Sunday, November 19, 2006

Delusions Of Grandeur

On the one hand, you could commend Harper for being assertive on the international stage. I have no qualms with Canada showing leadership and forcefully arguing its points. However, Harper's latest foreign policy adventure strikes me as more ego driven exercise than genuine motivation. Harper made this comment, referring to his meeting with the Chinese, and I think it quite telling:
“We've had very frank discussions with a wide range of leaders, including although it was not a very long discussion, a very frank discussion with President Hu of China — a distinct impression, if I may say that, that the Chinese aren't used to that from a Canadian government, but I can't speak for them.” Mr. Harper said at the end of the APEC gathering.

I have a theory about Harper, that he suffers from delusions of grandeur. Important to remember, that in the infancy of this government much energy was spent talking about protecting the Arctic from foreign incursions, beefing up the military and making Canada a power on the world stage. We already know that Harper has a weird obsession with Stalin, an interesting curiousity for a democratic leader. I don't want to get too psychological here, but Harper strikes me as a man that desperately wants to be important.

Harper brags about his tone with the Chinese, as though "we told them". I'm sure the Chinese appreciated the lack of diplomatic decorum. I'm also sure North Korea cares what Canada thinks about its nuclear program. Harper want to look tough, fine, but he doesn't seem to have any comprehension of Canada's place on the world stage. Harper seems to conduct himself with an air of self-importance that simply isn't rooted in reality. Canada is effective, Canada over-steps its relative relevance, when it plays the margins, works behind the scenes to develop consensus. Canada doesn't have the clout to stand out and drive change, it's just that simple.

Whenever a leader takes the helm and puts the military on center stage, it tells us something. Harper has shown that he is a bully in his parlimentary approaches, and the "might is right" mentality of militarism is an extension of this characteristic. Supporters would argue that the Canadian military has long been ignored and desperately needs support. I don't dispute this fact, but I think Harper approaches the question from the perspective of power. This belief may explain why Harper over-zealously made the Afghanistan mission his own.

Last week we had the Canadian military conducting amphibious offensive operations (for the first time that anyone can remember) on the American east coast, preparing for any possible "invasion". A small point, but another sign that we think ourselves a force on the world stage and this government has given the military leadership a blank cheque. Any idea which country may feel the wrath of a Canadian naval assault?

Remember when Harper declared "Canada's back", referring to the world stage. Interesting, because Canada never left the world stage. Is this quest for Canada a genuine desire to be a force for change, or is it more the personal wants of a man who suffers from delusions of grandeur? The scary part, I really believe the latter.

16 comments:

The Mound of Sound said...

I've been coming to the same conclusion - that Stephen Harper is bent. He loves to call Canada an "energy superpower" as though we were about to dominate lesser states. He seems to love war - so long as it's war on the cheap. Stevie shows every sign of wanting to be a muscle boy, all waxed and oiled up. Gives me the creeps.

EX-NDIP said...

Harper is expressing the things a lot of Canadians have been saying for many years . . . but our gutless liberal leadership of the last 13 years wouldn't do anything but kiss the asses of despots all over the planet. Because libs always envied the despots, and some were even great fans, like PET . . .
Now Harper is telling it like it is and you morons are saying its his ego talking . . . soo nuts . . .
Why don't you just go back to WallMart and buy some more Chinese junk to help support this commie regeme!!!

ottlib said...

Alot of Canadians being the 20-25% of Canadians who call themselve Conservatives.

The remainder, being Liberal, Dippers, Greens and none of the above think Stephen Harper is full of shit.

Oh yes, ex-dipper, rip out the motherboard from your computer because it was made in China, along with your hard-drive and your RAM.

As well, I hope that you are sitting naked at your keyboard because I can guarantee that if you are not you are wearing at least one piece of clothing that was made in China.

Oh yes, walk to work. Many of the small electronic components in your car and in the vehicles used by your local transit system were made in China.

You see ex-dipper the reason why China is now the second largest ecomony in the world is because alot of us are "supporting" the commie regime in China.

That is why Stephen Harper is delusional if he thinks his little temper tantrum will change how the Chinese government acts. It knows that money talks and that folks in the West will not give up their access to the cheap goods produced by its country for something like human rights, not even you ex-dipper.

Steve V said...

I agree with the sentiment, just suspicious of the motivation. Where was Mr. Humanity when the Israelis were dropping mountains of cluster bombs throughout the Lebanese countryside?

A BCer in Toronto said...

Everything else aside, as a Canadian I find it sad Steve-o seems to think the international arena is the place to make snide partisan attacks. He can be Mr. Human Rights, or, as in this case, pretend to be, without the "unlike past governments" nonesense. It's childish, and embarrassing.

Steve V said...

Jeff

The Conservatives can't help themselves. Go back and look at their "policy" bluebook. Before we hear any mention of ideas, there is a diatribe against the former government. I believe the central philosophy of these people is negative politics, attack a foe, belittle the other guy. Harper hates the Liberals, and it all starts from there. How inspiring.

Olaf said...

Whoa whoa whoa,

Let's all just calm down a bit here.

Steve V,

First of all, Harper is delusional? He hasn't been translating baby jibberish into CBA endorsements lately, last time I checked.

That aside, I'm pretty sure all leaders want to be important not just in their own country, but on the world stage. I think you can criticize his actions and possibly his motivations, but to imply that he, unlike every other federal leader past and present, has "delusions of grandeur" on the world stage is a bit much. Remember Trudeau?

They all want to be considered important abroad, they just go about it in different ways.

Secondly, to compare cluster-bombing in response to outside attack to China's abuse of human rights domestically is stretching it more than a bit.

Jeff,

I agree that saying "unlike past governments" was a bit of a cheap shot, but you can believe that once the Liberals get into power they'll be saying the same thing.

And I think just because he's referring to an international meeting doesn't necessarily mean that snide partisan attacks aren't just as legitimate as if he was talking about a domestic issue. If domestic and international issues should be held to different standards when Harper is speaking to Canadian media, I'd like to know why.

knb said...

Olaf: And I think just because he's referring to an international meeting doesn't necessarily mean that snide partisan attacks aren't just as legitimate as if he was talking about a domestic issue.

While I take exception to the word legitimate, I take your point. However, you've perhaps inadvertantly pointed out, this blustering was for domestic consumption. It was not thought out, except for the fact that Harper himself, had to "save face" at home.

What it did internationally however, was make matters worse.

Of course all leaders want to be relevant on the world stage and at home, but I don't have a problem with the word delusional, for I think Mr. Harper is deluding Canadians at every turn. For instance, "unlike previous governments" implies that Human Rights were never raised before. Every government since Trudeau, Lib and Con, have raised it, but he sets himself up as being the first.

If Mr. Harper was really taking this hard line on human rights, why then was he silent on having sent an ambassador to North Korea, without advertising to the world, that he was "taking a stance". The fact that we found that out through foreign press, is astonishing.

Are you not just the least bit worried about a PM that berates Viet Nam about freedom of the press, while shutting out the Canadian press? Just like dictators, he expects the press to behave in a way that suits him, if it does not, poof, they're gone.

Our press learned of his brief meeting with China, 12-14 hours after it occurred, through the Chinese media, because he shut Cdn. press out.

This is not the man I want leading my country and at this point, I don't even care what party he leads.

I've said it before, but I'm with Jeff, I'm embarassed to be Canadian, something I never thought I'd know.

Olaf said...

Cue the drama,

I've said it before, but I'm with Jeff, I'm embarassed to be Canadian, something I never thought I'd know.

Next thing you know, Canadian backpackers will be sowing US flags on their backpackers to avoid the embarrassment. C'mon... you're not actually embarrassed to be Canadian are you? Is your Canadian identity defined by the Prime Minister?

knb said...

Cue the drama,...cute.

No, my identity is not defined by the PM, but by acting in an inappropriate way, he does hold sway to how we, Canadians, are perceived.

I really enjoy our conversations Olaf. What I meant by the comment is, I've been around for a while and I have never, ever, felt that embarassment before. Oh, Chretien was embarassing to be sure, but this has been a week of the international community saying "huh, we thought Canada meant this...what happened?"

If your idea of being more embraced by the world, includes sewing on US flags...well there, ladies and gents,(cue drama), is delusion.

That small point aside, could you go to the substance of what I and others are saying?

Olaf said...

Alright KNB,

could you go to the substance of what I and others are saying?

I'll bite and go back to your substantive comment.

this blustering was for domestic consumption. It was not thought out, except for the fact that Harper himself, had to "save face" at home.

Granted, but he's hardly the first politician to make such a move. In fact, you'd be hard to find one politician that hasn't reframed an international relationship to seem more appealing to voters domestically, so I'm willing to forgive.

I think Mr. Harper is deluding Canadians at every turn

I don't think that makes Harper deluded, only those who he successfully brainwashes in his secret U of C laboratory (he already got Chucker.

For instance, "unlike previous governments" implies that Human Rights were never raised before.

Has every government brought it up publicly? Either he's acting unlike previous governments (which you argue he is, in that he's embarrassing you by coming out and making a big deal of the issue publicly), or he's acting the same as the other governments (Trudeau on) and your original argument is invalid (I feel like I'm missing something here but I can't tell what, and it sounds good, so I'll just move on).

If Mr. Harper was really taking this hard line on human rights, why then was he silent on having sent an ambassador to North Korea, without advertising to the world, that he was "taking a stance". The fact that we found that out through foreign press, is astonishing.

Again, I'm confused. It seems like you're upset when Harper acts brazenly and loudly, and upset when he does things under the radar. How would you have him act?

Are you not just the least bit worried about a PM that berates Viet Nam about freedom of the press, while shutting out the Canadian press?

There is absolutely NO comparison to be made between our freedom of the press and that found in parts of Asia. None whatsoever, and to try to draw parallels is really a strain on ones credibility. Just because he won't personally talk to them, which is his right even if it is impolitic/unwise, doesn't mean that their freedom is restricted in any way shape or form as it is in Vietnam and China. Check out the Wrangler Weekly, freedom of the press is doing fine in Canada.

This is not the man I want leading my country and at this point, I don't even care what party he leads.

I think this is the point you should have started with. I think that you, like many, many others, just don't like Harper, don't trust him, see him in the same category as George W. Bush, and as such, whatever he does and why ever he does it you won't like. That's not to say your criticism are necessary invalid, but it does explain why he "embarrasses" you where as it has no effect on me.

And for the record, I've been critical of Harper's relationship with China*, in so far as it does "make matters worse" with China. However for much different reasons than yourself.

Also, I quite enjoy these conversations as well. Anyone who's interested in respectful debate and actually puts thought into what the other person says is good in my books.

timethief said...

I agree wholeheartedly with a bcer in toronto. Mr. Harper's chest inflating huff and puff style of rhetoric fails to impress. His lack of diplomatic skill is appalling. This is our Prime Minister speaking - how embarrassing.

knb said...

For instance, "unlike previous governments", implies that Human Rights were never raised before.

Has every government brought it up publicly? Either he's acting unlike previous governments (which you argue he is, in that he's embarrassing you by coming out and making a big deal of the issue publicly), or he's acting the same as the other governments (Trudeau on) and your original argument is invalid

Hmmm, I'm expecting to see you on the Duffy tv panel, representing the conservatives very soon, lol. You are of course twisting my comment. He said that comment in a way that suggested that previous governments discussed trade only and human rights were never discussed. Previous governments have always said, publicly, that human rights was on the agenda. The Chinese know and accept this. They have not however, said that "Canada is not prepared to sell out our values for the sake of the Almighty dollar", (paraphrased but close I think), as if past governments have, including Conservative.

Mr. Harper was really taking this hard line on human rights, why then was he silent on having sent an ambassador to North Korea, without advertising to the world, that he was "taking a stance". The fact that we found that out through foreign press, is astonishing.

Again, I'm confused. It seems like you're upset when Harper acts brazenly and loudly, and upset when he does things under the radar. How would you have him act?

Again, good twist. I mean only to point out that his argument that this government is different, going to approach these issues with force and in the open, is defeated by hiding the fact he'd sent an ambassador. My personal preference is that all such situations are handled with diplomacy and tact, not blustering machismo one day, then hiding from the press the next.

Of course I was not comparing the freedoms that the Canadian press enjoy versus those in Vietnam or China. My point was one of irony. His behaviour toward the press is petulant at best and by Canadian standards, oppressive. I agree with you, it is unwise and is not being received well by average Canadians.

Olaf, to me it's not a matter of "liking" Harper. I think his ideology is wrong for Canada. The Progressive Conservatives on the other hand, I may not have agreed with all of their platforms, but they did not hold the ideology that Harper does and I think too many Canadians think he is just like the old PC gang...he's not.

The split we are now seeing in the States with the neo-con's and the traditional Republican's, is precisely based on ideology, the same ideology I refer to.

I'm in a rush again, but glanced at your blog and your post. :), I wish I had read that first and will try to make a point to more often.

Oh, and about the word delusional, I would say that Harper is, if he thinks the masses will buy his exclusion of the press carrying his message. Perhaps it's Buckler who is delusional, but he's buying it. Though, Steve's point is well taken, he certainly seems to be riding the wave of grandeur.

I'm sure I've said this before, but Harper went to my High School. He was a non-descript guy, who was pretty marginalized. To see him strut, comes as no surprise and goes back to a very old song, "If they could see me now...."

Thanks for making me think about my responses and how I phrase them. I'm not backing down, lol, just looking at how I present my argument. Conversation and debate is good and I would agree with you, listening is important.

Olaf said...

KNB,

You totally nailed me on the spin. I'm the next Jason Kenney, wait and see.

The fun part is I know what I'm doing the whole time and I know why my arguments are wrong, but usually people just get pissed but don't know exactly why. Congrats for reading through me.

I think we both generally know the others position on the matter, and despite protesting I see your general point (although I don't think Harper is as scary and ideological as you do, but that's definitely a conversation for another day).

Good chat as always.

Paul_B said...

Stephen Harper is important. If you don't think the role of Prime Minister of Canada is important, blame his predescessors who didn't live up to the job.

Now stop crying like a pussy.
We don't need to beg anyone to sell us their cheap shit.

Steve V said...

"Stephen Harper is important"

And becomes less important with each day, as he and his ministers undermine Canada's reputation.