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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Doing the right thing, and then just looking the part

There is already an excellent post on the subject of Stephen Harper's decision to divert to Cyprus to pick up Canadians evacuated from Lebanon.

One of the comments is interesting, though:

I can't even begin to imagine Chretien or Martin doing something similar. And even if they did, they certainly wouldn't ditch the media that were travelling with them - the photo-op would be just too good to pass up.

You don't have to imagine.  I'll cross post my piece on this story that directly compares Jean Chretien's actions during a time of need.  Enjoy.

From 1997, during the flooding in Manitoba:

When the Red River's already devastating floodwaters reached their crest in Winnipeg on May 1, few people in Manitoba's capital city were more relieved that those living on the historic waterway's banks.

No doubt, Winnipeg's Metropolitan-Archbishop Michael Bzdel assumes God was on his side during the last few weeks. The Ukrainian Catholic archeparch's office, residence and his new home, currently under construction, are all located on Scotia Street, which overlooks the Red River.

"People were setting up sandbags [in late April] around the clock," he said. They were doing that when Prime Minister Jean Chrétien visited the neighborhood on April 26, the day before he called the June 2 vote.

Although the federal Liberal government later gave Manitoba a $25 million check to help the province in its post-flood clean-up, Mr. Chrétien made few friends that day, said Mr. Sikorsky.

"The visit wasn't appreciated," said Mr. Sikorsky, who explained that sandbagging efforts were suspended for several hours by the prime minister's entourage and security detail that enveloped the area.

"All he did was throw one sandbag after saying to someone 'What do I do with this thing?' It was just a photo opportunity."

Jean Chretien wanted to look like he's doing the right thing, but ended up doing the wrong thing. Did that bother him? Did he even realize that precious hours that could have been spent sandbagging were lost so that he could get his pre-election photo?

Now compare:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is flying to Cyprus where he intends to take up to 120 evacuees from Lebanon home to Canada on his Canadian Forces plane.

Harper announced the surprise side trip on his week-long European diplomatic tour after a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac at the Elysee Palace on Wednesday afternoon.

"Because of the seriousness of the situation and our relative proximity to Cyrpus, we have decided to take the Canadian Forces aircraft we have been travelling on to help airlift evacuees back home," Harper said in a statement. "The aircraft will be stripped down to a skeleton staff."

Media travelling with the prime minister have been bumped to commercial flights for their return home to Canada. Only Harper's wife, Laureen, and a couple of his communications staff, will go to Cyprus with him, officials said.

A photo-op like Jean Chretien holding a sandbag?

In response to questions, Harper denied the trip was a photo opportunity.

"It's more than a symbolic trip," he said. "There's a need for air support in Cyprus. Freeing up seats, we will have a significant number of seats to help the situation.

"I think criticism in this type of situation, given all the complexities, is inevitable one way or another," Harper added. "We believe there is a real need here. . . . We believe it's the right thing to do."

Over a hundred people will really be going home. One less flight will have to come to Cyprus from Canada by diverting the Prime Minister's plane which was already in the region.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not looking at the airplane, considering his election fortunes, and asking, "What do I do with this thing?"

He already knows what to do, and he's doing it.

[Cross-posted from Angry in the Great White North]

Posted by Steve Janke on July 19, 2006 | Permalink


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Did you shorten this sentence to save space?

"Only Harper's wife, Laureen, a couple of his communications staff AND HIS OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHER, will join him on the 3 1/2-hour flight to Cyprus"

Posted by: Rob | 2006-07-19 1:25:51 PM

Now, THAT'S leadership! I remember when Chretien called the election in the middle of the Winnipeg flood. Even for his abysmally low standards, this was truly pathetic and very disrespectful. The people of Manitoba threw out 6 of 12 Liebrals in that election. They should have thrown them all out.

If only the Air Force had those C-17s, C-130s and even the CH-47 Chinook helicopters right now. I heard the US Army flew about 120 Americans from Lebanon to Cyprus by Chinook - which must have been a slow and long flight. Still, good show for Harper for putting his own transport to good use. The Liebrals under Chretien/Martin never would have thought of it. The NDP? Bah!

Posted by: Scott | 2006-07-19 1:52:39 PM

Islamic totalitarians have explicitly stated their goal: to
forcibly impose Islamic law around the world. To succeed, they will
continue to attack those parts of the world that oppose
their "divine mission." The United States, Israel, Canada,
England, India, and any other country that places the least bit of
value on freedom and progress, will continue to be targets.

The freer nations need to recognize the real nature of this
enemy: an ideology that demands complete submission to Allah,
either voluntarily or at the point of a knife. Do you wait for the
knife to slit your throat or do you fight back and defend yourself?

The combined military strength of the freer countries is more than
enough to eliminate decisively and definitively the assorted
collection of murderous terrorists and the governments that support
them financially or ideologically. There is no need for an
endless global conflict. What there is a need for is a
recognition that those of us living in freer countries have the right
to take any necessary actions to defend ourselves--and that our
lives are at stake.

Posted by: woodbridge | 2006-07-19 3:03:23 PM

Only when the initiators of force learn that their actions lead to their own destruction, will peace be possible in the Middle East.

As Israeli soldiers reenter Gaza and bomb Lebanon, and Israeli citizens seek shelter from Hezbollah's missiles, the world despairingly wonders whether peace between Israel and its neighbors can ever take root. It can--but only if America reverses course.

To achieve peace in the Middle East, as in any region, there is a necessary principle that every party must learn: the initiation of force is evil. And the indispensable means of teaching it is to ensure that the initiating side is defeated and punished. Decisive retaliatory force must be wielded against the aggressor. So long as one side has reason to think it will benefit from initiating force against its neighbors, war must result. Yet this is precisely what America's immoral foreign policy gives the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Hezbollah reason to think.

Israel is a free country, which recognizes the rights of its citizens, whatever their race or religion, and which prospers through business and trade. It has no use for war and no interest in conquest. But for years, Arafat and the Palestinian authorities, with the aid of Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other states, sought not to learn the conditions of freedom, but to annihilate the only free nation in their midst: Israel. Did the United States demand that the Palestinian leadership be destroyed?

No. Clinton invited Arafat to dine at the White House and Bush declared that peace requires Israel to give in to its aggressor's insistence on a state.

Worse still, as part of the "two state solution" announced in 2002, Bush demanded that Israel withdraw to its pre-1967 borders. In 1967 Israel captured the Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza Strip after yet another attempt by Arab nations to annihilate it. To give back any of this land--as Israel has done in the face of international pressure--teaches the Arabs that they can launch wars against Israel with impunity. If they at first do not succeed militarily, they need only continue issuing threats against Israel and arming more suicide-bombers--and eventually the land they lost in a war they initiated will be returned to them. They can then start the process anew, as they have since Israel withdrew from Lebanon and Gaza.

In order to move toward his "two state solution," Bush championed elections in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon, which predictably brought Hamas and Hezbollah into government. Terrorism, Bush is thus teaching the killers, is the means to political power.

The reason peace eludes the Middle East is therefore not difficult to discern. The lesson President Bush is conveying to the Arabs and Islamists--that the initiation of force is practical--is a continuation of the lesson America's foreign policy has been teaching them for decades. The Egyptians seized the Suez canal from the French and British in 1956--and we demanded that the Europeans not retaliate. Israel had the Palestinian terrorists surrounded in Lebanon in 1982--and we brokered their release. Many Arabs idolized a terrorist for hijacking airliners and murdering civilians--and we poured money into his regime, hailed him for winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, and demanded that Israel enter into a protracted "peace process" that consisted of concession after concession. What possible conclusion could the Arab world draw but that the initiation of force is practical? So long as they have grounds to believe that, war is inescapable.

If we truly seek peace, we must reverse this perverse lesson. We must proclaim the objective conditions of peace. This means declaring to Arab nations that Israel, as a free country, has a moral right to exist, that the Arabs and Palestinians are the initiators of the conflict and that aggression on their part is evil and will not be tolerated. And it means encouraging Israel not to negotiate and compromise with its current assailants, but to destroy them.

Only when the initiators of force learn that their actions lead not to world sympathy and political power, but to their own deaths, will peace be possible in the Middle East.

Posted by: woodbridge | 2006-07-19 3:05:46 PM

Freedom vs. Unlimited Majority Rule

America helped empower Hezbollah, by confusing the idea of freedom, which rests on the principle of inalienable individual rights, with the idea of democracy, which rests on the principle of unlimited majority rule.

Hezbollah, which has been waging war on Israel, and America, for years, is the immediate cause of the current fighting in the Middle East. The broader cause, though, is the United States government.

When Washington declared that freedom could be advanced by elections in which Hezbollah participated, and by which it became part of Lebanon's government, we granted that terrorist entity something it could never achieve on its own: moral legitimacy.

We gave legitimacy to Hezbollah--just as we did to such enemies as Hamas in the Palestinian Authority and the budding theocrats in Iraq and Afghanistan. These people all came to power through democratic elections promoted by the U.S. But a murderer does not gain legitimacy by getting elected to the ruling clique of his criminal gang--nor does anyone gain it by becoming an elected official of an anti-freedom state.

The premise behind the Bush administration's policy is the hopeless view that tyranny is reversed by the holding of elections--a premise stemming from the widespread confusion between freedom and democracy.

The typical American realizes that there ought to be limits on what government may do. He understands that each of us has rights which no law may breach, regardless of how much public support it happens to attract. An advocate of democracy, however, holds the opposite view.

The essence of democracy is unlimited majority rule. It is the notion that the government should not be constrained, as long as its behavior is sanctioned by majority vote. It is the notion that the very function of government is to implement the "will of the people." It is the notion espoused whenever we tell the Lebanese, the Iraqis, the Palestinians and the Afghanis that the legitimacy of a new government flows from its being democratically approved.

And it is the notion that was categorically repudiated by the founding of the United States.

America's defining characteristic is freedom. Freedom exists when there are limitations on government, imposed by the principle of individual rights. America was established as a republic, under which the state is restricted to protecting our rights. This is not a system of "democracy." Thus, you are free to criticize your neighbors, your society, your government--no matter how many people wish to pass a law censoring you. You are free to own your property--no matter how large a mob wants to take it from you. The rights of the individual are inalienable. But if "popular will" were the standard, the individual would have no rights--only temporary privileges, granted or withdrawn according to the mass mood of the moment. The tyranny of the majority, as the Founders understood, is just as evil as the tyranny of an absolute monarch.

Yes, we have the ability to vote, but that is not the yardstick by which freedom is measured. After all, even dictatorships hold official elections. It is only the existence of liberty that justifies, and gives meaning to, the ballot box. In a genuinely free country, voting pertains only to the means of safeguarding individual rights. There can be no moral "right" to vote to destroy rights.

Unfortunately, like President Bush, most Americans use the antithetical concepts of "freedom" and "democracy" interchangeably. Sometimes our government upholds the primacy of individual rights and regards one's life, liberty and property as inviolable. More often, however, it negates rights by upholding the primacy of the majority's wishes--from confiscating an individual's property because the majority wants it for "public use," to preventing a terminally ill individual from ending his painful life because a majority finds suicide unacceptable.

Today, our foreign policy endorses this latter position. We declare that our overriding goal in the Mideast is that people vote--regardless of whether they value freedom. But then, if a religious majority imposes its theology on Iraq, or if Palestinian suicide-bombers execute their popular mandate by blowing up Israeli schoolchildren, on what basis can we object, since democracy--"the will of the people"--is being faithfully served? As a spokesman for Hamas, following its electoral victory, correctly noted: "I thank the United States that they have given us this weapon of democracy. . . . It's not possible for the U.S. . . . to turn its back on an elected democracy." All these enemies of America--Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiites--abhor freedom, while adopting the procedure of democratic voting.

If we are going to try to replace tyrannies, we must stop confusing democracy with freedom. We must make clear that the principle we support is not the unlimited rule of the majority, but the inalienable rights of the individual. Empowering killers who happen to be democratically elected does not advance the cause of freedom--it destroys it.

Posted by: woodbridge | 2006-07-19 3:10:51 PM

"Empowering killers who happen to be democratically elected does not advance the cause of freedom--it destroys it."

And that is exactly what will happen in Canada ss Muslim birthrates purposely take their effect in another 15 years or so and the imposition of first by a foot in the door small dose of " sharia law" will be passed by those who will gladly represent them(like of their own club and the Carolyn Parrish type).

There will be no way to avoid this THEN IT WILL BE TOO LATE.

A poster yesterday here said a Serbia type civil war will break out here - HE HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD!

Posted by: woodbridge | 2006-07-19 3:24:50 PM

The new purpose of the west should be to deport all Muslims and kill off all terrorists.

or ..................................................

They will win

Trust me ...... you will hate that.

Posted by: Duke | 2006-07-19 5:40:20 PM

Woody, it would take longer than 15 years because the Supreme Court would have to be filled with all new appointees first. Anyway, let's hope that you're wrong about the civil war. Devout Jews, Christians and Muslims all have the same God and must obey the same set of rules (for the most part); the most important of these rules is love thy neighbour!

Posted by: Cory Schreyer | 2006-07-19 5:42:05 PM

Yeh right, it goes "love thy neighbour as thyself", seems like there's an epidemic of self hate in the Middle East these days.

Posted by: Liz J | 2006-07-19 6:57:43 PM

Believe me when I say, Cory, that Mohammed never knew the God of Abraham.

Muslims do NOT have the same God as Christians and Jews.

The Jews are God's chosen people. No Muslim would say that.

Jesus was a Jew.

Where is the Jewish connection to Mohammed?

Was Mohammed a Jew, Cory?

Why is it that Arab Muslims are considered Palestinians, Arab Christians are considered Palestinians, but Jews who were in Palestine before any Arab was can not be called Palestinians?

Posted by: Speller | 2006-07-19 10:49:53 PM

Just reminiscing about that little skirmish in the Falkland Islands back in 1982. As I recall Argentina invaded, Maggie, (Thatcher of course), said “bollocks, get them out of there”.

The British military wrapped it up in about 100 days, and it was a bloody long way to travel.

Now if only we could convince others to see things in the same light today, we should wrap up Hezbollah in Lebanon in less time than that.

Like the Argentineans, who have been very quiet ever since, I do believe we could achieve a similar result with Hezbollah – what is the problem?

Let us make sure that our elected officials know that we agree with their vision in regard to the Middle East by telling them.

No – I ‘m not sure of the point myself, but its 4.00 am, and I dearly hope someone understands this. Please.

Posted by: Mike D | 2006-07-20 4:01:03 AM

Today's Globe has it's knives out for Harper today. Mind you, none of these "journalists" are capable of organizing a 12 person coffee break. But there is a bit of irony in the use of the Federal Airbus assigned to the PMO to evacuate "Lebanese Canadians". When Brian Mulroney acquired the aircraft the same Toronto,Ottawa Media went ballistic. One remains
a commercial carrier mode, the other was converted this year as an in-flight Refueler. I think Harper is doing a remarkable job considering the ineptness (long established) of the Federal Foreign Affairs Bureaucracy.

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-07-20 5:38:50 AM

Fancy any Liberal PM bumping the media from his entourage for even humanitarian reasons. They were wined, dined , sucked up to and rewarded the Liberals by helping them get re-elected time and again, the perfect partnership. It's no doubt tough on the spoiled media twits so we can expect some crappy, unfair and unwarranted reporting. No problem, we, the great unwashed, are onto their smart-ass commentary, consider the source and do our own research. We only want the facts, the true facts, not biased opinions, we can form our own thankyou.

Posted by: Liz J | 2006-07-20 6:31:54 AM

Woody, there are many references in the Koran that show that Jews, Christians and Muslims all have the same God. Here is just one brief sample from my English copy of the Koran, which was translated by N. J. Dawood (Penguin Books):

- Women, 4:163: "We (note that this is the "Royal We") have revealed Our will to you as We revealed it to Noah and to the prophets who came after him; as We revealed it to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes; to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, Solomon and David, to whom We gave the Psalms. Of some apostles We have already told you, but there are others of whom We have not yet spoken...."

Just because some criminal calls himself a religious man does not make that man truly religious!

Posted by: Cory Schreyer | 2006-07-20 5:16:12 PM

Here's a funny story about a muslim cleric that was throw out of Britain to Lebanon for advocating violence against the Israel and West. Now that he actually is in a warzone against Israel and West he wants back into Britain on " humanitarian grounds"

Cleric tries to join evacuation

EXILED Islamist preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed tried but failed to join the naval evacuation of British nationals from Lebanon's capital Beirut, it was reported today.
Bakri attempted to join evacuees boarding a Royal Navy vessel on Wednesday, but was rebuffed "at the harbour gates by sharp-eyed officials", The Sun said in a front page "exclusive".

A Ministry of Defence spokesman in London could not confirm the report, but said: "Our understanding is that's not true, and we've told The Sun that".

The Sun also reported that Syrian-born Bakri has written to the British embassy in Beirut, asking to be readmitted to Britain on "humanitarian grounds".

Bakri, who settled in Britain in 1985, was banned from reentering Britain in August last year, when then home secretary Charles Clarke ruled that his presence was "not conducive to the public good".

He headed the radical al-Muhajiroun group in London until 2004, and praised the hijackers who carried out the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001 as the "magnificent 19".

Thousands of foreign nationals have fled Lebanon as Israel has imposed an air and naval blockade on the country and continued a bombing campaign that has left more than 300 people dead after the Islamic militia Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers last week.

Posted by: No Spin Zone | 2006-07-20 7:13:14 PM


Great observation.

The answer, of course, is in the politico-religious positions.

When everyone is the same, the one who stands out, has to be picked on, in order to mobilize the others towards Unity.

People, by their nature, relish in looking down on others. And, in the world where they are all Arabs, and their ways of picking include torture, beheadings, and the application of shariah, having those Jews around, and not accepting them as legitimate rightful holders of the deed to the lands of Israel, means they have a group to conveniently blame all their problems on.

Their political position was suppossed to cure all their ills.

Because it does not, and is suppossed to be so perfect, someone else has to be blamed.

As long as they have someone else, albeit the whole world in general, and Jews in particular, to look down on, they can never be held to a position where they, the same as everyone else, is responsible for their own miserable lives.

Posted by: Lady | 2006-07-21 9:28:03 AM

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