Ten years later, we have the Liberal Party of Canada which, though leaderless, has lost not a dram of its well-honed sense of moral superiority, coating a tasty combination of delusion and toasted nuts (but I'm not going to talk about Dan McTeague today). It too has seen fit to invoke the handy bridge metaphor, though coming from its interim leader, in whose riding a short span to the island airport remains a bridge too far, the metaphor is a poor fit. But that is the least of Bill Graham's rhetorical problems:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper must move away from his hard-line position on the Middle East crisis in favor* of one which enables Canada to maintain its historic role as a bridge builder in the region, Liberal Leader Bill Graham said today.
“We're very concerned about Mr. Harper's change in Canada’s traditional position of working with all sides in the Middle East for long-term peace by being able to work with all sides of the conflict to bring them together and in a dialogue,” Mr. Graham said. “Canada has always been able to act as an intermediary, but we can only serve in that capacity if both our comportment and our actions enable us to play that role.”
Mr. Graham urged Prime Minister Harper to look to the G-8 communique as a starting point for a balanced approach to help all parties in the region come together.
--Liberal party website
* Note to Liberal communications tools: you can set Microsoft Word to Canadian English by going to the “Tools” menu and selecting Language, then Set Language. Select "English (Canada)."
Graham’s evoking of Canada as a “bridge builder,” while urging “dialogue” and a “balanced approach” are vague – and deliberately so – concepts that tiptoe around the rather fundamental questions of: building a bridge -- between whom? Dialogue – with whom? Balanced approach – between what?
The history of the region would suggest the answer is: building a bridge to, and dialogue with, terrorists determined to destroy Israel, five years after it has exited south Lebanon and after it evicted its own citizens from Gaza in the hopes that enough Palestinians preferred land, prosperity and normalcy to refugee camps, squalor and blowing up their own children. The fact that they apparently do not helps explain the reported 80% approval among Israelis for the current military action. What dialogue can there be with people who care more about destroying Israel than any other political goal? What balance can there be between Israel existing and not existing?
And by “all sides in the Middle East,” does Graham mean to include Hezbollah’s sugar daddy Iran, which imprisoned and murdered Canadian journalist Zara Khazemi, then sent the official believed responsible for her death to the recent conference of the UN’s new “we really mean it this time” human rights body?
Graham’s view is not only offside from reality; it is offside from the usual defenders (or at least silent bystanders) of attacks on Israel. Even the Arab League and Saudi Arabia have condemned Hezbollah for the attacks and kidnappings that started the current conflict.
There have been some stunningly naïve arguments offered in defense of Hezbollah, focussing on its charitable and so-called educational activities. I guess people still need to be reminded that Hitler ended inflation, and Mussolini made the trains run on time. I think the Hitler Youth also got a few wayward boys off the streets.
After 27 years of terrorism, it is disheartening to see that so many people still seem to think that treating terrorists as legitimate spokespersons for legitimate grievances is a fruitful tactic. As Osama bin Laden has famously written, the meagre response of the West toward incidents such as the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, the first World Trade Centre bombing in 1993, Somalia, the USS Cole, Khobar Towers, etc. convinced him that the West did not have the will to fight.
Terrorists cannot be co-opted, legitimized or dialogued with, because they believe that to negotiate is to capitulate. Anwar Sadat of Egypt made peace with Israel. His reward was an assassin’s bullet.
Bill Graham’s Pollyanna euphemisms only reinforce the argument that, while his rhetoric may be scarcely a decade old, the clock in the Liberal Party’s foreign policy Delorean is permanently set to 1956.