Work In Progress
The world appears to be coming undone, and it seems the Gauls have a lot to do with that. On 29 May 2005 France’s voters went to the polls to deliver their verdict on a tome that was meant to be a united Europe’s constitution. Over 54% of those casting ballots delivered a resounding NON! Just how serious is this development? According to some reports, a defeated French President Jacques Chirac is already starting to “shakeup” his government in order “to save face at home” [AP, 30 May 2005. See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8022003/]
. Will the European Union’s 25 nations now ever really be able to get together, or have the forces of greater integration come to a grinding halt, and for all time? One account says “France and Europe reeled on Monday from a resounding French ‘No’ vote that could sound the death knell for a proposed constitution for the European Union” [Reuters, 30 May 2005].
Meanwhile in Iraq, violence continues, grows. On 29 May 2005 Iraqi forces started with Operation Lighting, the latest counter-insurgency campaign to be launched in Baghdad. So far there is little to suggest this is going to suffocate rebellion. AP on 30 May 2005 reports “Two suicide bombers blew themselves up Monday in a crowd of police officers south of Baghdad, killing up to 30 people and wounding dozens…The two bombers struck shortly after 9 a.m. in Hillah, 60 miles south of the capital, wading into a crowd of about 500 policemen who were demonstrating outside the mayor’s office to protest a government decision to disband their special forces unit…The bombers staggered the detonations to maximize casualties” [Cited in AP, 30 May 2005. Article posted at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7897149/
Half a globe away, in North Korea, there’s open discussion of conflict. It seems that in the absence of Axis of Evil rhetoric, the keepers of the Republic never hesitate to pick up the slack with their own talk of warfare. About a week ago, a statement from North Korea reiterated that Washington’s hostility led to the nuclear program and warned: “The United States should be aware that the choice of a pre-emptive attack is not only theirs” [cited in “North Korea Talks Pre-emptive Strike,” CNN, 25 May 2005. Posted at http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/05/24/korea.nuclear.ap/index.html
Back in Ottawa, an event took place that demonstrated Prime Minister Martin just might be responding to growing global insecurity with caution. That happened with the meeting of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. After seeing the President on 27 May 2005, Martin delivered on earlier promises, announcing the leader of the Palestinian Authority could expect about $12.2 million in aid. The PM called the sum a “downpayment,” adding the money was for such projects as rule of law reform, housing, and even scholarships [cited in CTV News, 28 May 2005. Posted at http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1117193963667_33/?hub=TopStories
]. Only a few months ago, back in February, both the PM’s rhetoric and media coverage of the Middle East betrayed much more optimism, and conveyed a sense that Canada could play an even greater role. Back then Martin, issuing an invitation to Abbas, said “We as Canadians are going to have to involve ourselves . . . much more than we have before.” One report noted “Canada plans to play a significantly more robust role in the Middle East peace process” [cited, along with quote by PM, in CP, 3 February 2005. Posted at http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1107436603637_102845803/?hub=Canada
]. Is Martin consciously playing down Canadian involvement in foreign affairs, owing to a growing climate of geopolitical uncertainty? Is he merely acting in response to the pressures of being leader of a minority government, circumstances that may result in Canadian involvement in world affairs being relegated to the status of a work in progress? Or, is what’s happening merely a shift in the tone of how media cover the world?
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