Weekly Roundup (21 November-25 November)

Blair’s Political Resurrection? (21 November)

London. Upon news that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair plans on opening an office in London, speculation has it that he will be making a return to politics. While it is unclear what role Blair sees himself as playing, he has indicated that as an anti-Brexit supporter, he might lead the charge for another British national referendum designed to reverse Brexit and bring the UK back into the EU fold.

Pro-Brexit supporters have welcomed that someone whom they consider a discredited former Prime Minister, makes a tilt against the Brexit ‘new order’ which they believe would only “increase public support for leaving the EU”. Currently, while Blair has spoken of ‘plans’ and has made some titillating suggestions, nothing as yet has been set in concrete. He has, however, been openly critical of Prime Minister Theresa May, Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn, and condemned the Tories of completely mishandling Brexit.

Whether Blair can marshal a new political movement or party to challenge what he considers a rudderless government and a witless opposition is anyone’s guess.

When Blair was Prime Minister in 2003, he led his country to war with Iraq based on what the Chilcot Inquiry argued was manipulated ‘evidence’. When the people protested against going to war, Blair ignored ‘the will of the people’ and joined then US President George W. Bush’s Coalition to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Ironically, when he retired from politics to take on the role of ‘Peace Envoy’ to the Middle East, Blair’s record was less than spectacular.

How such a man, a man from ‘the establishment’ could return to politics in Britain with a renewed public mandate in an anti-establishment climate is not clear. Perhaps he sees himself as an establishment ‘insurgent’. But if this is so, he stands to lead a minority charge, just enough to be a nuisance on the sidelines of the Tory government, but not enough to topple it or see him resume his former position at Downing Street.

The International Market – An Unexpected Post-Trump Twist (22 November)

New York. In an exceptionally strange twist of events, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped to a record high of 19,000 points.

When all the doomsayers were suggesting market turmoil on the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency, the markets showed this was not the case. Reasons given for the unprecedented rise was the expectation of Trump’s pro-growth economic formula, as well as promised tax cuts and a massive investment in US infrastructure.

Expectations are high and the markets currently seem bullish but Trump’s ability to deliver will be tested upon his ascension to the White House in 2017. Any perceived inability to pass on his economic policies in their entirety will see Trump’s popularity at home plummet and market confidence collapse.

A US Election Recount on the Cards? (23 November)

Washington D.C. Supporters of Hillary Clinton, still seething at the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, are trying to convince Hillary Clinton to make a bid for a recount of the Electoral College votes.

Clinton, who won the popular vote by a margin of approximately 2 million, lost the election because the Electoral College system, a system that has been criticized for years as being a relic of the past and in need of reform, is the system where presidential races are won and lost.

The problem for the US is that the Electoral College system was essentially put in place as an added check on the federal political process to prevent the rise of populist politicians who could mobilize support outside of this arcane voting system (and is guaranteed by Article Two of the US Constitution). In effect, a presidential race is not designed to be a popularity contest, but is a highly controlled and staged indirect voting event.

In this sense, Trump won fairly because he won the only vote that mattered. But with allegations of Russia having provided unfair advantages from the sidelines to ‘enhance’ the Trump campaign, allegations that have yet to be proven, and with the progressive left having been outmaneuvered by what it perceives as an ignorant, misogynist, racist, bully, Democrat anger is palpable.

In the event of Clinton making a play for a recount, there will be turmoil in Washington. If Washington cannot be seen to rule in its own backyard, more ambitious states like Russia and China will be able to extend their reach and power effectively and cheaply at the expense of a US drowning in disunity.

ANZUS Treaty Worries Aired (24 November)

Canberra. Australian Secretary of Defence, Dennis Richardson gave voice to concerns about what a Trump win means for the ANZUS Treaty, a treaty that has been in existence since 1951.

The question now is: in spite of having stood by the Americans in every major war in the 20th Century, as well as some of the more controversial US-led wars of the early 21st Century, could it be that Australia has to rethink its relations with the US?

While campaigning for high office Trump made noises about ‘countries the US are defending must pay for the cost of this defence and if not, the US must let these countries defend themselves’. Perhaps a reasonable thing to say to a domestic American audience sick of overseas commitments, but not good news for American allies like Australia, dependent on American security largess. While confident that Australia will not be targeted to pay for American military protection, Trump’s ‘new broom’ approach to American international affairs means that US allies, including those in the inner circle like Australia, can no longer take things for granted.

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