Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Michael Ignatieff clarifies his Israel position in today's Star.

For the record, he wouldn't have called for a cease-fire a week or two ago and is doing so now because he feels the conflict could soon each it's tipping point.

Ignatieff said it would have been too early to push for a ceasefire last week because "it was very important for Israel to send Hezbollah a very clear message" that kidnapping soldiers and firing rockets on Israel will not be tolerated.

"A ceasefire on the Israeli side becomes logical for Israel when it has achieved its military objectives and when it reaches the point of diminishing returns, and that is the point we've reached now," he explained.

He was asked if a turning point came when Israel bombed the Lebanese village of Qana on Sunday, with 54 civilian deaths, 37 of them children.

"It wasn't Qana," replied Ignatieff, formerly head of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. "Qana was, frankly, inevitable, in a situation in which you have rocket-launchers within 100 yards of a civilian population. This is the nature of the war that's going on.

"This is the kind of dirty war you're in when you have to do this and I'm not losing sleep
about that."

Now, however, the combatants are on the verge of tripping "escalation thresholds" and creating extreme danger.


  • link doesn't work CG but I know the article you refer to.

    Rae Criticizes Liberal Rival for Delay

    It was interesting to see Rae swipe at him.

    I do agree with Iggy though. He knows the realities of global situations. You can't snap your fingers and ask for a ceasefire. Israel attempted to establish deterrence with these strikes.

    Problem now is Israel has kept it up for too long and wasted the world's patience. While news coverage rarely points out the extensive amount of Katusha rockets fired at Israel, or the fact that Hizbollah has around 10,000 of these rockets left, global media has centred around Israel's retaliation.

    Israel is in a deep "paradox of power" where unbelievable military strength alone will not win a war. The component missing is international assistance, force and pressure. Unfortunately you don't see ANY country stepping up to do this. If people think clearing out Afghanistan was difficult, wait til they try to stabilize the Bekaa Valley.

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 12:58 p.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 1:12 p.m.  

  • Bob Rae is sowing bad seeds by criticizing Ignatieff for only calling for a ceasefire now. By logical extension, he's suggesting that there should have been a ceasefire a lot earlier, i.e. before Hezbollah would even consider coming to the table, before they would even consider returning Israeli soldiers, and before they would stop bombing Israel. Sorry, that won't do. Israel was under attack by a foreign army and was within its rights to respond for the last two weeks.

    I know Bob Rae wants to demonstrate his moral equivalence quick draw technique, but that just won't do. Let him never criticise Stephen Harper for politicizing conflict.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 1:13 p.m.  

  • It is interesting to see how critical Rae has been of Ignatieff this race.

    I was always under the assumption that Rae would walk over to Iggy at the convention. He still might and this could just be a plan of Rae's to get his name out there, but it's interesting to observe the clashes between the two.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:21 p.m.  

  • jack; Kennedy was in the Star a few days ago when they did a run down on the Liberal candidates position on the conflict:

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:23 p.m.  

  • That quote's probably a little hard to swallow for all the people who demanded heart-felt sympathy for him when he was off in Europe.

    Sure, you could reasonably say that these kinds of civilian casualties are unavoidable in a mess like this, but to say you don't lose sleep over the deaths of innocent people...

    What the heck does this guy lose sleep over?

    By Blogger The Frog Lady, at 1:32 p.m.  

  • Always better when you get rid of the preceeding context, if you're getting into the Ignatieff-quoting business.

    I think Rae, tactically, knows and has known that he, Dion and Kennedy have a political imparative to define themselves as the non-Ignatieff candidate, by portraying him as right and themselves as moderate-left. In addition, if, and only if, reports like Wells' are accurate, there may have been a personal chill that got into the race early. We'll likely only hear about the truth of that far later.

    I knew perfectly well that Ignatieff wouldn't be for a ceasefire when the first calls came out - as deep as my sympathy for the Lebanese people is, neither was I. It's a bit surprising that he's being so frank about it, but he's a frank guy.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 1:34 p.m.  

  • I think remarks like Iggy's are meant to reach the core heart of the Liberal party.

    Not the hijacked crap that the left has spun the party into, but the heart that Martin rode to victory in his leadership race.

    Recall what martin campaigned on, when there was talk of a 200 seat majority.

    Closer ties with the U.S., defined foreign policy and a role for Canada abroad, strong social policies in healthcare and education. A centre liberal with a realist foreign vision, and an idealist domestic platform. Thats what people like myself yearn for from the Liberal party.

    Iggy is picking that heart back up and giving it life. He's telling moderate Liberals and red tories, "hey, I know the real deal, come back to the fold".

    He's got my vote. I just worry the other candidates are going to isolate him so much, he won't find anybody hand to shake during the run off ballots.

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 1:40 p.m.  

  • Ignatieff unfortunately followed a good point with a quote I know the professional Ignatieff-haters are going to plaster - shorn of the context you added - around the blogosphere as much as they can. I'm sure Diebel wasn't too broken up about it either.

    He's right; the reason a ceasefire is necessary now isn't Qana; it's the Lebanses casualties as a whole, the duration of the conflict, the growing risks of escalation and the possibility of another Lebanese civil war. The first calls for a ceasefire were, effectively, calls for a unilateral full climbdown and Hezbollah victory parade; however much we hate what's gone on over the last two weeks that's not a very constructive policy.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 1:52 p.m.  

  • Here are your options: you can have a candidate who is clear-eyed about what he beleives, and who knows who is responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths in Lebanon. It's Hezbollah, as they continue to comingle military installations with civilian infrastructure.

    Or you can have a candidate (or three) who is noted for his ability to find the moral equivalency of the fireman and the pyro quicker than other candidates. I know my pick.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 2:03 p.m.  

  • Rae, sadly, is only acting out of his old National Dipstick Party reflex.

    The outcome of this for Ignaieff depends on the percentage of those who stick to ridgid dogma as opposed to those who acknowledge the facts of the conflict as they actually are today. = TG

    By Blogger TonyGuitar, at 2:47 p.m.  

  • Wow. I'm amazed at the amount of support Iggy's getting in the comments to this post. I'm an Iggy guy, but I think I'll be the most critical response yet.

    I'm of the opinion, and I get the feeling that the 77% of Canadians referred to are too, that it is not good enough for Israel to say, "we're not the ones firing rockets from civilian areas."

    We cannot simply wish the civilian casualties away. Hezbollah is making a choice to increase their likelihood, yes, but Israel is making a choice to predictably cause them.

    The only way to justify the vast disproportion of civilian casualties in the two countries is by whatever benefits the actions might have in preventing future violations of the human rights of everyone in the region. Ignatieff seems to disagree with most Canadians on where the point of diminishing returns in that regard lies.

    Michael himself gives a perfectly good argument that unless you're attacking Syria and Iran, you are only treating the symptoms in Lebanon, and creating more enemies for the state of Israel. That is a reason that the point of diminishing returns would have been earlier, not later.

    Iggy needs to explain what he imagines these two weeks of violence will have prevented that outweighs the risks he points to himself, and the violations of human rights that are so offensive to Canadians.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 2:57 p.m.  

  • Gauntlet:

    Two weeks of bombing prevented the deployment of countless rockets into entirely civilian sites in Israel.

    Forget your argument that "the only way to justify the vast disproportion of civilian casualties in the two countries is by whatever benefits the actions might have in preventing future violations of the human rights of everyone in the region." That is just not correct.

    Israel's incursion is about protecting its citizenry as a free and democratic and legitimate state has the right to do. That is the justification. Ignatieff recognizes this.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 3:04 p.m.  

  • Peter:

    If by "prevented" you mean "postponed," then sure. There are more rockets where those came from. And Israel is creating people willing to fire them.

    I can't simply assume Israel is right and Hezbollah is wrong. Hezbollah's tactics are disgusting, yes. But for them they may be the lesser evil. Your realpolitik insistance that only nation-states have a legitimate right to protect themselves is a bit... unsubstantiated. And I don't hear Iggy making that argument. My right to fight for what I believe doesn't arise from my nationality. It arises from my humanity.

    Canada's interests are not in protecting Israel, and Canada's interests are not in protecting Lebanon, or Hezbollah, or one or another group of civilians. Canada's interests are in creating sustainable peace around the world.

    We will hold no legitimacy as an international actor, and therefore have no power to promote our own interests, if we do not hold the various actors in violent conflicts to the same standards. Respect for human rights is a perfectly valid internationally-held standard to hold them to.

    Iggy is arguing that Israel's actions up to now have been the lesser evil. He may be right. But he needs to show us the greater evil he believes they have prevented. I don't see it yet.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 3:24 p.m.  

  • By the way:

    CG, do you still think Iggy's stance is the same as everyone else's? :)

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 3:27 p.m.  

  • Gauntlet:

    There are no shortage of people willing to fire rockets. And postponment is often as good as prevention. It certainly is better than waiting around for the international community to come and disarm Hezbollah while a few more rockets hit entirely civilian targets in Haifa.

    Second, what possible justification is there for Hezbollah's action?s You must be the only person in the Western world unwilling to condemn their actions outright. There is simply no justification for their actions as a rogue militia and non-state actor. This is the simplest and most fundamental premise. It also happens to be rooted in international law.

    Third, in a war your right to be treated humanely actually flows from you following the rules of war, which Hezbollah certainly doesn't. It is a non-state actor which cohabits with civilians. It's militia has zero legal legitimacy. And it has no right rooted in human rights theory to bomb Israel as indiscriminantly as it does.

    Fourth, Canada's interests are arguably promoted by encouraging peace in the middle east, which requires the neutralization and eventual elimination of those who will not recognize Israel's right to exist. The methods for realizing this are up to debate. But we should stand with democracies over terrorist militias in near failed states.

    Finally, Israel and Hezbollah are not to be held to the same standards. One is a legitimate state. The other is not. If you can't sort out the implications of this for our understanding of right action then you need to hit the books.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 3:39 p.m.  

  • Hugely off topic - CG any word on when we get to see the sound of 16 posted up?

    Also, you may be interest that an election is a brewin' in New Brunswick (more on that on my newly started blog :D)

    By Blogger nbpolitico, at 3:42 p.m.  

  • Guys, Igatieff's suggestion that he "won't lose any sleep" over Qana is a rookie political mistake that seriously puts into question his readiness to lead this country as prime minister.

    News organizations should be jumping on that quote. What an incredibly dumb thing to say, regardless of what side of this crisis you're on.

    And that's on top of the mish-mash that poses as his position on the crisis in general, btw.

    By Blogger Dennis (Second Thots), at 3:51 p.m.  

  • gauntlet; Yup - Iggy's position is definitely different.

    nbpolitico; I'll have the group of 16 up tomorrow, baring any unforeseen technical problems.

    jack angry; I don't think it's neccesary for Gerard, or any of the candidates, to criticize Ignatieff's position or even comment on it. No one responded to Hedy Fry's statement when she released it and maybe, just maybe, Kennedy would rather not criticize his opponents in this race.

    re: losing sleep - it's obviously a really bad choice of words and it's one of those things Iggy will learn to avoid saying after he's been in politics for a bit longer.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:02 p.m.  

  • Ultimately, I'm with Coach Moach. On this particular issue, most politicians have talked til blue in the face, and said nothing. Ignatieff's quote might be harsh, but he's at least talking straighter than anyone else.

    Can we have TWO Liberal leaders?? One to conduct domestic, and one to conduct external? Please?

    I very, very, very much regret that Ignatieff took this time off. Klutzy fumble.

    Taking this whole time to lead the attack on Harper would have propelled him into the spotlight here - he sees Harper's point and then goes into it further, rather than simply "opposing".

    Better late than never, but what a wasted opportunity. Hard to reconcile my disappointment in his silence with his sudden statements.


    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 4:46 p.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 4:48 p.m.  

  • And let's be realistic -- I don't believe for a second that anyone here without family or friends in Lebanon has lost a second of sleep over the matter.

    Of course it's tragic - so was Rwanda. Yet, oddly enough, I don't recall an epidemic of insomnia sweeping the nation over that one. Did you see any sleep-deprived zombies on the streets? Funny... me either.

    Poor choice of straight-talk, but gimme a break here.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 5:01 p.m.  

  • coach moach; Kennedy was the first candidate to call for a cease fire in the conflict. To me, that doesn't sound like a candidate wanting to avoid the issue.

    I'll agree he's not as controversial as Ignatieff and may not have gotten as much media as Rae but when it comes to releasing policy and commenting on current events, he's been doing that as quickly and frequently (or...infrequently) as any of the other candidates in this race.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:02 p.m.  

  • jason; Oh, I agree. The only sleep I've lost has come from wanting to stay up late to see the Colbert Report take on events.

    But just because it's literaly true, saying you're not losing sleep over the death of 37 children is probably a poor choice of words. If Harper said something like that, he'd be torn appart. But, yeah, I generally agree with you which is why I didn't make a huge deal about it in the main post.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:03 p.m.  

  • CG - definitely a poor choice of words, no doubt, agreed.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 5:11 p.m.  

  • A very important thing to keep in mind is that Rae's contstant attacks on Ignatieff are only working to hurt the party. Each and every time a candidate attacks another on their opinions/response to an incident, Mr. Harper is most definetly loving it.

    What is it that Mr.Rae is proclaiming through his comments about Ignatieff? that he doesnt want a cease fire now, even though he was the first one to have indicated a want for the use of peacekeepers? His statements are redundant and appear to be more for show than for actual concern. Ignatieff had said he feels that this was the time to make a statement and personally I would agree. There was no real need to jump the gun and declare a cease fire when Israel may not have had a chance to response on their own terms.

    Rather than criticize one another, as Mr. Rae consistently appears to enjoy, it would be a more beneficial to act as Mr. Dion has done, by stating "he's doing exactly what I am doing". This impulse to divide the party seems to be almost imbedded in the minds of some of our candidates; and while unfortunate, it gives us an idea of what kind of a leader will really remain true to the party and its supporters; keeping us united, moving forward together.

    By Blogger Just another Liberal, at 5:30 p.m.  

  • CG: I don't think there's any question that the "sleep loss" statement undid some of the good that his generally adroit and well-considered position did for him.

    I hope it doesn't distract the party (or country) from the substance of the issue - the need to reponsibly press for a plan like Ignatieff put forward.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 5:46 p.m.  

  • Riley: Clearly, Iggy's travails prove that the "core heart" of the Liberal party is nothing of the sort.

    As for the "losing sleep" comment- it was a flippant comment about an issue that many people around the world take VERY seriously. It was incredibly foolish, and considering how many of these missteps we've seen, I'm skeptical that it's a "rookie mistake" and not an indication of a greater problem.

    After all, it's not as if Ignatieff would say anything other than what he has in the current political environment, huh?

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 6:07 p.m.  

  • While his absence from action was foolish, I have no doubt - at all - that Ignatieff takes the matter just as "VERY seriously" as you do, Demo.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 6:26 p.m.  

  • Coach:

    "His focus is on how to stop the fighting and create a lasting peace in Lebanon,"

    Well, leading the way on that isn't much enhanced by the "not losing sleep over it" comment. It is not just about your position, but how you present it.

    And in addition to his lack of discretion in that remark, one wonders if this reveals that he has littl empathy for those women and children.

    And no, I'm not a professional Iggy hater. I have no favourite horse. I think it's a pretty uninspiring race so far.

    By Blogger WeeDram, at 9:23 p.m.  

  • muskie:

    "A very important thing to keep in mind is that Rae's contstant attacks on Ignatieff are only working to hurt the party."

    What? This is a leadership race. How else can those who will vote distinguish between candidates? I don't think a leader who isn't prepared to honestly critize someone else's position is strong enough to be a real leader.

    By Blogger WeeDram, at 9:26 p.m.  

  • I am sure you have all been losing sleep over countless bombings of civilians in Tel Aviv pizza parlors.

    The point Ignatieff was making, however uneloquently, is that you don't make decisions about the right courses of action based on one event - especially if it is unduly emotional. Incredible tragedies occur on both sides each day. But discerning right action depends on clear eyes. It doesn't depend on knee jerk reactions to each situation, and it certainly doesn't depend on counting how many citizens in your constituency are of one heritage and how many of another.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 11:45 p.m.  

  • I think this was Rae's turning point. He has consistently been telling us what he thinks and differntiating himself. Ignatieff blew it. You won't see the phrase "rookie mistake" and Bob Rae in the same sentence. Overall though I would say that the final three will be Rae, Ignatieff and Dion.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 11:56 p.m.  

  • I'm not unwilling to condemn Hezbollah's actions. Nor do I see any justification for them. I'm just unwilling to condemn only Hezbollah's actions, and I'm totally unwilling to do it solely on the basis of something as meaningless to both itself and its innocent victims as its status in international law.

    "We should stand with democracies over terrorist militias in near failed states."

    You would agree, wouldn't you, that an action is to be judged just or unjust on the basis of its consequences, not on the basis of characteristics of the actor?

    Put another way, would Israel's firing rockets at civilian targets in Lebanon from apartment blocks in Tel Aviv be acceptable? Of course not. And not because of any international law.

    So whether they are a democracy or a "terrorist militia" doesn't really matter. We can and must hold both Israel and Hezbollah to the same standard - the consequences of their actions for human rights.

    When we have done that, I'm not sure what the result is. It may be the one you put forth, that Israel is justified. But in my understanding of how their actions should be judged, it is at least possible to find that Israel has erred.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 3:55 a.m.  

  • Gauntlet:

    By your logic, robbers and cops shoot guns from the same moral basis.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 8:11 a.m.  

  • So Rae's turning point is when he decided to politicize the conflict and criticize another candidate, even though he said he wouldn't?

    Personally, I thought his turning point was in the final year of his premiership when he broke contracts signed in good faith with about a million people and then went on TV to justify it; or perhaps when he made decision after decision that plunged Ontario farther into debt. But, then again, we all see things differently. Once bitten, twice shy.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 8:14 a.m.  

  • I am sure you have all been losing sleep over countless bombings of civilians in Tel Aviv pizza parlors.

    Ha - exactly.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 10:36 a.m.  

  • Kinsella is misleading and dishonest in that article, I didn't get past "You would be, too, if someone was firing bullets through your front door – and a newspaper columnist was simultaneously condemning you for calling in the police. "

    I'm as anti-Hezbollah as Kinsella, but that's a ridiculously lazy comparison.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 10:38 a.m.  

  • peace: therein lies the problem. The weakness wasn't the analysis from the narrow perspective of Israeli security, but the serious "just war" and human rights questions that are raised by the Israeli response. It's a defensible position, but it's beneath the Ignatieff persona.

    He hasn't given any indication in his response that he's any more qualified to comment than Stephen Harper or Joe Volpe, and that "no lost sleep" bit continues to raise questions about why he keeps shoving his foot down his throat.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 10:09 p.m.  

  • Cute story. Makes me want to be better. Thanks for sharing. You are wonderful.

    By Anonymous Diablo 3 gold, at 3:40 a.m.  

  • thanks a lot for sharing. i was looking for something like that.

    By Anonymous Guild wars 2 gold, at 3:36 a.m.  

  • this post. I will probably best cheap android phone be coming back to your weblog
    for more soon.

    By Blogger qiongzhang55, at 4:38 a.m.  

  • Weedends is great day! I really love it! Because in this day, not only can I get up late, but also I can be relaxed!!~None day can be better than weedends! There is a important reason Günstiges android-Handy ohne Vertragthat we can't go to school or go to job! So happy day!

    By Blogger Unknown, at 2:49 a.m.  

Post a Comment

<< Home