Saturday, September 08, 2012

Spoiling For A Fight

Tony Burman writes in this morning's Toronto Star that Canada has a new Foreign Affairs Minister:

His name is Benjamin Netanyahu. His day job may be prime minister of Israel, but Canada’s abrupt actions against Iran seem to confirm that the Harper government’s outsourcing of Canada’s Middle East policy to Jerusalem is now complete.

There is little else to conclude from Canada’s unwise decision to move unilaterally on Iran at this moment. All sorts of crucial issues are in play with Iran. They involve the future of its nuclear program, the impatience of Israel’s leadership to attack Iran, the shape of a new Middle East as the heinous Syrian regime implodes and several delicate life-and-death issues involving Canadians on death row in Iran. Surprisingly, Western nations have held together on how to approach these key challenges — except, now, for Canada. 

Canada's decision is, indeed, surprising -- particularly for a government which apes American foreign policy. Burman reports that recently:

Prime Minister Netanyahu met privately with the U.S. ambassador to Israel. Netanyahu “lost his temper,” according to U.S. officials, and was described as nervous, agitated and frustrated at American reluctance to move on Iran. Several days later, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, further upset him by warning that an Israeli strike, with all its risks, would only “delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear program.”

One needs to remember that the Harperites are devoted to governments of the right -- whether it is Netanyahu's government, or far right Republicans. Ken Taylor, who was Canada's ambassador to Iran in 1979 -- and who helped free the Americans hostages -- says:

having a presence on the ground in a country is important. If the country's government won't interact, he said, there's still intelligence to gather.

While it may be true that right wing governments devote considerable time and energy gathering intelligence on the voting public, they do not spend much effort on the kind of intelligence Mr.Taylor is talking about. They figure they know all they need to know.

Once again, Stephen Harper has revealed who he really is -- a man with a chip on his shoulder, spoiling for a fight.


LeDaro said...

Benjamin Netanyahu is also part-time Secretary of State for U.S. Dems had to change their platform in order to include, "Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel".

As far as Canada breaking ties with Iran are concerned it will not help Israel either according to Ken Taylor, Canada's former ambassador to Iran. It all sounds so screwy.

Owen Gray said...

That's precisely what it is, LeDaro. It is a mistake to fall under Netanyahu's spell.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately my intuition tells me this is a prelude to a war...

Or else why would you pull your diplomats and shred then burn their documents in the Embassy compound?

Lessons learned from the embarrassment the Yanks endured when their shredded records were painstakingly reassembled by Iranian students in the 1979-81 hostage crisis - 52 Americans were held for 444 days.

kirbycairo said...

This is one of Harper most ridiculous mistakes yet. Beside the outrageous hypocrisy of the decision (given the terrible human rights record of many of Canada's perceived allies), it is turning our back on decades of Canada as a diplomatic nation.

And if genuine war would to break out we know that Harper would be unable to resist dragging Canada into the melee. This decision would then come back to haunt him, if not destroy him entirely.

The fact that many forget is that Paul Martin actually saved Harper's political career because if Harper had been PM he would have brought us into Iraq in a big way and we know what a disaster that turned out to be.

Iran is a military power significantly more mighty than Iraq and, though I would oppose any such war, I have a perverse desire to see how quickly such an effort would destroy Harper and his cronies.

Lorne said...

Funny too, isn't it Owen, that in all of the concern voiced about alleged weapons of mass destruction being built in Iran, those Western nations concerned about peace and stability in the Middle East seem not the least bit bothered by Israel's well-known nuclear capacities, over which a cone of silence exists.

Anonymous said...

Are the WMD in Iran, the same as the WMD that weren't found in Iraq?

What about Russia saying, it would be a mistake to attack Iran? China and Russia are allies of Iran.

There will be wars and, rumors of wars to come, until all the oil is gone from this planet. That is, if the planet can survive, the burning of fossil fuels. Big oil loves wars, they thrive on them. They want a war going on, at all times. If there is no war, an excuse must be found, to start one....such as WMD in Iraq.

What will we fight about, when the oil is gone? Perhaps, clean drinking water and food? We are destroying valuable farmland and polluting our clean drinking water, as fast as we can. With the destruction of the global warming, crops have failed, all around the world. AND, that is because of governments, and big oils greed.

Now we must hurry and pollute the High Arctic as quickly as we can.

True Blue said...

Frankly, Mr.Gray, I don't understand your problem with our government's decision to turn its back on Iran, unless you're "spoiling for a fight" yourself. Both Ministers Baird and MacKay have explained it.

But in case you missed their explanations, here are the reasons again, nicely enumerated for you - in case you're a bit slow on the uptake:
1. Iran refuses to comply with the UN's order to reveal the extent and nature of its nuclear power development.
2. Because Iran won't comply with the request just as Saddam didn't, Iran has become a greater threat to its neighbours than Iraq was because its armed forces are much larger than Iraq's were.
3. Considering that Iran has often threatened to wipe Israel off the map (behaviour no country like ours should sanction by doing nothing about it as members of the League of Nations did nothing about the invasions of Ethiopia and Manchuria), the matter of Iran's unconstrained development of nuclear energy becomes very serious.
4. Iran is a major supporter of terrorism throughout the Middle East, and it willfully endangers the fragile stability of the region.
5. Iran does not respect international diplomacy as evidenced by its "security forces" allowing attacks against the UK's embassy in Iran last year.
6. Closer to home, we know that Iran has been pressuring vulnerable Iranian Canadians to undermine Canada's home security.
7. For decades, Iran's record of human rights abuse has been deplorable as evidenced by its treatment of its citizens.

As one of the world's leading countries, why shouldn't Canada take action against Iran, a country intending to arm itself with atomic weapons, a country which doesn't abide by the rules or conventions of international diplomacy, a country which doesn't value individual human rights - or for that matter, the collective rights of whole societies like Israel's even to exist, a country which is even threatening our own security? What harm do you imagine such a country could do with an arsenal of nuclear weapons?

Let's not obscure the issues behind Mr. Harper's decision to cut Canada's ties with Iran by introducing a red herring like Mr. Netanyahu. Once again, Mr. Harper has once shown us how a real leader leads: boldly, from the front with foresight, courage, and moral integrity!

You just can't admit to our Prime Minister's God-given superiority, can you, even when in a case like this, it's as obvious as the nose on your face? Here's a suggestion, Mr. Gray: try crossing your eyes once in a while: it might improve your myopia.

Owen Gray said...

You may be right, Mogs. Netanyahu is beating the drums. Now Stephen Harper has joined the band.

The result could be catastrophic.

Owen Gray said...

Like Bush and Cheney, Kirby, Harper has no experience of war -- although each fancies himself a warrior.

The aftermath in Iraq speaks for itself.

Owen Gray said...

The hypocrisy is stunning, Lorne. No one mentions the effect Israel's nuclear weapons has on its neighbours -- or why those neigbours may feel it necessary to possess their own weapons.

Owen Gray said...

We have not done the planet a lot of good, Anon. War in Iran would be yet another example of human folly.

Owen Gray said...

Those of you who support Mr. Harper, Blue, claim that he is a man of extraordinary foresight.

He certainly displayed that foresight when he advocated joining the coalition of the willing which invaded Iraq.
Jean Chretien claimed that even a small town lawyer would recognize that there was no evidence to support the invasion.

Furthermore, Harper completely ignored evidence of the Great Recession -- which almost everyone else saw coming.

As far as Iranian policy is concerned, it is quite true that Iran has thumbed its nose at the international community. But, if thumbing its nose at the international community is a reason to attack a country, then Canada -- under Stephen Harper -- is ripe for attack.

Anonymous said...

True Blue:

You write that Iran is "a country intending to arm itself with atomic weapons"

But in a recent interview, John Baird said that Iran had not yet made the decision to arm itself with nuclear weapons.

Granted, he said that they were doing the things that would make arming themselves fairly easy.


But if Iran is such a threat, wouldn't it make sense to have people on the ground there? Especially if there are Canadians on death row there?

Is the Harper Government really "taking action against Iran", or are they merely engaging in theatrics that will have no effect on Iranian policy, and may hinder our own goals vis-a-vis Iran?


Anonymous said...

Don't forget the alliance church roots of the harper.
It is the highlight of his interior life,
and the ultimate engraciating factor to his god,
to be a co author of the endtimes war.
i find all of blues' points to be 1/2 truths at best, a convenient laundry list of the ordinary operations of most any government under constant threat itself in a threatening world
Baird and MacKay are delivery boys for grocery clerks...the international concerns that would carve up the Iranians during the ensuing reconstruction
Exchange israel for iran and consider gaza, the "hidden" israel nukes that list applies almost exactly
blessings ...mike

Anonymous said...

@ true blue> "our Prime Minister's God-given superiority"

This statement alone alarms me because true blue you have revealed your self as a religious zealot as well as a right wing radical, need I say more?

That is exactly what the Germans said about Hitler "God-given superiority" end of story.

Owen Gray said...

Mogs, I've published this comment rather than your first one because it is concise and more civil.

Let's see if Blue responds.

Owen Gray said...

You have to wonder about Harper's uncritical support of Israel, Anon.
He's quite willing to wag his finger at the Europeans, the Russians and Canada's other political parties.

What is truly worrisome is that his reading of the Book of Revelation might have had something to do with this decision.

Owen Gray said...

You have to wonder, Anon, how seriously the international community takes Mr. Harper's and Mr. Baird's huffing and puffing.

I suspect other countries have tagged them as blowhards.

Anonymous said...

@ Owen yes I am glad/sad you moderated my first comment but how did you let True Blues radical tones come through, when you erased mine? Which were to the point and not radical?

Enough said you do, do a good job Owen...

I can agree that we can disagree without needing violence or nastiness...

Just understanding, which is far more powerful.

But in my humble opinion, everything True Blue said is state organized terrorism just to throw us off of noticing how deficient the current government really is...

Any Qualms with that?

And why should that right wing radical be allowed to post, just because he learned English and can offend old moderates like me?

And how the hell are western moderates like me allowed to believe that only western and communist countries are allowed to have WMD?

We are special right?

The mid east citizens are second-class?

And not allowed the same protection as we?

Phony baloney…

Which gives us the god/dog given supremacy True Blue alludes to?

I guess...

I may as well lie down and die!

So we are allowed the powers of mass destruction but the third world is not?

You are fools if you swallow that whole and it will bite you in the ass…

I only wish for peace.

If you stop your arms race they won’t need them either…

Go back to sleep!

I will search for a more peaceful planet...

Robert Cannaday said...

My problem with True Blue's comment is that it is so easily changed to reveal the hypocrisy of the assertion:

1. (Iran) Israel refuses to comply with the UN's order to reveal the extent and nature of its nuclear (power) weapons development.
2. Because (Iran) Israel won't comply with the request just as Saddam didn't, (Iran) Israel has become a greater threat to its neighbours than Iraq was because its armed forces are much (larger) stronger than Iraq's were.
3. Considering that (Iran) Israel has often threatened to wipe (Israel) Iran off the map (behaviour no country like ours should sanction by doing nothing about it as members of the League of Nations did nothing about the invasions of Ethiopia and Manchuria), the matter of (Iran's) Israel's unconstrained development of nuclear (energy) weapons becomes very serious.
4. (Iran) Israel is a major supporter of terrorism throughout the Middle East, and it willfully endangers the fragile stability of the region.
5. (Iran) Israel does not respect international diplomacy as evidenced by its "security forces" (allowing) attack(s)ing (against the UK's embassy)high-value infrastructure in Iran last year.
6. Closer to home, we know that (Iran) Israel has been pressuring vulnerable (Iranian) Israeli Canadians to undermine Canada's home security.
7. For decades, (Iran's) Israel's record of human rights abuse has been deplorable as evidenced by its treatment of its citizens.

I am quite aware that there are errors of fact in the above, but there's no point in challenging them as they don't modify the point that if these are valid, justifiable, and indeed, as "obvious as the nose on your face" reasons for closing an embassy, then True Blue has espoused his complete support for the closing of the Canadian Embassy in Israel. It's as obvious as the nose on his face.

Of course True Blue doesn't present any evidence he wants to close the embassy in Israel, but the points he uses to justify the closing of the Iranian embassy are all-too-applicable to the closing of the Israel embassy.

More to the point, closing the Israel embassy would not likely influence the intention of Canada or any other nation to take military action against Israel, a move that closing the Iranian embassy does. The embassy closing has foreseeable consequences, so one must conclude that either those consequences are the goal of the action, or the actions Iran are responsible for are so serious as to risk provoking war with them.

Since in True Blue's view, Harper has been bestowed with "God-given superiority", then not even True Blue could disagree with Stephen Harper. In fact, True Blue has seemingly declared that any opinions held by Stephen Harper that True Blue did not previously hold are to be modified in order to bring his own opinions in line with Stephen Harper's.

I would assume this to be the cause of some serious cognitive dissonance.

Owen Gray said...

I understand why Blue gets under your skin, Mogs. The views he holds are exactly why we are in deep trouble.

The vast majority of the comments I get agree with me. Blue's comments -- while a bit condescending -- represent the other side.

In the interest of public debate, I publish his opinions.

Owen Gray said...

It's interesting, Robert, that -- at least from where I sit -- modern conservatives display a great deal of cognitive dissonance.

Two weeks ago Republicans came out strongly against abortion, but strongly for any attempt to ban assault rifles or the ammunition clips used in such weapons.

That dissonance suggests they have not thought very deeply about those two issues. Perhaps they have given them no thought at all.

Robert Cannaday said...

The good thing about knowing who your "God-given" superiors are is that you can rely on them to support the positions you already had (that's how you know that their "God" gave them to us) and not worry that they'll have to articulate some sort of reasoned argument.

Thinking about issues only complicates them, and "Israel good, Iran bad" is as easy as "guns good, abortion bad". No need to formulate arguments, examine facts, discuss alternatives and evaluate outcomes. Again, "it's as obvious as the nose on your face?"...

Owen Gray said...

The assurance that God is on their side has given all kinds of people reason to do any number of absurd and tragic things, Robert.

The certitude they claim becomes a curse.

Anonymous said...

So Owen,

I suppose true blue vanished in the shade of his or her fishy unsupported assumptions?

And Robert dissected his/her diatribe to be purely fictional as it could pertain to many nations not just one.

Welcome to the world of controlled media...

Owen Gray said...

Blue strikes me as being a typical of those who support Harper, Mogs.

They put their faith in the man, not in his ideas. The trouble with misplaced faith is that it can lead to bitter disappointment.

Anonymous said...

Yes Mr. Gray aye aye sir...

One of the most compelling reasons I even join the fray is because the phony baloney known as Stephen Harper who claims to be an economist has never had a real world job outside of a mail boy in Edmonton Alberta. Is that the prime minister you want? A mail boy?

He studied economy but he is not a real world today logistical economist. Joseph Steglitz on the other hand is brilliant, learn about him here…

He used to work for the IMF (International Monetary Fund and World Bank) until he discovered that their economic policies belonged in the Neanderthal age and were destroying countries economies around the world.

He abruptly got shoved aside…

Though he does continue to teach at Columbia University and is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and the John Bates Clark Medal. Stephen on the other hand is still in the dark ages of economical sense? Who elected this mail boy steve?

Hey not us we are not to blame for his fancy parade as not and UN-elected leader>

Owen Gray said...

You're right, Mogs. Joe Stiglitz is a real economist. Stephen Harper is faking it.