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August 31, 2006

Right Answer / Wrong Answer

Question: If you lose the Liberal Party leadership, will you stay on as an MP?

Right Answer: Yes.

Wrong Answer: "I'd like to serve my constituents well, but you're asking me an anticipatory hypothetical about the situation that prevails on the 3rd or 4th of December."

It's a rookie mistake - sort of like saying you "don't lose sleep" over civilian deaths in wartime. And Brison's not entirely wrong. I think the most worrying thing for the Ignatieff camp should be the fact that this isn't the candidate's first gaffe, and that therefore he doesn't appear to be learning on the fly.

But I don't think it'll sink him - either here or in a general election campaign.

It won't help him though.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Could it help him? Canadians don't tend to share the popular American aversion to 'professional politicians'; still, could Iggy spin this as "I'm not the sort of hack who'll lie to your face?" After all, he was just being honest - and who could blame him, really, if he didn't choose to sit around as a useless back-bencher under, I don't know, Bob Rae? (He could always cross the floor, of course, although perhaps not after all this "I've been a Liberal since I was seventeen" business.) Problem is, the "I'm no pol, I'm just a regular guy" schtick tends to play a lot better to a general audience than to a party. In American terms, it's primary season, and Iggy needs to be playing to his core constituency. They're more likely to punish his equivocal commitment to the party.

Unless, of course, core Liberal voters - being far more interested in power than ideology - see Iggy's waffle as a promising tactic to win over middle-of-the-road voters, in which case they - Liberal voters - might actually reward Iggy's waffling.

Ok, probably not.

But maybe?

Posted by David Mader at 12:25 AM | (5) | Back to Main

August 30, 2006

Blame Canada

Canada Falling Off the Map With American Travellers:

Canada has an image problem south of the border. It's not that Americans have a bad impression of their northern neighbour — it's that they have no impression at all. . . .

“It's not a disinterest in Canada,” said Darrell Bryan, general manager of a ferry service between Seattle and Victoria.

“You're just seeing very little to promote Canada in those marketplaces,” he said. “... It's taken for granted that the great northland is known to all Americans.”

This seems right to me. I've seen some good PR from Alberta of late - particularly the Smithsonian Folk Festival event on the National Mall this summer - but not much else. Canada does have a certain draw with American tourists - at least those I've seen - but the impressions tend to come from family or friends, rather than from Canadian PR. Vancouver (and BC more generally) and Montreal are both popular destinations - or rather, they both tend to be places that folks I talk to would "love to visit." I think, in other words, there's a market - even down here in Texas - for increased Canadian tourism. It's just a matter of making the effort.

And no, I don't think the government should be making that effort. An awful lot of businesses would benefit from increased tourism. Let them band together and invest a little thought - and a little money.

Posted by David Mader at 10:15 AM | (2) | Back to Main

So It's War Then?

Siniora: Lebanon Will be Last Country to Make Peace With Israel:

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said Wednesday that he refused to have any direct contact with Israel, and that Lebanon would be the last Arab country to ever sign a peace deal with it.

"Let it be clear, we are not seeking any agreement until there is just and comprehensive peace based on the Arab initiative," he said.

Siniora was referring to a plan that came out of a 2002 Arab League summit in Beirut. It calls for Israel to return all territories it conquered in the 1967 Six-Day War, the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem - all in exchange for peace and full normalization of Arab relations with Israel.

I hardly think Lebanon is in a position to threaten Israel with violence in return for a 'comprehensive peace.' For that threat is, of course, implicit in the very notion of 'land for peace': either the Arab countries get land, or Israel doesn't get peace.

And yet not getting peace - getting war, rather - seems much more to Lebanon's detriment than Israel's. The consensus seems to be that Israel 'lost' the recent conflict in Lebanon. I don't share that opinion, largely because I don't believe the conflict is at an end. But in any case, even if Israel 'lost' as a conceptual matter, it can hardly be said to have lost as a tactical matter. As we are constantly reminded - not the least by Siniora himself - the Israeli campaign devastated Lebanon, killing hundreds and wrecking years' worth of infrastructure development. That being the case, shouldn't Siniora be begging for peace? Is it really a good idea to threaten continued hostility? Is such continued hostility really likely to achieve the concessions sought? Or is it more likely simply to lead, eventually, to the further destruction of Lebanon?

The questions answer themselves. But Siniora's hard-line stance only continue's Lebanon's intransigence regarding Israel and peace. Remember that Lebanon, not Israel, rejected the first Franco-American ceasefire plan. Israel, not Lebanon, made concessions on the ceasefire, which resulted in terms of ceasefire that have led many to believe that Israel 'lost.' Of course Israel has received no credit for this. But it will, in time. And Lebanon's continued intransigence will only hasten the inevitable successor conflict, one in which - whatever Israel's fate - Lebanon will suffer terribly.

Posted by David Mader at 09:43 AM | (0) | Back to Main

August 27, 2006

Amen Brother

"If you want the God's honest truth, baby boomers are the most obnoxious people in the history of the human race."

Is that fair? Read the whole thing. I think the bottom line is that the baby boom generation was, at the last, no more or less revolutionary than any other generation - with the exception, perhaps, of their parents, who were the real drivers of social change in the twentieth century. The story quotes a baby-defender as saying: "Before boomers, women were told to stay at home and wear aprons; blacks were told to stay separate and not get uppity; Jews and other minorities were told to stay inconspicuous; gays were told to stay in denial and in the closet." But were boomers really responsible for these social changes? Consider that the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. Without going to the books, I'm willing to wager that the number of baby boomers in Congress in 1964 was zero. Perhaps the boomers are to be commended for turning the idealism of their fathers (and mothers) into reality - but the claim is that the boomers are great revolutionaries, not great followers.

But nor can the boomers be blamed for creating a culture of consumption. Again, that was a product of their parents - the greatest generation, who'd lived through the depression and fought the Second World War, and settled down in the fifties to a massive economic expansion. They took advantage of the GI Bill; they bought their own houses; they fueled the American romance with the automobile.

The real sin of the baby boom generation is that they mimicked their parents without bothering to internalize the experiences that had led to the behavior they mimicked. For the greatest, consumption was a reaction to poverty and a bulwark against disorder and violence. For the boomers, consumption was for its own sake, because it was all they'd ever known. Similarly, for the greatest, social liberalism was a response to the domestic upheavals of the 1930s and the horrors of the early 1940s. For the boomers, social liberalism - beyond a very isolated movement in the early 1960s that, again, involved very few real boomers - was its own end, ostensibly a reaction against the previous generation but in fact a simple and mindless radicalism of the parents' ideology. The deep and underlying justification for the activities and ideas now associated with the baby boom generation was self-importance.

The great irony, of course, is that it's only now - now, as the boomers approach their sixties - that the boomers are presented with an opportunity to change the world. Vietnam was an old man's war, and for all the talk of social pressure the boomers were in truth simply pawns in a power struggle between the competing ideologies of an older generation. Nor were the boomers responsible for the end of the Cold War - a war which came to a close under the watch of the older generation's Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The first boomer president, Bill Clinton, managed to typify booomer frivolity - partly due to his own failures, and party due to the transitional nature of the first decade after the Cold War.

But now the boomers have an opportunity. In Islamism we see a concerted opposition to the social order that the boomers have for fifty years exploited for their own enjoyment. Though not responsible for Selma, the boomers have convinced themselves that social justice is their feat and their legacy. Even if it were, they'd have gone quite a long time without following success with success. But now they have an opportunity - to universalize their message of social justice.

And yet the tragedy is that a lifetime of entitlement and self-consideration has left much of the baby boom generation unable even to recognize the opportunity before them. Too many have become too accustomed to the pleasures that the false peace of the Cold War afforded them. Forty years ago they failed to appreciate whence came the wealth and privilege they took for granted, and too many still refuse to realize that they were blessed by the sacrifice of their parents and an accident of history. Too many believe that the peace that allowed them to live lives of frivolity is the historical rule rather than the historical exception. Too many are unwilling to believe, let alone confront, the threat posed to our most basic notions of democracy and freedom by a hostile, expansionist, and increasingly militant ideology.

It's not too late - and of course many, many members of the baby boom generation recognize the threat and are working - and have long worked - to preserve our way of life, and to spread our blessings beyond our borders.

But increasignly, I fear, the burden will fall on the next big cohort, the children of the boomers, to confront the challenges of a hostile world. The challenge of this next generation, also born into a world of privilege and entitlement, is to recognize the false peace and the newly apparent dangers, and to confront those dangers while reaffirming our faith in the basic value of our traditional notions of democracy and freedom.

It is a struggle that will, of course, cross generations. The boomers still have a role to play - a role that may finally earn them the accolades they've been awarding themselves for decades. Whether or not they take up the call, much of the role will have to be played by the next generation, the children of the boom. We are not special. We are no smarter than our parents, or grandparents; no more gifted; certainly no more endowed with the lessons of experience. We are simply young men and women who cannot take for granted a world as safe and promising as that into which we were born. We must do our best to do our best, for ourselves and for our children.

But a little help from the boomers would be most welcome.

Addendum: It reads nice, but the truth is that members of my generation are probably more likely to reject the narrative of an Islamist threat than are members of the boom. Hey - I didn't say I was hopeful.

Posted by David Mader at 01:47 PM | (13) | Back to Main

August 25, 2006

Britons Are Learning

The Telegraph:

The alleged plot to blow up transatlantic airliners and last year's terrorist attacks on London have made more people fear Islam as a religion, not merely its extremist elements, a poll for The Daily Telegraph has found.

A growing number of people fear that the country faces "a Muslim problem" and more than half of the respondents to the YouGov survey said that Islam posed a threat to Western liberal democracy. That compares with less than a third after the September 11 terrorist attacks on America five years ago.

The findings were revealed as Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, conceded that the multi-culturalist approach encouraged by the Left for two decades had probably been a mistake and could have contributed to the alienation that many young Muslims said they felt and experienced.

This seems consistent with what I heard when I was over there. I've got a longer post coming, but the bottom line is that I'm quite optimistic about the future of Britian. That's not to say I don't expect a deep societal division - I do - but that I think that Britons will be ready to fight when it comes.

UPDATE: Let me just make clear that I don't agree with the simple proposition that there is a 'Muslim problem.' Regular readers know that I'm supportive of Islam as a faith, as I am of any faith. But I do think it's fair to say that Islam as practiced in many parts of the U.K. does poes a challenge to British liberal democracy. Regular readers also know that I think true social peace can only come through a reformation within currently-practiced Islam, and in particular through the adoption of a doctrine of peaceful coexistence. But unless such a reformation occurs, I don't think a 'clash of cultures' is unlikely.

Posted by David Mader at 12:43 PM | (0) | Back to Main

August 18, 2006

Read Ibbitson This Morning

Here's a link, though you may have to do the Google News thing.

Posted by David Mader at 03:22 AM | (0) | Back to Main

August 15, 2006

Important News Update

After a day and a half of first-hand investigating, I can say with a high degree of confidence that, despite press rumors to the contrary, Manchester is, in fact, still here.

And they say bloggers can't do first-hand reporting.

Posted by David Mader at 04:58 PM | (1) | Back to Main

August 12, 2006

Wells is Right

I was expecting all sorts of euphamism and equivocation, but the press was clear from the get-go: the suspects are (largely British-born) Muslims.

I have a teeny bit more to say about this - about the 8/10 plot, as they've taken to calling it over here - but I've been running around England and will continue to do so for the next couple of days. I know, I know, I have a bad habit of cutting out on blogging just as I start to interest people. Fear not! I shall return!

Posted by David Mader at 06:07 PM | (0) | Back to Main

August 09, 2006


I'm no math genius, but it seems to me that if Joe Lieberman wins forty-eight percent of the Democratic vote in November, he'll win the election. Lamont needs more than 52% of the Democratic vote, I should think, to overcome Lieberman's strength among Connecticut Republicans.

Posted by David Mader at 07:19 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Special Update from the Oxford Bureau

Oxford is still here too.

Posted by David Mader at 07:16 AM | (0) | Back to Main

August 08, 2006

Special Update from the London Bureau

London is still here.

That is all.

Posted by David Mader at 05:57 AM | (1) | Back to Main

August 07, 2006

News Alert of the Day

AP (Beirut):

The Lebanese prime minister says only one person died in an Israeli air raid on the southern village of Houla, lowering the death toll from 40.
I always get those numbers confused myself.

In other news I'm in England and slightly jetlagged. Just so y'all know.

Posted by David Mader at 10:29 AM | (0) | Back to Main

August 06, 2006

Ceasefire Politics

France and the U.S. have come to an agreement on a draft Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon. Israel is said to be quietly pleased, and with good reason: the draft, the full text of which appears in the extended entry to this post, is quite assymetrical in its demands:

[The Security Council] Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;

In other words, while Hezbollah must cease all operations, Israel retains the right to engage in defensive military operations - presumably including the targetting of Hezbollah rocket launch sites

Emphasizes the importance of the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory . . . ;

In other words, the Lebanese Army must finally fulfill its UN-mandated responsibility to displace Hezbollah in the south.

[Supports] the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Lebanese armed and security forces and of UN mandated international forces deployed in this area;

Ditto - the disarmament of Hezbollah in the south.

[Supports] full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006) that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state;

In other words, disarmament of Hezbollah everywhere.
And so on. Notably absent is a call for Israel to remove its troops from Lebanon - they can stay until a bolstered international force is deployed.

As I say, the Israelis are quietly pleased, although they have not yet responded. Not so Lebanon:
Lebanon rejects a United Nations Security Council draft resolution to end the fighting, Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said Sunday, as it would allow the Israel Defense Forces to remain on Lebanese soil. . . .

Berri, who has acted as a negotiator for Hezbollah, said the resolution had ignored a seven-point plan presented by the government that calls for a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces and the return of all displaced civilians among other things.

"Lebanon and all of Lebanon rejects any resolution that is outside these seven points," Berri told a news conference.

That the Americans were successful in bringing the French around to such an assymetrical (and to me the word is not, in this context, pejorative) resolution is, quite simply, remarkable. And its true worth extends beyond the text. The draft resolution has put Lebanon in the position, after weeks of calling for a ceasefire, of rejecting the first internationally brokered ceasefire plan. This has the potential to be a P.R. coup. If Lebanon were truly the innocent and aggrieved party here, what would they stand to lose by agreeing to an immediate cessation of offensive Israeli military action? No, it wouldn't be perfect from their perspective. But - given their (largely legitimate) complaints regarding the damage being done to their country, are they really in a position to choose? Shouldn't they, given their rhetoric over the past weeks, be grasping at the first available ceasefire opportunity?

But they aren't; no, when push comes to shove they're ready to play for keeps. Now that it's war, they say, they're prepared to stick it out until they get all of what they want.

Well, fine. They're certainly within their right. And it's not unreasonable for the Lebanese to feel that, at this point, they have little to lose: in the first week of war, perhaps, such a ceasefire would have been acceptable; at this point they feel aggrieved, and want redress.

Let the world see it, and remember: they cry peace, peace, but they want no peace. Lebanon chooses war.

IMMEDIATE UPDATE: It occurs to me that this presents a significant test for the Lebanese government. You'll notice that the Parliamentary Speaker is a Hezbollah man. This story suggests a split between Hezbollah and non-Hezbollah elements of the government. It may be that the non-Hezbollah elements are prepared to accept the ceasefire - perhaps with minor amendments - while it's Hezbollah that demands total Israeli withdrawal. If that's the case, we may be moving towards an important split within Lebanon. I've said repeatedly that the best possible scenario would have Beirut allied with Jerusalem against Hezbollah. I don't see that as likely now, but the ceasefire proposal may still make Hezbollah's warlike intentions clear to the Lebanese people and force the government to take an independent stand.

And if they don't, of course, can we be surprised if they share a large part of Hezbollah's fate?

Text of a draft resolution on the Israeli-Lebanese conflict:

The Security Council,

PP1. Recalling all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 425 (1978), 426 (1978), 520 (1982), 1559 (2004), 1655 (2006) and 1680 (2006), as well as the statements of its President on the situation in Lebanon, in particular the statements of 18 June 2000(S/PRST/2000/21), of 19 October 2004 (S/PRST/2004/36), of 4 May 2005 (S/PRST/2005/17) of 23 January 2006 (S/PRST/2006/3) and of 30 July 2006(S/PRST/2006/35),


PP2. Expressing its utmost concern at the continuing escalation of hostilities in Lebanon and in Israel since Hezbollah's attack on Israel on 12 July 2006, which has already caused hundreds of deaths and injuries on both sides, extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons,

PP3. Emphasizing the need for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasizing the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers,

PP4: Mindful of the sensitivity of the issue of prisoners and encouraging the efforts aimed at settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel,

OP1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;

OP2. Reiterates its strong support for full respect for the Blue Line;

OP3. Also reiterates its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized borders, as contemplated by the Israeli-Lebanese General Armistice Agreement of 23 March 1949;

OP4. Calls on the international community to take immediate steps to extend its financial and humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people, including through facilitating the safe return of displaced persons and, under the authority of the Government of Lebanon, reopening airports and harbours for verifiably and purely civilian purposes, and calls on it also to consider further assistance in the future to contribute to the reconstruction and development of Lebanon;

OP5. Emphasizes the importance of the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004) and resolution 1680 (2006), and of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, for it to exercise its full sovereignty and authority;

OP6. Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:

- strict respect by all parties for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Israel and Lebanon;

- full respect for the Blue Line by both parties;

- delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including in the Shebaa farms area;

- security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Lebanese armed and security forces and of UN mandated international forces deployed in this area;

- full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006) that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state;

- deployment of an international force in Lebanon, consistent with paragraph 10 below;

- establishment of an international embargo on the sale or supply of arms and related material to Lebanon except as authorized by its government;

- elimination of foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government;

- provision to the United Nations of remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon in Israel's possession;

OP7: Invites the Secretary General to support efforts to secure agreements in principle from the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel to the principles and elements for a long-term solution as set forth in paragraph 6 above;

OP8: Requests the Secretary General to develop, in liaison with key international actors and the concerned parties, proposals to implement the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), including disarmament, and for delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including by dealing with the Shebaa farms, and to present those proposals to the Security Council within thirty days;

OP9. Calls on all parties to cooperate during this period with the Security Council and to refrain from any action contrary to paragraph 1 above that might adversely affect the search for a long-term solution, humanitarian access to civilian populations, or the safe return of displaced persons, and requests the Secretary General to keep the Council informed in this regard;

OP10. Expresses its intention, upon confirmation to the Security Council that the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel have agreed in principle to the principles and elements for a long-term solution as set forth in paragraph 6 above, and subject to their approval, to authorize in a further resolution under Chapter VII of the Charter the deployment of a UN mandated international force to support the Lebanese
armed forces and government in providing a secure environment and contribute to the implementation of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution;

OP11. Requests UNIFIL, upon cessation of hostilities, to monitor its implementation and to extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the safe return of displaced persons;

OP12. Calls upon the Government of Lebanon to ensure arms or related materiel are not imported into Lebanon without its consent and requests UNIFIL, conditions permitting, to assist the Government of Lebanon at its request;

OP13. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council within one week on the implementation of this resolution and to provide any relevant information in light of the Council's intention to adopt, consistent with paragraph 10 above, a further resolution;

OP14. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Posted by David Mader at 10:21 AM | (0) | Back to Main

August 04, 2006

Withdrawal Worked

I may have made this point before, but I want to make it again. A common refrain since the beginning of the current Israeli/Lebanese conflict has been that the attacks and kidnappings which sparked the crisis illustrate the failure of the policy of withdrawal implemented in 2000. In fact, a similar argument was made regarding Gaza following the abduction of Gilad Shalit. Since the dual-flare up in Gaza and Lebanon, some have noted that Israel's only quiet front - the West Bank - happens to be the one region they had not withdrawn from.

But these criticisms demonstrate a failure to appreciate the true value of withdrawal. Removing the Israeli forces from Lebanon - and later Gaza - was never expected to result in the pacification of those areas. I don't think any hard-eyed supporter of withdrawal expected the Palestinians or the Lebanese to lay down arms. No, the real value of the withdrawal was that it set borders. And that's made all the difference in the current conflict.

Consider: the tone of world reaction to the current Israeli offensive was set during the first week following the abduction of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. While public opinion has clearly shifted, there's no question (to my mind) that the amount of time it's taken to shift, and the deep divisions the shift has caused within many countries and polities, is a direct result of the widely shared initial sense that the Hezbollah attack and abduction was an entirely unjustified act of war.

But it was only such an unjustifiable act because it occurred across an internationally recognized border. Had Israel continued to to occupy parts of sovereign Lebanon, many of those who now champion Israel's right to defend itself would have been able to say - and would have said - that the abductions were simply part of the 'cycle of violence' resulting from the occupation. Only because Israel had withdrawn did the Hezbollah attack appear to world eyes to be an act of war. Ditto in Gaza, incidentally: Shalit was abducted from a guard post entirely within Israel by terrorists operating out of Gaza who had tunnelled across the border. What occupation, exactly, were they protesting?

And that's the point. Withdrawal does not bring peace, it brings clarity. Hezbollah has demonstrated to the world that its core aim is not the liberation of Lebanon but the destruction of Israel. Hamas has demonstrated to the world that it seeks not the liberation of Gaza but the 'liberation' of the entire land of Israel. But for withdrawal, this fact would have been obscured - often willfully - by apologists around the world. Withdrawal has robbed the apologists of their sharpest tools, and has exposed Israel's predicament to the world.

Posted by David Mader at 04:16 PM | (5) | Back to Main

Alas, For Keith

Keith Martin, Liberal critic for Foreign Affairs, takes sides:

The Tories must demand an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East, the Liberal foreign affairs critic said Friday, warning more civilians will die unless the humanitarian crisis in the region isn't resolved.

"We, in the Official Opposition, demand that the Conservative government engage in pursuing and supporting a ceasefire immediately in the area, " Keith Martin said. . . .

He noted that the attacks in south Lebanon have killed hundreds and damaged infrastructure, resulting in a lack of power, water and essential medications.

"This, over the next period of time, will result in the needless deaths of civilians who are caught in the middle of the conflict," he said.

Now I think it's important to note that this doesn't necessarily mean that Martin considers the deaths of Israelis at the hands of Hezbollah prior to the current conflict to have been necessary; nor does it necessarily mean that Martin is simply indifferent to those deaths.

Nor does it necessarily mean that Martin is more concerned with the long term peace and stability of Lebanon than he is with the long term peace and stability of Israel. But the statement certainly suggests that position. After all, an immediate ceasefire would leave Hezbollah dug in and capable of continued attacks on Israeli targets - attacks which no honest observer can doubt would continue, just as they continued for years prior to last month without the slightest protest from Keith Martin and his ilk.

Of course Martin could redeem his position simply by calling for a lasting ceasefire - a ceasefire, that is, which incorporates guarantees of the neutralization of Hezbollah. But then Martin would only be agreeing with the Tory government, which believes that "any agreement to halt hostilities between Israel and Lebanese-based Hezbollah militants must be a lasting one." And Martin's made perfectly clear that he doesn't agree with the Tory government.

So Martin's calling for an immediate unconditional ceasefire to benefit the people of Lebanon at the expense of the people of Israel. And not just the people, mind you: while Israel has specifically disclaimed any interest in the occupation of Lebanon, Hezbollah's attacks are motivated by a desire to see the State of Israel destroyed.

"The government must understand that this is a matter of life and death," Martin says. But they do. It's a shame he doesn't understand it himself.

Posted by David Mader at 01:29 PM | (1) | Back to Main

I Don't Get It

Beyonce's new album is called B'Day? Really?

Posted by David Mader at 01:09 PM | (1) | Back to Main

August 03, 2006

Bits and Pieces

  • Word is that the reason Iggy took so long to come out with his weak fence-sitting Israel/Lebanon position is that the issue has split his campaign. Note that the side less favorable towards Israel - and so presumably less in tune with pre-leadership Ignatieff - appears to be ascendant.

  • Those poll numbers are real (though I'd love to see more), and the Tories are finally starting to go on the offensive. Tomorrow's anticipated humanitarian aid announcement may provide an opportunity for the Boss to lay out his mideast policy in full, explaining why he's taken the position he's taken. It's a defensible one, but to date he hasn't defended it. And as good as MacKay's performance on the Hill was, it was on the Hill for goodness' sake. I hope PMO hasn't forgotten that no one south of the Queensway watches CPAC.

  • I'm told "south of the Queensway" is Ottawa's version of "outside the Beltway."

  • One thing regarding those poll numbers though. Many media outlets are emphasizing the fact that the Grits are leaderless. It's true, of course. But that effectively turns the poll into a Tory v. Favored Liberal question. In other words, voters who favor the Grits may not be favoring any Grits but rather the Liberal party as led by the leadership candidate of their preference. This matters: I believe that a good number of Rae supporters would not vote for Iggy - and vice versa. And that's just to name two. Those numbers will look much different once voters are confronted by a particular iteration of the Liberal party - not necessarily better for the Tories, and not necessarily worse, but almost certainly different.

  • I live north of the Queensway.

Posted by David Mader at 10:39 PM | (0) | Back to Main

About That Lost Neutrality...

A Lebanese blogger lists Canada among three countries he sees as a peacekeeping dream team, writing:

Canada is the most respected and neutral country in Lebanese eyes. I remember once going to the south, in a Hezbollah controlled area. There was a hotel that wanted to portray an international image; so it raised the Canadian flag next to the Iranian, Saudi and Syrian flags. Canada has been very sympathetic to Lebanese Immigrants and Canadian Universities are having special measures to help Lebanese students follow their studies there. There are no Lebanese who consider Canadians their enemies.
Of course this may be the very neutrality that so many fear is being lost through the Prime Minister's unequivocal stand. It seems to me, though, that the coming peacekeeping operation offers a golden opportunity to bolster our reputation in the eyes of the Lebanese people while simultaneously reaffirming the trust of the Israeli people. Think about it: bringing peace and security to Lebanon while guaranteeing the security of Israel. That's win-win. It would be a shame if our forces turn out to have been too far diminished in the past decades to sustain such an operation; I'd like to see a serious assessment on the part of the government.

Posted by David Mader at 10:14 PM | (0) | Back to Main

A Little More Qana

Frank Hilliard e-mails to note allegations that the Qana tragedy was in fact staged. Here's his post on the subject.

I think a lot of skeptics overstate their case. As I noted, it's becoming clear that the death toll at Qana was overstated, and that various details of the strike were distorted. But that doesn't take away from the fact that the Israeli air force did bomb the place and people did die.

Skeptics have also undermined their case, I think, by making mistakes of their own: one blogger made waves with allegations of fabrication based largely on the time stamps on wire photographs - before it turned out that the photos were stamped when they went out on the wire, not when they were taken. It's true that Lebanese 'aid' workers shamelessly exploited the bodies of the dead for propaganda purposes - and that the world media couldn't have been more eager to play along. But that simple point was drowned out by suggestions of a fabrication. Similarly, much has been made of the suggestion that the structure in question did not collapse until around 08:00 on Sunday, some hours after the IDF strike; but this suggestion (at one time credited to the IDF itself) appears to have been based on the fact that reports of the collapse did not reach media outlets and aid agencies until morning.

There's little question to my mind that Hezbollah has exploited Qana as much as it can, exaggerating and distorting the facts on the ground. But skeptics shouldn't lose sight of the fact that there were facts on the ground. Trying to deny those facts only increases the perception of their importance; I think supporters of Israel should focus their attentions on explaining why the events at Qana, tragic though they were, do not at all affect the legitimacy of the Israeli campaign

UPDATE (16:04 EDT): The IDF has completed its inquiry into the Qana incident:

The inquiry confirms the information provided in the press briefing held by the IDF on the day of the incident, according to which the IDF targeted the building in an aerial attack on July 30th at 00:52 with two missiles, the first of which exploded and the second was apparently a dud.

The building was targeted in accordance with the military's guidelines regarding the use of fire against suspicious structures inside villages whose residents have been warned to evacuate, and which were adjacent to areas from where rockets are fired towards Israel. The guidelines were drafted based on surveillance and study of the behavior of the terrorists, who use civilian structures inside villages to store weaponry and hide in after launching rockets attacks.

Since July 12th, over 150 rockets were launched from within the village of Qana itself and the immediate surrounding area. The residents of Qana and the villages surrounding it were warned several times, through various media, to evacuate the area.

The IDF operated according to information that the building was not inhabited by civilians and was being used as a hiding place for terrorists. Had the information indicated that civilians were present in the building the attack would not have been carried out. Prior to the attack on the aforementioned building several other buildings which were part of the infrastructure for terror activity in the area were targeted.

In his summary the Chief of Staff Lt. General Dan Halutz again expressed his sorrow for the deaths of civilians, among them children, in the incident in Qana. He stated that the fight against terror, which cynically uses civilians as human shields and intentionally operates from within civilian villages and infrastructure, is much more difficult than traditional military combat and presents us with both operational and value oriented challenges.

The Chief of Staff emphasized that "The Hizbullah organization places Lebanese civilians as a defensive shield between itself and us while IDF places itself as a defensive shield between the citizens of Israel and Hizbullah's terror. That is the principal difference between us."

The Chief of Staff instructed that guidelines for opening fire against suspicious targets be evaluated and updated immediately, while staying relevant with operational needs and the dynamic nature of the information received, as is done on a regular basis.

Note that the IDF neither denies that the attack on the building in question occurred nor suggests that civilian deaths did not result. That's entirely appropriate. And, as noted earlier, the IDF will reevaluate its intelligence and target selection procedure. That's also appropriate. What it won't do is allow this incident to obscure the fundamental nature of the conflict. That's the most appropriate thing of all.

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North India Photo Blog

My buddy Charles has spent the past year living and working in northern India, and has kept us all entertained back home with his frequent e-mails. In his e-mails he describes Gurgaon, the town in which he's living, as well as his trips to various other locales. He also forwards a great variety of pictures which capture all sorts of details around Gurgaon and beyond. Now he's done the internet a favor by starting a blog at which he's posting his photos. Charles has a great eye for social contrasts, which serves him marvellously in an area undergoing vast and rapid social change. Do yourself a favor and check it out - it's a fascinating glimpse at the massive changes taking place in the world's largest democracy.

Posted by David Mader at 11:50 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Qana Latest

Not particularly surprising:

Israel would not have bombed a building in the Lebanese village of Qana on Sunday had it known civilians were inside, a military statement says.

Following an inquiry into the attack, the army said it believed the building housed militants, and accused Hezbollah of using civilians as human shields. . . .

Lt Gen Dan Halutz, the chief of staff, apologised for the deaths, and has ordered the military to update its intelligence regarding bombing targets in Lebanon.

That's good - that's what I've been hoping for since the beginning of the conflict.

I'm not sure whether it's come across on the blog, but I've gone through a period of almost agonizing internal debate regarding the continued legitimacy of the Israeli offensive. Ironically, it was the Qana attack - and its aftermath - that helped me to settle my mind. Qana was a tragedy. But the immediate reports - and the immediate reaction to the reports - substantially overstated the circumstances of the attack. It's not just that fewer people were killed - any civilian deaths are lamentable. It's that it has become increasingly clear that legitimate military targets did exist in the immediate environs of the building which, as it unfortunately turned out, housed a number of civilians.

In fact, the tragedy of Qana illustrates, in a certain way, the heightened standard under which Israel operates independent of world opinion. Consider: Hezbollah was undoubtedly active in Qana. The most effective method of destroying Hezbollah's military capacity in the town would have been a campaign of area bombing. And yet there has been no question in Israel of instigating such a campaign. On the contrary, Israel continues to use precision-guided munitions against Hezbollah targets, greatly decreasing the aggregate effectiveness of their strikes. The tragedies we've seen have resulted from faulty intelligence (as in Qana) or indifference to positions in the immediate vicinity - and I use the term in its narrowest sense - of legitimate military targets (as with the UN observer post).

These tragedies, then, are to be lamented - but they are manifestly not demonstrations of the illegitimacy of ongoing Israeli attacks. On the contrary: these tragedies highlight the lengths to which Israel has gone to minimize the impact on civilians of what perhaps ought to be a total war against a hostile military force and its infrastructure.

Posted by David Mader at 11:39 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Wait - What?

Check out this surreal column by Liberal leadership candidate Stephane Dion:

If, in a few months, it clearly appears that the current crisis has made possible real progress for the security of both Lebanon and Israel, I will be overjoyed and will gladly recognize that we were mistaken in our analysis.

If, on the contrary, it is clear that it has produced only death and destruction and not really improved anybody's security, then perhaps those who criticize us today will recognize that, by worrying about Lebanon's fate, we were being lucid friends of Israel.

Well, fine. So Dion would have told the Israelis not to respond militarily to unprovoked attacks on its citizens and sovereign territory. Or perhaps he'd have advised them not to respond in such a broad manner.

But they did. And what's his position now? That, in time, his initial position may be vindicated. Well, bully for him. But does Mr. Dion really want to make "I told you so" Canada's foreign policy? Hardly the most inspiring - or insightful - stuff.

Posted by David Mader at 11:32 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Demagoguery of the Day

And MacKay gave no hint the government is softening its position, even as Israel goes about dropping bombs on children huddled in high-rise basements, UN peacekeeper posts and Montreal family reunions.
Don Martin, Calgary Herald.

Posted by David Mader at 11:18 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Olmert Unplugged

Do yourself a favor and read this interview with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in The Times. Money quote:

Q: There is a perception that if President Bush rang you and told you to stop that you would respond. Are the Americans and yourselves completely eye to eye on the way things are progressing?

A: First of all, the President is very supportive. I don’t think relations between Israel and America is established on the basis that we get orders from the administration. I don’t know about it and I have not experienced it myself and I doubt that I every will. . . .

It’s not just the President, it’s the United States of America. And you know what, it’s far beyond even an issue of an immediate interest, it is a commonality of values. It is precisely that which has been emphasised by Tony Blair, which is why I think there is such a deep friendship between America and Great Britain and between these three countries. We all share the same commitment to the basic values of democracy, of equality, of tolerance and that we are ready to fight for these principles.

Yes, yes, and yes.

Olmert also appears to have a rather wicked sense of humor. Viz:
Q: Would the disputed Shebaa Farms be part of any deal?

A: The first question is how generous you want to be in your definition. You can define Shebaa to include most of the Galilee and maybe you reach the Negev also.

Q: Could the [international] force be deployed both sides of the border?

A: A lot of people have a good sense of humour, but I don't have to take it seriously.

Olmert also suggests the makeup of an international intervention force:
Q: You have talked of British troops taking part in the multinational force envisaged for south Lebanon. Is this a preference or a precondition?

. . . As far as I am concerned the French are welcome, the Germans are welcome, the Italians are welcome. Turkish forces are welcome. The Saudis, Egyptians.

Anyone that is determined to fulfil that mission, of stopping violence against innocent Israelis from Lebanon and disarming this murderous organisation Hezbollah, which is the long arm of Iran. . . .

Q: How important is it to get Muslim and Arab armies as part of the international force?

A: I think it is very important. I will be happy to see Turkish soldiers. We have a lot of respect for the Turkish army and the Turkish government.

I'd think the Turks and the Germans would be leading candidates for the mission, although such a mission would pose domestic challenges for each country. But just imagine the optics of the German army engaging in combat to ensure the security of the Jewish state.

But here's the bottom line:
Q: Will Israel reserve the right to respond in future of leave it to the international force.

A: Israel will never, ever allow anyone any more to attack Israel without response.

That's the lesson. The Israelis are at the end of their tether. They're damned by the world either way; they've decided, finally, to put their own immediate interests squarely first.

Posted by David Mader at 12:21 AM | (0) | Back to Main

August 02, 2006

I Love Saying This

I agree with Warren Kinsella entirely. Money quote: "In this context, “neutrality” is what happens when someone hurries past when you are being mugged."

Posted by David Mader at 11:56 PM | (0) | Back to Main


I'm guessing this probably isn't a good sign. I'd love to see a more concerted PR effort on the part of the government to sell its position to the Canadian people.

Posted by David Mader at 11:33 PM | (0) | Back to Main

It's Kind of Hot

I believe the expression is "LOL."

Posted by David Mader at 10:56 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Israeli special forces and their llamas wait to cross the Israel-Lebanon border west of Avivim, late night August 1, 2006. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

Posted by David Mader at 02:27 PM | (0) | Back to Main

No Kidding

Historians: Canadian Neutrality a Myth.

This is a great story, and I encourage y'all to read the whole thing. Some money quotes:

"Our track record hasn't been historically neutral; it's basically the last [Liberal] government that shifted Canada's position from a moderately pro-Israeli stance to a sort of 'We don't want to take sides' stance. The Mulroney government didn't do that and preceding Liberal governments didn't do it, either. This neutral phenomenon is really a product of the last 12 years."
The conflation of Liberal Party history and Canadian history has, of course, been a Liberal practice for years.

"We have no influence at all when we are neutral," [Bercuson] said. "We've lost a considerable amount of influence, and it's only under this government that we're beginning to regain it.... We are beginning to be listened to again."

Posted by David Mader at 02:19 PM | (1) | Back to Main

The Jews, the Grits, and Israel

I must admit I remain skeptical that the Tory position on Israel will actually sway many Jewish voters; for all the talk, Israel is simply not a voting issue for many Canadian Jews. And I say this, mind, as a member in (I should think) quite good standing of the Canadian Jewish community.

Still, I've certainly heard some buzz from friends and family over the issue. I think the Globe story overstates the coherence of the Jewish community in Canada; it's not that Jews vote as a block so much as that Liberal is the default voting position for many who simply do not look deeply into issues. In that, Canadian Jews are not particularly different from many other cross-sections of Canadian society. Harper's Israel stand does seem to be waking some Canadian Jews up to the fact that a deep policy difference may in fact exist, and that they may feel more comfortable supporting the dreaded Conseratives. But I don't think it's reached the riding-switching level quite yet.

And, of course, much will depend on who becomes the next Liberal leader. As the Globe story notes, the caucus is split - yet another sign, I think, of the fact that the Liberal party is almost entirely non-ideological - unless the pursuit of power for its own sake is an ideology. In any case, depending on who wins the leadership, I think many Canadian Jews will be 'reassured' into remaining within the Liberal fold; it would take an almost Layton-esque statement of hostility towards Israel to push those Canadian Jewish Liberal voters for whom Israel is a voting issue into the Conservative camp.

But I'd love to see a poll.

Posted by David Mader at 02:10 PM | (0) | Back to Main

August 01, 2006

Canadian Opinion Shifts

Last week I made a big deal of the fact that Canadian public opinion appeared to support the PM's position on the Israeli/Lebanese conflict. It's only proper that I note as prominently a new poll suggesting that public opinion has turned:

In the survey conducted by The Strategic Counsel for CTV and The Globe and Mail, 45 per cent said they disagreed with Harper's open support for Israel. Thirty-two per cent agreed with the prime minister, while six per cent didn't know or wouldn't answer the question.
This is interesting, too:
When asked who Canada should support, a majority, 77 per cent, said Canada should be neutral. Sixteen per cent said Canada should support Israel, while only one per cent said Hezbollah. Six per cent didn't know or declined to answer.
Glad to see that number at one percent, even if parts of the seventy-seven percent are probably motivated by some perception of moral equivalence. It's also interesting that the number who support Harper's position (32%) doubles the number who themselves want to see Canada take Israel's side (16%). That would seem to suggest that a) the numbers depend an awful lot on the question asked, and/or b) Harper himself is both popular and able to lead public opinion.

Posted by David Mader at 03:00 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Western Standards

The funny thing is, Adam and I were discussing just last week the decline in quality at the Western Standard's Shotgun blog.

My problem with the controversial post is not, as Kelly suggests, that it's basically hate speech. My problem is that it's not particularly interesting or insightful. Now I differ from, I think, much of the right-wing blogosphere in being fundamentally supportive of Islam as a religion, notwithstanding my (basically) radical opposition to the fascistic strain of Islam I call Islamism. I was virtually alone in supporting the creation of sharia tribunals in Ontario (see here, here, here, here, here, and, uh, here). The only victory I see in the present global war is the adoption into Islam of a notion of peaceful coexistance, and I view staunch opposition to Islam-qua-Islam as a significant obstacle to that goal.

I am, nevertheless, open to any and all ideological viewpoints and arguments - provided, that is, that they contribute to the discussion. A contribution, to my mind, is something more than the assertion of a point that is merely controversial or novel. A true contribution recognizes the various aspects and consequences of the point asserted, and attempts at least to some degree to address those aspects and consequences.

So I don't see any reason to condemn out of hand a proposal to 'ban Islam,' just as I wouldn't see any reason to condemn out of hand a proposal to 'ban Judaism.' [EDIT (11:41 EDT 8/2/06): Kelly's reaction in the comments has helped me to realize that I've overstated my case here. The emphasis in the now-struck sentence is on 'out of hand' and my point was a rather abstract one: dangerous ideas are effectively combatted not through dismissal but through exposure and rebuttal. I hope it's clear to all that I vigorously oppose any suggestion to ban any religion. I think those who instinctively dismiss such proposals have good instincts. I think it's important, however, that we continue to be aware of the logic behind our instincts. Kelly is right that I probably would dismiss out of hand a proposal to ban Judaism; it's a mark of my ivory tower persona, I think, that I don't see that as an unmitigated good.] What merits condemnation - or, more properly, dismissal - is a proposal to 'ban Islam' that makes no effort to discuss any of the attendant considerations. Is Islam really comparable to paint lead and pitbulls? Would a total ban really decrease the threats the author sees from Islam as currently practiced? Might it actually increase the threat by a) conflating non-Islamist Islam with Islamist Islam, and b) telling non-Islamist Muslims that, in fact, Islam and democracy are not compatible? Could a ban actually be effected consistently with our small-l liberal notions of democratic government? If not, are the risks posed by Islamism really significant enough to cause us to depart from those notions of democratic government? And so on.

The problem, then, is not [(11:41 EDT 8/2/06) simply] that the post was hateful. It's that it was unsophisticated. So while Ezra is right as far as free speech goes, and while I certainly won't join those calling for some kind of censure, I do think that RightGirl, and the Standard, and Canadian conservatives in general, can do much better.

UPDATE (02:18 EDT 8/2/06): More thoughts, including an attempted clarification on my part, in the comments.

Posted by David Mader at 02:36 PM | (5) | Back to Main


I wasn't following the news this weekend, so I missed the first wave of coverage, but neither the facts of the Qana attack nor the popular and media reaction surprised me. I've expressed my unease more than once regarding the manner in which the Israelis were identifying targets in Lebanon, and while there's been no serious (although many an unserious) suggestion that the Israelis intentionally targetted civilians, it seems likely that they were at least indifferent to the possibility of civilian deaths. It's also abundantly clear that the PR cost of the strike has outweighed any military benefit it ever could have produced.

I see three ways in which we might respond to Qana. First, we might say that Qana lays bare the terrible and unjustified cost of the Israeli campaign, and we might invoke Qana to call for the cessation of Israeli strikes. This appears to be the most popular reaction at this point. I'm not prepared to join in; as I've argued before, the deaths of civilians, while always tragic, are never enough by themselves to undermine the legitimacy of a military action. I suppose one could argue that Qana simply highlights a pattern of indifference to civilian life that undermines the legitimacy of the Israeli campaign, and while I'm obviously sympathetic to such an argument, I don't think, on balance, that it's persuasive.

Second, we might respond to Qana by calling, again, for far more caution from Israel. The abject failure of Israeli public relations - to the point that they often appear not to be trying - is a perennial source of frustration to many Zionists. While I don't think Israel could ever win the PR war, I think it could save itself a considerable amount of grief, and even temper the attitude of many a western observer, simply by publicly explaining the nature of the targets hit, and making transparent the process by which targets are selected. This would have the added benefit, I think, of introducing an obviously needed note of caution into the target selection process. As I say above, I'm not yet of the opinion that Qana highlights a pattern of activity that, when aggregated, undermines Israel's justification for war. But it only takes a couple more such strikes.

But there's a third option - a third possible reaction to Qana. Perhaps we're wrong to be concerned about civilian deaths at all. Perhaps the concern that I share with many regarding the connection between civilian deaths and the legitimacy of a military action is misplaced. Perhaps all war is total, and perhaps the only way for Israel to achieve victory in its campaign is through a strategy that necessarily involves indifference to the deaths of noncombatants. I am not, and will hopefully never be, prepared to endorse a strategy that incorporates intentional genocide. I am not at present prepared to endorse a strategy that incorporates total indifference to civilian casualties. But there's a fundamental difference between the former and the latter, and I think there may be an argument to be made that the latter is necessary in this instance.

There's no question, to my mind, that we in the west have forgotten what war is, and that we are entirely unprepared to wage it. In this modern age, we project our attitudes onto conflicts around the globe - and that's not necessarily a bad thing. But perhaps we are wrong about war, and about death, and about victory. Perhaps the attempt to protect civilian lives and civilian infrastructure in Lebanon reflects a fundamentally misguided belief that war can be effectively targetted. Perhaps, as many have argued, the burden of removing civilians from harm's way should fall on those targetted, and not those doing the targetting.

As I say, I'm not there yet - I still think the Israelis should be doing a much better job of selecting targets and ensuring as few civilian deaths as possible, even if it means placing the burden of avoidance on them and not on Hezbollah. But I'm open to the argument.

POST SCRIPT: Indifference to civilian deaths can only ever be even theoretically justified, I think, in pursuit of a total war strategy. Total war is necessary, I think, only when victory by other means has become impossible. I believe Israel's greatest mistake in this entire campaign came at the very beginning, when it failed (as far as I know) to seek victory by other means. I don't mean negotiation. I simply mean that following the kidnappings - an act of war perpetrated by a terrorist group operating in and from sovereign Lebanese territory - Jerusalem had an opportunity to reach out to Beirut. Israel might have offered to provide air and other tactical support to the Lebanese army, allowing it to move on Hezbollah targets from the north as Israel moved from the south. Perhaps it would have been impossible, and I would be far more reconciled to the Israeli campaign if I knew that something of the sort had been attempted. Any argument that victory now requires indifference to civilian deaths must acknowledge that such a total war approach, however necessary, might have been averted.

UPDATE (18:37 EDT): A commenter asks what I make of this statement by Michael Ignatieff, which the commenter calls "the most rational thing to come out of a Canadian Politician's mouth, in well, a hell of a long time." Certainly Ignatieff is to be credited for making a statement, although I find it curious that he is so much quicker to comment in the wake of Qana than he was in the wake of the kidnappings that triggered this war.

But I can't join in the commenter's enthusiasm for Ignatieff's comment, becuase I disagree with two of its core elements. To wit:

[Israel] must defend itself, but to persist in its military campaign would only give Hezbollah what it wants: continuing carnage in Lebanon and weakening world support for Israel. Canada should be saying to Israel that there are no further military options in Lebanon that do not risk destroying Lebanon and ultimately endangering its own security.
This is an example of the first type of response to Qana that I outlined above. It's also an example of the sort of quasi-defense of Israel highlighted by Andrew Coyne a week and a half ago: Israel has a right to defend itself, provided it doesn't use its army. As I write above, I'm simply not convinced that continued military action would not serve Israel's short and long term war aims; indeed, as I note above, I think there's an argument to be made that an expansion of Israel's military offensive, not its cessation, may be the best 'exit strategy' at this point.
Once a cease-fire has taken hold, Canada should propose the deployment of an international naval, air and land force to prevent the movement of missiles and other military technology into Lebanon. These weapons come by land through Syria and by sea through the Mediterranean. Such a force should be deployed at all Lebanese ports and land borders. An additional naval force should patrol Lebanese waters. The force should be authorized by the UN Security Council to seize any weapons destined for Hezbollah or any non-state actor in the region. Such a force would not engage in direct confrontation with Hezbollah or with the Israelis but patrol a buffer zone between them.
Ignatieff is proposing, in other words, the perpetuation of the current United Nations observer force that has been, you know, so very, very effective at preventing Hezbollah from a) rearming and b) launching attacks by land and air against Israeli targets. Over this my disagreement with Igantieff is not nuanced, but fundamental: Ignatieff proposes an intervention force that would act as no more than a cover for continued militant operations by Hezbollah. I strongly support an intervention force that will be armed and possessed of rules of engagement that will allow it to guarantee the pacification of Hezbollah. Ignatieff would place peacekeepers in harm's way and then condemn Israel for reacting to the attacks that would inevitably follow.

So no, I'm afraid I don't share the sense that Ignatieff's statement is 'the most rational thing to come out of a Canadian politician's mouth in a long time.' Not that it's irrational, of course; it's simply consistent with the statements of those more concerned about process than substance and more concerned about the future of Lebanon than the future of Israel. Ignatieff makes it all sound very easy: just stop firing, Israel, and everything will be ok.

If only it were that easy.

Posted by David Mader at 01:59 PM | (3) | Back to Main