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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Politically expedient evacuation

Prime Minister Harper, who has been pitch-perfect with with response to the troubles in the Middle East thus far, continues to elevate his already-shining geopolitical stature by volunteering to evacuate Canadians from Lebanon using his executive aircraft:

Harper said he will try to bring back as many as 120 Canadians using the Canadian Forces plane that took him to Europe earlier in the week.

There are an estimated 50,000 Canadian citizens among the foreigners in Lebanon, many desperate to escape the Israeli military strikes that began after Hezbollah militants crossed the border into Israel on July 12 and attacked an army outpost.

"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 told reporters.

"It's more than a symbolic trip," Harper said. "There is a need for air support in Cyprus. We believe this is the right thing to do and that's why we are going to do it."

While one may argue about the costs associated with evacuating Canadian citizens caught in a war zone, a war zone which the Canadian government has given its consent, there is no argument strong enough to counter the political points which will be acheived by Harper if he succeeds in his mission.

However, one must remain cognizant of what sort of people Canada will be rescuing. Any concern about Hezbollah supporters hitching a ride on a Canadian-chartered ship is a real one, albeit remote, but if a less-than-savoury sort comes to this country via a prime ministerial escourt, the political tarnish to Harper's career could be substantial.

Chances are slim that Mr Harper will be hurt by his gesture but it is a possibility of which to be cognizant.

Don't screw it up, Steve.

Meanwhile, Charles Krauthammer makes a concrete case for invasion:

The road to a solution is therefore clear: Israel liberates south Lebanon and gives it back to the Lebanese.

It starts by preparing the ground with air power, just as the Gulf War began with a 40-day air campaign. But if all that happens is the air campaign, the result will be failure. Hezbollah will remain in place, Israel will remain under the gun, Lebanon will remain divided and unfree. And this war will start again at a time of Hezbollah and Iran's choosing.

Just as in Kuwait 1991, what must follow the air campaign is a land invasion to clear the ground and expel the occupier. Israel must retake south Lebanon and expel Hezbollah. It would then declare the obvious: that it has no claim to Lebanese territory and is prepared to withdraw and hand south Lebanon over to the Lebanese Army (augmented perhaps by an international force), thus finally bringing about what the world has demanded - implementation of Resolution 1559 and restoration of south Lebanon to Lebanese sovereignty.

Only two questions remain: Israel's will and America's wisdom. Does Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have the courage to do what is so obviously necessary? And will Secretary of State Rice's upcoming peace trip to the Middle East force a premature ceasefire that spares her the humiliation of coming home empty-handed but prevents precisely the kind of decisive military outcome that would secure the interests ofIsrael, Lebanon, the moderate Arabs and the West?

Posted by Rob Huck on July 19, 2006 | Permalink


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I am cognizant of all the cognoscente who see muslum terrorists around every corner (and even on the PM's plane!) and whose big words show just how incognizant they really are.

Posted by: conscious | 2006-07-19 11:26:11 AM

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.

Good on you, Harper.

Posted by: TimR | 2006-07-19 11:27:30 AM

Your headline: "Politically expedient evacuation"

Some of your text: "... there is no argument strong enough to counter the political points which will be achieved by Harper if he succeeds in his mission."

Thank GOODNESS that while some 50,000 Canadians are in fear for their lives that Harper can use the event to score political points. I would hate it if NO good came of this!

"Don't screw it up, Steve."

Yes. You don't want to squander those precious political points ... er ... I mean ... fail to save those lives ... I think ... what was the priority again?

Posted by: Ed Jones | 2006-07-19 11:30:33 AM

I have come to the conclusion that leftists feel that whenever a leader does something good it is because he wants political points. This may come to a surprise to leftists as they don't really know the meaning of the word compassion but us right wingers actually do. While you leftists are cold and caloused and would do what Harper is doing to gain political points, Harper does it because he cares. I guess you leftists don't understand the concept of doing the right thing and not getting a pat on the back. It's such a foreign concept to you. I've been lucky enough to meet Mr. and Mrs. Harper and even chatted a bit with Mrs. Harper and they actually care. They have a genuine concern for society whereas, just as in high school politics, leftists feel it's some kind of popularity contest. Wake up, the government of Canada is not student council.

Posted by: Andrew | 2006-07-19 12:14:31 PM

I don't believe one can judge Harper with the same yardstick as would be used on recent previous Canadian leaders.
This man is PRICIPLED...it shines through continually
The only 'hidden agenda' I can see is this man's desire to help Canadians reclaim their self respect
Both at home and abroad
Of course Canadians need to take their collective hidden heads out of the sand
If they want to see this very transparent agenda

Posted by: in ques t | 2006-07-19 12:19:35 PM

Ed > "some 50,000 Canadians are in fear for their lives"

By "some 50,000 Canadians" you mean some 50,000 Lebanese, permanently resident in Lebanon, holding Canadian passports of convenience, contributing NOTHING to Canada, while demanding Canadian taxpayers pay for their 'rescue'.

This notion of 'citizenship' is more than a little troubling.

Posted by: JR | 2006-07-19 12:27:21 PM

I have thought for some time, long before the current violence focused on Lebanon and Israel
because of contrived violence from Iran and Syria
that millions of dollars have flowed to Hezbollah
from so called "Lebanese Canadians" who view Canada as a convenience like a flush toilet.The
current situation regarding the evacuation poses a major security threat to Canada, which must be resolved after all Canadian Troops are fighting fanatic Muslims in Afghanistan whose motivation and beliefs are the same as those of Hezbollah!

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-07-19 1:21:42 PM

Jack Macleod: Sorry to contradict you but the Hezb are Shia fanatics and the Taliban are Sunni fanatics. Big difference in beliefs. Iran (Shia) is the inspiration and a major supporter of Hezb but dislikes the Talibs immensely.

When the Talibs were in power they persecuted relentlessly Afstan's only significant Shia minority, the Hazaras (who were backed by Iran).


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2006-07-19 1:43:37 PM

Thanks for the Information Mark, but you know
they all look the same when they are dead. Actually Stephen Priestly CASR SFU pointed out the difference some time ago, but I over looked it. Point remains however, Canada is facing a Security Crises with the Lebanese Canadian situation, just caught MP Garth Turner CTV debating with NDP MP Bill Siksay, who says a Canadian is a Canadian if he defines himself or
Family as Canadian, regardless of his place of residence. Of course the MSM are attacking PM Harper, who is doing very well considering the circumstances. Regards, Jack MacLeod

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-07-19 2:51:10 PM

It's unclear how Israel could "expel" a political movement that has the support of many or most Lebanese in the south of the country. The Canadian government could help a bit by flying a number of them back to Canada, but there's still be a lot of Hezbollah supporters left there. Krauthammer's idea of occupying the south of Lebanon and then negotiating for it's return to the "Lebanese army" presumes that the Lebanese army is not comprised in part of any Hezbollah or of any of the Shiites who support this "party of god".

If there was such a Lebanese army motivated to oust Hezbollah, a civil war would be well underway already. As it is, Hezbollah is a political force in Lebanon, with 23 seats, two cabinet ministers, and an effective veto in the Lebanese parliament.

Posted by: EBD | 2006-07-19 3:23:20 PM

An old Arab proverb goes, "Me against my brother; me and my brother against our cousin; and me, my brother and my cousin against the stranger." Forced to make a choice, Sunni Arabs are deciding: The Jews are cousins; the Shiites, strangers. U.S. diplomats may applaud the new pragmatism, but the reason behind it is nothing to celebrate.

Iran Against the Arabs
by Michael Rubin
Wall Street Journal
July 19, 2006

After Hamas kidnapped 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit on June 25, Israeli forces launched an assault on Gaza to win his release. Arab condemnation was swift. Saudi Arabia's pro-government al-Jazira daily called Israel "a society of terrorists." Egypt's state-controlled al-Gumhuriyah condemned Israel's "heinous crimes" in Gaza. Following a July 8 meeting in Tehran, foreign ministers from countries neighboring Iraq denounced the "brutal Israeli attacks."

The crisis escalated four days later when Hezbollah terrorists infiltrated Israel's northern border and kidnapped two soldiers. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the raid "an act of war," and directed the military to launch an all-out assault on Hezbollah and targets throughout Lebanon. Neither Lebanese nor regional reaction to the opening of a second front was what Hezbollah expected. On July 14, Hezbollah's al-Manar called upon "all Lebanese people to rally behind the Islamic resistance" and to fight Israel's "flagrant aggression."

They didn't. No longer subject to Syrian occupation, Lebanese officials spoke freely. The Middle East Media Research Institute translated many reactions. "Lebanon . . . is not willing to be the spearhead of the Arab-Israeli conflict," former President Amin Gemayel said. "Hezbollah will have to explain itself to the Lebanese," Druze leader Walid Jumblatt told Le Figaro. The independent Beirut daily Al-Mustaqbal quoted Lebanese Communications Minister Marwan Hamada saying, "Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara gives the commands, Hezbollah carries them out, and Lebanon is the hostage."

Nor did the wider Arab world rally in unanimity toward Hezbollah. "A distinction must be made between legitimate resistance and uncalculated adventures undertaken by elements [without] . . . consulting and coordinating with Arab nations," the official Saudi Press Agency opined. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit included Hezbollah rocket attacks in his condemnation of terrorism. Even the Arab League, which seldom misses an opportunity to denounce Israel, offered only muted criticism. True, League Secretary General Amr Moussa condemned Israel's "disproportionate attack," after the July 15 meeting, but rather than just slam the Jewish state, Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, chided Hezbollah's "unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts." Delegates from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and the UAE backed Mr. al-Faisal. Ahmed al-Jarallah, editor of Kuwait's Arab Times, condemned both Hezbollah and Hamas in an editorial that same day, writing, "Unfortunately we must admit that in such a war the only way to get rid of 'these irregular phenomena' is what Israel is doing."

It may be tempting to think that acceptance of Israel is in the air. But such optimism is unfounded. There is no change of heart in Riyadh, Cairo or Kuwait. Saudi princes still finance Palestinian terror. Rather, the recent Arab tolerance toward Israel's predicament and condemnation of Hezbollah signal recognition of a greater threat on the horizon. Wadi Batti Hanna, a columnist in Iraq's Arab nationalist al-Ittijah al-Akhar daily, put it bluntly when, on July 15, he asked, "How long will the Arabs continue to fight on behalf of Iran?"

The Iranian menace is rising. Condoleezza Rice's May 31 announcement that the Bush administration would engage Iran signaled U.S. weakness across the Middle East. "Why don't you admit that you are weak and your razor is blunt?" Iranian Supreme Leader asked rhetorically four days later, as assembled crowds in Tehran called for America's death. An Iranian Revolutionary Guards boat recently unveiled a banner reading, "U.S. cannot do a damn thing," as it sailed past a U.S. navy ship in the Persian Gulf. Tehran's confidence is high.

Even as Arab states routinely condemn U.S. foreign policy, they embrace the American umbrella. John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt, respectively of the University of Chicago and Harvard, may argue that "the Israel Lobby" perverts U.S. interests; but Arab leaders understand that the only countries the U.S. military has fought to protect in the Middle East were Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The tiny Gulf emirates are defenseless without U.S. protection. There is hardly a state on the Arabian Peninsula that does not train with the U.S. military or welcome a small U.S. presence. But with U.S. congressmen proclaiming the defeat and vulnerability of U.S. troops in Iraq, and the Islamic Republic drawing closer to its nuclear goals, Tehran's stock is rising at U.S. expense.

The signs of Arab unease have been growing over the last 18 months. Jordan's King Abdullah II first raised alarm. In a Dec. 12, 2004 interview with Chris Matthews, he warned that the rise of Iranian-backed Shiite parties in Iraq could give rise to a Shiite "crescent" stretching from Iran to Lebanon. Abdulaziz Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, called Abdullah's comments "ridiculous," but the remarks resonated in Arab countries. True, the Shiites might account for only 10% of the world's Muslims, but in the volatile region stretching from the eastern Mediterranean to Iran, the Sunnis and Shiites are near parity. That Shiites predominate in the oil-producing regions not only of Iran and Iraq but also in Saudi Arabia accelerates the fears. Satellite stations throw fuel on the fire. A July 12 political cartoon in the Iraqi daily al-Mutamar depicted a man pouring gasoline labeled sectarianism into a satellite dish.

The power of satellite stations to inflame sectarian passion is extraordinary. I was in Sweileh, Jordan, as news broke last November that Iraqi Shiite militias had tortured Sunni prisoners in detention. Al-Jazeera replayed the footage in gory detail. Cafes hushed and men shouted abuse at the TV screens. More recently, al-Jazeera amplified Osama bin Laden's July 1 Internet message blaming "the people of the [Shiite] south" for violating Sunni cities like Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul. The situation worsened when Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen rampaged through the mixed Hay al-Jihad neighborhood on July 9, demanding identity cards and killing anyone with a Sunni name.

Most Arabs perceive Israel as small. Egypt -- home to one of every three Arabs -- has enjoyed a cold peace with Israel for more than a quarter-century. Gulf states, on the whole, would rather make money than directly fight Israel. While they do not like Israel's existence, Jerusalem presents no threat. Not so Tehran. A giant with 70 million people, Iran is no status quo power. Its ideological commitment to export revolution is real. Across Lebanon and the region, Arab leaders see Hezbollah for what it is: An arm of Iranian influence waging a sectarian battle in the heart of the Middle East.

Posted by: woodbridge | 2006-07-19 3:31:45 PM

JR: wrote. This notion of 'citizenship' is more than a little troubling.

And Lebanon isn't the only example. There are apparently nearly 200,000 " Canadians " living in Hong Kong. Just hope that nothing happens there or the Canadian government will have to charter all the ships that Carnival Cruise Lines has to get them out and bring them " home "

Posted by: No Spin Zone | 2006-07-19 8:00:38 PM


Although the difference is interesting, fact remains, they are both islamofacists. If they had no religion, they would be called radical extremists. When you read their political writings, what difference do you note? I have seen very little. We are all either infidels or apostates to them. Since I am uninterested in being like either of them, the sooner they are obliterated from the political landscape, and taught how to skip rope instead, the better. We got rid of our asylums. Too bad, because now we are going to have to build more prisons. So, how many of them are there?

Posted by: Lady | 2006-07-21 9:37:08 AM

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