Wednesday, 14 May 2008

"Canada Is Back"; Way, Way Back...

"Canada is back" has been the back-slapping boast at the core of Stephen Harper's foreign-policy "messaging". Seconded with seal-like sedulousness by uncritical Harper-boosters like Jack Granatstein, this risible propaganda seeks to convince us that the CPC has overturned a decade of hidebound Liberal timorousness by striding confidently around the globe gifting the benighted masses with the gold bullion of "Canadian values" (the very values Harper routinely vituperated before the Prime Ministership made a dishonest man of him).

Sadly, the global community is not impressed. Now we hear
that Canada will probably withdraw its bid for a seat on the Security Council before suffering the ignominy of a defeat. Germany, apparently, has a lock on the vote, and many Canadian officials would prefer to run away with their tails between their legs rather than undergo the humiliation of a public loss.

I cherish the irony that, while we were told by pro-American, pro-GWOT jihadists that gluing ourselves to the American foreign-policy hip was an absolute pre-condition for assuring Canadian global "relevance", a nation that has taken an utterly neutralist position on Iraq, Afghanistan and the GWOT in general will almost certainly waltz right by us and into the Security Council. I guess the UN sees no reason to vote a rotating seat to a branch-plant of a nation with a permanent seat. Who can blame them? Would we expect them to hand over a seat to Texas or California? It just doesn't pay to be a geo-political redundancy.

We lost our self-respect a long time ago, but we somehow managed to retain the respect of others. Clearly, that is changing, and not before time.


Tomm said...

Sir Francis,

Your slip is showing.

I don't see us winning or losing an international vote for a seat at the Security Council as an important bell weather of our foreign prestige, and if you were honest with yourself, neither would you.

China and Russia recently vetoed a forced vote on Burmese capitulation on international assistance. The Human Rights Council is controlled by nations with appalling and racist recent human rights records, and recently FAO was roundly criticized as "useless". Less recently Romeo Dallaire can attest to the strong leadership of Boutros Boutros Gali, the soon to be Sercretary General.

If Canada wins a seat at the Security Council it is a beauty pageant, and if we don't its still a beauty pageant. I don't particularly find the UN judges to be someone I'd slip under the covers with.


Sir Francis said...


The Human Rights Council is controlled by nations with appalling and racist recent human rights records...

Well, my slip may be showing, but your corset is unlacing, my prim little Miss Priss.

So we're not to consort with unpleasant people, are we? If the U.S. government can hand over billions of "aid" dollars to squalid sacks of ordure like the thugs of the Saudi royal family and Pakistan's corrupt military regime, and if our soldiers are made to kill and die for Hamid Karzai's Sharia-Law shithole currently administered by ex-Taliban vermin and heroin traffickers, I think we can hold our noses and sit beside a few unsavoury characters in a U.N. committee room.

Really, Tomm--adjust your priorities. If you want Canadians to be foreign-policy virgins, we can't just shut our legs more tightly; we'll need a time machine.

Less recently, Romeo Dallaire can attest to the strong leadership of Boutros Boutros Gali...

Much less recently. I take your point though.

And since we're quoting Dallaire as an authority on such matters, have you read his latest comments on America's conduct of the "War on Terror" (or "GWOT", as Americans have absurdly dubbed it)?

I don't particularly find the UN judges to be someone I'd slip under the covers with.

And you would prefer to snuggle up with whom? George W. Bush? Hamid Karzai? Pervez Musharraf?

Sure...We could talk about which one of us has the weirder friends, but I'm not sure you want to go there.

It's funny. The Right loves to talk about how "useless" the U.N. is at helping to secure world peace and often compares it unfavourably to the United States. I've always wondered how that logic is supposed to work.

In the history of the U.N., I can think of one utter disaster (Rwanda) and a few less grave failures (Congo, Srebrenica) to lay at its doorstep, but I'm not sure they are enough to discredit the value of the many more successful operations the U.N. has conducted over the years around the world.

The very first peacekeeping operation--Pearson's initiative in Suez--prevented British, French and Israeli aggression against Egypt from sparking a wider conflict that could have led to World War III. Our own long operation in Cyprus prevented ethnic violence from exploding into genocide.

Tell me, what post-war U.S. intervention has had those kinds of results? Name me the U.S. operation that managed to halt violence rather than escalate it. And tell me why we shouldn't consider U.S. actions in Vietnam, Cambodia, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Somalia, and now Iraq and Afghanistan to represent failures fully on a par with anything the U.N has been guilty of.

I see no objective, documentary evidence to support the right-wing contention that the U.S. has been a more effective guarantor of global peace than the U.N. has been. The precise contrary is true: the post-war Pax Americana has been one of the bloodiest and most chaotic periods of human history. The Dark Ages were fairly stable in comparison.

Red Tory said...

Tomm is very selective it seems when he's willing to invoke the imprimatur of the U.N. as having any value. Apparently, when were off getting entangled in "nation building" abroad, he doesn't hesitate to mention that it's all being done under the sanction of the U.N., then he turns around and decries what an unspeakable bunch of rotters many of its constituents are.

Ti-Guy said...

I knew this was going to happen when we let the little boys with their guns and toys command too much attention in our political discourse. Complex geo-political issues have all been reduced to this adolescent nonsense of how important it is to be cool or popular or to get the lead role in this year's high school production when Canada gets to shine on the world stage.

I would find it embarrassing if I could be embarrassed by the stupidity of other Canadians, but I've never been one to assume collective responsibility all that willingly.

What happened to all these incredibly thick old academics in the last several decades? I had assumed they had all grown up and had become wise (or, as with the few I was forced to interact with, died of cirrhosis of the liver); I didn't realise they had been mired in a self-contained world of grandiose militaristic fantasy, waiting for the first opportunity to come roaring to life, faces painted blue and Viagra-inflated genitals swinging under the kilt, ready to make one last glorious stand before giving in to the irrelevance and peaceful dotage they should be enjoying at this stage in their lives.

Unlike the rest of us, they don't have to worry about much beyond the next decade; at this point, the best they could do for us is to shut the hell up.

Sir Francis said...


Since 9/11, Granatstein has scribbled away all shreds of scholarly credibility. He's an embarrassment to Canada's academic community. That piece on the Throne Speech is some of the most laughably partisan horseshit I've ever read. How the man can be taken seriously as a scholar is beyond me.

Incidentally, friends of mine who've met him describe him as a bitter, hateful little martinet--as all mediocrities tend to be.

Ti-Guy said...

I just find the whole "credible player on the world stage" to be as meaningless and insulting as it always has been. There are only ever two to three credible players; the rest just follow along, hoping for a few scraps that benefit national interests here and there.

That may be the way the world works, but no one has to like it and no one should have to tolerate being treated like he or she is a high school student at a pep rally, feeling compelled to go along with mindless hype.

Now, if some of these people want to propose Canada get two or three big fat cas où...I'll think it over.

Sir Francis said...

Now, if some of these people want to propose Canada get two or three big fat cas où...I'll think it over.

Coming right up, sir!

I bet that news gave "Happy" Jack Granatstein the firmest erection he's managed to achieve since he stumbled on those photoshopped pics of Bea Arthur pleasuring herself with a turkey baster.

liberal supporter said...

The CPC and nuclear enrichment go together like tequila and firearms.

I see Mom did well in placing his mole as Bernier's moll. She only has to be activated once, just one heist and the Hells Angels will have their stash of weapons grade material.

Aeneas the Younger said...

Granatstein - for those of us old enough to remember - was considered one of the "liberal school" in Canadian Historical Studies - and he likes the CPC.

More proof that the CPC is NOT a conservative party.

I'm telling 'ya, if Stevie was transported back to Canada in 1837, he would be out there with William Lyon Mackenzie. No doubt about it ...

Ti-Guy said...

You get the sense that these old geezers are desperate to pass the torch on to a new generation of young conservatives before they all succumb to liberalism and/or homosexuality and are too emasculated to fight the upcoming clash of civilisations.

Why they don't notice the soft, doughy, fluffy quality of the average young conservative is a mystery to me.

Ryan said...

Who Killed Canadian history? Why it was Jack Granatstein by endorsing militarism and empire building that is foreign to our history. The history is history. You can't pull any boners with a flaccid military, didn't you know?

Northern PoV said...

An excellent explanation for this "weird news item" (Canada backing away from S.C. bid) that got reported with no context. I don't believe the opposition critics were quoted with anything more that the usual "they're bad" line.
You hit the nail - our traditional position always positioned us as a sympathetic and trustworthy conduit to USA. Now we're perceived as a worthless thug wannabe, entourage member, eh?

Tomm said...

Sir Francis,

I take your point and RT's criticism that I play a selective game.

However, we seem to be standing in the same boat.

However, that being said, I would indicate that the UN is not the only game in town. Western democracies have been UN whipping boys for far too long and playing the UN game of self flagellation is not something I want my PM to indulge himself in.

I would prefer a Canada that is honest, makes its points, but doesn't try to build up UN markers since they tend to be covered with little reminders that we got bent over a truck bed to get them.

The other games in town include NATO, OAS, NAFTA, G8, the Commonwealth, and other groups with which we have status. I would focus our attentions on insitution building within organizations that have better linkage with Canadian aspirations for the planet.