15 August 2014

Harper—not a man for our time

Vladimir Putin is a corrupt bully and I don't like the guy. Nor do I like the mischief he's up to in Ukraine. Nonetheless, I am not impressed by Stephen Harper's self-righteous ranting about him.

I find Harper very hard to agree with even when he's on the right side of the issue. Not because of the position he takes but because of the way he takes it. He has a black and white, us vs. them, approach to every issue which is not only questionable but dangerous. Few issues are black and white. There are shades of grey, nuances, subtleties, which are often critical to understanding an issue thoroughly.

Such is the case in Ukraine. As thuggish as Putin's actions are, they have a certain justification. Russia has been catastrophically invaded on a number of occasions throughout its history bringing horrors we can hardly imagine, from the Mongols in the thirteenth century to the Germans in the twentieth. Russians have a right to a little paranoia when it comes to security along their borders. The pillar of Soviet foreign policy during the Cold War was maintaining security against western invasion. We can hardly be surprised that Putin is not going to accept a hostile state on Russia's western border. And unfortunately the West, particularly the U.S., has been making its own mischief in Ukraine.

As for the Crimea, it belonged to Russia from the time of Katherine the Great until 1954 when Nikita Khrushchev rather generously gave it to Ukraine. Of course at the time, Ukraine was a Soviet republic so it was really just keeping it in the family. Putin seems to be saying, now that you've left the family you can't take it with you. Furthermore, Russia sees the Crimea, home of its largest warm water naval base, as critical to Russian security.

Harper seems to appreciate none of this. When the U.S. decided to protect its security by invading a country not next door but on the other side of the world, and justified the invasion with lies, Harper wanted very much for us to participate. He went so far as to publicly chastise us in the U.S. for not doing our bit. He simply cannot see the analogy to Putin's behaviour in Ukraine. To Harper it's the United States (friend) good, Russia (foe) bad. This kind of simplistic thinking leads to nothing but dangerously biased and rash decision-making. And, of course, it precludes any possibility of Canada acting as a negotiator and peace-maker, the most important role we can play in international disputes. This prime minister is simply not a man fit for leadership in a volatile and complex world.

1 comment:

  1. Harper is trying to drum up support from the Ukrainian-Canadian community.