Saturday, June 11, 2011

Harper's Delusion

I enjoy listening to Harper's speeches after the fact, mostly because I can fast forward the particularly useless tripe. This morning I listened to the self congratulatory barn burner Harper delivered at the Conservative Convention. I don't begrudge Conservatives their moment, after all it's quite an achievement for their side, representing years of work to reach this pinnacle. Having said that, the rest of us can now enjoy the inevitable descent, because success and failure isn't really the deep philosophical achievement partisans would have us believe.

What I found particularly striking about Harper's speech, this almost delusion of grandeur tone, augmented by a sense of growing military prowess. Apparently, the world is changing fast, unlike past decades according to Harper, the stagnant order of things is moving and Canada is well placed to shine. Harper again makes this kind of odd comment:
"not just because we have the tools to act but the capacity"

A clear reference to increased military capabilities, I find this sentiment almost dangerous when put in the context of Harper seeing some larger role for Canada on the world stage. I believe these Conservatives do believe that an enhanced military is a vehicle for increased influence in the world, which is absolutely delusional in my view. A country like Canada never becomes a super power, we never flex our muscles to the world, we will always be a "middle of the pack" entity which Harper challenged in his speech. I agree Canada should pull its weight, but for the Conservatives there is a certain zeal that almost romanticizes the military, as though only true bravery and honour is achieved through a capable use of force. Listen to the way Conservatives wrap themselves in the military, as though only they truly support our troops, and you have a window into the bent mentality.

Harper has been an utter failure on the world stage, apart from praise on our economy, our stature has shrank under the Conservative watch, despite these claims. You listen to Harper and you'd think Canada is a rising force, you listen outside our borders and mostly it's "what happened to Canada?", perplexed and disappointment, not AWE. Harper:
"we take strong principled positions, whether popular or not, and that is what the world can count on from Canada"

The now typical Harper rationalization to explain our emerging PARIAH status in world relations. Irrelevant on climate change, non existent at the United Nations, playing NO role in key diplomatic initiatives, retreating from traditional development and aid, apart from the military angle, we've fallen badly in the eyes of the world. Harper turns it around as a virtue, being marginalized a testament to principles, when really it's a statement on his failure to understand foreign policy nuance. Harper defends the black and white world these Conservatives live in, that is strength in their view, even though that application simply doesn't jive with a shades of grey world. Supporters cheer this simplistic view of the world, but fail to see that rather than influencing, Canada is just being TUNED out, a marginal irritant, rather than true mover. Harper changed the wording of a communique, oh what a triumph, but really empty word revisions won't replace real back channel influence.

At the core, Harper believes a beefed up military gives Canada clout in the world. In reality, I recall past governments having the "capacity" to act, we have a proud history of doing just that, so Harper creates a false baseline. The military did need upgrading, modernization, so on that score some factual assertion, but to the Conservatives it seems more, almost like a juvenile machismo rather than an accurate read of priorities. We've withered on diplomacy, but Harper thinks a beefed up military will provide influence. Harper is dead wrong, Canada will always be an "augmentor", a good ally, but never a "driver", which is why we have formerly seen diplomacy and nuance as our international sweet spot.

Harper says former governments just "went along to get along", whereas Conservatives turn needless conflict and friction into a testament of principled foreign policy. The new reality, our foreign policy is really only for domestic consumption, it sounds fantastic in theory, but outside our borders, increasingly nobody is paying attention. So, while Conservatives wave the flag at home, enamoured with our supposed international greatness, remember abroad that flag isn't placed so prominently on backpacks anymore, and that's far more telling than rhetoric.

13 comments:

thwap said...

Thanks for keeping tabs on the scum-bag.

The fact that any half-sane person can see that Canada's foreign policies (Haiti, Colombia, Afghanistan, Honduras) have all been immoral swamps just makes it all the more sickening.

Owen Gray said...

I've always been stuck by the fact that those who have really been in military campaigns find nothing glorious about them.

Only those who have never been there -- but who yearn for glory -- revel in their military "capacity."

Omar said...

Harper's policies are only going to alienate Quebec even further from his party's idealogical agenda. I really believe he doesn't care if he presides over the breakup of the country. Some legacy that will be.

Marpman said...

Another interesting comment I read was from James Moore who stated that 'Conservative Values are Canadian Values'.
Now, given that Moore is an anti-abortionist I find this tremendously concerning....but the whole statement speaks of arrogance. 60% of Canadian's who voted do not feel that the Conservatives speak for them.
In fact, recent polls reflect that many of the bread and butter Conservative election promises are not supported by Canadians. Mainstay ideas such as F35 fighters, larger mega-prisons, corporate tax cuts are not support by the general Canadian public.
Getting the PMO email I find it frustrating that every second day I get one celebrating this battle, or that battle etc. Yesterday was that Prince Phillip was now an Admiral in the Canadian Navy....hmmm, like who gives a f.....
You are correct Steve, delusional. We are not the US, and in fact the US has a horrible international reputation, saved somewhat by people like Carter and Clinton who have moderate leanings...but if we start to act like the bully that Harper is here at home, we will be a target for terrorists and we will no longer be able to broker peace, a long standing Canadian value. Heck, really brought to prominence by Defie....a Conservative....hmm, who'da thunk.

Jerry Prager said...

it's just all Bush league rhetoric, and the man wants to go down every failed track taken by republicans who morally and financially bankrupted their nation, which is the exact same place Canada will be in four years. $100,000 smart bombs are stupidest use of tax payer money imaginable, right behind a war on drugs, super prisons and corporate tax cuts that guarantee the rich get richer and everyone else is falling out of the economy.

Holly Stick said...

Who knows, maybe he is hoping to help start Armageddon.

Frankly Canadian said...

Good post Steve, I was going to say that sixty percent of Canadians DO NOT have conservative values, however Marpman beat me to it. It is very frightening to see the rapid decline of our good Candian reputation. I have a friend traveling to South America this summer and they will be sewing a Swiss flag on their backpack, some of those countries like Peru have been rioting as a cause of Canadian minning companies devouring the local environment. I think Canadians would be wise to keep a close eye on this new holyier than now govenrment.

Shiner said...

Harper's policies are only going to alienate Quebec even further from his party's idealogical agenda. I really believe he doesn't care if he presides over the breakup of the country. Some legacy that will be.

I'm worried about the same thing Omar. It's especially frustrating given that if Canada did cease to exist as we know it today, the Cons would just blame the Liberals for it and the media would probably run with it.

Dame said...

Harper is crazy about the military and the Glory what comes with it
he was wearing some military bomber's jacket whe visited the Manitoba floods /how inappropriate is this by itself.../
he remindes me for Stalin or hitler or Mussolini who liked to pareade in Military uniforms ... the grand delusion is clearly showing..

sharonapple88 said...

Harper says former governments just "went along to get along", whereas Conservatives turn needless conflict and friction into a testament of principled foreign policy. The new reality, our foreign policy is really only for domestic consumption, it sounds fantastic in theory, but outside our borders, increasingly nobody is paying attention.

Latest incident of this: Harper Government Receives Diplomatic Spanking Over Climate Change Policies. No one's fooled.

Tof KW said...

Dame, using Stalin, Hitler or Mussolini as references to anyone doesn't help you in a debate. That said, there is plenty of evidence that the US Republican Party has lifted many aspects of fascism. Examples:

- Country first (your individual rights are secondary)

- Strong military (ready and willing to do violence to protect the state and keep it strong)

- Powerful expressions of nationalism (wrapping yourself in the flag, catchy slogans, suspicion of all things foreign)

- Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause (be it Muslims, Gays, Liberals, all the same to the GOP)

- A controlled mass media (plenty written about our useless media and how they are manipulated, on both sides of the border)

- Power of corporations protected (the tea-baggers love to call Hitler and the Nazis socialists, yet anyone who reads can see fascists were all clearly corporatists)

- Obsession with national security

- Disdain and suppression of intellectuals (who are branded 'elitists' and scorned)

- Obsession with crime and punishment

Just a few examples (there are more) all aspects of which are why I refer to the USA as a proto-fascist state ...irregardless of Obama being president. I think the USA is just one more 9-11 style terrorist act away from Marshall law.

My point is that unlike proper Tories (who follow a clear and distinctively different version of conservatism from their American cousins) the Reformatories are highly influenced by US Conservatism, and follow these same flags as their GOP cohorts.

Yes it it not only sickening to see Harper adopt these US proto-fascist tactics, as much as to watch them working here.

I always though Canadians were better than this, but day after day I'm being proved wrong.

Möbius said...

"Dame, using Stalin, Hitler or Mussolini as references to anyone doesn't help you in a debate."

And then, of course, you do so.

Tof KW said...

How so?

I pointed out universal characteristics of all fascist governments, and how the US Republicans have adopted many of these, with their own twists of course. Harper's a tool that's just following the US-right's lead, nothing original to him.

Was I being an idiot and somehow likening Bush Jr or Harper to Hitler?

Damned straight I didn't.

Möbius, incredibly lame of you to not know the difference. Go watch Glen Beck's show or something.