Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Parroting The American Line



Chrystia Freeland said this week that it was time for Vladimir Putin to end his support for Bashar al-Assad. Lawrence Martin writes that Freeland's demand will fall on deaf ears. Martin used to report from Moscow and he understands the Russians better than Freeland:

It’s about the pride of his pride. One thing that struck me about Russians in three years spent there in Soviet times was not only the degree to which they were subjugated but, antithetically, their intrinsic sense of pride. It was attributable to size, the massive land, the reach of empire, the military might, the defeat at such horrendous cost of Hitler’s Germany. If they were downtrodden they still held to be being part of something strong, powerful.

I’d come to Moscow following a few years in Washington, where making the people feel proud was what Ronald Reagan did after the perceived downsizing of America under Jimmy Carter. Following the reticent rationalism of Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump now uses what distortions he can find to cast himself as the author of a return to greatness for his country. In the Trump foreign policy shop, traditionalists and cold-warrior types such as H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser, are gaining the upper hand. It is welcome news given the helter-skelter approach of a president who operates with an alarming knowledge deficit.
In any new big power clash, Ms. Freeland, whose animosity toward Mr. Putin knows few bounds, would like to see Canada play more than a role of bystander. Pierre Trudeau was a contrarian who sought to have a disproportionate influence in the Cold War. But Justin Trudeau does not possess his father’s prickly outsider streak and is too much the new kid on the block to start throwing his weight around.

Nonetheless, Justin has backed Trump's missile strike. And Freeland sounds a lot like Trump on this issue. Both would do well to remember the elder Trudeau's caution before parroting the American line. 

Image: Slide Share

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Parroting the American line doesn't sell well with anyone but Con voters. As Tony Blair found out, kissing the American president's rump can kill your political legacy.

Cap

Owen Gray said...

Words to the wise, Cap.

Lorne said...

Thomas Walkom has a good column in today's Star, Owen, warning of the dangers of Trudeau too quickly and reflexively following Trump's lead on Syria. All in all, a reminder that Trudeau's eagerness to appease the Orange ogre is fraught with potential pitfalls: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/04/11/justin-trudeau-should-defy-donald-trumps-demand-for-regime-change-in-syria-walkom.html

Owen Gray said...

I read Walkom's column earlier today, Lorne. As uusual, he pulls no punches.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Owen, when Pierre Trudeau was asked for the 100th time why he went to Cuba, he named a number of reasons like doing business, but more importantly he said Canada must have an "Independent Foreign Policy."

By sacrificing the pursuit of learning the truth about who really dropped chemical weapons in Syria, Trudeau and Freeland are showing that they have no problem mouthing US propaganda rhetoric and maybe even lies.

Do we really want our foreign policy to support an Imperial US war machine, then to lie when they tell us to.

Pierre Trudeau was a man of independent thought and it took courage to apply that thought. His son is turning out to be as Michael Harris said a sychophant and I would add, someone whose good at following his advisors without question.He is completely obedient to his elite masters, his neoliberal policies reveal that.

His subservience to the US has made Canada look very weak.

Owen Gray said...

He's charming, Pam. But I'm not at all sure he's wise.

Toby said...

Wise? I'm thinking he is as dumb as road dirt.

The Mound of Sound said...

Putin let Tillerson twist in the wind for hours today in Moscow before finally meeting the secretary of state at 8 p.m. That tells you all you need to know about how many shits Vlad gives for anything that comes from Freeland or, for that matter, Trudeau on the subject of Syria. The worst part is that Freeland and Trudeau know this all too well and their indignant demands of Putin are just political theatre aimed at the Canadian public. Kind of cheesy.

Owen Gray said...

So much of wisdom comes from experience, Toby -- good and bad. Justin needs more of it if he is to avoid being played for a fool. It's better to have that experience before you become prime minister.

Owen Gray said...

Putin strikes me as the Supreme Cynic, Mound. He'll play everyone and anyone to his advantage.

UU4077 said...

Are we (the "west") being taken for a ride to forget the Trump-Russia connection? Is T2 and his advisers that dense? Or, are we all being had?

I actually wish PET was here.

Lulymay said...

For many years, a visit to St. Petersberg in Russia was at the top of my wish list. However, for most of my life that was an impossibility, given the animosity the west felt since the end of WWII. This past summer, I actually achieved that ambition and spent nearly two weeks, starting in St. P then travelling along the water to Moscow.
There were about 200 of us and the majority were Americans. We all agreed that Russia was quite different than what we had learned in both our respective countries. Not that I'm not naive and understand that whatever country I travel in, I will undoubtedly only be exposed to the best side of that particular country.

St. P has a rich history and is their cultural capital and well worth a visit. Moscow was a real surprise. What I assumed would be a grey, dreary city turned out to be a real going concern. Much has been spent on infrastructure and young people abound.

One of the things that struck me most was seeing the memorial to all those lost in WWII from the ongoing German attacks. Over 30 million people lost their lives and lived through a hell that most of us could never imagination and for many terrible years. This is like killing the entire population of Canada! They are proud that they survived this carnage and I applaud them for this pride - it is not misplaced.

I'm so glad I had the chance to travel there before the arrival of that gong show going on south of our border. Thanks, Owen, for allowing my long-winded comment.

Anonymous said...

Freeland's Ukrainian roots and support for the current administration there, plus her strident criticism of Putin, means she cannot think rationally where Russia is concerned. Funny how Trudeau booted Dion out to pasture and put Freeland in as howling Foreign Minister about two days after smiling Joe Biden made that special trip to Ottawa prior to Trumps's inauguration. Freeland is persona non grata in Russia - barred from entry.

Why would the PM hamstring himself with a Foreign Minister like this? Anything she says will be turfed into the garbage can by any Russian official. Is this how we balance our so polite Canadian ways in international diplomacy, or are we just a small insignificant US lap poodle yipping away at Putin's ankle? The neoconservatives have turned Trump into the usual World Police Chief and Ultimate World Judge in less than two months. And high fives were exchanged all around.

Tillerson basically laying down the law prior to meeting officialdom in Moscow was breathtaking to hear. He was saying it's America's way or nothing. No wonder Putin let him stew in the anteroom. Why not? I would just to watch the pomposity bleed out - Tillerson seems to physically tire easily based on reports from the other week on his far east trip to tell China off and needs a nap between uttering US ultimatums to all those people who inexplicably don't see things the way the New Yawk Times and the US foreign policy establishment do.

And on the matter of Assad, has anyone asked any of the thousands of Syrian refugees we have here whether they believe he's really the demon our officialdom makes him out to be? Too damn simple, I suppose, when you can merely sit in Ottawa and pontificate away based on personal biases, while claiming the 2014 election in Syria was fake.

I'd like to get to the bottom of all this, and all I ever hear is what the next bloviator opines rather than seeing some attempt made at getting at the truth from the people who matter, displaced Syrians.

BM

Owen Gray said...

I suspect this really is a Wag the Dog tactic, UU4077. And, yes, I suspect we're being had.

Owen Gray said...

Your comment is very interesting and very timely, Lulymay. In The Age of Spin, it's tragic that more of us don't get a chance to really see the world.

Owen Gray said...

Both sides are backing themselves into corners, BM. That's not wise.