Sunday, May 29, 2011

Harper's Irrelevance

The revelation that Netanyahu lobbied Harper at the G8 communique wording isn't surprising in the least, but it is very much indicative of Canada's complete international irrelevance. Supporters will argue, Harper was flexing his muscle, nixing any reference to 1967 borders, this denotes influence. In fact, Harper being off side with many of our key allies further relegates Canada to bit player status moving forward.

This G8 statement that Harper bolted on, with direction from Israel, completely undermines Canada's former role as "honest broker" in the peace process. When Obama made his reference to the 1967 borders, he did so with clear talk about land swaps. I never understood the hysteria, because Obama wasn't that provocative, the idea of land reciprocity has always been part of the equation. Obama never said that Israel must pull back all settlements to 1967 borders, he said that land taken since then must be part of some exchange, nothing new, this idea PART of every peace deal attempt in the past, it's merely bluster, rather than some massive American deviation. That the G8 leaders were prepared to accept including 1967 in their statement not a slight towards Israel, just further confirmation to a common sense reality, that everyone has already acknowledged. And YET, there is Harper the hero of Israel flexing his muscles, acting as a proxy for the Israeli government, further alienating and marginalizing Canada.

If you look at some of the productive work Canada is doing in Israel, particularly the West Bank, much of that ability comes from perceived goodwill, the notion that Canada has the unique advantage of appearing as an ally to both sides in the equation. It is this well trodden and established road that has led to a certain measure of respect, people see Canada as an entity that attempts to bring people together, it understands fairness, mutual self respect, a middle power that can speak to all sides in the debate.

Harper is free to change our foreign policy, but rather than reading about Harper "forcing his will" at the G8, Canadians need to understand that we are really marginalizing ourselves, and what's worse undoing all that goodwill that was cultivated over decades. This news that Netanyahu is successfully lobbying Harper is another sign that Palestinians no longer have a friend in Canada, we are useless, nothing more than an echo. Harper doesn't seem to understand nuance and perceptions, he is fully prepared to undermine our international stature, if it pays domestic dividends. How much is conviction, how much is calculation, this is a question we all need to ask.

The Conservatives have set it up now, so that if you take them to task on there Middle East approach you are suddenly anti-Israel, which is so offensive and divisive. The strategy has worked electorally, but really the whole strategy is unseemly and plays to the worst instincts, creates enemies. Harper isn't gaining stature on the world stage, he's gaining a reputation as a PARIAH. Parroting a sovereign state isn't leadership, it's irrelevance, it tells everyone we needn't look to Ottawa for clues, but Jerusalem, moving forward we're effectively a write off. Failing to understand this fact, also fails to understand our own history, how we've accepted we role in the world and used it to exert influence where we can.

Harper may have "accomplished" nixing some symbolic wording from an always useless G8 communique, but the bigger picture is Canada losing any credibility whatsoever as an honest, independent voice in the Middle East. Rather than try to move the peace process along, Canada is effectively an irritant, which means in the future, serious people will just bypass us. The question becomes, will the domestic conversation understand the irrelevance beyond the strategic bluster?


Dan F said...

I would argue that it hasn't even boosted Harper's results electorally. He already won Thornhill, and his pro-Israel stand only boosted his result there from 49% to 61%. He still did not defeat Irwin Cotler in Mount-Royal (Conservative result bumped from 27% to 35%). Outside of those two ridings, the strongly pro-Israel Jewish population doesn't comprise sufficient numbers anywhere to significantly change the results. Net change in seats resulting from all the pro-Israel bluster from the Conservatives over the past 3 years? 0

Tof KW said...

Dan F, true it's only helped Harper so much electorally to date, but it's part of a longer-term strategy to court various ethic groups that traditionally voted Liberal.

But Harper's pro-Netanyahu stance is also red meat for the social-conservative base. You know, the (not very) Christian types that would like to speed-up the rapture. It's a cheap way for Harper to keep winning their vote without having to entertain any of their agenda within the House of Commons.

BTW - this is in addition the Steve's points, just aspects he never touched on. All the more it shows just how disgusting Harper is for destroying our good name internationally, just to score some targeted domestic political points.

Tof KW said...

Oops, first sentence in that last paragraph should read:
"BTW - this is in addition to Steve's points..."

I need more coffee to shake off the cobwebs in my brain.

The Mound of Sound said...

Harper's role on the international stage has been a spoiler. He hasn't got the international respect to actually garner support for anything but, as he showed at Copenhagen and again at the G8, he's masterful at subverting consensus. Call it the "little prick" syndrome.

xyz said...

Harper as no respect on the international stage. Look at David Cameron, Sarkozy, Merkel, they are REAL leaders. Canada used to belong in the same group as the countries led by these leaders but now Canada has become an "also ran" on international affairs. It's sad really this and the slow reaction to the uprisings in the middle east shows that Harper just wants to be version of an internet troll on foreign affairs

Koby said...

Dan F

It is the rabidly pro Israel Christain Right that he is out to please.