘Be not afraid.’ Why the words of John Paul II still resonateThere are many dark pages in the history of the 20th century, notably the tens of millions of deaths cased by Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. Caught between the regimes of these cruel dictators was the Poland where Karol Wojtyla came of age. The leaders of Nazism and Soviet communism tried to convince people that they…

‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’

While it might be silly to argue the Berlin Wall came down because of Ronald Reagan, he demonstrated unusual prescience about the Soviet Union’s fragility

‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’The relationship between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev has been described as “among the most remarkable forged by any two world leaders in modern history.” And one of its most famous public moments occurred just 30 years ago. Speaking in front of the infamous Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987, Reagan issued a challenge: “Mr.…

China offers a lesson on financing infrastructure

China built 20,000 km of high-speed rail infrastructure without raising taxes or becoming indebted to international bond markets

China offers a lesson on financing infrastructureAs members of a developed western economy, Canadians think we know all about capitalism. And, obviously, we believe our way of doing things is the best – we have nothing to learn from countries like China. Or do we? How did a country with an emerging economy like China build 20,000 km of high-speed rail infrastructure without raising…

The failed fight against fascism

The bombing of Guernica was a flashpoint in the Spanish Civil War, which became a microcosm of worldwide political and ideological schisms for years to come

The failed fight against fascismOn April 26, 1937, German planes bombed the Basque town of Guernica, killing around 1,000 people. Undertaken as part of Germany’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War, the bombing was intended to cause terror. But as sometimes happens, there was a boomerang effect. For significant sections of western opinion, the brutality of what happened in Guernica…

China’s One Belt, One Road strategy threat to Canadian trade

China likely to focus more on Asia and the Indian Ocean basin for its commodity needs and less on North America

China’s One Belt, One Road strategy threat to Canadian tradeGeography has always mattered. Technology can shape how nations interact economically and politically. Railroads can traverse vast deserts and mountains, ships can cross great oceans. Planes can do both. But geographic reality remains the same: mountains are still tall, oceans still broad. In January, a train loaded with containers pulled into London. The train originated…

China ready to test Trump’s resolve

Beijing has a long history of provoking incoming U.S. administrations to see how they will respond to aggressive Chinese actions

China ready to test Trump’s resolveSeveral recent events underscore China’s growing military strength in East Asia and how it might respond to the Trump administration’s plans to “reset” U.S.-China relations. On Dec. 14, satellite reconnaissance revealed that China had installed anti-aircraft guns on all seven of the artificial islands it has created in the South China Sea. That same day,…

Death of a tyrant

The best assessment of Castro came from his daughter Alina who, when told he was a dictator, replied: “Strictly speaking, Fidel is a tyrant”

Death of a tyrantI never liked Fidel Castro. Not even a little bit. Part of my aversion had to do with a general antipathy towards 20th century dictators, especially charismatic ones. They were, after all, the most dangerous. Intelligent people who waxed apoplectic over the alleged authoritarian tendencies of Stephen Harper and wet the bed over the prospect…