He Did It His Own Way

The Tommy Koh Reader: Favourite Essays And Lectures – Tommy Koh

* World Scientific Publishing, 529 pages, non-fiction

A SMALL black-and-white sketch on the cover of The Tommy Koh Reader offers a partial glimpse of the author’s face.

The collection of Prof Tommy Koh’s speeches and written works is also a partial glimpse of one of Singapore’s most versatile, accomplished and outspoken sons. It would be difficult to give a full picture of his impact on academia, diplomacy, law, the arts, heritage and the environment in Singapore, but this selection does cover a range of the causes he has championed.

Koh and other members of the University Socialist Club “were very passionate about our quest to build a more democratic, just and equal world,” he wrote. As a student, he “hoped that we would find a socio-economic model which would achieve growth with equity”.

He is still voicing similar concerns. In 2010, he noted that Singapore’s founding fathers had a vision of a country like an olive, with a large middle class and relatively few people at the top and the bottom, and warned, “We must not allow the olive to become a pear”.

After graduating, Koh did his law pupilage with former chief minister David Marshall and then lectured at the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Law. But in 1968 he was asked to represent the newly independent nation as its Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Although he later became dean of the Faculty of Law (1971-1974), he spent most of his professional life with Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

An “active participant” in the republic’s diplomacy for 41 years, Koh proved to be one of its most formidable negotiators. He described his tactics on drafting the agenda as Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on Environment and Development, the Earth Summit in 1991 and 1992: “My strategy was to maintain the pressure on the delegates until they agreed to compromise. By 4:30 a.m., the delegates were so exhausted that they asked me to draft a compromise. I called for a short recess, and with the help of about a dozen colleagues representing the various interest groups, succeeded in drafting a compromise. I got my agenda.”

Koh combined his legal and diplomatic skills as president of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea (1981-1982), which wrote “a constitution for the oceans”. The 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea “has survived the test of time”, he wrote, and “brought legal order, certainty and peace to the world’s oceans and seas. It is often regarded as one of the UN’s most important contributions to the rule of law in the world.”

The “son of a book-loving father and an art-loving mother”, Koh was the founding chairman of the National Arts Council (1991) and in 1992, chaired Singapore’s Censorship Review Committee.

“When an attempt was made to stigmatise forum theatre and The Necessary Stage”, he wrote to Singapore’s The Straits Times newspaper to defend them. But he failed “to protect performance artist Josef Ng from the wrath of law enforcement agencies”.

That was not the only time Koh criticised Government policies. He has been part of the establishment, but he has also been active in civil society.

“Non-governmental organisations by their very nature must be nuisances,” he told Asiaweek magazine in 1996. “But we need such positive nuisances.”

For example, he cited “Saving the trees of the Lower Peirce Reservoir from being cut down to make way for a golf course” as one of Singapore’s most important environmental achievements. Although it’s not mentioned in the book, Koh could take credit for that since he is patron of the Nature Society (Singapore), which led Singapore’s biggest protest campaign in 1992 – long before the dawn of social media.

NSS members first compiled an 80-page report about the biodiversity in the catchment area and the impact the proposed golf course would have on water quality and the environment. When the Government did not respond, they organised a campaign that collected around 17,000 signatures. The proposal was eventually shelved.

This collection will resonate with many Malaysians and Singaporeans but readers further afield may have to resort to the Internet to check out some cryptic acronyms and references. An index and more footnotes in later editions would be helpful.

The Conservative Revolution by Cory Bernardi

The Conservative Revolution by Cory Bernardi, the book, is worth a read because it covers so-called conservative principles. These are principles like Faith, Family, Flag and Free Enterprise, which are cultural values held by establishment institutions and the majority in the mainstream, but utilitarian neo-liberal elite who currently have most of the power in the country want to change things from what they were in the past to conform with what is modern conservatism today. The Liberal Party today is no longer liberal in the traditional sense of the word, having moved to the right on most issues. Centralist policies of both major parties have failed a lot of minority groups over the years.

Cory Bernardi’s book covers socially conservative issues that are Judeo–Christian in nature. Bernardi is an economic liberal, but not progressive. Religious fundamentalism has been declining in most of the west over a decade.

The Flag – It is part of our heritage and identity furthermore Sir Henry Parkes is the founding father of Federation although the Constitution hasn’t change for over a hundred years and is a Constitutional Monarchy the head of state is the queen who represented as the symbol of the state in Australia. Only time will tell when became a Republic And become independent from united kingdom. Free Enterprise – Bernardi also believes in individual freedom and the free market, which he sees as capitalism for the middle class. He does not hold with the crony capitalism under which the too-big-to-fail banks are bailed out by the taxpayer who foots the bill. However, along with libertarians and social conservatives, he believes in the principle of private property. Freedom – An area where both libertarians and conservatives are at one is in wanting more freedom for the individual and in a society that provides more opportunities for the individual as well.

Family – He believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, saying it benefits both in the long run. Historically, the male is the breadwinner and also the authority in the household. He does not concur with the redefinition of marriage by the progressive left and opposes same-sex marriage. He believes that heterosexuals are better at bringing up children.

He is unapologetic about promoting the conservative cause and defending the traditional institutions along with Nick Minchin, who say that has a support base. Cory Bernardi was son of Italian immigrants who came to own hotels and restaurants. He went to Prince Alfred College, part of the Adelaide establishment, and he joined the Liberal party at 17 despite his father having been a unionist and a Labor man all his life. Cory holds ‘new right’ views on most issues. He claims that the green movement has been taken over by cultural Marxism, which also has an agenda to bring down the living standards of the west. His book is an interesting and thought-provoking read.

Book Review of “Cover Up” by Debut Political Author Damien Comerford

From the back cover: “Cover Up is an in-depth exposé of the botched investigations of five major tragic events of the twentieth century: the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed, the death of Pope John Paul I, the death of US politician Ron Brown, the loss of the 101st Airborne, and the assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana.

Author Damien Comerford dives headlong into the stories, bringing to light intriguing details about events leading up to each tragedy and then challenging the methods employed in each investigation. In this book, he shows that while the people in authority appeared to be conducting investigations and leaving no stone unturned, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Experts had no real interest in turning over every clue, and Comerford reveals the places where investigators went wrong, from overlooked forensic details and ignored eyewitness reports to facts too coincident to be accidents.

An experienced journalist, Comerford uses his considerable talent to dig deep into historical records and expertly reconstruct each event exactly as it occurred. The result is a compelling read that will leave even the most stalwart skeptic believing in the truth of cover-ups.”

Book review: An articulate, principled work on five mysterious world crimes in an era of press handouts and news curation. The authorities wish for whistle-blowers to become an extinct species, while the world has a responsibility to expose the heinous crimes committed by those in positions of power-let the whistle-blowing begin with Cover Up.

Overall winner at the Qantas Media Awards, investigative journalist Damien Comerford has released Cover Up, which sheds light on five select dark, mysterious, and most-compelling world crimes. All remain mysterious and unsolved, however, the author’s writing points to some interesting conclusions; and not in an average conspiracy theorist way. Secrets of the Alma Tunnel questions the death of Princess Diana and the rigidity of the investigations by French and British Police. A Poison Chalice magnifies evidence that was overlooked after the murder of Pope John Paul I, which possibly prevented the disclosure of Vatican involvement in the Mafia. Crime on Capitol Hill suggests that political whistle-blowers have, in a sense, an unrealized death wish. Like many others, Ron Brown was about to blow the whistle on a shady political act before he was permanently silenced. Fallen Arrow asks a question so controversial that it takes the investigation of the 101st Airborne, the Screaming Eagles, in an entirely new direction. And finally, Preparing for the Apocalypse makes it clear that the terrible crime of President Habyarimana’s murder, which also led to one of the worst genocides in history, may have been the result of a European superpower.

Comerford’s work is highly provocative, intellectually rigorous, and filled with mysterious insights. Each story is given an in depth analysis and unbiased evidence with a compelling argument. His admirable quest to bring investigative journalism to life in an “era of press handouts and spin doctoring” is realized within the pages of Cover Up.

Can You Reach the Destination If You Miss the Journey?

The Orphan Mater’s Son by Adam Johnson takes an amazing look at North Korea, its people and its leaders. While in the opening Johnson states that all people and situations are fictional he also says that the story is based on many interviews and extensive research. So while I am in a bit of quandary about the true intent and meaning of this book, I can tell you that it is interesting, provocative, and well worth the time required to read it. It is long with much detail, there are many names to keep track of, but above all the book comes from many perspectives including that of the narrator who also takes on a variety of personas. The three of these combine to force the reader to read, ponder, step away, and then return with a fresh outlook and open mind.

Johnson masterfully weaves his tale so that even when I felt lost, I also felt “found” as I wound through the intricacies of the story. If even a few facts about life in North Korea are true, it must be extremely difficult (worded very gently) to live under such oppression. The characters are believable and even the tough ones draw out some traces of sympathy. Their understanding of the outside world clarifies, at least in part, why and how they exist within the confines of their country. We take so much for granted in our nation that it is hard to imagine the struggles others face.

There are many tremendous statements in the book but one that really hit my mind is, “Is a destination worth reaching if you can’t recall the journey?” These words match the life of almost every character in the book as each seeks survival and a sense of safety for him/herself and for his/her children. In a regime where existing is a treacherous trial, I wonder if there is even time or energy to consider the journey when the destination is cloudy, murky, and confusing and requires every ounce of strength and focus to keep it clear and seemingly within reach. And it is most likely not within the each of the vast majority of people.

I believe that many people live within this “just get to the end” mindset, ignoring the intriguing and exciting events of the day while they long for the weekend or for vacation or for a new job or for retirement. They are so intently engaged in the possibilities of the future and the dreams and hopes it might possess that they forget to enjoy the moment. In the case of the characters in the book, I think that the mirage-like destination is what provides drive and determination. Glancing side to side might draw up too many horrors and dangers so eyes faced forward might be the best plan of action. But in the world in which most of us live, the side trips and side glances are often the most glorious. The characters and events along the path to our destination offer us the thrills and chills of adventure. This juxtaposition of life surroundings and experiences between the book’s characters and the reader is just one more mind-probing idea the author generates.

The Orphan Master’s Son is an excellent read. I have learned much and my brain has tingled and I have excitedly research to know and understand more. I recommend it to readers who are curious and ready to delve into mysterious waters. It is not for just anyone, though. It is painful in many places and a start-to-finish reading would be excruciating. Stepping away from time to time to regroup allows the reader to plunge on.

Twentieth Century Yugoslavia

To most people twentieth century Yugoslavia was essentially a multi-ethnic dream that ended tragically in the 1990s in a virulent civil war, largely concentrated on but not confined to Bosnia.

Therefore you may ask why I took up this book by Fred Singleton written in the mid 1970s when Tito was still alive. Well the answer is simply I wanted to investigate the circumstances which led to the first major armed conflict in Europe since the end of the Second World War and more specifically the lessons in it for other multi-ethnic states like mine. For of one thing we can be sure and that is that the Yugoslav civil war was not one of a kind and would not be the last in the break-up of multi-ethnic states. What is significant about Yugoslavia is that the southern Slavs were united for as long as they were, through much of the twentieth century into a single entity, first as a kingdom and subsequently as a republic.

Background to Conflict

Why then did things develop as they did? Was Tito the central figure who held everything together? These are the obvious questions that strike us on any consideration of the Yugoslav issue. To answer the second question first it would be worthwhile reading the latest book on the issue by Robert West, ‘Tito and the Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia.’ I haven’t as yet but do intend to. However certain obvious things occur to us even before reading that book and that is that Yugoslavia existed though in a different form even prior to Tito’s arrival on the scene. Secondly Tito didn’t preside over a typical communist state under the stewardship of the L.Y.C. For example private enterprise and tourism were allowed to flourish at a time when they were heresy to the Communist world. However the failure to evolve into a multi-party system provided the coup de grace to Yugoslavia. Tito might be considered a mild dictator in that regard. He however did enable a country with modest resources to punch above its weight in global affairs. However he also showed Yugoslavia was able to diversify its options when Cominform turned its back on the country. The remarkable aspect of this independence was that it didn’t result in a Soviet invasion as occurred in Czechoslovakia or Hungary. This must be attributed entirely to Tito’s leadership.

Yugoslavia and the Soviet Collapse

Many are tempted to view the Yugoslav civil war from the prism of the Soviet collapse but in my view there are limitations to such a perspective. For example Yugoslavia wasn’t a typical communist state as mentioned earlier. However the de-legitimization of the L.Y.C. ideology, of what was a one-party state proved fatal. Also it was by this time over a decade since the death of Tito in 1980.Undoubtedly the hand of Tito would have been a steadying factor in steering the country through a tricky period but this was not to be. A favorite Western assumption is that the rise of ethnic nationalists such as Milosevich contributed to the civil war. However this ignores the fact that ethnic loyalties were always paramount in Yugoslavia and had even caused Tito to warn of a potential collapse of the federation according to Fred Singleton. Similarly the cleavage between Roman Catholicism of Croatia and Eastern Orthodoxy of Serbia proved too combustible because it reflected fundamentally different cultural traditions.

Conclusions for the future

Yugoslavia undoubtedly started out well but the failure to develop institutions and foster democratization ultimately proved fatal. Economic liberalization alone wasn’t enough. Similarly geography also proved hostile as the mountainous terrain of the country impeded the development of national infrastructure that might have welded the country into a cohesive entity. As far as Fred Singleton’s comprehensive work on the subject is concerned the book’s biggest lacunae is of course that it came out too soon, before the twentieth century was truly over. One wishes he had waited for the 1990s to finish and introduced a chapter on the civil war.

From a contemporary perspective the chapters on nationalism and geography are of topical interest. While the ex-Yugoslavs might not contemplate a revival of their dead country they would do well to facilitate cooperation among themselves through multilateral frameworks for the sum is always greater than the parts and this is nowhere more evident than in the Balkans today

Andreas Papandreou: “Man of Destiny”

In Andreas Papandreou: The Making of a Greek Democrat and Political Maverick (I.B. Tauris, 256 pages, $49 and £30), Stan Draenos depicts a man torn between national identities, academic or political careers and a complex relationship with his popular politician father. The quandaries of Papandreou (1919-96) are proficiently interwoven into the political context involving the United States and Greece during the Cold War. Draenos, who holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of York (Toronto), tells me Papandreou himself eventually responded in a questionnaire: “My first interest was action, politics.” If he could not do that he would be an academic, and failing that, “he would go sailing.”

Focusing on the early years of Andreas’ life, Andreas Papandreou is a fluidly written tour de force that can be reviewed from various angles. Thanks to the Truman Doctrine, set up in 1947 initially to support Greece and Turkey in containing the Soviet Union, American hardliners had a huge impact on the Greek monarchy, military and on the aging George Papandreou, Andreas’ ideologically centrist father who could keep the communists at bay. In fact, in the 1966 elections, against his son’s wishes George worked with Palatial and American forces and forged links with the dominant-right wing party, which was followed by the U.S.-backed coup d’état.

When analyzing Andreas’ decisions, including his rift with his compromising father in the mid-1960s, one enters the realm of psychobiography. Draenos, who worked as a historian for numerous years at the Andreas Papandreou Foundation and knew the former prime minister personally, obviously knows that in this thorny area of scrutinizing “psyches” the historian must stick to facts and avoid speculation.

His witnessing the impotence of the resistance movement against fascism in Greece as a youth may have been one of the factors that led Andreas to immigrate to the United States. There were also other “painful, unresolved conflicts,” the biographer notes, without going any further. Andreas devoted himself to a successful academic career, applauded by intellectuals such as John Kenneth Galbraith. He became a naturalized American in 1944, and his marriage to the American Margaret Chant cemented his new national identity. Two years prior to the wedding, Andreas told her he felt “nostalgia [for Greece], but no desire to return.”

While chairing a department at the University of California at Berkeley, it would become clear that Andreas was, in fact, the political “man of action” he had at first not wished to become. According to a law passed in 1950, all professors in the State of California had to sign an anti-Communist loyalty document, which included a clause requiring them to inform on their students’ political proclivities. Andreas managed to deal with the reactionary legislators while supporting his colleagues who had been fired and regained their jobs via legal actions. Meanwhile, Andreas himself voted against the law. Like his father, he showed his true colors as a pragmatist; but unlike George Papandreou, the son was no moderate.

Draenos recalls how George clearly stated his support for the Truman Doctrine in an article published by the journal Foreign Affairs. Andreas, for his part, never spoke officially about the matter, but when he first voted in a U.S. presidential election in 1948 his candidate was the left-wing Henry Wallace, who quit the Truman cabinet precisely because he opposed the Truman Doctrine. Nonetheless, while getting U.S. research grants to test the waters, unconsciously or consciously, and possibly enter Greek politics, Andreas chose to follow a more pragmatic moderate stance for at least two apparent reasons.

Firstly, he had to fit the American Government’s perception of him: Andreas was an American who could replace his father’s leadership of the Center Union. Secondly, he was the son of the grandfather of Greek politics, “an object of [Andreas’] devotion,” but also a “mixed blessing,” or, in other words, “a rival to eclipse as well as model to emulate.” As expected, there were jealousies. Konstantinos Mitsotakis, a future premier who expected to be George Papandreou’s successor, described Andreas as an “arriviste” who was “exploiting his father.” Some called him an American, while others suspected he was also a CIA spy.

But in line with Greek’s patriarchal society, George, who had always seen his son as the perfect filial successor as head of the dynasty he had established, tried to lure him back from the United States. We discover an emotional man, prone to psychosomatic symptoms related to a difficult past in his country of birth. In 1953, for instance, Andreas suffered terrible jaw pains following a family reunion in Athens. On other occasions he had intestinal conditions and even a life-threatening disease.

Following his father’s election as premier, in 1964 Andreas was elected to parliament and became assistant prime minister. He returned his American passport and changed his narrative, raising fears he was becoming too distant politically from his father’s centrists politics. One of Andreas’ signature slogans was “Greece for the Greeks,” which seemed to make sense in a country that had been under first British and then American tutelage since World War II.

Andreas’ “social-reform oriented nationalism,” argues Draenos, was also in tune with his times, since hundreds of thousands of Greeks had been leaving the country, where “a sense of alienation” prevailed. Andreas’ new discourse, which helped him return to his Greek roots, included the 1940s’ resistant communist militants who had been excluded from the conservative establishment’s narrative. These days, when the reactionary group Golden Dawn, which has members in the Greek Parliament, uses the same words to incite the beating up of foreigners, Andreas’ slogan sounds inappropriate. Sadly, nationalism has become a force of an extremist organization.

In the end, Andreas was not to be the “American” partner during the Cold War. He opposed the U.S. plan of dividing Cyprus between Greeks and Turks, and, while a nationalist, he sensibly believed that, as Draenos tells me, “the best interest of Hellenism was to keep Cyprus independent and united.” Also, in seeing the intervention of the Greek establishment and the American Government as the real threats – rather than an alliance with the communists -, Andreas revealed himself not to be the son George had expected to replace him.

Andreas was, as Draenos puts it, “a man of destiny.” In Gramscian terms, the former premier was the “charismatic man” who appears when the hegemonic ruling class is no longer trusted by its citizens. In 1974, he founded the first Social Democratic party in Greece, the influential PASOK. He was the first Socialist premier, elected in 1981.

A Book That Shows Why the UK Should Leave the EU

Robert Oulds’ book, Everything You Wanted to Know About the EU, published in 2013, is still timely and even more relevant than when first published; I doubt whether any of its central contentions have been subsequently disproved, and all we have to welcome are some updates on the statistics which are probably likely to further confirm his central contentions. In fact some of the events since 2013, specifically the Syrian immigration crisis, must add more weight to his position. But to be clear at the outset: Robert Oulds is the Director of the Bruges Group, which for the last 20 years has been campaigning for the UK exit from the EU. So, partisan? Yes, but being partisan does not disqualify one from having an informed opinion, or further from even being right. The purpose of criticism is to see the object for what it is and to do that one has to understand one’s own subjectivity first and build that into the equation. This I think Robert Oulds has admirably done; and for the integrity of this review I ought to disclose that I have known Robert for several years and regard him as a friend. With that in mind, what of his book?

The book contains a brief introduction and then has 7 meaty chapters covering in more detail than most people would like the economic, legal, political, historical workings of the EU, especially as they relate to the UK. The titles of the chapters are: A Snapshot of the EU, The Trouble with the EU, A Question of Influence, The Choices for Britain, Which Way Out, The Implications of Withdrawal, Alternatives to the EU, and these are followed by a Concluding chapter and a couple of useful appendices. There has been much criticism recently of the quality of the debate: that it lacks real information, real analysis, and is all about ‘bullet-points’ each side fires at the other. Well, if you feel that is the case, read this book. Instead of bullet points, Oulds provides chapter, verse and statistics on all the key issues; further, he also provides a balanced commentary. To put that in perspective: where the EU does benefit the UK he is not slow in admitting it. But with Oulds, the key issue is always the balance of arguments: the cost-benefit analysis in other words, so that in reading the book one increasingly feels that although there are some good things about being in the EU, yet there are so many negatives too that the position of remaining there to any rational mind is untenable.

What, then, of some of his arguments? What have I found especially compelling in reading this work? First, I do like his general observations about how things work. This is like discussing first principles. A good example occurs in chapter 2, The Trouble with the EU, when he observes: “Political unions are not needed for trade; in fact from enhancing trade politics and politicians actually create barriers to trade.” Aren’t we guilty in the UK of a double-think here? We all know that political interference in business is disastrous, hence the need over the last 40 years to de-nationalise so many chronically underperforming industries; knowing that, how then can it be consistent for Britain’s corporate leaders to claim business would be better in the EU, which is precisely not ‘state-run-regulated’ but ‘supra-state run’? When you think of this, it’s absurd: FOOTSIE 100 Chiefs asking the UK Government for less red-tape and regulation and then suggesting the only hope for our business and economy is being in the EU. To put that in perspective, chapter 7, Alternatives to the EU, makes a telling point. Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but still trades with it under two bilateral arrangements. It therefore has to accept – on its terms – some constraints, but as Oulds notes: “Since the start of 1993, when the Single Market came into being, the Swiss have adapted their legal code to bring it into line with just approximately two thousand EU legislative instruments. The U.K., along with other EU members, has however had more than 20,000 imposed from above”. If we then look at the costs of this, as Oulds does in massive detail, the Bilateral agreements enabled them to have access to the market at a cost to them of 550 million Swiss France’s a year; whereas if they were to have full EU membership the cost would increase to 4.9 Billion Swiss Francs – a nine fold increase. And this “excludes the cost of the inevitable increase in EU legislation”! That is, the 18,000 legislative instruments they missed since 1993 – and more since 2013!!! These figures, incidentally, are not made up by Oulds but based on the Swiss Federal Council’s own research incorporated in their Europe Report. It is, then, very telling.

More important than any of the foregoing, however, important as those points are, is the more general evidence that belonging to the EU is a recipe for terminal economic decline. Citing the work of Professor Jean-Jacques Rosa, a French economist, “It [the EU] enforces and enhances the rents of large, older business firms and bureaucracies and freezes the hierarchical structure of both industry and political production at a moment when innovation, new small firms, and lighter government are required. It is a recipe for accelerated decline.” Surely, this must resonate with us? We know that entrepreneurialism depends on flexibility, innovation and vision – the exact opposite of what the EU offers us by being members.

Robert Oulds provides many more examples of where the EU works against our interests as Brits, and I have barely mentioned the important sovereignty and democracy arguments. Space prohibits my outlining his points here, suffice to say, as one major point that Oulds explores: the rise of the political right wing in Europe, which the EU likes to characterise itself as the champion against, is almost certainly (and especially in the 3 years since his book was published) a consequence of the EU: the ‘democratic deficit’ is being felt everywhere across Europe, and rather than creating stability and security the EU is fomenting widespread opposition to its imperialist and non-democrat diktats, leading to extremism.

But to return the economic issue, it would be best to end on a positive note, for if we leave the EU, what options do we have? As Oulds explains: quite a lot! He goes into fine detail the situation appertaining to various international organisations and scenarios, two of these organisations, one obscure to most of us, and one well known, hold out massive hope for our progress and success in the wider world should we opt to leave the EU. These two organisations are EFTA, the less well known, and the Commonwealth of Nations itself. Briefly, on the former, it is noticeable, if somewhat inconvenient for the EU, that the four European countries that are currently members – Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein – have some of the highest standards of living for their populations of any countries anywhere in the world. So much for suffering by not actually being in the EU. One significant statistic that Oulds cites is that in 2011 EFTA exported €189.2B worth of good to the EU; the USA itself only managed €90B. This is pretty phenomenal stuff, but if we consider the Commonwealth, and the option of re-activating that option, then what is possible could truly amaze us.

John Cridland, former Director General of the Confederation of British Industries, said in 2001: “We’ve concentrated too much on Europe – we need to get out and build export markets in the rest of the world”. Currently, of course, the “UK is prevented from creating its own specific bilateral investment treaties on its own terms with Commonwealth countries, but also the EU prevents the UK from reaching trade agreements with these tigers [economies within the Commonwealth]”. Lest we forget the Commonwealth comprises “54 countries stretching across every inhabited continent on the planet; even Europe where the UK is not the only member. Both Malta and Cyprus are members of the Commonwealth.” More impressively still: “The population of the Commonwealth is nearly two and a quarter billion people, approaching a third of the world’s population, living on more than eleven and a half million square miles; nearly a quarter of the earth’s land mass. What is more, this territory is rich in natural resources, which not only provide the global economy with the commodities that enable growth but can also give its member states real potential.” As Oulds goes on to observe: “Presently, the Chinese are forging links with these resource rich states; the UK’s Eurocentric orientation is making Britain miss out on the abundant opportunities abroad.” If it goes on like this, it surely will make sorry reading in 20 years from now for the UK.

There is much more to say about this wonderful book, but space prohibits. It is an essential book for those who genuinely wish to reach out to some of the facts underpinning this debate and to move away from fear and slander: the idea that only nutters and Little-Englanders could possibly want to move away from our lovely Big Brother, the EU.

How to Pick This Year’s President

Many folks on social media are inundating me with political propaganda this month; I’ve been guilty of sharing a few tidbits myself and I get it: You want your candidate to win, or you hate both of them and want to revolt.

The problem is that 90% of this stuff is pure garbage (or satire) from both sides.

So who do you support when both options make you want to hold your nose?

Hillary’s integrity issues are completely different, from Mr. Trump’s, but they are on their own merit deeply repugnant to many of us just the same. While Hillary’s skeletons have until recently been under lock and key behind closed doors, Trump has played out each and every one of his personal melodramatic gaffes & predatory business dealings in the gleaming light of the public eye.

This really doesn’t paint the idyllic scene we hoped for, but it is the result of our own choices because whether we want to admit it or not; as a people we do ultimately control how it ends.

If you didn’t want Trump or Hillary, the time for deciding that was during the primaries, so there’s really nobody to blame but ourselves for this lose-lose choice we have this year.

So what do we do with this choice? I can’t believe it’s come to this, but: ignore integrity… That’s right. There is little to be had on either side, so if your most important quality in a leader is integrity, then you candidate never made it out of the gate this year.

Instead, look at these qualities and make your decision:

  • Who gives you the Supreme court choices you want?
  • Who gives you the immigration policy you want?
  • Who champions the social policies you cherish?

The list goes on and on, but the point is that this year, character has been thrown aside. So what are we left with? We are truly left with only one defining question: What will they do for or to the country if they win?

Many of you hate one or both of them and are foaming at the mouth to point out their every flaw on either side, but it’s pointless. To some degree that can be personally cathartic, but we all have an A vs. B choice to make this year unless you choose some other option and effectively remove yourself from the process & allow the rest of us to choose for you… Heck, as much as half the nation sits out nearly every election and doesn’t even bother to register, so what’s a few million more watching from the sideline snuggling with their favorite lost cause?

The choice is fairly clear when you look at the policies each candidate promotes. No matter which side you personally stand behind, this year integrity will not be a factor because they are both critically flawed people and make all of us pray to God that the choice we make won’t go horribly wrong for us all in the end.

No matter what; one thing is nearly always certain: You’re not going to change my mind and I cannot change yours either, but let’s at the very least be adult about it and keep the conversation civil. Stop throwing insults at each other just because we pick one “Bad Choice” over the other. Let’s not be like our current candidates; let’s be civil with each other and respect each other’s choices in the way we each exercise our collective right to vote our own conscience.

You may think I’m an idiot and I may think some folks are confused & betrayed, but our choice of politics doesn’t make us good or evil, it just makes us Americans; doing the best we can with what we have.

I’ve seen family members disown each other over political views and that’s pure foolishness. When the dust settles, we are all in this together and good or bad; we will all end up paying the same price for our collective decision in the end, whatever that may be.

You will ultimately do one of three things: hold your nose and chose A or B, or run from the decision and sit it out and watch the rest of us choose for you. Don’t kid yourself; choosing some other candidate IS sitting it out.

Just remember: Every time we make a choice, the people of this country take a chance and the hope we all share is that by coming together as a nation to exercise that right, we can also help make this nation better and stronger for all of us, and our children as well.

Why It Is Easy To Control People When They Are Afraid – Same In Private Life As In Politics

I wonder why people of today think they are better than those of ancient times, when those same people are the ones who fully understood the ramifications of human cloning; they were fully aware that letting cloning take root would allow for doubles to roam freely among us.

Trump’s motivation of power and his admiration of Putin place him along the lines of worst dictators this world has seen; he lurks for control and hungers for a hidden power, both of which align well with self-centered ambitions of a tyrant.

Donald is an empty man, keenly anxious and hungry to see the victory of his cause; he watches the successes of dictators such as Putin and Jong-un with breathless interest, and does not seem concerned at all with their affiliations and theoretical assertions and ideological constructions of their incitement of power. He either fails to understand fully the distinction between democracy and dictatorship, or he has a deeper perception of the two than most of us are aware of. It does call to question his insight on government and his ambition for power.

Although we can agree to disagree respectfully, we have to wonder why some people think being authoritative is desirable while also fighting for a system of government that encompasses right to freedom.

On the one hand, a democracy does within itself offer checks and balances, while on another hand, a dictatorship forfeits those same freedoms and rights to voice concerns. For sure, Putin and Jong-un indulge themselves in the necessary evil of illiteracy of their people… at the expense of democracy, freedom, and peace… It therefore is of necessity to educate those in need of knowledge and afford them the chance to understand the difference, completely.

Of course, we as a people do have genuine objections and different views of how things are done in Washington these days, emulating tyranny, for sure, sets us in a backward gesture, many that came before us died trying to break loose of.

The custom which modern-day renews comes to modern man from the creators of the Commonwealth, ancient men of strong religious convictions and hearts, faithful men who erected their bureaucratic fabric as a shrine in which the word of God was worshiped.

The one fundamental with far-reaching deeds, the necessity for learning and understanding the distinction between working and being worked, can be interpreted in many different ways, languages… dependent upon one’s mental capacity and country of origin.

3 Books on Current Affairs to Read If You Love Politics

Do you really make yourselves believe you are governed by a democracy? If that were the case, as we have been made to believe over the years, why is that candidates – both democrats and republicans – spend billions of dollars to win elections? You know, it’s interesting how we think we are better than others, when that is not the truth. Three books to read if you love politics: 12 Hour Work Days-Helicopter Parents-Serving One Purpose and Abandoning the Other, Why It Is Easy To Control People When They Are Afraid – Trump’s Motivation of Power and His Admiration of Putin, The Numbers Game.

We cannot celebrate our freedoms if we can’t afford a slice of bread, work our fingers to the bone for a single meal, while the United States members of congress, house of representatives go on a rampage, running billion dollar campaigns, and behave as though they are under no obligation to raise minimum wage, vote to confirm Merrick Garland, etc, that is a problem. Democracy cannot be bought with any amount of money, no matter how small. Democracy must be free, and citizens get to decide who leads them.

What happens when there’s so much money involved in the political process is that the very concept of democracy, true democracy, is diminished. Those that spend their money on financing their candidates get the final say, whether or not it is in the best interest of the middle-class.

The working-poor were written-off before they ever got here. Every country across the globe – big and small – are corrupt and ineffective. Their leaders care nothing of their citizens, but themselves. Thinking of some countries as civilized… others not… buys you into their narrative of corrupt governing methods where whoever is with the most money has the loudest voice.

It is through putting and end to private campaign donations will genuine change take root. Nothing will change if we keep tolerating greed, corrupt campaigns, loud-mouthed politicians, tough talk, partisan politics, no oversight of any sort, and etc.

Democracy is when each person casts one vote for a candidate they believe is highly qualified, not duped into casting a vote for a candidate whose spending methods are shady, dubious, and mafia-like. It doesn’t make sense to cast a vote for a gangster-like government, where the safety and well-being of the citizens is a non-starter. Trump and Clinton, really? What an embarrassment! Then there’s Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, both with Alzheimer s-like symptoms! Are you freaking kidding me?

I don’t understand why our voice does not account for anything any more. This year’s election’s broken records in terms of polarization, hate, division, discrimination, and etc. That must change; let’s get back to the basics – respect, discipline.