On his way to European ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a surprise visit to (almost) the front lines of this year’s “War on Terror” headliner, the Kurdish zone of Iraq. While there, he had a great photo op with the leader of the Kurds and peering through binoculars at distant ISIL positions.
(Harper also visited Baghdad, but there he refused to participate in a joint appearance with the unacceptably Iran-friendly president of the whole country.)
What a pile of self-serving political crap.
Of course, no Conservative PM facing a tight re-election race at home could pass up the chance to review the troops (very few of them his own troops) and pass out relief cheques. He could have mailed the cheques, but there aren’t as many reporters and TV cameras at an Ottawa press conference. No, it’s much better to buck up the base by posing with the men and women in arms.
But that’s not all this poseur’s latest pose is about.
Stephen Harper has longed long for a noble warrior’s stance, both for himself and for his country. That his love of all things military goes against the grain of a solid majority of the citizens of the country he leads means nothing. He’s been working on that annoying disconnect for years, and he hopes to have more time to finish the job.
Harper has pretty thoroughly deconstructed Canada’s reputation as an honest broker, a country more interested in peace and co-operation than in bombs and belligerence. From the small (like changing the name of the Canadian Forces to Canadian Armed Forces), to the silly (like the seemingly-endless flood of government-backed “ads” trumpeting 200th anniversary of the military achievements of British colonials during the War of 1812), to the revealing (“Canada. Proud. Strong. Free.”), Harper has been pushing a new version of the Canadian identity.
Posing with a group of nationalist rebels near their front line with a group of religionist rebels fits right in.
One of the great frustrations of the U.S. political system is that the two parties can’t cooperate enough to govern. And the great frustration of the Canadian system is that a self-aggrandizing demagogue whose party received less than 40% of the votes in the 2011 election enjoys a solid majority in the House of Commons, through which he governs without undue regard to the values and aspirations of the majority who did not support him.
Enough already, Mr. Harper. Most of your country’s citizens don’t wanna be warrior wannabes.