Foreign policy: not the NDP’s strong suit

Or, how to poke the bear and get your arm taken off in a national newspaper.

The NDP’s constant clamour for a military withdrawal from Afghanistan woke sleepy Globe and Mail colmunist Jeffrey Simpson from hibernation.  The normally docile and somnolescent Simpson finally had enough and took a swipe at the party in today’s column (subscription link, and Google News freebie).

QUEBEC CITY — The New Democratic Party, largely because it has never known the responsibility and discipline of power, views a frequently immoral world through the prism of moral crusades. Like so many Canadians, the NDP wants Canada to do good in a bad world, whose miseries the party instinctively blames on the United States.

The Bush administration therefore provides an irresistible target, for reasons quite easy to understand, but the instinctive anti-Americanism ingrained in the NDP runs deeper than distaste for this administration.

Anti-Americanism reflects New Democrats’ suspicion of market capitalism, transnational corporate structures, free trade, wealth and, most profoundly, the use of power in international affairs—all of which are associated negatively with the United States.

Instinctively siding with underdogs, New Democrats dislike top dogs such as the United States, and its friends such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the subject of almost universal loathing within the NDP. This dislike now infects the NDP’s attitudes toward Israel, a country for which the early generations of Canadian socialists showed sympathy and solidarity, in contrast to today’s party preferences for Palestinians whose struggle ignites the NDP’s moral fire.

— Jeffrey Simpson.  “Spare us the NDP’s mistaken moral crusades“, Globe and Mail, 08 September 2006.

Translation: Your immaturity has held you back from federal power, you are highly suspicious of the things that contribute to the West’s unrivalled quality of life, and your suspicion has led you to support a kleptocratic nightmare over a modern, pluralist democracy.  Ouch. It gets even better though, because hypocrisy, thy name is Jack Layton:

Leader Jack Layton’s call for the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan is the latest manifestation of this instinct, since he justified his position, in part, by insisting that Canada was foolishly following “George Bush.”

It is true that after 9/11 — the senior perpetrators of which had lived and thrived in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime — the United States (and others) attacked Afghanistan to replace the regime.

Subsequently, seven United Nations resolutions (in contrast to the Iraq invasion) authorized the creation of a NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, whose leaders since the beginning have come from Britain, Turkey, Germany, Canada, France and Italy. Normally, the NDP insists on UN approval for any international force projection, but once ISAF began to fight, it became part of U.S. war-making and therefore illegitimate for the NDP. Instead of stopping the Taliban from returning to power, as the UN wanted, the NDP stance was to negotiate with the Taliban—over what, precisely, remained unclear.

Meanwhile, Mr. Layton proposed that Canadian forces take the lead in Darfur, without specifying how the African Union, which does not want NATO forces there, could be otherwise persuaded — to say nothing of the Sudanese government.

But Darfur had taken on the allure of a moral crusade, more compelling apparently than that of the plight of ordinary Afghans under the Taliban, and so the ever-changing moral compass of the NDP swung toward Africa, the theory being that in Darfur Canadian soldiers would be keeping the peace rather than making war.

It was never clear, of course, just how the peace could be kept in Darfur without the application of force against marauding gangs who, with the encouragement of the government in Khartoum, murder, maim and rape. Nor was it clear how the unwanted Canadians would implant themselves in a place they knew next-to-nothing about, at the head of a force few other countries wished to join.

That’s one’s going to leave a mark.

It would be terrific if Jack could explain the logistics of any proposed Darfur intervention to the Canadian public.  Khartoum doesn’t want us there and neither does the African Union.  I’m having a hard time imagining how forcing entry into a hostile country and causing it to take undersired action—via force of arms—is somehow upholding the Axworthy soft-power doctrine; in fact it’s really not that different from toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan. Of course if the United States were to get involved in Darfur, the NDP would want to leave that engagement too.  Pity.

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2 Responses
  1. DirtCrashr says:

    The whole, “don’t follow so-and-so” thing is like some kind of reflexive target-fixation.

  2. Flea says:

    Ahh… the soothing balm of a comment-filter that will respond to my entreaties!