Saturday, October 04, 2014

On consensus-breaking

Having earlier dealt with Stephen Harper's attempt to justify war by building up hatred and hype toward ISIS, I'll note the other main rationale on offer from the Cons - which can generally be described as government by wrong answer to a rhetorical question:
If Canada wants to keep its voice in the world…and we should since so many of our challenges are global…being a free rider means you are not taken seriously.
And when our allies recognize and respond to a threat, that would also harm us, we Canadians do not stand on the sidelines. We do our part.
Or in shorter form:
Canadians: If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do the same?
Harper: Of course. In fact, I take pride in following along.
So what's wrong with the "but everybody else is doing it!" argument?

Let's start by noting that the issue isn't one of other countries actually requesting Canada's military participation at all. Instead, the best evidence is that even as Harper falsely claimed to be responding to U.S. requests for help, he was instead positively begging to be dared to join in.

But more fundamentally, Harper can't claim to value the common views of other countries with any consistency.

In fact, he's consistently thumbed his nose at the rest of the world on issues ranging from climate change to asbestos to indigenous rights to financial regulation, ensuring that risks far more severe than ISIS would go unaddressed. And in those cases, his contempt for consensus actually stood in the way of international action - unlike in the case of Iraq, where some military intervention would almost certainly go ahead regardless of what Canada does.

Of course, the other common thread is that in those cases, Harper's determination to thwart arose out of the Cons' service of corporate interests, with a particular focus on the resource sector.

But surely that confirms that Harper doesn't value multilateralism as a general principle, only as a means to the ends which he wants to pursue anyway. And in this case, that means using allies as excuses to drag Canada into war for its own sake.

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