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Mr. Harper has squandered our historic role as Mideast bridge-builder

The Watcher

TRIBE Member
Web-exclusive comment

Mr. Harper has squandered our historic role as Mideast bridge-builder


BILL GRAHAM
Special to Globe and Mail Update

As the world's leaders strive to find a workable proposal for a ceasefire and peacekeeping mission in the Middle East, Prime Minister Stephen Harper seems increasingly at odds with the global community and with our national character.

While supporters of the Prime Minister's shift in Canada's foreign policy claim Canada has only played a minor role in brokering peace in troubled regions, the fact remains that as more states align themselves with certain powers in the Mideast conflict, there are fewer left who are capable of working with all parties. This position also ignores the tremendous contribution Canada has made over the past half-century at the United Nations, where we have often exercised a moderating influence on those who would perpetrate unreasonable diplomatic attacks on Israel.

Canadians have been committed to the existence of an Israeli state since its creation in 1948. We have also recognized that terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which use tactics that the global community must condemn, present a threat to the existence of Israel and to a lasting peace in the Middle East. Israel must have the right to defend itself against an enemy implacably opposed to its existence, but the right of self-defence is always subject to international law. In the end, however, there must be moderators who can make a dialogue possible.

On a 2002 visit to Jerusalem, undertaken as part of my duties as Canada's foreign minister, I had the privilege of meeting with Nobel Peace Prize laureate and then-Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres. I will never forget his words, which to me embody the potential our nation has to improve the situation in the Middle East. He told me, "You don't make peace with your friends, only with your enemies."

It is vital for middle-power nations such as Canada to pursue a fair-minded and balanced foreign policy because it preserves our ability to act as an appropriate intermediary, helping to make peace between enemies, rather than simply validating the positions held by any one party. It is only by acting in this way that we can truly help our friends.
In the current situation, the Harper government, instead of encouraging international efforts toward a ceasefire, has taken the position that the violence should run its course, thereby ensuring further civilian casualties on both sides.
It is now clear that the only way to stop the loss of innocent civilian life and the destruction of critical civilian infrastructure is the cessation of hostilities by all parties. An immediate ceasefire is a mandatory first step before any progress toward a lasting peace can be made.

The continuance of the present violence is detrimental to the long-term security of Israel, and devastating to the possibility of a free and democratic Lebanon, which is vital to future peace in the region. Any ceasefire put in place will provide a window of opportunity for the global community to move toward a more formal arrangement based on the following fundamental principles.
A lasting peace agreement must ensure the security of both Israel and Lebanon and their citizens. Innocent victims in Israel and Lebanon are not responsible for what is taking place, but they are paying the cost. The loss of innocent life is to be deplored and the international community must work to put an end to civilian deaths and the destruction of civilian infrastructure by all parties.
Any peace agreement must be based on respect for the borders of sovereign nations and international humanitarian law. To that end, the re-establishment of Lebanese sovereignty over the entirety of its territory must be an element of any long-term plan. The present violence is destabilizing any progress that could be made in this area and strengthening radical elements hostile to an eventual peaceful solution by elevating the position of Hezbollah throughout the Arab world.

Over the past 40 years, military operations in the region have not brought about lasting peace and security, nor will they in this case — a political solution, not a military one, is needed. Without establishing the goals and principles of a peace agreement, any intervention force will be unworkable.

Until a framework for a lasting solution — which enjoys a large consensus among interested parties in the region — is in place, the question of sending an intervention force is a moot point: We must have a plan for peace in place before we can bring in peacekeepers to enforce it.

This is why the Harper government's abandonment of Canada's historic role as a bridge-builder in the Middle East is so distressing. Having now made our position indistinguishable from that of the Bush administration, there is no possibility of an independent and credible Canadian voice to call for positive initiatives from all sides.

In so acting, the Harper government risks not only losing our ability to act as peacekeeper and honest broker internationally, but our domestic harmony as well.

In framing our foreign policy, it is the responsibility of Canada's leaders to ensure that our policies do not contribute to the import of hatred and violence that plague other regions of the world into Canada's domestic political context. We have an obligation to all Canadians — particularly those who have come to Canada to seek a more peaceful life — to govern our words and actions to ensure we do not fan the flames of intolerance, here at home, and around the globe.

In justifying their present position, Conservatives deride Canada's historical contributions to peace, and in doing so they fail to understand an important aspect of our national character. Liberals continue to believe that we Canadians are uniquely positioned to be able to foster a peaceful dialogue among our many communities in an effort to forge a consensus that not only preserves our domestic peace and security, but may also help to provide a solution to the greater international turmoil.

It would be a tremendous disappointment for Canadians to see Mr. Harper squander our historical reputation and our potential for the sake of a misguided, short-term political calculus.

Bill Graham is leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and of the Official Opposition.
 
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Colm

TRIBE Member
I've missed something. When/how/why did Harper squander our 'historic' role as 'Middle East bridge-builder'?

By 'historic' does Graham mean ancient? Or perhaps mythical? What is a 'Middle East bridge-builder'? Which Middle Eastern conflicts has Canada actively mitigated?
 
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Colm

TRIBE Member
graham_bill060216.jpg


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They have the same ghost writer.
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Colm said:
By 'historic' does Graham mean ancient? Or perhaps mythical? What is a 'Middle East bridge-builder'? What Middle Eastern conflicts has Canada actively mitigated?


Technically Pearson gets the nod for the only one I believe. The first deploiyment of UN troupes was in regards to the Suez Crisis and was definately a Pearson thing. However it was not as a bridge-builder by any means.



In the 1990s, DFAIT permitted military exports to at least 17 governments that engaged in wars during the late 1990s.8 These mostly internal wars, which SIPRI and the Center for Defense Information called "major armed conflicts," were in: Algeria, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Yugoslavia and Zaire. Canada's declared military exports to these warring nations, during the 1990s, totalled just over $300 million.

Mr Graham you were chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade while this was happening. You are fully aware that we sent guidance systems to Israel used in the very weapons that now target Lebanon. How do you claim that we are able to act as a middle ground.

Next Israel has selected Italy and Lebanon has selected Turkey in regards to negotiations. They didn't ask us and never even thought about it.

Although I'm glad to finally see something out of the opposition on this.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
As an aside realizew that Canada is like the 6th largest arms exporting nation in the world. Claiming we're in anyway neutral to a conflict that we supply weapons to a single side of is utter bullshit.
 
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Colm

TRIBE Member
randyval said:
here's one
Suez Canal Crisis
Lester B. Pearson pulls the world back from the brink of war and wins the Nobel Peace Prize

http://history.cbc.ca/history/?MIva...1&episode_id=15&chapter_id=1&page_id=3&lang=E

Pearson's suggestion at the UN came after Britain and France had already grudingly accepted the ceasefire, and largely because of American pressure. Hence the end of hositilities had as much to do with Pearson as it did with the Eisenhower administration's threat to destroy the British economy.

If anything, the Suez example is contextually out of place in this discussion. It was a Cold War crisis, several years before the Middle East as a region became hostile to the West, so I don't know how many 'Middle Eastern bridges' were actually built as a result.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Colm said:
Pearson's suggestion at the UN came after Britain and France had already grudingly accepted the ceasefire, and largely because of American pressure. Hence the end of hositilities had as much to do with Pearson as it did with the Eisenhower administration's threat to destroy the British economy.

If anything, the Suez example is contextually out of place in this discussion. It was a Cold War crisis, several years before the Middle East as a region became hostile to the West, so I don't know how many 'Middle Eastern bridges' were actually built as a result.


I agree on both points. Its the only ball breaker I could come up with.
 
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Big Harv

TRIBE Member
Harper is taking a principled stand supporting the right of a soveriegn nation to defend itself from the attacks of a human shield-hiding terrorist organization. For once, Canada is clearly supporting the firefighter in its efforts against the pyromaniacs. I voted for Graham in the last election, but never again.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
Big Harv said:
Harper is taking a principled stand supporting the right of a soveriegn nation to defend itself from the attacks of a human shield-hiding terrorist organization. For once, Canada is clearly supporting the firefighter in its efforts against the pyromaniacs. I voted for Graham in the last election, but never again.

So this letter invalidates ALL the reasons you voted for him previously? I expect at the time you werent even voting for him with Israel/Palestine in the back of your head, but rather for domestic reasons: stuff that affects your city, your taxes, federal spending etc. Given our relative inability to effect any serious change over there, why base your vote on something our politicians have no responsibility for?

I'd rather vote on stuff that actually effects me, and even though I mentioned our guys cant do much over there, this letter from Bill Graham solidifies my already high opinion of him...
 

Big Harv

TRIBE Member
praktik said:
So this letter invalidates ALL the reasons you voted for him previously? I expect at the time you werent even voting for him with Israel/Palestine in the back of your head, but rather for domestic reasons: stuff that affects your city, your taxes, federal spending etc. Given our relative inability to effect any serious change over there, why base your vote on something our politicians have no responsibility for?

I'd rather vote on stuff that actually effects me, and even though I mentioned our guys cant do much over there, this letter from Bill Graham solidifies my already high opinion of him...

Graham is full of it when he says this is done for short term political calculation, which is completely bull. This has always been Harper's stand since he took over as leader of the Conservative party (read his campaign materials from the 2003 election) and it has not changed even though his approval ratings have gone down since he made the "measured" comment.
 

Vincent Vega

TRIBE Member
Big Harv said:
Harper is taking a principled stand supporting the right of a soveriegn nation to defend itself from the attacks of a human shield-hiding terrorist organization. For once, Canada is clearly supporting the firefighter in its efforts against the pyromaniacs. I voted for Graham in the last election, but never again.

What an absolute crock. Harper's "stand" has little to do with principle and much more to do with optics and (probably erroneous) thoughts of increased political capital internationally.

The sovereign nation to which you refer certainly has a right to defend itself as does any other nation. However, what it is "defending" itself against in this war is the combat equivalent of a mosquito bite...and you know it. Remind me again how many Israeli civilians were killed as a result of all those "thousands of rockets raining down" (btw don't rockets ever fall into Israel, must they always rain down?)
 

Genesius

TRIBE Member
What logic is there to that^?

Would Israel be more justified if it used less weapons?
Or maybe if it killed 200 less civilians?
Or would you feel better if more Israelis died just to even the score?
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
just because a side losses a war that they started doesn't make them the victims. 1000 civilian lives is still a very small amount.

In the last 2 days Hezbullah has fired 300 unguided rockets into Israel. The fact that they like most arab armies can't fire there own weapons and hit something is inconsequential.
 

Vincent Vega

TRIBE Member
Genesius said:
What logic is there to that^?

Would Israel be more justified if it used less weapons?
Or maybe if it killed 200 less civilians?
Or would you feel better if more Israelis died just to even the score?

If I tormented you with a pea shooter, firing tiny pieces of annoying rolled up tissue-paper at your face, would it be illogical of me to be upset if, in return, you shot me in the face? And then proceeded to burn my house down?

A somewhat basic example but do you see what I mean?

The logic, Genesius, is that there is nothing "principled" about supporting a nation that is destroying another under the flimsy premise of "self-defence." The disprorportionality of the response is the key here. What Israel is doing is not defending itself. And to answer your question, yes actually, Israel would likely be justified if it used "less weapons," if it actually did take a, what was it now....a measured response?
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
yeah but the pea shooter is a 20 kilo unguided war head filled with ball bearings and explosives.

See its not a pea shooter, its a 300 warhead barrage. And the town they attacked as a diversion to capture soldiers it wasn't a military outpost, it was simply a small town and the peoples lives were inconsequential.
 

Vincent Vega

TRIBE Member
Ditto Much said:
just because a side losses a war that they started doesn't make them the victims. 1000 civilian lives is still a very small amount.

Lebanon started a war?

And if 1000 civilians is a "small amount," then presumably 0 civilians would be pretty inconsequential too right? Yet 0 dead civilians (and lets not forget 2 kidnapped soldiers) were deemed sufficient grounds to take those 1000 (and counting) civilian lives.

Nice.
 

Vincent Vega

TRIBE Member
Ditto Much said:
yeah but the pea shooter is a 20 kilo unguided war head filled with ball bearings and explosives.

Actually Ditto, the pea shooter which led to this response was a vintage, WW2 era "rocket" which would barely make it from Toronto to Oakville. And despite the thousands of these awesome and scary weapons "raining" down, not one person was killed. Remember?
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Vincent Vega said:
Lebanon started a war?

And if 1000 civilians is a "small amount," then presumably 0 civilians would be pretty inconsequential too right? Yet 0 dead civilians (and lets not forget 2 kidnapped soldiers) were deemed sufficient grounds to take those 1000 (and counting) civilian lives.

Nice.


Yes Lebanon started a war. They attacked Israel. They invaded Israeli territory, they shelled an Israeli town, without declaration of war. They didn't condemn the attack, they didn't say they would bring the attackers to justice, they didn't prevent a militia from attacking using there territory as a base. This is starting a war its as simple as that.

Actually the 1000 is including counting the number is lower. And its not all civilians, the majority of them are Hezbullah militants and thus soldiers. The fact that they aren't in an official military makes it easy to claim they are civilians but its a load of complete bullshit.

Yes there are civilian losses, its regrettable, but I don't see the moral authority under which Lebanon took hostages or attacked Israel. I do see the moral authority under which Israel has retaliated and continues to retaliate.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Vincent Vega said:
Actually Ditto, the pea shooter which led to this response was a vintage, WW2 era "rocket" which would barely make it from Toronto to Oakville. And despite the thousands of these awesome and scary weapons "raining" down, not one person was killed. Remember?


They have lobed as far as 70km right now, however 30km is there range. A 50 caliber rifle is a WWII vintage pea shooter, the V1 is a WWII era pea shooter and the flame thrower is a WWII era pea shooter. The fact is that even Germanys rocket attacks on London didn't cause that much death, its a weapon to terrorize and that’s why Hezzbullah opted to use it.

The fact that they are incompetent and ineffective at taking life isn't from a lack of trying. Arabs just make the worst soldiers, they suck monkey balls each and every time they go to war against a real army, they lose every single bloody time because they don't have even basic competence with there weapons.
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
Genesius said:
What logic is there to that^?

Would Israel be more justified if it used less weapons?
Or maybe if it killed 200 less civilians?
Or would you feel better if more Israelis died just to even the score?

Seriously. Israel should have kept it's army back and abolished the laws preventing arms dealers from selling short and medium range missiles and mortars to residents of the north. In the intifada, the army would have been more "fair", if they hadn't prevented an all-out civil war between settlers and palestinians. Maybe the settlers should have gotten the chance to own huge quantities of explosives and launch their own attacks against Palestinian civillians--because, afterall, their anger and rage is so understandable. Root causes and all that. Maybe if they had donated 2,000 missiles to the residents of Sderot after they out of Gaza...let the residents defend themselves in a proportionate manner by targeting the civillians in Beit Hanun. That would have been, literally, proportionate. Would people accept that situation?

Nope.

Israel would be called a state-sponsor of terror! They're sitting idly by while their citizens perpetrate acts of deliberate mass murder against the Palestinian civillians. People wouldn't care that Israel stopped using tanks and planes; they'd still be in receipt of unlimited--disproportionate--criticism. The only difference: the body counts on both sides would be 10 times higher than they are today. That's what you'd get with proportionate warfare
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
Vincent Vega said:
Actually Ditto, the pea shooter which led to this response was a vintage, WW2 era "rocket" which would barely make it from Toronto to Oakville. And despite the thousands of these awesome and scary weapons "raining" down, not one person was killed. Remember?

What do Toronto and Oakville have to do with this? That's misdirection. We're talking about an extremely tiny peice of geography; what matters is that there are cities within range of these missiles, and hezbollah is deliberately aiming them at civillian population centers. THe reason there have been few civillian casualties is because they have *bomb shelters*--that's how used to this they are. While hundreds of missile rain down on them, destroying their homes, they're in fortified structures. Imagine if I made a comparison between Katyushas destroying Israeli homes and the IDF bulldozing Palestinian houses. People would lose their shit. 1 Katyusha will blow up a whole house.

The weapons are powerful. They're not only using Katyusha rockets, and they're not WW2 era. They've been upgraded--just like any peice of military equipment gets upgraded and reproduced. The Katyushas aren't actually FROM WW2 That's like saying:

Some Asshole said:
Oh come on, what's the big deal? 5-15s? Give me a break; that's a 1970s era weapon--like bell bottoms and disco! B-52s? That shit's from FIFTIES! Biiiiiig Deeeaaal!
 
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derek

TRIBE Member
SellyCat said:
Seriously. Israel should have kept it's army back and abolished the laws preventing arms dealers from selling short and medium range missiles and mortars to residents of the north. In the intifada, the army would have been more "fair", if they hadn't prevented an all-out civil war between settlers and palestinians. Maybe the settlers should have gotten the chance to own huge quantities of explosives and launch their own attacks against Palestinian civillians--because, afterall, their anger and rage is so understandable. Root causes and all that. Maybe if they had donated 2,000 missiles to the residents of Sderot after they out of Gaza...let the residents defend themselves in a proportionate manner by targeting the civillians in Beit Hanun. That would have been, literally, proportionate. Would people accept that situation?

Nope.

Israel would be called a state-sponsor of terror! They're sitting idly by while their citizens perpetrate acts of deliberate mass murder against the Palestinian civillians. People wouldn't care that Israel stopped using tanks and planes; they'd still be in receipt of unlimited--disproportionate--criticism. The only difference: the body counts on both sides would be 10 times higher than they are today. That's what you'd get with proportionate warfare


the what? the reason israeli settlers don't need to resort to the methods of the 'terrorists' is their country has one of the best militaries in the world which is heavily subsidized (donations) by the us. it'll be a long time (probably never) before an israeli is impoverished and disenfranchised enough to need to resort to guerilla tactics.

there are many who think the israel & the us are state-sponsors of terrorism. (of course their all commie-pinkos and therefore wrong)

one man's army is another's terrorist organization. (to paraphrase geneusis' "one man's home is another's military base" nicley)

the only way you can fight a guerilla organization is on the ground, not from the air, that is you want to minimize civilvian casualities. granted you'll lose more of you own soliders vs. an air campaign, however, they are soldiers, and that's part of the risk in being a soldier.
 
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