Harper on Conservative Foreign Policy

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duncan cameron
Harper on Conservative Foreign Policy

The comments by the PM on Canadian Foreign Policy in his interview with Maclean's editor Ken Whyte are truly appalling.

http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/07/05/how-he-sees-canada’s-role-in-the-wo...

His overview of the last 70 years, starts with the fire fight against fascism, moves to the cold war against communism, and then on to the war on terrorism. For Harper these have been the successive challenges facing Canada and the world, and they can all be lumped together. Each defines the moment, and we face terrorists the way our predecessors faced fascists and communists.

It is bad enough equating the cold war, which originated in Washington according to serious historians such as William Appleman Williams and Walter LaFeber with the war against Hitler and Mussolini (which the Americans only joined after Pearl Harbour) but to equate the war against an abstract noun with World War II is truly unbelievable.

It is as if Harper got his education from reading Time Magazine essays on the greatness of American Foreign policy. No high school social studies teacher would let a student get away with drawing the conclusions Harper draws about the evolution of world affairs, as moving from fascism to terrorism via communism.

Harper is clear that we face a current threat from Radical Islamic terrorism. This justifies our military expenditures. Whyte did not ask him how the F35 jet, designed to bomb a country, prior to a land invasion, made sense as the weapon of choice in the war on terrorism, since terrorists do not sit around waiting to be bombed.

Harper is also clear we have to do our part, meaning carry some of the U.S. burden, and not worry about making friends, meaning forget diplomatic efforts to gather countries together to fight climate change, global poverty, or protect economies against banksters. Indeed our major foreign policy success, according to Harper was to kill the bank tax proposed by the U.K and France.

The ignorance Harper shows of basic elements of international relations, such as imperialism, hegemony, alliance building, diplomacy, and multilateral institutions is stunning, and troubling.

I found this piece about William Appleman Williams to be interesting. He is one of a number of significant American scholars that Harper and his people seem to have never heard of, but who are a credit to their country.

http://www.thenation.com/article/dead-center-william-appleman-williams?p...

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Harper doesn't give a sh*t what any of us here - or the parliamentary Opposition - thinks. He has a majority, and he will do what he wants. He could even get another majority in 2015, God help us.

contrarianna

Quote:
]Harper doesn't give a sh*t what any of us here - or the parliamentary Opposition - thinks...

And what does the parliamentary "Opposition" think:

 

Quote:
The NDP’s willingness to rally behind the Conservatives to support the Libyan war and their readiness to lie in doing so has caused the corporate media to take notice—as the NDP no doubt hoped it would. To cite but one example, a columnist in the right-wing National Post remarked, “That the NDP is prepared to go along with the charade that regime change is not the goal [of the NATO war on Libya] suggests they weren’t kidding when they promised to change Ottawa… This is a party that wants to present itself as a government in waiting.”

The parliamentary debate over the extension of the CAF’s participation in the war on Libya demonstrated the unanimous support imperialist military intervention has among the political establishment. In contrast with the blustering parliamentary speeches that occurred during the previous minority government, these proceedings unfolded as a model of parliamentary decorum and mutual support. Defense Minister Peter MacKay warmly praised a speech by the interim Liberal Party leader and former Ontario NDP Premier Bob Rae that effectively asserted a “humanitarian” right of Canadian imperialism and its allies to intervene around the globe....

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/jul2011/cana-j06.shtml

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

My point was that Harper will carry on as he sees fit, regardless of whether or not he has support from the Parliamentary Opposition, or from anyone else. He's a bully, and has the majority to back himself up. Indeed, you hear the Cons on CBC crowing about their "substantial majority mandate".  It's no wonder they have little desire to drop FPTP.

Policywonk

Boom Boom wrote:

My point was that Harper will carry on as he sees fit, regardless of whether or not he has support from the Parliamentary Opposition, or from anyone else. He's a bully, and has the majority to back himself up. Indeed, you hear the Cons on CBC crowing about their "substantial majority mandate".  It's no wonder they have little desire to drop FPTP.

Harper of course has nothing to say on actual foreign policy imperatives like addressing climate change and dying oceans, to say nothing of rising food prices globally.

duncan cameron

Harper has the support to implement his plans, for sure, and that alone is reason to be concerned. The NDP needs to be vigilant in pointing out the lack of any intelligent basis for his actions, as well. Supporting him on Libya was a mistake I expect to see corrected. Much of postwar Canadian foreign policy was built around establishing an alternative to great power politics, through building multilateral institutions. Of course these institutions themselves were subject to great power domination, but there is plenty of scope for Canada to reach out to other nations, and see that real issues are addressed in a meaningful way. We can all think of examples. The UN has just released a major indictment of carbon fuels.
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jul2011/2011-07-05-02.html
Canada is now occupying the place reserved for international outlaws with Harper pushing tar sands exploitation. Instead we should be working to reduce tanker traffic, and promote green energy options.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

duncan cameron wrote:
Much of postwar Canadian foreign policy was built around establishing an alternative to great power politics, through building multilateral institutions. Of course these institutions themselves were subject to great power domination

You make it sound as if this domination of those institutions was a coincidence or an accident.

If you read Yves Engler, and others, then this would be seen as misleading. Instead, it's probably more exact - and certainly reflects the likely FUTURE of Canadian foreign policy (especially under such right wing regimes as the Harper regime) - to describe Canada as playing a supporting role for the U.S. when the "big stick" doesn't work for the imperial masters in Washington. Furthermore, Canada is now an imperial regime in it's own right ... and that did not start with Harper.

Even the Chretien regime, while making public statements to the effect of not joining the "Coalition of the Willing" in the merciless bombing and invasion and occupation of Iraq, provided enormous military assistance and logistics, etc. in those war crimes which led to the deaths of (what?) a million Iraqis and turned Fallujah into a cluster bomb for cancer and birth defects. Peter Gzowski may have had a kanipshen fit when Noam Chomsky referred to Lester Pearson as a war criminal, but we agree with Noam. He had the evidence to back up that claim.

 

 

Polunatic2

Quote:
 He could even get another majority in 2015, God help us.

The NDP is in 2nd place. The Liberals are in 3rd. Does anything else matter in 2015 as long as the NDP remains ahead of the Libs? 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

The heck with the NDP - aren't Will and Kate super cute? Laughing

duncan cameron

Ikosomos the domination of the IMF, World Bank, GATT, UN and specialized agencies by great power politics was probably inevitable (not accidental or co-incidental for sure) but for the first 25 years of the postwar period, countries such as Australia, Holland, Norway and others wanted to work with Latin America, and Canada to break U.S. domination, and transcend the cold war deadlock. The highpoint was decolonization, and the admission of African states in the 1960s. Of course the great power veto at the UN worked against meaningful collective security action through the Security Council, and still does.

When Pearson accepted nuclear warheads on Canadian soil, Trudeau called him the defrocked prince of peace. Diefenbaker wanted a more independent foreign policy, and there is evidence the U.S. worked to defeat him at the polls.

Canada abandoned the multilateral system under Mulroney and opted for accelerated continental integration. A common foreign policy was written into the preamble of the Canda-U.S. FTA. Chrétien joined in joyfully, so did Martin, and now we have Harper who has adopted the U.S. framework of thinking about world politics.

Unlike Harper, most Canadians support a UN centred foreign policy, peace-keeping, North-South co-operation, environmental action, and promotion of human rights through international treaties. All Harper wants to do is wage the so-called war on terror. I look to foreign policy differences to be an important electoral issue for the opposition parties. The Liberals have seemingly left a lot of space for the NDP to fill. Even the Bloc wants Canada to adopt the U.S. dollar, making a mockery of sovereignty, the basis for their existence. 

Todrick of Chat...

Most Canadians don't understand what a UN centred foreign policy, peace-keeping, North-South co-operation, environmental action, and promotion of human rights through international treaties involves.

duncan cameron

Todrick of Chat... Opinion polling has shown Canadians to be concerned about American domination of our economy and our politics, and that Canadians expect Canada to take positions internationally that support peace and international development.
What would this involve? Not spending about $30 billion for F35 fighters in order to combat terrorism for a start. Other policies can be proposed, explored and debated. In the debate, I think the reference points would be the UN, North-South relations, the environment, and human rights. How are these real concerns affected by positions taken by the Canadian government?

Todrick of Chat...

Duncan,

Most Canadians only understand sound bites and short media clips. Just because they have an opinion on a subject does not mean they understand a subject in any real detail or depth.

We will look at you point about peacekeeping for example. Most Canadians believe that peacekeeping is cheap and harmless to soldiers, they don't understand the financial costs and equipment and resources costs for these operations.

Canadians just understand the myths that have been feed to them over the years.

They think in the terms of black and white, good and bad.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

for dc - OK, well, yea, I suppose demonstrating the change over the post war decades has some value. However, from where I'm coming from, the continuity may be equally, or more, important. And emphasizing the continuity would suggest that Canadians who understood that as the dominant characteristic would put more effort into political action other than electing candidate A, B or C of party x, y, or z.

It's only by putting pressure on the Canadian gov - as the anti-apartheid movement did in helping to push an otherwise consistent conservative ideologue (Mulroney) towards better positions than other like-minded conservatives like Reagan and Thatcher - that these foreign policy alternatives will have some chance of success. I don't have any faith that the NDP will be any better on most foreign policy issues. Just look at their capitulation on issues having to do with Palestinian solidarity. Zilch.

 

Frmrsldr

duncan cameron wrote:

Harper is clear that we face a current threat from Radical Islamic terrorism. This justifies our military expenditures. Whyte did not ask him how the F35 jet, designed to bomb a country, prior to a land invasion, made sense as the weapon of choice in the war on terrorism, since terrorists do not sit around waiting to be bombed.

Harper is also clear we have to do our part, meaning carry some of the U.S. burden, and not worry about making friends, meaning forget diplomatic efforts to gather countries together to fight climate change, global poverty, or protect economies against banksters.

In this light the wars on Afghanistan, (covert war) on Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen make no sense.

It's all about Canada being an outpost in the American Empire and being a pathetic enabling satrap to the American Empire like the U.K., France, the E.U., NATO, etc.

NATO is all about the moral and economic burden-sharing when it comes to America's wars of Empire.

When the American Empire goes down the drain Canada et al will be dragged along with it.

Herr Harper will go down in history as the proud supporter of this.

duncan cameron

In his first major speech since May 2, Harper returns to the themes he announced in his interview with Maclean's.

http://www.calgarysun.com/2011/07/09/pm-sees-canadas-place-in-the-world

Canada is rebuilding its military, there is more to foreign policy than foreign aid, or building a diplomatic consensus, Canada knows where its interests lie and who its friends are, the Liberal era is over.

Mostly this is code for an end to UN centred foreign policy and peace-keeping as a priority for the military. It announces a pact with the U.S. against the forces of evil in the world, about which more to come no doubt.  

mmphosis

Murray Dobbin wrote:
To sell a pointless war, foster 'protective stupidity' among citizens.

From Israel to ISIS: Harper's 'Orwellian' foreign policy (rabble.ca) October 20, 2014

Harper's Foreign Policy Confirms Orwell's Insights (tyee.ca) October 21, 2014