Tuesday, August 01, 2006

McKay Confirms Canada's Irrelevance

I tried to watch Peter Mckay's appearance before committee today, but I had to stop when it became apparent I have already heard this line- in Washington. Mckay:
OTTAWA (CP) - Canada is calling for a ceasefire in the Mideast conflict - provided the right conditions are in place.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay says that means Hezbollah must end its missile attacks on Israel, and Iran and Syria must end their support for Hezbollah aggression.

McKay's comments mirror the one's made by Bush yesterday. Canada's role, if you can call it that, is simply to puppet the American argument and hope that singing in tune will give it more weight internationally. That's it, nothing more to see, nada. Even the British, Amercia's staunchest ally has found occasion to differ with the American position, but not Canada.

Canada is giving Israel free reign to expand the offensive. Canada is sanctioning the further destruction of Lebanon by not calling for an immediate ceasefire. Canada is telling the world that we aren't capable of independent positions. Canada is irrelevant to the equation. Period.

update
The EU breaks with Canada and demonstrates pragmatism:
In Brussels, meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers called on Israel and Hezbollah to agree to an "immediate cessation of hostilities" followed by international efforts to get agreement on a sustainable ceasefire.

The 25 EU ministers agreed to call for an urgent halt to the fighting, effective immediately. Britain, Germany and others initially were against such a call.

At the EU meeting, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said all ministers agreed to call "for an immediate cessation of hostilities to be followed by a sustainable ceasefire."

Meanwhile, the birds chirp in Ottawa.

13 comments:

dalestreet said...

Steve

I imagine Israel is expecting a US call for a ceasefire in the near future. That's why they've stepped up their offensive.

It's analogous to one last kick to the head, of the guy turtled on the barroom floor, before the bouncers come and break-up the fight.

McKay's call for a ceasefire will happen as soon as his boss is told that it is appropriate, by his boss.

Steve V said...

"I imagine Israel is expecting a US call for a ceasefire in the near future. That's why they've stepped up their offensive."

I think you're exactly right and I suspect Rice and Olmert were actually laying out a timetable. Despite what Rice says, the Americans seem to be stalling, while Israel intensifies.

leftdog said...

I want to paraphrase Canada's official positon on a Lebanese ceasefire:

"There cannot be a ceasefire, the killing cannot end UNTIL the killing can be ended by a comprehensive ceasefire".

That is the insanity of our current conservative leaders!

Steve V said...

leftdog

Why can't we endorse a "temporary" ceasefire, while we work out the "comprehensive" part? I don't see how an immediate ceasefire threatens to endorse the status quo with Hezbollah. The Canadian position would have us believe if we endorse a ceasefire now, the world will just forget about an international force and disarming Hezbollah. It's a ridiculous position.

ottlib said...

Steve:

It is ridiculous and it is based on the fiction that defeating Hezbollah militarily will result in the destruction of the organization and the weakening of Iran.

Of course the opposite is true and I believe the bombing of that shelter in Qana was the point of no return.

Hezbollah is now a POLITICAL power to be reckoned within Lebanon and there is nothing the Israelis or the international community can do to change that. In fact, the Israeli actions and the insertion of an international force will probably solidify their position even further. Its influence in the wider Middle East has probably grown too. So of course the same can be said for Iran.

Israel has probably won the military battle but at the cost of finding itself in a much more difficult political battle with its neighbours.

Steve V said...

"Israel has probably won the military battle"

ottlib

The irony is, Israel really hasn't won the battle. In fact, from everything I've read from the Arab publications, the Muslims on the street are proud of the way Hezbollah has bloodied Israel. In every previous war, Israel has embarrassed the Arab states. While Hezbollah isn't technically "winning", they have shown themselves to formidable, which in a twisted way speaks to Arab pride.

Israel may re-acquire land and weaken Hezbollah in the nearterm, but Hezbollah will still be relevant, as new recruits flood their ranks. I think this offensive is a disaster on all fronts, some of the consequences may take years to fully realize. Y

Scotian said...

"I think this offensive is a disaster on all fronts, some of the consequences may take years to fully realize."

I am in whole hearted agreement with this statement. In no way has Israel done itself nor the rest of the western world any favours with this offensive, and this end result was unfortunately not hard to see coming. Although I will grant the military capacity of Hezbollah being as strong as it has been I think was a surprise. Which as you so correctly noted only makes this disaster that much worse.

Watching MacKay testify and "answer" questions by the committee members was more than a little painful. He spent the vast majority of his opening statement congratulating himself, his PM and the foreign affairs officials, and while I agree those officials deserve the praise they received I found that he was trying to deflect the real questions regarding his and Harper's actions with the praising of those officials.

This is not traditional Canadian foreign policy, and while I am not totally convinced that Harper/MacKay are taking their orders from America the fact that the ideological similarity between the American neocons and the Canadian Calgary School adherents like our PM means that we will tend to have the same policy regardless. Which of course I happen to think is a very bad policy, especially for this country. We are not a major global power, what power we have is mostly of the soft variety, and therefore our credibility as an evenhanded party whose first bias is towards following international rule of law and humanitarian law is critical to our exercise of what power we do have. This is what Harper/MacKay are destroying, and this like so many other things is something that takes years to decades to build up and days to destroy.

MacKay really made me ill yesterday with his testimony and answers to questions, and he betrays the values of the nation that gave him birth. Not that betrayal is a new thing for MacKay of course.

Steve V said...

"MacKay really made me ill yesterday with his testimony and answers to questions, and he betrays the values of the nation that gave him birth."

I fully intended to watch the entire hearing, but listening to MacKay's self-congratulatory tone, like he had won an Oscar was embarrassing. When I then heard him aping the Bush rhetori, it was clear my time was better spent elsewhere.

Scotian, I think it important for everyone to remember that Hezbollah grew out of the Israeli invasion in 1982. Violence will not solve the problem- for every dead Hezbollah guerilla, there is another ready to take his place. How many times have we heard the Americans say they have delivered "a crushing blow" to the insurgency. This whole strategy is like a bad version of groundhog day.

Scotian said...

"This whole strategy is like a bad version of groundhog day." Steve V

Unfortunately true. I well remember the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the creation of Hezbollah out of it. You are so right in how this only ends up creating more radicalization and more support for radicals, not less. This is something that has been seen time and time and time again in human history, why is it so hard for so many to grasp this rather basic and completely understandable response/reaction ?

If Israel had taken measured and careful responses to the capture of their soldiers then the original reaction within Lebanon and from several Arab States would have held, that Hezbollah was in the wrong. But nooooo, instead Israel does what it has done repeatedly in the past use massive force levels clearly disproportionate to the initial offence they are supposedly reacting to.

The end result? Hezbollah gains tremendous increase in popular support in Lebanon, including from non-shia groups that had been more opposed to them a few weeks ago, Arab States that originally were not siding with Hezbollah this time out ending up doing so, and Israel looking like they do not see the Lebanese civilian lives lost as having anywhere near the worth of Israeli civilian lives lost. Which is an inherently racist POV, for either all human lives are equally sacred or none are, one cannot eat your cake and have it with this one IMHO. I do not accept the premise that the Israeli government appears to that one Israeli life is worth more than one Arab/Lebanese life, especially when talking about civilians.

It is one thing to have such an attitude where the military forces are concerned, it is quite another where civilians are concerned, and anyone that cannot understand this needs to do some serious self reflection on what kind of human being they truly are IMHO. I find myself being more and more pushed into a negative Israeli policy POV precisely because of attitudes like this from within their own government and military spokespeople. I do not care for terrorism be it non-State actors or State actors. Terrorism is terrorism regardless of who is employing it and in the name of what cause. I prefer to be even handed in my view there, and one of the thing that most irritates me from some Israeli defenders lately is their belief that since their enemy uses it it is only fair that Israel gets to while at the same time talking about the moral superiority of the Israeli government over their enemies.

For me, it comes down to this, those that use the tactics/strategies of terror are terrorists in truth, period. I will not excuse it from Hezbollah, nor will I excuse it from Israel. I do not understand why that is such a hard POV for some to comprehend. As violence will beget violence terror will beget terror.

Steve V said...

"As violence will beget violence terror will beget terror."

Exactly!

Steve said...

Warren Kinsella got it right today. A ceasefire at this point would be suicide.

Harper may be telling MacKay what to say, but he doesn't need Bush to tell him that a ceasefire now won't solve anything.

I guess the corollary of your simplistic view of "what Bush says, Harper says" is "what Bush says, you say the opposite." It certainly solves the problem of not having to think for yourself, but it doesn't advance the debate very much.

Steve V said...

"It certainly solves the problem of not having to think for yourself, but it doesn't advance the debate very much."

Our foreign policy in a nutshell.

You look for patterns with a government, with this one it is clear that we start our position after viewing the American perspective. Whether it be the American terminology of "cut and run" for Afghanistan, the American led Asia-Pacific Partnership or our recent policy on Lebanon, this government mimics the Bush administration in a shocking way.

I could care less what Warren says, most analysts now agree that Hezbollah will be relevant no matter what Israel does militarily. The entire world, including Britain, has called for a ceasefire, which makes Canada's position all the more curious- given our historic role.

If anyone doesn't believe that our government is in close contact with the Americans, and in turn developing a united front, then they are simply naive. The language is verbatum- coincidence? Come on.

Steve said...

"If anyone doesn't believe that our government is in close contact with the Americans, and in turn developing a united front, then they are simply naive. The language is verbatum- coincidence? Come on."

I should hope they are in close contact. That certainly could not be said for the Martin administration, which would lecture Bush from on high and have absolutely zero influence on its actions.

I suppose it also a coincidence that you dispute everything about the position that the Bush/Harper "united front" has taken about this war.

If, as you suggest, Hezbollah will be around regardless of what Israel does, then in my view it is best to knock them down a few notches while they have a chance. It may not lead to lasting peace, but it will at least buy some relief from Hezbollah's rockets raining down on Israeli cities and towns.

In the face of an enemy that is sworn to eliminate you, turning the other cheek hardly seems likely to result in lasting peace either.