Sunday, July 23, 2006

On inconsistent positions

It shouldn't be much of a shock that Peter MacKay continues to trumpet an utterly one-sided take on the hostilities in Lebanon. But it's a bit more surprising that he's trying to pretend to do otherwise in the process.

First, the one-sidedness, as MacKay apparently takes the position that an end to civilian casualties on both sides would somehow be a bad result to the extent that it doesn't cause enough devastation to Hezbollah (with no regard for the equal or greater devastation caused to Lebanon's population generally):
"A ceasefire and a return to the status quo is a victory for Hezbollah," said MacKay in response to questions about why Canada has not joined other countries in calling for a cessation to hostilities.
It takes a fairly thorough abandonment of logic to consider a ceasefire to be a one-sided outcome - particularly while MacKay argues in the same interview that the justification for Israel's action is to defend itself from the same attacks which would presumably be ceased.

But leaving that lack of coherence aside, one would think MacKay would at least be prepared to defend that position by arguing some need to take sides. Instead, MacKay wants to combine the Cons' partisan analysis with a claim that it's still a neutral stance:
MacKay told CTV that Canada has not abandoned its neutral voice.

"That's not correct. We've changed nothing in the way Canada approaches these circumstances on a responsive basis."
It'll be interesting to see whether the attempt to sit on the fence will help or hurt the Con cause. It could well be that the more hawkish Libs will ultimately be able to portray that claim to neutrality as a sign of weakness. Meanwhile, anybody actually looking for Canada to stay neutral won't likely be swayed by an argument that by squinting hard enough, one can reach the government's current stance through the same type of reasoning which may have been applied in the past.

In other words, MacKay's attempt to have it both ways may only undermine his party's supposed strength of being willing to stick up for its principles. And if that opens up rifts in the voting public similar to those facing the Libs over Afghanistan, then Harper may rue the day his Foreign Minister decided to try to pretend not to be different from his Lib predecessors.

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