Whenever Harper is asked a question about Afghanistan, a common theme emerges. Harper argues that the war in Afghanistan is a just cause, his decisions are based on fundamental principles, that will not be altered by polls. Public opinion will not shape our foreign policy, our commitment is based on a higher ideal. Harper is not afraid to make the tough decisions, risking his own popularity, because the cause is just. Fair enough, right?
Reading Paul Wells scathing article on Harper today, it is interesting to contrast Harper the resolute leader on Afghanistan, with Harper the "blowing in the wind" political opportunist on Iraq. Wells does a fantastic job of laying out the evolution in the Harper rhetoric, which essentially reveals a man that isn't necessarily committed to his ideals, if that support hurts his own personal fortune. In other words, the Harper that claims the moral high ground on Afghanistan shows no resemblance to the Harper that bails out when the going gets tough in Iraq.
I would have more respect for Harper's view, if he remained committed to his initial position on Iraq. The arguments for toppling Saddam were clearly stated, nothing in the aftermath should detract from this initial logic. The question was essentially a simple one, people like Harper, a "good Canadian", sided with the neo-con arguments, while people like Chretien resisted, based on another line of reasoning. Harper's changing opinion is an example of cowardice, quite remarkable given his strong language on Afghanistan. Afterall, isn't it Harper that chastises any Liberal who dares question the nature of the Afghanistan mission?
What the Harper contradictions on Iraq reveal, a man who plays politics with foreign policy, the exact motivation that Harper attempts to scold. Stand by your fundamental principles Prime Minister, don't alter to curry favor with the masses. Your cause is just, Canada must lead, there is nothing that can question our resolve. At the very least, the Harper Iraq timeline tells us that his words are mostly convenient, not based on the moral bedrock he likes to claim.