But What About the Next (Possible) American War, Mr Harper?
Oddly enough, the Canadian election debates weren’t on TV here in China, so I’ve had to rely on secondhand reports. I was particularly intrigued to read about a moment in the English-language debate when Stephen Harper apparently came within literally one letter of saying something really important about his views on foreign policy.
Gilles Duceppe, who is said to have shown admirable flair in both debates, was taking Harper to task about having supported the invasion of Iraq back in 2003. Harper, instead of leaping to his feet to defend the invasion in a thick Australian accent, was sensible enough to admit that he and Bush had been wrong. Here is an account of the exchange, courtesy of CTV news:
But Duceppe continued to badger him as Harper tried to steer the discussion back to Afghanistan: “This is not the question I asked. . . I want to hear it. Do you admit it was an error of George Bush and you made the same error?”
Harper finally answered: “It was absolutely an error. It’s obviously clear the evaluation of weapons of mass destruction proved not to be correct. That’s absolutely true and that’s why we’re not sending anybody to Iraq.”
Well, of course we’re not bloody well sending anybody to Iraq. Not now, when even the Americans are talking primarily about how and when to withdraw. But if Harper had said at some point during the campaign “we’re not sending anybody to Iran“, that would have been a statement well worth listening to and applauding.
There has been persistent muttering about a possible American attack on Iran since 2005, when the distinguished American reporter Seymour Hersh wrote that plans for possible airstrikes were floating around the corridors of the Pentagon. The odds that the rumours will become reality depend partly on the outcome of the U.S. election, partly on the behaviour of the Iranian government, and partly on other events and political pressures in both America and the Middle East.
However, the possibility is real, and Canada would quite likely be asked to join whatever “coalition of the willing” America tried to cobble together for such an action. Harper, who was so willing to follow America into a hare-brained Middle Eastern crusade in 2003, should be asked whether he would be willing to help McCain or Obama take on the latter-day Persian Empire in 2009 or 2010.