Friday, March 23, 2007

I Listen To Joe

I managed to catch most of Joe Clark's speech at the U of A Monday (appropriately enough in the Tory building) entitled "Losing Canada's Advantage: The Harper Government's Narrow View of Canadian Foreign Policy". With a hook like that, how could I refuse?

The thrust of Joe's speech was that Canada has typically been successful by looking at both sides of the Canadian coin; that is, maintaining a strong friendship with the Americans but also working on an independent voice in the world. This allows Canada to have more muscle in the international community because we're close to the Americans, but it also gives us more say with the US because we're on better terms with a lot of foreign powers than they are.

In Joe's opinion, "Mr.Harper and his colleagues are moving deliberately away from the foreign policy of the past" by making Canada/US relations the "dominant focus" of their government. To back this up, he referenced 16 ministerial trips to the US in 2006 versus 2 to Africa, 2 to China, and none to South America. I must say that given Mr. Clark's experience with overseas travel, I'm amazed he's so keen on it but I do think there is some validity to his claim that Harper is overly preoccupied with the Americans.

He did cite three other areas of concern he has with the current administration:

1. Nothing at all for the developing world (he was equally critical of the Chretien/Martin government on this)
2. The erosion of foreign service
3. The deterioration with relations with China

His criticism was most piercing with respect to China, saying that Harper has returned to "a pre-Nixonian policy" vis-a-vis China. He also lamented the lack of leadership Canada has shown in multilateral organizations.

When asked about Afghanistan, he said he agreed that we should be there but that it should be reviewable more often. He would like to see regularly televised committee meetings where the opposition could ask questions about the mission, similar to what was done with the Gulf War when he was Foreign Affairs Minister.

All in all, an interesting talk and I must tip my hat to Clark for the line of the day:

"I didn't see if foreign aid numbers were increased in the budget today. I try to miss budgets whenever I can...I had an unfortunate experience with them in the past..."

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76 Comments:

  • I must say, I think ChuckerCanuck has convinced me that we should focus on stronger ties, especially trade, with burgeoning democracies like El Salvador rather than China. He's argued it several times with good points and has won me over.

    (Damn, I hope it was El Salvador, or I'll look a complete idiot)

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 8:20 PM  

  • Wrong-way-Joe is getting it wrong again. The US focus in policy was began post 9-11 with Manley taking the file away from DFAIT and basically creating an ad hoc Dept of US Affairs at PCO. And the new budget increases foreign aid levels far beyond Paul "Hey Bono! Over here! Over here!" Martin's and his non-promise on .7

    But that being said, Joe is still a helluva a guy.

    By Blogger Scott in Ottawa, at 8:42 PM  

  • Joe is still grinding that axe of his.

    He can never forgive Harper for uniting the two parties and now Harper is proving to be ten times the PM he was.

    The fact that Joe supported a govt that had been stealing from the taxpayer over his party's new home proves what kind of man he is, and its not pretty.

    By Blogger renegadejet, at 9:09 PM  

  • I think it was a very good speech in terms of what I heard and a well balanced plan. I don't think it was overly partisan. Sure Joe Clark is a Red Tory while Harper is a neo-con so off course the two won't see eye to eye on most issues.

    As for the merger, it was the right thing in terms of making the Conservatives more competitive, but the wrong thing in terms of what was best for Canada. Canada is best governed close to the centre and having two centrist parties is better than having only one. Even if it meant the Liberals would still be in office now, at least we would have a government that has well rounded and balanced policies rather than ideological ones and only moves into the centre when an election is looming.

    By Blogger Miles Lunn, at 9:18 PM  

  • Okay, with that title, you are officially an Edmonton Grit now.

    -J

    By Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist, at 9:35 PM  

  • I like Joe, almost always have. But, this is from a man who once promised to move Canada's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 10:09 PM  

  • Was Joe the first professional politician to become a Canadian PM? Probably. And his "provincial" training showed.

    Back in 1979 when he became PM at 39(maybe before when many here were born),his nine months as head of a minority gov't were not highlighted by moments of, how shall I say, international accomplishments. Many of his clumsy missteps also involved Israel and the Middle East.

    Read his wiki bio for more detailed info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Clark

    So, while I respect Joe as an elder statesman, I would take his comments on Stephen Harper's Gov'ts performance on foreign affairs with a grain of salt.

    Both shared a "provincial" outlook and limited, if any, international experience before taking office.

    And it shows. A word of caution to wannabe "professional politicians".

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 10:11 PM  

  • Harper is proving to be ten times the calculating and manipulative partisan than Clark was, I'll give you that, renegade. If that turns your crank, then more power to you, I guess.

    But Clark is, by far, a much more decent human being. I'll take that quality in my leader any day of the week.

    By Blogger Paul Michna, at 10:14 PM  

  • So, while I respect Joe as an elder statesman, I would take his comments on Stephen Harper's Gov'ts performance on foreign affairs with a grain of salt.

    Yes, his actual term as PM wasn't particularly distinguished on the foreign policy file... and then he went on to spend seven years as Foreign Minister under Mulroney. So, rather than being some sort of neophyte, Clark brings a highly distinguished and lengthy service that makes his comments on Harper's foreign policy rather relevant.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 10:37 PM  

  • Josh,

    You're right. I should have qualified my comments by suggesting Joe's comments on Harper's first year should be put in context of his own first year performance (not that I think either are exemplary).

    Joe was afforded the opportunity to learn and redeem himself after Mulroney was elected PM. Like today's MacKay, I'm not sure any of the foreign decisions/efforts as MofFA can be attributed to him.

    I'd give credit/discredit to Mulroney. It's not apparent Clark's decision making had any impact on Canada's foreign policy, to me at least.

    The one initiative that was widely credited to him was his ill fated effort on the Charlottetown Accord, as Minister of Constitutional Affairs, a real dog's breakfast.

    Joe's strength, for what it's worth, is for process, not leadership or insight, in my opinion.

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 10:52 PM  

  • Joe's a joke. The only emotion he is capable of causing is pity. Joe's a joke.

    Joe's a joke. He endorsed Paul Martin during an election where Martin was so thoroughly disoriented he ended up on stage with a man who's support he courted, called for Canadians to vote for the separatist Bloc. Joe's a joke.

    Joe's a joke. He presided over the reduction of the once proud PC party's reduction to an Atlantic Canadian regional rump. Joe's a joke.

    Joe's a joke. He claims to be from the west, yet never left Ottawa. If you duct taped him to a power pole in the west, every once in a while a passerby would stop to ask who he was, and upon finding out laugh in his face. Joe's a joke.

    By Blogger Grithater, at 10:56 PM  

  • If you watched CBC's The Next Greatest PM, you woud remember this clip.

    At the end of one of the finalist's responses, the moderator turned to Joe for a reaction/comment/question.

    He replied: "Ahhhhhhhh" (not sure about the number of h's) before the host and camera moved on...

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 10:59 PM  

  • I don't remember that from the show precisely - my main recollection was that the candidates were thrown for a loop by a number of the questions.

    And, we saw that Mulroney supports the Kelowna Accord.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 11:02 PM  

  • Jason Bo Green,

    It is El Salvador and we can do a lot of good for that country - which has done a lot to get past its vicious civil war and will be, like many central American countries, crushed by continued love-ins with China.

    But, dork-brains like Joe Clark think saying "China" 50 times makes them look savvy.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 11:06 PM  

  • I've missed the rationale for El Salvador trade focus in lieu of China and India.

    Can you give the rest of us a Coles Notes or an El Salvador for Dummies summary?

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 11:16 PM  

  • Well, first, I don't lump China and India together. I don't mean to crap on India in any way when I crap on China. They seem to me to be 2 different countries and its not clear to me why a commonwealth country, the world's largest democracy, should get conjoined to China.

    Second, I have enormous affection for Chinese culture and history as well as personal connections to it. I am not anti China as a civilization, but, when I'm not eating Freedom Fries, I'm eating Freedom Rolls with General Freedom's chicken.

    Third, tt isn't an economic analysis or anything wonkish that leads me to advocate for El Salvador particularly and Central America generally. Its simply that we pretend that our trade choices don't matter. But they do. Our imports from China consist largely of clothing. Stuff that can be outsourced to a whole range of countries. Sure, Central America is more expensive than China, but its still dirt cheap and they are more honest with their currency. And its closer to us making trade less onerous on the environment.


    Here's the link to what Bo Green was talking about:

    http://chuckercanuck.blogspot.com/2007/02/my-heart-belongs-to-el-salvador.html

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 11:30 PM  

  • A bit over the top, grithater, but that's not what I intended to post about.

    I know Clark is rather bitter that his "centrist" PC Party is now part of the "rightish" Conservative Party, but I have to disagree with, well, his disagreement. See, during the 1990's, the PC Party had a way of...tending to not get elected. Or even remotely close. I've heard complaints from Liberals who fear taht, by losing the PCs, they've lost a "centrist alternative" to the Liberals, when they really had no intention of supporting this alternative to begin with. In fact, almost all semblance of "conservatism" at all was about to be wiped off the political map by Paul Martin (or usurped by him), according to polls circa 2003. Ideologically, some people on either side of the PC-CA merger had a difficult pill to swallow if they wished to survive; the current composition of the Conservative Party is more of a reflection of the state of the Alliance vs. that of the PCs at the time of the merger, rather than a result of some sort of "nasty, ideological monsters" lurking in the hearts of all current Conservatives, and I have a feeling the party will smooth out its rough edges these next few years (especially if the prospect of a new leader enters the equation).

    Clark could have brought a high-profile Red Tory voice to the new Conservative party; instead, he chose to storm out when 90% of his own party chose democratically to merge, and the CPC (and the country, for that matter), is probably a bit worse off because of his stance.

    Clark's problem as PM, and problem during the merger saga, was that he didn't have a grasp on the art of compromise; indeed, I doubt the word is in his vocabulary. He governed a minority as if it were a majority, and professed to speak for Progressive Conservatives in his opposition to the merger when only 10% actually agreed with him.

    And, to Paul Michna, Joe Clark being a decent human being didn't stop him from being trounced by a certain PM who probably wasn't quite as deserving of such a title.

    By Blogger daniel, at 11:41 PM  

  • Chucker,

    The reason I and many others lump India and China together are for economic/trade issues - as two emerging low cost producing countries. This is where the low cost garment jobs moved to that were supposed to end up in Mexico under Nafta.

    I'm not sure your statement that: "Our imports from China consist largely of clothing" is true. I'd think they'd amount to no more than 15%, maybe less. Got any links? If I was a betting man, I'd think machinery, electronics and equipment would be well above clothing.

    So, how do you suggest Canadians support buying El Salvador textile goods, in lieu of cheaper goods from China assuming they agree with your sentiments? Tariffs?

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 12:31 AM  

  • Daniel - 90% of Progressive Conservatives did not support the merger. The actual number was much lower. The reason for this is each riding carried equal weight and if 50% + 1 in a riding favoured the merger, 100% of the delegates selected were pro-merger. In addition anybody including Alliance members were free to sign up during the merger process.

    There is no question that the merger has been a good thing for making things more competitive and that is why I voted in favour of it at the time. However, having a hard right government is not in Canada's interest and not merging the parties would have prevented this from happening.

    By Blogger Miles Lunn, at 1:16 AM  

  • miles; And then you have people like Brison who supported the merger but, well, you know...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:14 AM  

  • If you are interested in reading the entire speech I posted it on www.policychannel.com

    By Blogger Ken Chapman, at 2:28 AM  

  • Miles Lunn,

    You can't be seriously making the claim that the current government is hard right........

    Right of the alternatives, yes, but those are alternatives are left, lefter and leftest. The Liberals have morphed from the Party for all Canadians under Laurier to nothing more than a vehicle for the uber-wealthy manor born billionaires to control the country to their liking. The inevitable policy positions resemble champagne socialism because that is what they are. What shocks me is the number of youth who are true believers in a myth, that being that the Liberal Party is anything more than than wholly owned subsidiary of Canada's corporate elite. A deep thought amont this crowd would be very lonely. If you think the Demarais et al, regard the rank and file as anything more than useful idiots, your dreaming.

    The NDP is........enough said.

    Canada at it's heart is a member of the anglosphere, and when the Conservative Party is well left of the of the actual left in her peer countries, the hard right argument holds no water.

    By Blogger Grithater, at 8:19 AM  

  • Joe Clark was given the Prime Minister’s job on a platter, but managed to squander it within 9 months due to his arrogance and stupidity. When he became Federal PC leader again, he managed to lose all of his Quebec MPs and never won more than 30 seats in the house of commons.

    He is a political failure; so I would take any political advise he gives with a grain of salt. What is also funny is how those that are now lamenting the loss of the Federal PC Party never voted for them in the first place, especially when the PC party was desperately in need of their votes.

    By Blogger Tony, at 8:55 AM  

  • "So, how do you suggest Canadians support buying El Salvador textile goods, in lieu of cheaper goods from China assuming they agree with your sentiments? Tariffs?"

    Nothing. Just derision whenever politicians drool over China. I just want to create awareness of Central America and the struggles that many countries there have been through.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 9:39 AM  

  • Nailing China on it's abysmal human rights record while saying "who gives a damn" about trade with China was a gutsy move and as such, I can't help but wonder if Joe still has a knot in his face over the merger of the PC's and Alliance. Wait a minute... of course he does! There's an election looming and he gives a speech to remind all of us why Harper is all together evil, eats babies, yadda yadda. My feelings on Joe Clark can be summed up by how a friend of mine (who unlike me, hates politics) news about Joe Clark's speech: "Joe Clark - wasn't he a civil servant or something back in the 80's?"

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 10:35 AM  

  • Nailing China on it's abysmal human rights record while saying "who gives a damn" about trade with China was a gutsy move

    I agree completely -- it's a big reason that I think Harper is a centrist. Isn't that a quite "left" wing position that Orwell or other famous liberals would like us to take? "Fuck the cheap products, get your human rights up to snuff, and then we'll talk"?

    I was pretty impressed with a PM willing to say No to business ties in support of more human interests - that was a real moment for me looking at Harper. I like him, and am satisfied/content with his performance because of things like that.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:01 AM  

  • I'm not sure your statement that: "Our imports from China consist largely of clothing" is true. I'd think they'd amount to no more than 15%, maybe less. Got any links? If I was a betting man, I'd think machinery, electronics and equipment would be well above clothing.

    The mouse I'm using at the moment was made in China, as was the memory stick sitting on the table. So was my little clock. As an exception, my Dell laptop was made in Malaysia.

    Nothing from El Salvador, though, economic giant that it is.

    You can't be seriously making the claim that the current government is hard right........

    Yet we keep hearing that they would if only that had that pesky majority. Or would Marjority Harper implement the same policies as Minority Harper?

    If you think the Demarais et al, regard the rank and file as anything more than useful idiots, your dreaming.

    You mean, the way Harper regards his MPs, ministers, and local party members in, say, Rob Anders' riding? (except in the latter case, they weren't even given a fair chance to have a real nomination battle)

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 11:33 AM  

  • Nothing from El Salvador, though, economic giant that it is.

    Well, no one would disagree with that. Chucker's desire is that we should buy from and cheap-employ in countries that have turned to free democracy and rule of fair law, supporting them instead of organ-harvesting China. I think it's a noble desire, and I agree.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:57 AM  

  • Miles Lunn: As for the merger, it was the right thing in terms of making the Conservatives more competitive, but the wrong thing in terms of what was best for Canada.

    Where "best for Canada" is defined as "whatever helps the Liberals stay in power".

    Tony: When he became Federal PC leader again, he managed to lose all of his Quebec MPs and never won more than 30 seats in the house of commons.

    Actually, the Clark PCs did win one seat in Quebec in 2000, although its worth noting that the Alliance got more Quebec votes.

    (BTW, the PCs only got 12 seats under Clark, down from 20 under Charest.)

    As a general note, I was an Alliance supporter who was initially opposed to the merger when in was announced in October 2003. The main thing that changed my mind and convinced me to support it was... the fact that Joe Clark came out against it.

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 12:13 PM  

  • The invsible hand - I am not interested in seeing the Liberals always form government, I am just not interested in seeing an ideological right wing one form government. The Conservatives now don't appear ideological right wing, but if they won a majority, things would be different.

    By Blogger Miles Lunn, at 12:35 PM  

  • Well, no one would disagree with that. Chucker's desire is that we should buy from and cheap-employ in countries that have turned to free democracy and rule of fair law, supporting them instead of organ-harvesting China. I think it's a noble desire, and I agree.

    If Wikipedia is to be believed, El Salvador's economy is highly dependent on the export of coffee and, wouldn't ya know it, clothing.

    I'm not against diversifying our trading partners by any stretch (we're currently negotiating a free trade agreement with El Salvador), but the notion that a country of less than 7 million people is going to usurp China's share of trade is ludicrous. Making noises about China's human rights record is all well and good, but grandstanding does nothing more than harm our trading relations. Do you really take the Chinese government takes what Harper's said to heart?

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 12:41 PM  

  • Jeez, I hope you didn't pay $ to see Joe! I couldn't even read your summary, other than a brief scan, I care so little about what he has to say. I'm with "the invisible hand" here - anything Joe is for, I'm almost automatically against.

    By Blogger Candace, at 1:07 PM  

  • good to see Joe still has his head stuck up his arse . . he has been and still is consistently stuck on stupid.

    Failed as a PM, failing as a foreign policy analysis.

    Joe is still not missed from the public discourse

    By Blogger Fred :), at 1:09 PM  

  • "Nothing from El Salvador, though, economic giant that it is."

    I'm not sure why El Salvador deserves derision from you. Can you explain why you should be so snarky towards them?

    I'm happy you've wrapped yourself in a made-in-China lifestyle. But you certainly don't need it made in China to maintain that lifestyle. China needs Canada a hell of a lot more than Canada needs China.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 1:50 PM  

  • Is harper a centralist? Is he a champion of human rights?

    He’s got Bev Oda to look after women welfare. He’s cancelled the budget that funds challenges by minorities in court.

    He’s a champion of Israel, an apartheid state that oppresses the Palestinians and bombards residential areas of Beirut.

    He’s an advocate of war against the evil Taliban. But, he’s got no problems with the corrupt regime in Kabul with its human rights violation.

    You don’t hear him crusading against human rights violations in Latin American. But, he is hot on human rights violations by China. Does this sound familiar? This is a repeat of the cold war.

    Is harper a centralist? No, he still pursues his vision (aligned with the neo-cons) of a world dominated by the west, and serving the west. That’s why Canada’s foreign policy is no longer neutral. That’s why we are deep in the Afghan morass.

    He is Mr. Morality. Can there be peace in Canadian society? Look at the conflict in British Columbia under a right-wing government who breaks contracts and write sweetheart deals for certain businesses.

    Above all, can harper be trusted? In the budget, he broke his unequivocal word to the provinces. He said that all non-renewable resources would be included in the equalization formula. That’s why Saskatchewan is mad at him. He cut this promise to just 50%, because he needed to give money to Quebec.

    You could mention that Liberal governments have broken their promises. But, they were punished. Will you reward harper for breaking his promises?

    BTW, Joe Clark has his flaws and failings. But, he is a gentleman and a man of honor. No one doubts his integrity.

    Are the attacks against harper partisan? It seems to me that the criticisms against harper are justified. That is the reason why people have become ‘partisan’ against him.

    And, that is why people like Bush and harper are dangerous. They polarize the country. Is this the Canada that you want?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 1:58 PM  

  • For chuckercanuck

    “I'm happy you've wrapped yourself in a made-in-China lifestyle. But you certainly don't need it made in China to maintain that lifestyle. China needs Canada a hell of a lot more than Canada needs China.”

    I learned about Comparative Advantage in high school economics. It is a proposition that free trade benefits all participants if they specialize in what they do best.

    Will El Salvador produce their own brands of automobiles and notebooks any time in the future?

    Remember! Toyota is #1 in the world and we are all better for it.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 2:08 PM  

  • I'm not sure why El Salvador deserves derision from you. Can you explain why you should be so snarky towards them?

    No derision, it's just a small country which has historically relied disproportionately on coffee exports.

    I'm happy you've wrapped yourself in a made-in-China lifestyle. But you certainly don't need it made in China to maintain that lifestyle. China needs Canada a hell of a lot more than Canada needs China.

    What the hell is your point? Like most people, I don't pay a great deal of attention to where my electronics are manufactured - I'd vastly prefer "Made in Canada" stickers, but the blatantly obvious fact is that China produces a nontrivial amount of value-added goods - electronics, in particular (much of which is produced in Taiwanese-owned factories).

    If China "needs" Canada, how exactly has Harper been using this supposed leverage to extract economic benefits for Canada?

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 2:30 PM  

  • Stephen Harper plays foreign policy the same way Joe Clark did in his Tel Aviv decision: as an extension of domestic policy aimed at winning over ethnic votes. That is what foreign policy is going to be like in a minority government. Martin and Pearson did America-bashing (though only Pearson got grabbed by the lapels and told: you peed on my carpet). Diefenbaker made silly claims about diverting trade from the US to Britain. Minority governments do not make good foreign policy decisions!

    Clark's notion that Canada has done well by looking at both sides is an invention. Consider some of our successes in international relations: Joe's greatest success was sanctions on apartheid. Did we consider the implications? No we boldly addressed a moral problem (and our course did, in the short term, harm all South Africans, including blacks).

    Pearson in the Suez crisis did not succeed by looking at both sides. Nasser/Sadat hated Pearson (in the '67 war he wanted the Canadian peacekeepers out for sure), who was very overtly crafting a measure to help the British and French save face.

    Has anti-Americanism done much for us, when it has been tried? Diefenbaker was the only US ally not to go on full alert over the Cuban Missile Crisis because of his hatred of Kennedy. Maybe that's why the Bomarc's didn't work.

    Compare and contrast the Trudeau and Mulroney governments. Trudeau had the third option (a trade diversion scheme, that forced Canada to remain chummy with nasty regimes like South Africa, and, didn't succeed in its own goal of reducing our US share of trade). He also went around Europe to talk about nuclear war - criticizing Reagan. In doing so, he accomplished nothing.

    Mulroney (and by extension Clark, his minister of EXTERNAL affairs) were quite chummy with Reagan/Bush. It was a relationship that got results: Canada got what it had wanted out of free trade - namely a dispute resolution mechanism (the mechanism sucks, but that's our Canadian naivite), and an acid rain treaty. Republicans aren't supposed to believe in those things.

    Canadian foreign policy has been most successful when it worked through the US or Britain, which actually have the power to get things done in the world. It has never been indifferent when it comes to supporting tyranny against democracy. Canada is unique not because we don't take sides, but because, WHEN WE ARE GIVEN ROLES (such as peacekeeping in Cyprus, the Suez crisis, and our rather unsuccessful monitoring in Vietnam) we uphold our mandate to the letter of the law.

    A last thing about China, Harper is pre-Nixonian on China because the circumstances have changed (we should really be calling him pre-Diefenbakerian, since Dief sold wheat to red China way before Nixon's visit). China is rapidly overtaking the United States in terms of GDP, and has expanded its military might considerably. As India grows rapidly next to it, you have a similar tripolar configuration to the Russia-Germany-UK story of 1914 and 1939.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 3:49 PM  

  • jimtan, your rant reflects the muddled perception of reality that pervades the far-left on foreign policy issues.

    Harper, like all (decent) Canadian Prime Ministers pursues a foreign policy that has an objective beyond moral clarity. Promoting human rights is good. Promoting Canadian interests is good. Preserving the hegemony of the west, as opposed to China is good.

    However, some of these objectives conflict, meaning that tradeoffs are necessary. It is in our interest - both in terms of our relationship with the US, and in the reconstruction of a failed state that harbours terrorists to contribute to the war in Afghanistan.

    In reconstruction, our choice is between a brutal theocracy, and a corrupt cabal of warlords. We pick the latter not because it is ideal, but because it is better than the alternative. A country with perhaps questionable elections, where women can go to school and men can shave is what we are fighting for: not some glorious Belgium in the mid-east.

    Like any good foreign policy, it is based on pragmatically balancing different objectives (plus some domestic pandering - but hey, there has to be something in it for politicians).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 3:57 PM  

  • Harper's position on China isn't even centrist in the US, its the 'blue team' line of the far right.

    Anyone who could say the bombing of Lebanon's infrastructure last summer was "measured" can hardly be taken seriously as an upholder of human rights.

    This is just Harper doing all he ever does on foreign policy, ie. pandering to the American right.

    By Blogger Demiurge, at 4:38 PM  

  • Hoser,

    I'm not sure your historical analogy to Nixon or Diefenbacker is apropos.

    The real difference in China's relationship with the rest of the world resulted from its accession into the WTO in 2001.

    Any leverage a western country like Canada or the US had on human rights abuses in China through tariffs and trade barriers have essentially been eliminated, or at least greatly reduced.

    So, while Harper can take the "high road" so to speak on his dealings with China,linking trade and hman rights, I doubt it will have much effect on China's progress on these issues. Most likely the biggest effect will be limiting Canadian companies' efforts to export non-commodity goods or provide professional services to China - or to invest in China.

    That is not to say that Canada should not speak out on these issues.

    Here's something I found interesting in this week's online Economist:

    "Global influence

    How others see you

    Mar 21st 2007
    From Economist.com

    Inoffensive Canada has the most positive influence on the world, according to respondents from 26 other nations. Israel is viewed most negatively, lagging behind even North Korea and Iran, both members of George Bush’s axis of evil. America, perhaps because it led the invasion of Iraq, languishes. Britain's role in Iraq has not done it as much harm."

    Here's the graphic (I think it's non-sunbscription):

    http://www.economist.com/images/columns/2007w12/countries.jpg

    The question remains, is this reputation based more on pre-Harper Canada, or has it changed one way or another under Harper?

    I'd argue more of the former (pre-Harper) than the latter.

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 4:38 PM  

  • Chucker doesn't want to replace China with El Salvador, he wants us to trade with burgeoning democracies like El Salvador, as an example. He's not an idiot.

    Do I think China takes Harper's comments to heart? Of course not. *I* take them to heart - where one spends one's money is important.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 4:40 PM  

  • Chucker doesn't want to replace China with El Salvador, he wants us to trade with burgeoning democracies like El Salvador, as an example. He's not an idiot.

    Yes... and where did I say that I opposed trading with El Salvador? That's not to say that we should prioritize our trading relations with small Central American countries over big players like India and China.

    Do I think China takes Harper's comments to heart? Of course not. *I* take them to heart - where one spends one's money is important.

    So you appreciated Harper's grandstanding. Fine. But all he gave us were words - if he's serious about diverting our trade to democratic states, I look forward to seeing him raise tariffs on Chinese imports and examining ways both to support Canadian manufacturers and diversify our import sources. Of course, we could probably do better by finding new export markets apart from the saturated US market - maybe Central and Latin America would be a good place to look at (we already have a free trade deal with Chile), but China - with over twice the population of Latin America - will and should remain a big part of our growing export markets.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 4:50 PM  

  • The "great" thing about Joe Clark is that he always figured out how to do the wrong thing in every instance. A lodestar for folly.

    By Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat, at 5:28 PM  

  • Hoser said,

    “jimtan, your rant reflects the muddled perception of reality that pervades the far-left on foreign policy issues.”

    What rant? I was talking about Comparative Advantage. Do you know what that is? The governor of the Bank of Canada and the chairman of the Federal Reserve are in favor of free trade. You disagree? You call me far-left?

    “Harper, like all (decent) Canadian Prime Ministers pursues a foreign policy that has an objective beyond moral clarity. Promoting human rights is good. Promoting Canadian interests is good. Preserving the hegemony of the west, as opposed to China is good.”

    Why? It’s not obvious to me. China has nukes (potentially lot’s of them). Do you want them as friends or enemies?

    Why did America help Japan recover from WW2? Why did Nixon travel to China? What were the benefits?

    Power comes from the barrel of the gun. Do you want to shoot it out with the Chinese? Peace comes from mutual self-interest. China must be treated as an equal, and a potential ally.

    How are you going to preserve the hegemony of he west? Does that mean that you are against the Russians, the Chinese, the Latin American socialists and the Muslims? Boy, that a big job! Will you turn against India if they don’t accept the hegemony of the west?

    Let me remind you that the American neo-cons have already tried to preserve American hegemony. What were the results? We’re stuck in Afghanistan doing the fighting for a government that has neither credibility nor army. You won’t be so dogmatic if you had real concern for the well being of the Afghanis.

    You’re still a neo-con when your American cousins have been discredited. The institution “Project for the New American Century” has closed shop. You should shed your delusions and join the real world. And, you’re wake up fast enough when you join our troops in Afghanistan.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:36 PM  

  • "This is just Harper doing all he ever does on foreign policy, ie. pandering to the American right."

    demiurge shows a remarkable fallacy that seems to have found favour with the left wing of the liberals and the NDP in general. To wit, that somehow Harper's electoral success lies with pandering to the Republicans in the US.

    I will make this quite clear for all the idiots who propagate this nonsense; Americans do NOT vote in Canadian elections. President Bush does not get a ballot, neither did Clinton or any other past president.

    Harper, like all PMs has no electoral interest in pleasing any American president. Like all PMs he manages the relationship in the manner that best represents the interests of Canada and Canadians.

    So, in short demiurge is an IDIOT of the first magnitude.

    By Blogger renegadejet, at 6:33 PM  

  • You won’t be so dogmatic if you had real concern for the well being of the Afghanis.

    Of course....because leaving Afghanistan to be retaken by the Taliban is what we SHOULD do to show that we care for the well-being of Afghanis...

    Really, for everyone who thinks that Canada's presence in Afghanistan is detrimental to that country, what SHOULD we do?

    By Blogger daniel, at 6:39 PM  

  • Daniel said

    “Really, for everyone who thinks that Canada's presence in Afghanistan is detrimental to that country, what SHOULD we do?”

    The first question we should ask is “What should we not do?”

    We should not drive the country into a civil war. Today, Iraq is a hell because of the actions of foreigners. Those people that don’t speak the language, don’t understand the people or context, and have an agenda of their own.

    Second, what is the threat?

    1) Afghanistan was dependent on narcotics. Five years after the fall of the Taliban, it is a narco-state and opium production is at a record. How will we win if we threaten the livelihoods of the farmers? Should we offer subsidies to the farmers not to grow opium? Or, offer to buy the opium that the farmers grow?
    2) The Taliban will take over Afghanistan. Wrong! This is not a certainty. The Taliban first rose to power (backed by Pakistan) to stop the civil war. They discredited themselves when they acted like bigots. Normally, they would be no more than another militia; annoying but not a threat to Kabul. However, the existence of western armies has given them a new and popular mission. They have the potential (like the Vietcong in Vietnam) to take all of Afghanistan if they win an all-out and protracted war.
    3) Afghanistan may be used as a base for terrorist attacks on the west. Unfortunately, the Taliban and Al Quaeda have bases in Pakistan. And, Pakistan is the next country to face a civil war if the war spreads to Pakistan. For the west, that would be going from the frying pan into the fire.

    What should we do?

    We must withdraw from southern Afghanistan if we do not have a clear solution. It is our responsibility not to carry death with us unless we know what we are doing.

    We can defend Kabul and the rest of non-Taliban Afghanistan because we have the $support$ of the locals. Like Northern Ireland, it would mean a long period of security operations against Taliban forays. But, it is doable and relatively cheap.

    In southern Afghanistan, the tribal society will continue to ‘oppress’ women etc. But, this situation has existed for a hundred generations. Will we be helping the women if they become widows and orphans?

    In the end, only the Afghanis can defeat the Talibans. The key issue is modernization, not westernization.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 7:28 PM  

  • In the end, only the Afghanis can defeat the Talibans. The key issue is modernization, not westernization.

    Exactly. And at what point can we no longer justify letting Canadian soldiers die if Afghans cannot or will not defend their own freedoms?

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 7:44 PM  

  • They have the potential (like the Vietcong in Vietnam) to take all of Afghanistan if they win an all-out and protracted war.

    The Viet Cong didn't even come close to "taking all of Vietnam"; they were all but eliminated as a fighting force after the Tet offensive. The war was won by the regular forces of North Vietnam and China.

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 7:51 PM  

  • Invisible hand said

    "The Viet Cong didn't even come close to "taking all of Vietnam"; they were all but eliminated as a fighting force after the Tet offensive. The war was won by the regular forces of North Vietnam and China."

    You are correct. Thanks for pointing it out.

    The Vietcong, as the military arm of the NLF, played a key part in the guerilla warfare that worn down the Americans and Saigon.

    Eventually, the NVA took to the field as the Americans poured in their reinforcements.

    The Vietcong took heavy losses in the Tet Offensive, but gained a great propaganda victory.

    However, the Vietcong was not eliminated during the Tet Offensive because the Vietcong included the armed regulars and irregulars in the villages they controlled.

    In fact, John Kerry was fighting for his life in the Mekong Delta some months after the Tet Offensive.

    Eventually, the communists did win
    because the Americans withdrew (and eventually cut funding).

    The NVA launched repeated and costly attacks through the DMZ. But, American bombers hurt them badly.

    Nonetheless, the NVA did launch an attack from the Central Highlights that proved decisive.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 8:24 PM  

  • Anyone want to give Joe Clark any credit for agreeing to hide escaped American hostages in the Canadian embassy and then assisting with their successful escape?

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 8:41 PM  

  • I am delighted to see Gerard Kennedy, Navdeep Bains, and Omar Alghabra suing Jonathan Kay for Libel.

    We had a discussion on the topic a few weeks back.

    Apparently Jonathan wasn't weasel worded enough and left himself exposed when issuing his unfounded allegations.

    I hear that the amount sought will pay off the debts of Mr. Kennedy and several othe Liberal Leadership contenders.

    If the suit is successful, there won't be enough ways to thank Jonathan Kay for his unintended contributions to the Liberal party.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 10:57 PM  

  • Yep, I will give Joe his Iranian dues. Good insight.

    Although no one at the time did give Joe any credit, to any large extent, in 1979.

    Ken Taylor, Canada's Ambassador to Iran, who was most at risk for housing the Americans and facilitating their escape out of Iran, stole the thunder and all the acclaim upon his return to Canada, and his much feted trips to the U.S.

    In some ways, a typical Joe story.

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 11:03 PM  

  • I've long been opposed to the kow-towing that Liberal governments have done at the feet of successive Chinese governments. Tell me, what has it really accomplished?

    Not only that, has China become more open, more free, and more democratic because of our so-called 'soft' diplomacy? Not at all. China has funded and supplied monsters the world over. Who supplies Sudan's army (you know, the one with Darfur)? China. Who supports Robert Mugabe as he beats any who oppose him? China. Who supports Iran while they build nuclear weapons? China.

    The US is not immune from criticism, but if we judged China by the same standards many judge the USA we wouldn't be on speaking terms with China at all.

    By Blogger southernontarioan, at 11:17 PM  

  • Jitman,

    Wow, that's actually some pretty good reasoning! Definitely a sound compromise between "VICTORY @ ALL CO$TS" and "TEH M1L1TAREE iZ t3h eEvIL" viewpoints that have begun seeping into the overarching debate.

    When the Liberals say "re-evaluate the Afghan mission," they should follow it with exactly what you said; it would nip the "Liberals hate our troops" attack in the bud.

    By Blogger daniel, at 11:26 PM  

  • Wow! Peter Mansbridge was interviewing Eric Margolis on CBC Newsworld. That was a scary interview. Eric is just back from a trip to the region. Apparently, the Taliban now control or influence 50% of Afghanistan. And, closing in on Kabul.

    Eric spoke to Indian officials ‘of the highest level’. New Delhi believes that NATO is going to lose in Afghanistan. New Delhi is preparing its foreign policy accordingly. And, Musharraf is teetering on the brink. Buy gold!

    Has Daniel ever been to India, Pakistan, Kashmir or Afghanistan?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 1:18 AM  

  • down & out - you're assuming a win. However, a win would likely require a trial that could open Pandora's box, and result in...not a win.

    Are you sure you want to go there?

    By Blogger Candace, at 3:00 AM  

  • jimtan, I am not a neocon, and I hardly think the neo-cons did a very good job preserving hegemony by wasting billions of dollars in a quagmire with a third-rate power - while building a military aimed not at mass warfare, but at addressing similar diversions.

    As for China, no I do not think Canada should be an ally "because China has nukes". I think trade with China (for the west) is foolish, because:
    a. interdependence does not stop wars. The world economy was never more integrated than in 1913 (or possibly today, but trade was pretty damn free - Germany was Britain's largest trading partner).

    b. Trade benefits both parties - I am not interested in benefitting what is very likely to be a foe in the near future (20 years). It probably benefits China more than the west too - because there is some technological transfer. Further, China's (emerging) comparative advantage in industrial goods is much more transferable to military power - at least for a land war.

    c. The growth of China is an ecological disaster in waiting, as well as a incredible drain on the world's resources.

    India, not China, should be the focus of western strategy. Just as Britain acceded to American hegemony, we need to prepare for a day in the future when India will be the world's unipolar leader. If we fail to do so, we had better brush up on our Cantonese.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 3:44 AM  

  • Hey Renegade, where did I say Harper's electoral success lies in his pandering to the neocons? I'd never make the argument that his suckass job towards helping out the boys at PNAC has done anything to further his acceptance by the Canadian public, his success has clearly been in spite of his foreign policy. Its been his weakness and he's been clearly conscious of it since his flip flop on Iraq. Fortunately for the hawks, the Liberals are too divided and the NDP are too scared to take advantage of this and foreign policy isn't the primary concern of alot of voters either.

    Anyways, I'm not surprised a party that thinks Canada starts at the Rockies is so hostile to trade with China..

    By Blogger Demiurge, at 4:28 AM  

  • c. The growth of China is an ecological disaster in waiting, as well as a incredible drain on the world's resources.

    India, not China, should be the focus of western strategy. Just as Britain acceded to American hegemony, we need to prepare for a day in the future when India will be the world's unipolar leader. If we fail to do so, we had better brush up on our Cantonese.


    Right, so China needs to be stopped to save the environment but India which has a skyrocketing birthrate, has far worse levels of poverty, and some of the worst environmental accidents and policies in the world is the utopian future we should all bow down before?

    By Blogger Demiurge, at 4:35 AM  

  • JimTam,

    I'm really trying to figure out your motivation in this discussion.

    You start off blabbing like an idiot about Israel. Then call Harper a Bush-Neocon without any justification. Don't forget... your precious liberals have already paid their lessons for a decade of lies. At least they united the country right? The conservatives are the polarizers right? Of course they are...

    Then you start with the ad hominem attacks on chuckercanuck. For some reason you praise China as friends because of nukes and then go back to unsubstantiated claims that Harper is a Neocon.

    "In the end only the Afganis can defeat the Taliban"??? Are you nuts? Suggesting that it's ok that women are oppressed because it's always happened is the most ridiculous thing you've said so far.

    But wait, there's more: Since Afganistan is almost 1/2 controlled (false) by the Taliban we should just give up.

    You've managed to discredit yourself possibly for all times in the opinion of myself, and I hope the opinions of everyone else who has read them.

    Based on what you've said on this blog you are an antisemitic liberal apologist coward who is mean spirited to those who criticize your ideas.

    Before you respond, please think about what you are going to say next. The internet has a very interesting way of keeping things in perpetuity; so in 10 years we'll still be able to see what an idiot you've been.

    By Blogger Jon, at 5:02 AM  

  • Candace

    Yep. We are confident of a win and there will be no pandora's box because there never was a story otherthan Jonathan Kay's unfounded allegations.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 7:40 AM  

  • Eric Margolis said the Afghan mission is doomed? That's great news! Things must be going better than I thought.

    (Although the above sounds snarky, I am in fact quite serious.)

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 8:52 AM  

  • For invisiblehand,

    So, you know Eric Margolis?

    Actually, I brought up Eric to illustrate a few points about sources. Many posters on these forums don’t quote sources. Without sources, it’s hard to separate the trolls from the idiots.

    How do you evaluate a source? What information might be useful to a decision-maker; as opposed to someone purging himself?

    Well, I become suspicious of Eric when he said that Pakistan had 40-60 nukes. Improbable! Research on the internet shows that he has critics.

    One says that he bases his conclusions on too little. Another pointed out the factual geographical errors in his book on India. So, Eric likes to pose as an expert, but he’s not an old India hand.

    Eric is a low-grade source. He doesn’t put in enough work to provide quality analysis. Doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s wrong in his conclusions. Doesn’t mean that you should go 180 degrees on him. But, he’s not reliable.

    Eric does get around quite a bit and talks to people. On occasions, guys like Eric can come up with a nugget of gold.

    I’ve quoted Eric on three instances; the Taliban, New Delhi and Musharraf. Which piece of information would be useful to a decision-maker?

    Why don’t the rest of you give it a try. Go ahead!

    By Blogger JimTan, at 11:42 AM  

  • Anyone want to give Joe Clark any credit for agreeing to hide escaped American hostages in the Canadian embassy and then assisting with their successful escape?

    Well now, is that right. What a great story - I had no idea. It's too bad they don't teach that - I wish I'd learned it a long time before now.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 1:56 PM  

  • Geez, I compliment Jimtan, and he STILL comes back with a snide remark...

    By Blogger daniel, at 1:58 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 2:52 PM  

  • Yes. Joe Clark does deserve some credit for helping to protect and evacuate the U.S. citizens held as hostages during the reign of terror in Iran in 1979.

    Here is a link to a balanced story describing his role and that of the other people involved.

    http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.
    cfm?topic_id=1420&fuseaction=topics.
    item&news_id=116063

    You'll have to copy and paste this because I don't know how to embed links

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 2:59 PM  

  • Daniel,

    I can't explain it, but for some strange reason, a lot of the Left has adopted the same snide attitude that made me dislike the Reform Party. It's only going to spell trouble.

    Down and Out, I can copy and paste with the best of them - thanks for this link, can't wait to read more.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 4:14 PM  

  • jon said

    “You start off blabbing like an idiot about Israel. Then call Harper a Bush-Neocon without any justification. Don't forget... your precious liberals have already paid their lessons for a decade of lies. At least they united the country right? The conservatives are the polarizers right? Of course they are...”

    Once again your statements don’t stand up to scrutiny. Harper didn’t unite all of the country’s right. Joe Clark, Scott Brison and Belinda Stronach are prominent examples. I’ve met a number of ex-PC members at meetings during the Liberal leadership election process. Some of them are gay. Gasp!

    Harper and his crowd have polarized the country in his failed attempt to defeat gay marriage and abortion rights. He has cancelled the budget for minority challenges in court. And, in his refusal to accept that global warming is occurring because of human activity. Stupid commie leftie conspiracy!

    I call harper a neo-con precisely because Bush and his crowd have done the same thing. And, harper jumped at the chance to extend the Canadian mission in Afghanistan.

    I don’t support Chretian. However, he did two important good things. He kept us out of Iraq, and he cut the limit on political contributions. Do you remember all that?

    Harper has put on his family-friendly face for this budget. But, he wasn’t so committed in the 2006 Budget. Was he? Why not?

    What does the Liberal defeat have to do with it? Their sins don’t cancel out the sins of the new regime.

    The old guard made mistakes of commission and omission. They paid for it. Dion is the leader now, and the old guard is leaving. Here’s to a better tomorrow for Canada with a rejuvenated Liberal Party. I want a thriving democracy in this country.

    BTW, I must call you on your accusation that I am anti-Semitic. Elsewhere in this forum, I have condemned the holocaust deniers.

    I’m not a Jew hater. It’s sad that the Zionists are unable to separate the sins of the Israeli State from the genocide inflicted on European Jews.

    Speaking of sins, here’s the 10th Commandment (source wikipedia) given by Yahweh to Moses, “You shall not covet your neighbor's house...”.

    And, the 9th Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness.”

    By Blogger JimTan, at 6:39 PM  

  • Hey, I thought I'd end my contribution on this overly growing serious blog with a piece of folklore.

    Calgary has a world renowned fiddle group called the Calgary Fiddlers who would appear in a bandstand on 8th ave during Stampede. I'm not sure they still do this- the last time I saw them was about 10 yrs ago.

    They used to play a song called "Old Joe Clark" , which I found quite entertaining, not only for its political significance.

    It doesn't appear they have this specific recording online, but, I have come up with an alternative site.

    Listen to an ode to "Old Joe Clark" here:

    http://web.ukonline.co.uk/pdcmusic/old-joe-clark.html

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 9:32 PM  

  • For anonymous green,

    Don't give up on the boys, yet!

    I haven't explained about the White man's Burden, and White Man's Folly.

    Anyway, I hope that you and the regular posters come back.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:38 AM  

  • Demiurge, if the choice is India and China growing, versus just India then yes, just India is more environmentally sound.

    Further, as a democracy, a relatively open society - and one with the beginnings of an IT industry, Indian development may be less disastrous than Chinese.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 2:47 AM  

  • Harper and his crowd have polarized the country in his failed attempt to defeat gay marriage and abortion rights.


    I'll give you the gay marriage point (though Harper's crowd were far from the only polarizing figures in that debate...*glares at NDP*).

    As for your other quam, I wasn't aware of any legislation being tabled regarding abortion rights - you sure you've got the right country?

    By Blogger daniel, at 7:43 PM  

  • Daniel said,

    "I wasn't aware of any legislation being tabled regarding abortion rights - you sure you've got the right country?"

    You're right. harper hasn't made noises in this respect. Though some of his original core supporters would like to.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 11:33 PM  

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