Sunday, December 17, 2006

Iraq Again...

The New York Times has turned up a new and truly frightening reason to be worried about the future of Iraq. Seems some folks in Dick Chaney's office have begun to think that trying to stop escalating violence in Iraq is a non-starter. I'm with them there, but their answer is that they should take sides--turn away from power-sharing and support Shiites in an inevitable open civil war.

Given that this would mean supporting Shiite death squads, and likely the outright opression of Sunni population, it would the most open American support for foreign atrocities in living memory. At its nader it could mean supporting ethnic cleansing and genocide, if things got bad enough. Add this to the genocide Bush Administration is already tacity supporting in Darfur, and the human rights record of the Bush Administration would be altogether worse even than one might generally imagine--which is pretty scary.

2008 really can't come soon enough.
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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Iraq Study Group

A little late and a little brief on my part, but this New Yorker op-ed on the report of the Iraq Study Group is just about perfect, for anyone interested. Enjoy...
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Monday, December 04, 2006

The Guys in Back

Who really lost the Liberal leadership race? Well, seven candidates aside, the big loser might be the party machine itself. Not the Liberal Party of Canada, which will probably do just fine under Stephane Dion's leadership, and might even fair well in Quebec. What is in quite a bit of trouble is the much vaunted Liberal backroom. The largest old boy's network in Canadian politics backed a selection of the wrong horses, and they're about to find themselves in a fair bit of trouble.

I think there's a good argument to be made that this is exactly what the party voted for. By making a surprise hit out of the party insider with the least inside connections, they sent a clear enough message--what they want is political experience without the baggage of political machinery.

Dion has already moved to oppose the backroom, however gently, by appointing a couple of friend of his to run his transition rather than the usual party cronies. None of this is to say, of course, that one can change the party's institutional culture overnight, But this bodes well for its future suggesting it will be rather less committed to consuming itself from within.

That is, of course, if the camps surrounding Ignatieff and Rae don't harden and remain in place, pending another leadership race. This would turn Dion into a weak leader indeed.

Here's an interesting reason to think I'm wrong. CP has a great little story about the deal Dion and Kennedy cut, the deal Ignatieff and Rae couldn't bring off, and the incident that gave Dion his extra two votes on the first ballot. It suggests that some kind of deal making will be alive and well for the foreseeable future. And who the hell thought Martha Hall-Findley would be the spoiler?
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Sunday, December 03, 2006

From Behind....

In the great Canadian spirit of underdog victories, Stephan Dion came in from the cold yesterday and became, odds are, a future prime minister. Canadian politics doesn’t get much more fun than the Liberal Party tied in knots over its leadership, even if the pickings are as slim as they appeared this time.

Drama? Well, I was genuinely surprised to see Kennedy back out so early—this probably made him the determining factor, without which Dion would never have had the momentum to do as he did. Rae’s outright elimination was genuinely shocking to me—I’d expected to see him on any final ballot—although it may well have been inevitable.

Dion himself slid cleanly in out of virtually nowhere. He was somehow the inside man who never managed to be the establishment candidate. Being the only major candidate with a real history in the federal government, he was still somehow passed over by the mighty Liberal backroom, in favour of flashier outsiders like Ignatieff and Rae. He was the other man—the other political scientist in the race behind Ignatieff, the other cabinet minister beside a genuine celebrity in Ken Dryden. He was the only Quebecker and the only Francophone at a time when no one much seemed to care.

But this might all be a good thing. In their desperate search for a new Trudeau, the Liberals may well have stumbled on something else—a new Pearson. True, Dion is Francophone, and well to Pearson’s left, but he’s a quiet moderate in the political game, a politician who—almost uniquely in Canadian Federal politics—has an agenda not at all tied to his regional identity. He is, this, not just a compromise candidate, but maybe the only national one, a French-speaking Quebecker who has stood for a united Canada and who’s progressive agenda is tempered by his moderate character.

He is, perhaps, not just the result of compromise, but a source of it. Not just the easy candidate to settle on, but one to settle disputes as well. He’ll also likely be the first major world leader anywhere to hold environmental sustainability as his publicly visible main issue. That, along with more national political experience than anyone else in the field, makes him stronger than anyone likely recognises just yet.

And that’s all pretty good news, especially with the next event to wait for being the eventual fall of the Conservative minority. There are indeed heady days yet.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Convention Night!

After 10 months or so of frankly fairly bizarre political drift, the Liberal Party of Canada chooses a new leader over the weekend, or at least tries to. The most remarkable thing, really, is how clueless we all still are about the outcome. One would be pretty foolish to even peg a number of ballots at this point.

Being out of the country, I won't be watching the CBC coverage, but I'll be reading tomorrow's news, popcorn in hand. Where's my money? At this point, I have no idea...
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