Thursday, September 9, 2010

Harper the Warrior?

The Economist has a piece suggesting that Stephen Harper is quite the warrior.  I am still trying to figure this all out.  Yes, Harper did not pull the Canadians out of Kandahar after Paul Martin put them in, and he did not impose restrictions upon the Canadian commanders.  Or at least, he did not restrict what they did, but did restrict the military's communications about its efforts.  Perhaps less than the aid and foreign affairs types, but it has been clear to me that the Prime Minister's Office has tried to control the messaging of the military.  This piece suggests that the opposition is the only thing restraining Harper in Afghanistan, but it ignores the reality that Harper has taken the Parliamentary mandates as a shield, deflecting any suggestions about sticking it out at little bit or re-deploying only a hunk of the troops but not all of them.

The piece also suggests that Arctic Sovereignty is just about hardware.  I think that is partially true, but not entirely so.  I think the initial proposal to worry more about Northern threats (US, Russia, the pesky Danes) was as much about using nationalism to get support as it was to get money to defense contractors.  After all, there are lots of defense programs that could fund the arms industry--boats and planes for the cold white north is only way to go about it.

Anyhow, Harper has taken some heat for keeping the Canadians in Afghanistan as the popularity of the mission declined, bearing more of the burden then most NATO countries.  But it was not his decision to stay and it was not his decision to leave.  So, it may be the case that Harper is not as big a shaper of Canada's destiny as it would appear to be.  Pretty passive for a warrior.

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