This Week: North Korea, the State of the Union, and Trade Dealing

Senior Editor Taylor Owen runs down the week that was on

By: /
15 February, 2013
Taylor Owen
By: Taylor Owen

Founder and Publisher of and Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Global Affairs at UBC

North Korea once again moved to the forefront of the foreign policy debate when it conducted its third nuclear test. At this point, Pyongyang probably isn’t that fazed by condemnations from the United States or South Korea, but could they have finally pushed China too far? Jennifer Welsh considers the ever so slightly shifting rhetoric coming out of Beijing.

In Washington, Obama delivered the first State of the Union Address of his second term. The president made plenty of promises on the foreign policy front, but Steve Saideman isn’t holding his breath that he’ll keep many of them. While Obama didn’t specifically mention Canada by name during his speech, one of his policy announcements could have a big impact on us – the start of free-trade talks with the European Union. Canada and the EU are still in the process of hammering out a trade deal and Danielle Goldfarb wonders if a potential U.S.-EU deal could derail it.

And it’s not just Canada that should be worried. John Hancock thinks that a transatlantic agreement is clearly aimed at restoring the West’s dwindling leverage vis-à-vis China. And an escalating global trade war between rival regional blocs is definitely not what the global economy needs right now.

Meanwhile, the violence in Syria continues while the world does little – very unlike what happened in Libya and Mali. Kyle Matthews considers what this means for the future of R2P.  Of course, the West once made good use of the Assad regime’s brutality. Syria was one of many foreign governments complicit in the CIA’s secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations. We map out the full CIA torture network here.

And we sat down with Columbia University professor Saskia Sassen to talk about how to build a smarter city.

And finally, I look at the emerging surveillance arms race between technologies governments use to monitor communication and the tools citizens use to evade this tracking.

The Mother of All Trade Blocks
John Hancock on why the proposed U.S.-EU trade deal could revitalize global trade co-operation, or end it.

The Surveillance Arms Trade
Taylor Owen on how western technology companies are helping autocratic governments monitor and control their citizens.

Third Time’s An Alarm
North Korea’s most recent nuclear test is a serious provocation – to the West, but also to China. There’s a decent chance Kim Jong-un’s belligerency has cost him Xi Jinping’s support says Jennifer Welsh.

1930s Redux?
Sure, times are tough, but are they 1930s tough? John Hancock says that the parallels between the economy then and the economy today are becoming hard to ignore.

Did Obama Just Derail the Canada-EU Trade Deal?
Canada wasn’t mentioned during the State of the Union, but one policy announcement could jeopardize our trade negotiations with the EU says Danielle Goldfarb.

Promises Made
Steve Saideman on the many foreign policy promises Obama made this week in the State of the Union Address and the likelihood of him keeping those promises.

State of Disunion
Paul Quirk on what Obama’s State of the Union Address means for Canada – there’s both good news and bad news.

The End of Atrocity
With no end to the conflict in Syria in sight, do the promises of “never again” following the Rwandan genocide ring hollow? Yes and no says Kyle Matthews.

Open Systems, Smart Cities
OpenCanada talked to Columbia University Professor Saskia Sassen about building smarter cities out of smarter technology.

The CIA’s Torture Network
When the CIA began to torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, they did so with the help of numerous foreign governments.

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