Hieronymus Bosch back in land of free .. Commonwealth down .. Canada as US backdoor to Europe

Sep 22nd, 2016 | By | Category: Key Current Issues

Back in the middle of this past March 2016 my esteemed colleague Citizen X was telling us :

“The wisest thing I’ve come across on the American presidential primaries lately urges that 2016 so far is ‘democracy as depicted by Hieronymus Bosch’” (from the Huffington Post’s “Top 12 Reasons This Is The Most Depressing Election Ever,” March 14, 6:53 AM ET).

To me it is no accident that this theme has much more recently (and discreetly) been revived, by “A Thousand Erotic Games … Raoul Vaneigem writes about Hieronymus Bosch,” in the 8 September 2016 issue of the London Review of Books.

In any case as we officially enter the autumn wonderland in this fateful US election year, I think I have returned to “democracy as depicted by Hieronymus Bosch” as the key to what is making  America crazy again in 2016.

First World War recruiting poster. India was one of the young lions even then. Now it has about half the people in the modern Commonwealth of Nations.

The Democrats have been showing some big shivers lately at the increasingly possible prospect that Donald Trump will be elected president of Making America Great Again on November 8. They are starting to hit back harder and throw more dirt.

This hurts Mr. Trump’s  feelings. And he almost seems to be trying to behave even more badly so he won’t win. But will the current not-so-good-for-Hillary polls change?  Who knows?

It is at this point, however, that my mind starts to wander in a big way …

And I start reading such more exotic postings as Sadakat Kadri’s ironically headlined “Up the Commonwealth” on the LRB Blog. And from here I’m pointed to “CANZUK: after Brexit, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain can unite as a pillar of Western civilisation,” by Andrew Roberts (“a credulous cheerleader for powerful people for years” in Mr. Kadri’s view).

* * * *

My first thought is that fortunately no one is going to take anything with a proposed name like CANZUK seriously. And there seems some similarity between the wildly unrealistic political and economic thought of certain Brexiteers in the UK and Donald Trump in the USA.

(And when Nigel Farage advises an Irish radio audience to rejoin the Commonwealth, despite local aversion to the British monarchy, he seems to be forgetting that the largest and most influential parliamentary democracy in the Commonwealth today is the Republic of India.)

But then I stumble across “Establishment of Australia-UK trade working group,” and “Export Development Canada [aka EDC] sets up shop in London in Brexit’s wake.” And I start to wonder all over again. If Brexit is possible maybe a President Trump …  ????

In front of the German Social Democratic Party headquarters in Berlin, September 20, 2014. WOLFGANG KUMM/AFP/Getty Images.

I am somewhat reassured when I read “Canadian insurer EDC sets up shop in London” on an  insurance industry site. This is happening alongside not as a result of Brexit. And : “EDC, which provides trade financing, export credit insurance and bonding services, also has permanent representations in 13 other countries including Germany, Brazil, China, India and Singapore.”

Finally, you don’t have to go far in this larger chain of current political and economic pondering to bump into the long-simmering Canada-European Union free trade deal (aka CETA) – as in “May reaffirms UK’s post-Brexit support for Canada-EU trade deal: Freeland .”

And this has such realist supporters as the former Ontario bureaucrat John Whitehead on the ipolitics site : “Why the EU needs a trade deal with Canada … It would send a signal that it can still get things done post-Brexit .”

At the same time, I have finally discovered something that explains to my sometimes rather slow perceptions in such matters just why it is taking so many years to have the Canada-US trade deal, negotiated long ago, duly approved by all the current European partners.

If you are wondering about such an arcane question yourself, try : “Canada-EU deal could result in ‘deluge’ of corporate suing say campaign groups … New report suggests US companies can sue EU Government via the backdoor of the Canada deal.”

Note especially : “Nick Dearden, spokesperson for Global Justice Now said: ‘CETA would open up our government to a deluge of court cases by North American multinational corporations and investors. It presents a threat to our ability to protect the environment, to protect the public and to limit the power of big banks. It’s thoroughly undemocratic and must be stopped.’”

Mmmm … even when you try very hard, you can’t help but wonder : “What would Donald Trump think of that?” Or Justin Trudeau. Or the retired Stephen Harper. Or Hillary Clinton, Rachel Maddow,  Bill Maher, Joy Reid , Eugene Robinson, Joe Scarborough, etc, etc ??

Some Europeans think Canada is just a Trojan Horse for the USA. That seems to be one big thing slowing down the approval of the Canada-EU trade deal (aka CETA) ??

As John Whitehead notes, CETA has long been understood as “a possible precursor to a long-sought free trade deal between the EU and US.” But right now that idea isn’t very popular in Europe. And electing Donald Trump would almost certainly not help.

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