Saturday, March 29, 2014

Elections coming up in Québec and Afghanistan -- who cares?

In the first week of April two "states" are holding elections of some interest to Walt, if not TROTW (The Rest of the World). I put "states" in quotes because we're talking about Québec -- actually a province of Canada, whether it* likes it or not -- and Afghanistan, an occupied territory of the Paranoid States of America.

The idea that there might be an election, no matter how flawed, in the Armpit of the Middle East is being hailed as a great triumph for the USA and its "coalition of the willing". The Afghan people will be free to vote for a replace for outgoing president Mohammad Krazai, we are told. That means there's at least a modicum of peace and stability in the almost-failed state. Yeah, sure. Walt is listening to a radio (!) report from the sandpit right now. Gunfire is clearly audible in the background.

The shooting is probably being done by the Taliban. Yes, they are still there, in spite the lost of 1000s of lives and billions of dollars over a dozen years, trying to run them out of Dodge. Latest realistic estimates put the numbers of Taliban higher than ever, and now they are threatening to kill anyone and everyone who dares to participate in the putative election. Their attack on the Serena Hotel a few days ago shows that they can do it, too... with impunity.

Meanwhile, there will be a free and fair provincial election in Québec. It will be as honest and democratic as such things ever get in la Belle Province, which is to say about as honest and democratic as an election in Chicago. The outcome is, however, of interest to the governments of Canada and (believe it or not) the UK, Russia and China, because of the spectre of separation.

That's right, messieurs/dames, the Québécois are having one of their periodic dithers about whether or not to remain a part of Canada. The real countries mentioned above are interested because they are all trying to figure out what to do about separatist movement in their own nations. The Scots want to separate from Britain. The Chechens and others want to separate from Russia. And Uighurs and Tibetans quite understandably want out of China.

The Québec election wasn't supposed to be about separation. The Parti Québécois, which has had a minority government for the last couple of years, decided to ride a wave of popular support following its introduction of a new Charter of Québec Values, so called a snap election. They looked set to win a majority because the people of Québec, outside of Montréal, really dislike the Islamization of their society.

Unfortunately for Québec Premier Pauline Marois, the prospect of a big win went to her head. She brought in a "star candidate", Pierre-Karl Péladeau, owner of the Québecor media conglomerate. M Péladeau's presence on the platform was meant to show the people that Québec is... or could be... an economic powerhouse on its own, and that's exactly what P-K said, with emphasis on the "I-word" -- Independence. Mme Marois had no choice but to say that, yes, her government would hold yet another referendum, when the time was right... whenever that might be.

The I-word and the R-word, combined in the same speeches, have scared the bejazus out of the naturally conservative Québécois, who are loath to give up things Canadian -- like Canadian passports, Canadian pensions and Canadian dollars. Look for the opposition Liberals to be returned to power and the debate over separatism to be ended... until next time.

As for Afghanistan, it doesn't matter who wins. The pitiful country, awash in opium, will continue to be plagued by corruption and violence. At some point it will officially be declared a "failed state". Perhaps some Western governments will at last admit that the mission to save the Afghans from themselves was a failure. But Walt wouldn't bet on it.

Lifetime pct .986.

* Interpret "it" either way, as you please.

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