Harper’s Foreign Policy

Lawrence Martin’s “Harperland” discusses Harper’s foreign policy. It isn’t really distinguishable from Liberal foreign policy, except that it is a little more paranoid and secretive.

Throughout the West, there is fairly unconditional support for Israel. Some explain this with lobbies, etc. For the Harper people, Israel is a principle, above all others – certainly above human rights, equality, or fairness, anything Israel does is correct, whether it is starting a war of aggression, massacring civilians, or torturing children.


Lawrence Martin’s “Harperland” discusses Harper’s foreign policy. It isn’t really distinguishable from Liberal foreign policy, except that it is a little more paranoid and secretive.

Throughout the West, there is fairly unconditional support for Israel. Some explain this with lobbies, etc. For the Harper people, Israel is a principle, above all others – certainly above human rights, equality, or fairness, anything Israel does is correct, whether it is starting a war of aggression, massacring civilians, or torturing children.

Lawrence Martin describes Harper’s reaction to Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon as follows (pg. 80):

“…in the summer, during the short war between Israel and Lebanon, his rawness was on display. Though Lebanese civilian casualties outnumbered those for Israel by almost ten to one, Harper announced that the Israeli response to provocations by Hezbollah was ‘measured’… Harper took a beating from the commentariat, but while bending a bit on his evaluation, didn’t retract it.”

Just to correct Lawrence Martin’s figures slightly: UN, Israeli government, and BBC figures on civilian casualties of the war are that Israel killed about 1,191 Lebanese civilians (and 5 UN people) and Hezbollah’s rockets killed 43 Israeli civilians (I just got these numbers from wikipedia). So, Lebanese civilians outnumbered Israeli civilian casualties by more like 27 to 1. That just makes Harper’s statement a little more filthy.

Questions about the Afghan war were met with similar filth. When reports of Afghans being turned over by Canadians to be tortured started to come out, Harper’s government responded with a great deal of behind-the-scenes covering up (still ongoing and in the news). In public, Harper’s response was to discredit the victims: “I think what’s disgraceful is to simply accept the allegations of what some Taliban suspects say at face value” (pg. 101). But more destructive of any kind of rational discussion was comments like “I can understand the passion that the leader of the opposition and members of his party feel for the Taliban prisoners, I just wish they would show the same passion for Canadian soldiers.” This is the purest cowardice, hiding a venal agenda behind young people he is sending off to kill strangers in a war of occupation.

Today’s coverage wasn’t very juicy – I saw a headline about how Harper was targeting the GTA, electoral horse-race type coverage – so it’s a good day to dig in Harperland. A couple of other little openness facts.

Pg 31: “Unbeknownst to the public – it wouldn’t be revealed until much later – the Conservative campaign featured some questionable activity for a party running on a platform of openness and accountability. The Conservatives were quietly operating an election-financing scheme that drew the ire of Elections Canada and later prompted a police raid on party headquarters. The Conservatives had a national election-spending limit of $18.3 million. But they were able to exceed that amount by adjusting the books so as to shift the costs of radio and TV ads to some candidates’ local campaigns.”

Two more thoughts for today. First, the Tories commissioned $31.2 million of opinion polls, on average two a day, or 546 polls a year, in 2007 (and probably since – Harperland pg. 119). Second, Tory voters are older, and they depend on younger voters not voting. Part of their strategy must be to make politics so filthy and cynical that young people are turned off of it all.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.