At the heart of the recent comeback of protectionism is the idea that free trade creates and exacerbates inequalities - and therefore that protecting people from it is a good thing. But restricting trade doesn’t make you compassionate, or preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens: it makes you an advocate of legally enforced discrimination that will worsen relations between countries.
Opium production in Afghanistan rose by 43 per cent in 2016, and now accounts for more than 80 per cent of the world’s illicit opium. Since 2002, the US has spent $12 billion trying to eliminate poppy production in the country - but its confused and counter-productive strategy has actually made things worse. That has had appalling consequences in America as well as Afghanistan.
In South Africa, the corrupt and unloved president’s political survival is a matter of surprise – and distress. Jacob Zuma, though, is unconcerned with the health or wealth of his party, still less his nation. Instead, he lines his own pockets while a cabal of corrupt cronies ransacks the country. The results have been disastrous for South Africa's economy, society and politics.
Referenda may seem like the purest manifestation of democracy, but they are a favourite tool of leaders who rely on deceit and mendacity. Voters in Colombia have just rejected a laboriously negotiated peace accord between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. If peace becomes a matter of electoral politics, so will pretty much everything else – throwing Colombian democracy into a long period of political instability.
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