Conservative Criticism of Foreign Policy Uninformed by News of Last Year’s Election

The Conservative Party of Canada, accustomed to being hated by many, if not most Canadians, is still reeling from the discovery that this widespread hatred can occasionally translate into electoral defeat, even in a democracy as flawed as ours.  Now, they are turning news that Canada will be excluded from a meeting of defense ministers from nations fighting ISIS into fodder for criticism, rather than accepting the news as the logical outcome of changes to Canadian foreign policy under a new government, who was elected only two months ago on a platform promising to pull Canadian bombers out of the war on ISIS.

We can expect this level of commentary from the Queen’s Loyal Opposition for years to come.  After the attack in Paris, the party renewed its calls for Trudeau to reverse his election promise as if the promise to pull out Canadian CF-18’s was premised on the belief that there would never again be another terrorist strike somewhere in the Western world.  In response to the latest news, the Conservative Defence Critic said on Twitter, “Due to the Liberal’s incoherent policy on #ISIS Canada is not back, we lost our seat at the table,” a sentiment echoed in his official statements.

James Bezan

Conservative MP James bEzan rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Monday February 2, 2015 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Adrian Wyld

Well, fine. There is indeed  incoherence in Trudeau’s foreign policy.  There are legitimate questions to ask; how much longer will the pullout be delayed; what role will our special forces continue to play in the conflict; is the government merely going to pretend to not participate in a war, even as it continues to do so, like the Liberal government under Jean Chrétien?  Skepticism is  healthy, and governments should never be trusted, but every now and then, once in a while, they do exactly what they said they’d do when stumping for votes, and that’s pretty much the most one could ever hope for from a government.  It still remains to be seen if the Trudeau will deliver on his promise, but the critique from the right seems to be premised on the outrageous notion that he will. But then, the CPC has long had a shaky grasp on the concept of democracy. Which is a shame, because as the official opposition the party could do the nation a service by holding the government to account for its actions.  To do so, however, they would need to be asking the right questions.

 

Update:

It would be unfair to not mention that the Liberal government’s own explanation for why they are not attending the meeting, is equally, if not more disingenuous than the Conservative critique:

http://www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=2682210494

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s statement that there are “lots of meetings” to the assembled scrum is a cheap dodge.  He may be right in trying to downplay the significance of Canada getting snubbed, but the question was why it had happened in the first place.  He could have at least paraphrased his statement in a less deceptive, but more honest way: “There are lots of answers to questions. Questions get answered all of the time.  I answered some questions last week, and I’m really looking forward to answering some question in the future.”

 

The Presidency of Hilary Clinton: A Cautionary Tale

The looming election of Hillary Clinton as the first woman president of the United States will be the opening of the final act in a revenge tale spanning multiple decades that saw her patiently biding her time before she could assume the office and take on the executive powers established by George W. Bush, and accelerated by Barack Obama, whereby the president could assassinate anyone in the world with no checks, balances, or oversight; even if they are US citizens, even if they are innocent of all crimes.

The one person worried most about this unprecedented rise of authoritarianism in America has not been some jihadist fomenting unrest in Syria, Iraq, or Yemen; not some lone wolf terrorist enthusiast ready to write his own jihad fan fiction in blood on the streets of a Western metropolis. No, it has been Monica Lewinsky watching the skies with growing unease over the past eight years, wondering at what altitude one could spot a predator drone, or whether or not she would be able to hear the hellfire missile when it came for her, even for a second; affording her enough time to reflect upon the days when she slept with the most powerful man in the world, never considering that his wife would one day become the most powerful person on the planet.

Watching the inauguration from an apartment she will henceforth not leave for months, Lewinsky will already have given up. In the early days of the Obama presidency, with Clinton as his Secretary of State, she still had hopes she could get off the grid. Live in the mountains, the desert, somewhere remote, sparsely populated, and beautiful; pay her rent by selling hand-knit doodads on Etsy via some alias, and remain anonymous. She knows better than that now. There is no grid, only a net, and the NSA has long ago caught her and her online personae within it, not to mention her semi-famous face and a back-story bordering on the legendary which still gets her recognized on a daily basis for certain deeds she never wanted once to define her as a person.

Lewinsky will survive the first years of a second Clinton’s presidency, owing not the least to the patience of her tormentor, who has waited so long that she could wait a few more years. Yet this patience, so conducive to cold-blooded revenge, will ultimately be Lewinsky’s salvation; as a newly aligned Supreme Court, tilted to the left by a Democrat administration’s appointed liberal judges, will stun the legal community and civil libertarians by ruling that the presidency of Hilary Clinton must, by law, pass the Bechdel Test. The dissenting opinion, a three word missive that will read, “Bitches be crazy,” will be universally acknowledged as the most succinct summation of the court’s views over the last 226 years, though now somewhat dated. The concurring opinions accompanying the majority view will go on to state that some cum stains are just incidental to the physical act of love, that the Other Woman is not the one who is cheating on his wife, and that the president cannot assassinate a US citizen unless they have done something truly ghastly such as having been born in the wrong country or having unpopular political opinions.

The Supreme Court Acted While Elected MP’s Couldn’t

Head on over to Provocative Penguin, where the first of my two-part critique of Canadian democracy:

…when the Harper government introduced two controversial bills this year–C-13, the cyberbullying bill; and S-4, the Digital Privacy Act–opposition MPs were able to do little more than join the chorus of privacy experts, commissioners, and the media in decrying the legislation.

By chance, the Supreme Court made a ruling last month in R. v Spencer, a child pornography case, which undermined the government’s legal argument behind sharing personal data of internet subscribers, a practice which would likely have become more prevalent under both bills before the ruling.

While the court satisfied Harper’s critics, it remains an indictment of the electoral system when we must rely on unelected levers to check the power of a party most Canadians did not vote for.

Read the rest at Provocative Penguin.

Syria’s Chemical Cocktail Makes World Leaders Loose and Giddy

Bashar Assad offering one of his trademark conciliatory gestures.

Bashar Assad offering one of his trademark conciliatory gestures.

In the geopolitical equivalent of standing next to the fat girl in order to look skinny, the international community eagerly awaits Syria’s use of chemical weapons upon its own people, to take the heat off of them from their own critics.

Infotainment professionals in the United States have repeated reports from unnamed sources in the US government, whom are said to be reliable, that increased activity has been seen at Syrian sites which house weapons of mass destruction.  It is believed that Syria possesses the ingredients for sarin, a deadly nerve agent, and that President Bashar Assad could be in the process of preparing the chemical for use against rebel forces in Syria’s 20 month civil war.

World leaders have greeted these reports with a mixture stern warnings and sighs of relief.  Gods & Services presents a weekly round-up of the international response:

Russia celebrated the increased pressure on Syria by killing 3 more journalists and imprisoning another punk band, Dick Party.

“Their new album was really disappointing,” said Vladimir Putin, “after they replaced their original guitarist they haven’t been the same.”

Turkey welcomed the news in the face of criticism for its jailing of thousands of Kurdish citizens since 2009, including many journalists and human rights activists.

“Turkey is a democracy,” said Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, “it’s not my fault if the 18 million Kurds here can’t vote themselves up some civil rights.  There are proper ways to oppress people in the civilized world, Assad just doesn’t understand that.”

In a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that if Assad does make use of his stockpile of sarin, images of sweaty, twitching Syrians unable to breath, with drool and vomit spewing from their mouths and excrement dripping down their pant legs, will be a breath of fresh air for his nation.

As one of few countries to have not signed the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, and widely believed to possess an arsenal of nuclear weapons, Netanyahu hopes Syrian war crimes will put to rest the recent request by the United Nations General Assembly for weapons inspectors to be allowed into Israel.

Chancellor Merkel herself addressed the issue in light of the ongoing European economic crisis.

“Maybe Germany can finally get back to imposing crippling austerity measures upon Greece without incurring any criticism now,” she said, “and just generally carrying on as if we’ve never heard of a man called John Maynard Keynes.”

Amidst the unnecessary rubble of the recent 8 day war, in which Hamas learned once again that perhaps they cannot take on the Israeli Defense Force through military means, a spokesman was quoted to say: “Hopefully, once Assad releases the gaseous atrocity upon his own people, it will really put the Palestinian issue in context.  Maybe then the world will see that launching 1500 crude rockets over the heads of terrified civilians isn’t such a bad thing.”

In the United States, a group of jubilant Marines celebrated the coming war crimes by urinating upon the naked body of Bradley Manning after his recent appearance in court.  Manning faces charges over his leak of classified videos documenting American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We can finally get back to business as usual,” said Brigadier General Chuck Choda, “Drone strikes may kill a lot of civilians, but as the leaked videos demonstrate, you can have a lot more fun when you’re right there to pull the trigger yourself.”

John Baird attempting to contain his enthusiasm.

John Baird attempting to contain his enthusiasm.

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, was similarly grateful for the new round of condemnation upon Syria.

“Our government has received a lot of flak domestically and internationally for being one of the few countries to oppose the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral move to gain multilateral recognition.  As if seeking  status as a state in any way furthers the goal of finding a two-state solution.  It’s ridiculous.”

“Hopefully, if Syria starts firing deadly toxins upon is populous, people will stop talking about me.  And with a little luck, Canada can stand by and do as little as possible while thousands die.  It’s worked so far.”

Indeed, with an estimated 40,000 dead since the civil war broke out in March 2011, news coming out of Syria has become rather stale.  To date, these deaths have been caused almost exclusively by traditional bullets and explosions, a relatively boring way to die which fails to meet the basic threshold of entertainment value that would provoke a humanitarian intervention.  Should Assad use weaponized sarin upon the Syrian people, particularly civilians, world leaders can embark on a new round of grand standing and venting of moral indignation.  The inevitable footage of prone bodies, either paralyzed or dead, will send a strong message to their own constituents to be happy with what they have.

Short Straw on the Short Bus

On Sunday, a blindfolded Egyptian boy between the ages of 5 and 8 will select the next pope of the Coptic Christians from among three candidates.  It is difficult to understand how our current electoral system is any better or different.

As photographic evidence suggests, the same could be said for the Yanks :

It goes something like this...

Featured : (from left to right) Barack Obama in whiteface, Mitt Romney in drag, and the American voter in ironic party hat.