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Jackson Doughart

Jackson Doughart joined the Prince Arthur Herald staff in June 2013, and now serves as Editor of the English section. He holds a master's degree in political studies from Queen's University and formerly interned at the National Post. By day, he is Research Coordinator at the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a public policy think tank in Halifax.

Why are we allies with Turkey?

It’s all well and good to express scepticism about the government of Russia. Even the less-alarmist viewpoint in our own society — holding that the reaction against Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and Syria is disproportionate — has to admit that there is a worrying centralization of power in that country, along with a high degree of uncertainty about its intentions as a recrudescing and influential state. My question is: in what way is this country much better than Turkey? Since at least the 11th of September 2001, powerful Western countries and the states which share their cultures have — admittedly or not — been confronted with a revanchist Islamism that seeks, at a minimum, to accomplish massacres of non-Muslims in the West. In their own countries, these forces seek to bring about greater power for religion and theocracy. The Turkish President Recep Erdogan is an Islamist, having overseen the dilution of the hard-line Kemalist order which viewed any encroachment of religion into the affairs of state to constitute just cause for military rule. His government overturned a longstanding ban on the hijab — an Islamic headscarf worn by women which was previously prohibited in the public service. Erdogan is also contemptuous of democracy, having once said that democracy, like a train, is something that one rides until reaching one’s destination. What do we imagine that destination might be? The sectarian element of his foreign policy has not been adequately reflected upon. Despite having committed to fight the Islamic State, thereby placing his country on the same side of the ISIS conflict with the Kurds of Iraq, Turkey has played both sides. In August, Erdogan’s military attacked Kurdish rebels — thereby aiding in consequence ISIS. This can be traced to the longstanding hostility of the Turkish state… Read More

Refugee plan is Trudeau’s Obamacare

It is no secret that Justin Trudeau fancies himself as the Canadian Barack Obama. His measured speaking delivery is an obvious, if poor, emulation of the American president’s part-professor, part-preacher speaking style. So is his obsession with rhetoric in support of the “middle class” and his sunny ways message: he has ridden to office over tough economic times upon a wave of hope and optimism. Now that he’s in office, Trudeau seems to — unwittingly or not — be following Obama’s lead in policy as well. I’m not talking about a specific law or initiative (at least not yet), but rather the way in which both men abandon all measures of fairness and civility toward their opponents when a pet project is under fire, and especially when those opponents are proved right in their criticisms. Obama’s intransigence has covered many areas, most notably foreign affairs and his relations with Congress. But this quality was at its most prominent when the roll out of his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, began to crumble beneath its own contradictions. After having managed to earn the approval of the Supreme Court despite the law’s apparent conflict with the constitution’s commerce clause, the sheer unworkability of the program’s central planks undid its timely implementation. By the time that the president had to answer for how badly his administration bungled the Obamacare rollout, he could only offer platitudes about his opponents, rather than concrete reasons to support what he was doing. What’s worse, Obama refused to permit Republicans in Congress to pass a law allowing Americans to keep their existing health care plans, despite the fact that the same policy was being promulgated via executive order, seemingly because it might suggest that his critics were on to something all along. The delays of the individual… Read More

Justin without gravitas? What a surprise

"There are times when glamour is the opposite of gravitas," wrote political analyst Chantal Hébert last week in the Toronto Star. Her subject was Justin Trudeau's response to the Paris terror attacks, and it may count as the understatement of the year. Quite the opposite of either gravitas or glamour, the prime minister looked lost in his public comments both before and during the G20 meetings in Turkey on the subject. Should we be surprised at the Dauphin's reaction? It was the only time he's spoken on camera, to my knowledge, without his stage voice. Usually he is hyper-measured and exceedingly dramatic in delivery. But on the one time when a bit of emotion and drama was called for, he actually sounded like an average Joe. Where were the crescendos and pauses and affected hand gestures when it came to condemning the attacks and offering a firm commitment to our allies? Flat-footed on policy is only the beginning. As the rest of Canada's usual friends, including a man of impeccable socialist credentials in French President Francois Hollande, was ramping up the rhetoric toward action against ISIS, Trudeau showed — and has since shown — no sense that his plan to withdraw Canadian troops from the bombing mission in Syria and Iraq against ISIS targets might require reconsideration. My purpose here is not to criticize that policy. Rather, the point is that if ever there was a time to turn up the charm, of which he has an apparently-abundant supply, this would be it. And yet his sales job has been thoroughly unconvincing and unstatesmanlike. If indeed his first acts of foreign policy are not a horrendous misstep, he has done little to disabuse the critics of their suspicion that he is far out of his depth. Gravitas, then, is the… Read More

On ISIS, Canada must follow its allies

I’m not absolutely convinced that a ramped-up bombing campaign against the Islamic State will bring about a degradation and destruction of that group, as hoped. Perhaps, as some sceptics claim, it will not deter the horrific attacks on Western civilians by jihadists, or have a long-term influence on the survival of that “state.” These things cannot be known in advance with certainty. But whatever long-term strategy is undertaken, the decision won’t be Canada’s to make. The important thing is that we follow the lead of our allies.   That’s not a very proud, nationalistic thing to say, but it’s the truth. We need to move beyond the partisan game on both sides here: Supporters of bombing ISIS want to shame Trudeau into revising his stance on the ground of the Paris atrocities. Trudeau doesn’t want to revise it because, supposedly, he believes in some kind of mission that is unique to Canadian strengths, which does not include the bombing campaign in his estimation. Or maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to acknowledge that his campaign promise to pull out of that campaign was ill-founded. (He could surely make the argument that the Paris catastrophe has changed the game, and that he has to change course and reverse his previous position.) In the end, it doesn’t matter why, or which “side” is right. The policy on a topic so important needs to be corrected in the end, no matter who “looks good.”   Most importantly, the focus being placed on having a particular Canadian angle to our activities is entirely misguided. Yes, our utility in a multilateral effort will be premised upon our abilities, limited as they are in comparison to many others'. But that really isn’t our call to make. Instead, our prime minister and his government should offer the… Read More

Islamist fanatics finally do something that can’t be rationalized away

The attacks in Paris have hit me, and I suspect many others, in a way that other acts of Islamist horrorism from the past few years have not. Unlike them, this conflagration cannot be plausibly attributed to “lone wolves,” or to a mad belief that drawing unfavourable or critical cartoons of Muhammad plausibly constitutes a warrant for death. It wasn’t a spontaneous eruption of “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” or a desperate cry for attention from some loser nut, but a meticulous, even sophisticated — if that term can be applied to something so evil — plan to kill innocent people en masse.   While the purpose is unquestionably political, the fact that the targets were innocent civilians reveals the whole tactic and psychology of those responsible. Their modus operandi puts one in mind of Carlos the Jackal’s claim that the victims of 9/11 were merely “soldiers in suits and ties”.   There is always a reliable cohort of people who rush to sow doubt and suspicion into any penetrating thesis about Islamist atrocities. American war making, civil rights disputes, general inter-religious insensitivity, historical imperialism, and an underlying societal Islamo-phobia are the usual citations — otherwise crudely summarized as the chickens of Western policies coming home to roost. But none of these excuses can be used here. Gunmen shouted Allahu Akbar — “God is Great” — as they did their deed. They chased down disabled people — soldiers in wheelchairs, no doubt — for their attack. And according to witnesses of Friday’s murders, a perpetrator in the act of killing cited France’s involvement in the bombing of the Islamic State as cause for his group’s actions.   This supposed justification is incomprehensibly and straightforwardly irrational. Even if you disagree on some strategic ground with the decision of the coalition force to bomb ISIS, the intentions… Read More
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