U.S.' NATO hyprocisy

This week, media coverage turned to NATO meetings where the U.S. was asking the alliance to increase contributions.

For an armchair observer, the metrics can be confusing, as Canada was lambasted for its ridiculously low contributions.

But one only had to look at the contributions of other member nations to realize Canada's contributions matched the relative populations and recognize that in one sense, there is a balance.

What is also interesting is that the NATO alliance was formed during the Cold War, no doubt with a lot of pressure from the U.S. for Europe to essentially act as an early warning system for American security.

Today, the discussion is about imbalance of contributions. However, perhaps to a large extent, Europe has paid its price.

Thirdly, and most importantly from my perspective, is Gen. Romeo Dallaire’s book, Shake Hands With The Devil. In the book, he details how the U.S. was the first to leap for the photo opportunity and commit to funding support for the Rwanda mission.

At that time, any UN vehicles supplied were being stolen by rebels and Gen. Dallaire was left with little support to conduct any mission with success.

The U.S. statement to provide a significant amount of funding was followed up by Dallaire on several occasions, but with no success.

Finally, he was advised that the U.S. would not be supporting the effort with cash, but with “equipment in kind” (exactly what Canada has been criticized of doing).

Dallaire subsequently received broken, aged and mismatched equipment that somehow added up to the amount pledged by the U.S., which had benefited from the media opportunity, but not been exactly transparent in their intent.

For now, however, the shoe does not fit on the other foot.

Trees hiding in the forest

The last several weeks have been very entertaining.

In poking the bear a little while writing my column, it has been amusing to see the acidic responses from many of the comment trolls. 

Here's a little background since many people seem unaware (even the anonymous poster who claims to know me well) I am from England, born and raised, and moved here when I was 25.

In the U.K., I was raised on a tried-and-tested mix of home brew beer and good English comedy (The Goons and Monty Python).

As a result, I write with a sense of irony and satire, both attributes of an English sense of humour: The Oxford Living Dictionary describes humour this way: “The quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech.

I was raised in a satirical environment through the Monty Python era and, once again, the Oxford Living Dictionary adds some context: “The use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.”

Finally, to confuse North Americans completely, there is a little irony in what I write. So if you were lost at the beginning, you are certain likely to stay that way without a GPS….

“The expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.”

I do hope the comment section stays open by Castanet because, frankly, it is more amusing than the column itself.  

Feel free to criticize the odd typo all you like, but that is simply like telling a guy with a stammer he cannot be a good public speaker — utter rubbish.

Lastly, if I could afford an editor, I would certainly splash out and spruce up the column, but, frankly, when you don’t earn anything for writing the column, it is a little hard to justify.

If you think you have it in you to write an entertaining column — weekly, for free — I would absolutely encourage you to contact your nearest media outlet and volunteer your time. 

Just make sure you have a thicker-than-normal skin.

AIs not that smart

Artificial Intelligence is no better than a coin flip.

Those who have read a few of my columns before may be familiar with the fact that I am completely opposed to being driven around by an autonomous vehicle with a control centre likely based in some developing country that could be hacked by a 12 year old with a Nintendo DS Lite. 

I know I am in the minority and that millennials appear to be willing to overlook the flaws in the technology in favour of another half hour in front of a phone screen before they show up for work late to hand in their notice because, well, it is just too hard to show up to work on time.

But call me old fashioned, I am just not that trusting of AI because it is only programmed by all of our stupid thoughts and history.

Therein lies the problem.

To prove my point, recently a leading AI University in Germany ran the potential outcome of the current World Cup 100,000 times to predict the ultimate results. 

Their complicated algorithms developed by equally more complex university boffins used a number of complicated sequences and outcomes to predict the ultimate winner of the 2018 World Cup.

The result was supposedly irrefutable. This was, after al,l the pinnacle of artificial intelligence.

The winner, undisputedly, was (drum roll), you guessed it. Germany.


Guess they didn’t that coming. It's a little like self-driving cars not understanding what to do in a snow storm or when an animal jumps out in front of them.

For more fascinating reading, check out https://www.technologyreview.com/s/611397/machine-learning-predicts-world-cup-winner/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=owned_social

I am going back to my un-smart home in my un-smart car to read a paperback on how to write better articles.

Warning! This article has nothing to do with Donald Trump whatsoever, so please keep any comments relevant to the article content… thank you.


Trump trolls talking

OK, here is the truth: I am a Christian and a Conservative (both with big Cs)

There, I said it. 

The Trump trolls were out in force last week responding to my column, adding comments about my communist, left-wing agenda. 

Perhaps they had not read my bio or done any research, but a blind dog with a note in his mouth could probably figure out that I have voted conservative my whole life.

I am a free-enterpriser at heart and I go to church.

At least, now the comments can be focused on the subject at hand.

For all of the brilliant Trump Troll Economic Graduates who were also out in force last week explaining that none of us had any clue about how positively impactful Trump’s isolationist policies will be for the U.S. economy, take a look again.

This week, the U.S. stock markets have experienced a global reaction to protectionist measures that will stall growth.

Those measures have already stripped trillions off the value of the U.S. markets and will continue to do so for a long time yet I believe.

The problem for the U.S. is, I believe, it is only the start. The markets have been buoyantly optimistic and frankly overly optimistic for a long time.

A correction is overdue, inflation is overdue and if you compound that with thoughtlessly implemented trade barriers based on tit for tat sandpit squabbles, then the U.S. has a problem. 

In general, it is difficult to sustain any leadership role when:

  • You are a self confessed liar
  • You air your dirty laundry on social media
  • You grab women by the ‘P*&&$”
  • You are a self-confessed rapist “see 3 above”
  • Many of your close and loyal allies are in jail, facing jail or about to go to court to see if  they should be in jail.
  • You (allegedly) cheat on your wife.
  • You separate children from mums and confess it is only a negotiating tactic (leverage)
  • In the end, you simply become “collateral damage.”

More It's All About . . . articles

About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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