Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Harper: A Decade In And He Still Doesn't Get It

Stephen Harper has been in power for the high side of a decade.  That's a long time.

Most Prime Ministers by this point in their careers have figured out that the foreign affairs portfolio is a tricky one.  When you are a smallish nation like Canada, you get much better results by influencing rather than playing the puffed up pugilist.

Harper hasn't figured this out.  Does he really think that Putin notices his pronouncements in the wake of sanctions?  Is he really daft enough to believe that his military posturing is going to convince Putin to back out of Crimea?

It seems to me that Harper is following his usual hyper-partisan instincts.  He isn't actually trying to influence Putin.  He's not interested in that.  He is much more interested in playing the foreign policy cards in his hand as part of a propaganda campaign aimed at getting re-elected next election.

No doubt, Harper's base loves the idea of a foreign policy that they don't have to think about.  A world which is cast in stark tones of good and bad.  Israel is good, Russia is bad.  The US is good, Iran is bad and so on.  It seems easy to grasp.

Yet, it is also not so simple.  In reality the world is a subtle place, shaded mostly in degrees of grey.  No country is essentially good or bad.  The days of looking upon Russia as "the other", shrouded in secrecy behind the old "Iron Curtain" are long past.  Globalization has dissolved those mythologies.  Russia is a nation led by a man who wishes to revive the old Cold War tensions, and Harper is fool enough to believe that this is to his own benefit.

Harper has been tone deaf on foreign affairs from day one.  Just as Putin is in fact a fool to try and resurrect the old "Soviet Empire", Harper is an even greater fool for playing to Putin's tune.  

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