Macleans article: Ignatieff finds Canada “disgusting”

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J.P. Phanuef
Macleans article: Ignatieff finds Canada “disgusting”

‘Bogus' peacekeeping?

It wasn't long ago that Michael Ignatieff had harsh words for Canada

Michael Ignatieff, Liberal leader, is lavish in his adoration for the country and the people he wishes to lead. His recently published book, True Patriot Love, which dovetailed with his ascension to the Liberal party leadership, is replete with fuzzy bromides about Canada and its "quietly but intensely patriotic" citizens.

Yet Michael Ignatieff, Harvard professor and public intellectual, was once slightly more harsh toward his native land. Following a 2005 lecture at the University of Dublin's Trinity College, Ignatieff excoriated Canadians for trading on Canada's "entirely bogus reputation as peacekeepers" for 40 years and for favouring "hospitals and schools and roads" over international citizenship. "If you are a human rights defender and you want something done to stop [a] massacre, you have to go to the Pentagon, because no one else is serious," Ignatieff said.

"It's disgusting in my own country, and I love my country, Canada, but they would rather bitch about their rich neighbour to the south than actually pay the note," he said, in response to a question about peacekeeping. "To pay the bill to be an international citizen is not something that they want to do."

Ignatieff gave the lecture while he was director of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. The talk, which received brief mention in Canadian media at the time, reiterated Ignatieff's belief that the U.S. is a force for good in the world. "Don't forget that the speech given by a U.S. president that most committed the United States to the promotion of human rights and democracy in the Arab world was given by George W. Bush," he said. He later told the Irish Times that he was taken aback by the "waves of anti-American and anti-Bush feeling in an Irish audience." It was in the question-and-answer session which followed, and which has never been reported, that Ignatieff was most critical of Canada.

He was also seemingly at odds with the party he would come to lead four years later. Peacekeeping is the stuff of lore within the Liberal party, which bills itself as the founding father of Canada's traditional role as a peaceful international referee to the world. As Liberal external affairs minister, Lester B. Pearson is credited with inventing the very concept when he championed the first armed United Nations peacekeeping force in 1956. "There tends to be a strong association with peacekeeping" within the Liberal party, says author and former Liberal strategist John Duffy. "Liberals are proud of their role in this tradition."

Ignatieff, circa 2005, begged to differ. Introduced by Trinity College professor Ron Hill as "a challenging liberal thinker," Ignatieff spoke favourably about America's peacekeeping capabilities and the need to use "men with guns" when protecting the world's vulnerable. Ignatieff had already backed away from his support of the Iraq war when he gave the speech, though he still praised George W. Bush's foreign policy at a time when then-Liberal prime minister Paul Martin was attacking Bush for what he said was the U.S. president's lack of "global conscience." Canada certainly didn't fare well in Ignatieff's speech; Ignatieff portrays the country as a somewhat frustrated, reflexively anti-American middling power that has become something of a pretender on the world stage.

"We used to be peacekeepers, we used to have the capabilities [but] we gave them away, because people wanted hospitals and schools and roads. And God bless them, but the costs are coming in." (Ignatieff is correct in his assertion that Canada's contribution of army and police personnel to the UN has decreased over the last several decades. However, Canada remains one of the UN's largest contributors of international, professional and general service staff, and is the eighth largest contributor to the UN's total peacekeeping budget, according to UN figures.)

Liberal spokesperson Dan Lauzon, who declined to answer specific questions about Ignatieff's speech, said the address didn't contradict any Liberal party principles. "It's provocative, sure, but consistent with our long-held position," Lauzon wrote in an email to Maclean's. "Though the language used in the quote is more provocative than we're used to in the political realm, I think it's consistent with our position that cuts made to the military in the past were too deep, that we're glad they were corrected, and that we intend to ensure that it never happens again."

Ignatieff's speech, which has gone largely unnoticed, threatens to reignite the war of words between the Liberal and Conservatives, the latter of which has launched attack ads largely based on Ignatieff's (much older) musings. Certainly Lauzon, who passed along a selection of past Stephen Harper quotations to Maclean's, is in a scrappy mood. "If we're digging up bones here, I'd like to point out that these comments are certainly more consistent than some Stephen Harper's past quotes, which you may wish to probe for a future article."

Still, Ignatieff softened his criticism of Canada's peacekeeping reputation the very day he became Liberal leader. During his acceptance speech last January, he humoured the crowd with a tale of being saved by a Canadian peacekeeper during a sojourn in the former Yugoslavia. In "a world ravaged by hatred," he said, "we remain a light unto the nations." The "Canadian way," he concluded, was the "way for the whole world."

Snert Snert's picture

So the Lib leader finds Canada "disgusting" and the Greens leader thinks Canadians are "stupid".

I now pronounce you Man and Wife.

Fidel

And whada vicious toady he turned out to be!

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martin dufresne

So the Lib leader finds Canada "disgusting" and the Greens leader thinks Canadians are "stupid".

It's clear that they are courting French Quebec votes...Wink

 

500_Apples

What is wrong with calling our reputation as peacekeepers' "bogus"?

The only thing that should matter is whether or not his assessment is correct, not whether or not it warms our hearts or some other nonsense.

Fidel

Let's hope Quebecois arent so naive as to fall for Iggy's Liberal Party of Bananada smooth talk.

Le T Le T's picture

Quote:

What is wrong with calling our reputation as peacekeepers' "bogus"?

The only thing that should matter is whether or not his assessment is correct, not whether or not it warms our hearts or some other nonsense.

 

His problem with Canadian "Peacekeeping" is that it is not hawkish enough for him. He's a dangerous man becuase he always thinks that his assesment of the situation is right and he is ready (almost excited) to use military force to back that up. Not too different from G.W.B's famous hubris which continues to destroy lives.

 

The Bish

Canada's reputation as peacekeepers is bogus.  Canada has virtually never had any troops involved in peacekeeping operations.  We have the reputation that we have largely because of Lester Pearson's role in the Suez crisis, and even there, Canadian troops were not heavily involved because of Nasser's concerns that they were too closely associated with Britain.  Not to mention our less-than-peaceful presence in Haiti, the amount of arms shipped out of Canada which reach places like Colombia, etc.

Jingles

Peacekeeping was a way to give cover for the imperial countries. It was a way to keep the white man's finger in everybody's pie.

Ignatieff and Harper share a vicious hatred of Canadians. I'm so glad they were installed as our leaders.

I can't wait to ask the first Liberal canvasser if they voted for Ignasty as their leader. I'm guessing I'll see a lot of squirming, humming and hawing, and "but Harper must be stoooopppppeddd!" from them.

ottawaobserver

One point I do find tangentially interesting ... this is the same speech that the Republicans for Ignatieff site was set up to disseminate.  I wonder who gave Martin Patriquin the full speech?

Ze

Quote:
Ignatieff excoriated Canadians for trading on Canada's "entirely bogus reputation as peacekeepers" for 40 years

Truest thing he's ever said. It is completely bogus, much of the world laughs at Canada when they hear this crap, but it makes Canadians feel all virtuous and superior to believe the myth.

Frmrsldr

There has been a subtle paradigm change. Has anyone noticed it?

After 1994 when the Rawandan genocide took place, the Clinton administration came up with this "Responsibility to Protect" concept. It was argued that the UN was not equipped to deal with this policy. The Clinton administration, the State Department and the Pentagon conducted a search for an organization that could carry out such a program. It was decided that NATO was the organization for the job. The paradigm change that took place was a shift from peacekeeping, which is what the UN does to peacemaking (ie., war) which is what NATO does. The first time this concept was put into practice was the 1999 NATO aggressive invasion/attack of Kosovo. Whenever our leaders attempt to justify the Afghan war with arguments about protecting the rights of women and children and sending girls to school, they are referring to the "Responsibility to Protect" concept that is used as the fig leaf for NATO led ISAF troops being in Afghanistan.

The problem I have with the "Responsibility to Protect" concept is that the U.S.A. came up with it to circumvent the Nuremberg Principles, the Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter and relevant international laws and treaties to which the U.S.A. is a signatory. This is American exceptionalism and is a way for the U.S. to carry out its imperial militarist agenda when international organizations and laws get in the way. Aggressive and pre-emptive wars are not defensive wars. An act of terrorism is a criminal act, not an act of war. Hence, as such, the Afghan and Iraq wars are illegal.

The problem with "Responsibility to Protect" is that it is used as a means to justify aggressive and pre-emptive wars. The UN attempts to use peace to achieve peace. NATO attempts to use war to achieve peace. NATO is like the foreign legions of ancient Rome or the French Foreign Legion. It is an organization that consists of foreign mercenaries; "Murder Inc.".

This is why crazy King George II fellatin' Iggy and Harpo supported the Iraq war and why they have wrapped their little egos around the Afghan war. It is why, outside of Israel itself, they are the strongest supporters of the Israeli state. It is why Harper is/will in future spend so much on Canada's military. It is why they have both engaged in saber rattling against Iran.

Debater

Snert wrote:

So the Lib leader finds Canada "disgusting"

If you actually read the quotation, you would see that the title of this thread is plain false.  Ignatieff did not say that Canada was disgusting - he said that the way Canada complains about the U.S. and its peacekeeping role is disgusting.

Nevertheless, it wasn't the best way of expressing himself.

 

Frmrsldr

Debater wrote:

If you actually read the quotation, you would see that the title of this thread is plain false.  Ignatieff did not say that Canada was disgusting - he said that the way Canada complains about the U.S. and its peacekeeping role is disgusting.

 

The U.S. doesn't engage in UN peacekeeping (ie., peace). The American Empire, just like Ancient Rome, is an international bully that engages in peacemaking (ie., war). It is using NATO, just as Ancient Rome used the foreign legions, to get other countries involved in the U.S.A.'s crimes.

I find his and Harpo's U.S.A. fellatin' ways disgusting. As Fidel says, "Liberal, Tory. It's the same old story."

Fidel

Ze wrote:

Quote:
Ignatieff excoriated Canadians for trading on Canada's "entirely bogus reputation as peacekeepers" for 40 years

Truest thing he's ever said. It is completely bogus, much of the world laughs at Canada when they hear this crap, but it makes Canadians feel all virtuous and superior to believe the myth.

[thread drift] In 1939, my Canadian father and his brother volunteered for a peacekeeping mission of sorts to rollback fascist aggression in North Africa and Europe. Ordinary Yanks were chomping at the bit to join the same fight in Europe but were held back from doing so until 1942 - as in late 1942. Dad and his Quebec tank regiment were welcomed with open arms by other ordinary people in places like Sicily, Italy, Holland, and Brussels Belgium by 1945.

Frmrsldr

An even better example are those who voluntarily joined the International Brigades that fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

Ze

Fidel wrote:

[thread drift] In 1939, my Canadian father and his brother volunteered for a peacekeeping mission of sorts to rollback fascist aggression in North Africa and Europe. Ordinary Yanks were chomping at the bit to join the same fight in Europe but were held back from doing so until 1942 - as in late 1942. Dad and his Quebec tank regiment were welcomed with open arms by other ordinary people in places like Sicily, Italy, Holland, and Brussels Belgium by 1945.

Good for him. My Canadian grandfather fought in that war and was injured. 

What does it have to do with the fact that "pecekeeping" is a lie Canadians tell ourselves, to make us feel better about our own imperialism?

-

"One law for the lion and the ox is oppression" - Blake

Big Daddy

This is ridiculous.  The first time I saw this, I thought that this was just another quote taken out of context, like Ignatieff's comments on torture, which, viewed in their entirety, are actually quite sensible.  On reading the whole thing, though, these quotes are disgusting.  So let me get this straight, after talking shit about Canada only 4 years ago, this man wants to become PM?  What an asshole.  If it's one thing I can't stand, it's people who hate Canada but insist on living here and take money from taxpayers or occupying leadership positions, or in this guy's case, both.  I'm surprised he was opposed to working with the Bloc in a formal coalition because they hate Canada every bit as much as him.  He should resign for this.  Time to bring back Bob Rae.

George Victor

Canada's "national magazine" has been a propaganda machine for the neo-con element now ruling Canada for some time.

Interesting how propagandists can play on sentiment in this fashion.  

I find both the way the story has been presented - falsely as debater has pointed out - and the reaction quite frightening, watching the polling results out there among the Great Unread after a concerted propaganda campaign by the Cons.

Ignatieff will play to any audience, as his bellying up to the Tar Patch vividly demonstrates. But the Conservatives, whose propaganda campaign knows not bounds, are already in bed with the bastards.

Shouldn't one's enjoyment of the article be tempered by thoughts of Goebbels, visions of sheep?

(Edit: And why Maclean's goes to such great lengths to tell Canadians about the background of this intellectual dilettante goes unremarked. Conservative manipulation slithers through the propaganda detectors again. Anything is grist for the old outrage mill. The debasement of the  journal that gave voice to Pierre Berton and Peter Gzowski?  Ho hum.)

Or have I missed a backgrounder on Steve...from his NCC (Alberta firewall) days, say?  Will take it all back if such a piece exists.

 

Sean in Ottawa

"It's disgusting in my own country, and I love my country, Canada, but they would rather bitch about their rich neighbour to the south than actually pay the note," he said, in response to a question about peacekeeping. "To pay the bill to be an international citizen is not something that they want to do."

 

Read more carefully people-- he says something in Canada is disgusting-- he never said either the country or the people.It was one point of view he finds disgusting. I find a few disgusting myself-- and what exactly is wrong with that?

I also think something in Canada is disgusting-- the alternation between Liberal and Conservative governments but that does not mean I think Canadians are disgusting. The guy is right wing but let's not fall into the neocon trap of personal attacks that are so thin anyone with a half a brain can see through them but most get so hyped up that they don't.

 

 

George Victor

Bravo, Sean. And if this propaganda piece can have such effect on political sophisticates, imagine the response out there in Unreadland.

 

Boze

I don't like that people are playing the patriotism card against Ignatieff.  I think it's extremely distasteful and shouldn't be necessary.  There are lots of things I find disgusting about Canada too.

Infosaturated

The Conservatives and the Liberals are the same party.  They both represent corporate interests.  It is corporate interests that dropped Iggy into place as the head of the Liberal party.  They can pretend there is a battle between the two but it isn't real.  That is, each party may want to win, but they work together for the most part so it doesn't really make that much difference who wins.  Canadians are kept preoccupied debating between the two parties and missing the big picture.  Neither one represents the interests of Canadians. 

Lord Palmerston

I too am not too big on attacking Iggy for being "insufficiently patriotic."  As a person of the Left, I'm not too big on patriotism either.  And I'm disgusted by the tar sands, the "Afghan mission", the shameful role of the Canadian government in Honduras, the Third World conditions in FN communities, etc.

skdadl

Reread Ignatieff's tender musings on torture-lite. A little sleep-deprivation, eg ... Iggy thought that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

 

Have people been keeping up with the news south of the border about all the torture scandals? A little sleep deprivation (which requires either "stress positions" -- for which read crucifixion -- or unending noise and light) is generally considered by medical experts to be the worst form of torture there is, even worse than the bright shiny object called waterboarding.

 

Ignatieff is a total phony. He doesn't know what he's talking about -- he just knows how he's supposed to sound and look today. He isn't worse than Harper, but he's pretty bad, an utterly hollow man.

Sean in Ottawa

Agreed-- but all the more reason to make sure every criticism is substantive not a twisting of words-- otherwise the substantial criticisms will get tossed with the lightweight stuff once that is discredited.

George Victor

 

Right. But have you seen how our "national magazine" has been turned into a Goebbellesque creation, an organ of the Conservatives?  

Should we quote and misquote it ,  now that, under the former editor of the National Post, it is looking very National Postish?

 

 

George Victor

 

Now Rocketgirl delivers the same message from campus. 

The Conservatives always had a very effective whisper campaign...but playing the political sophisticates of the "enlightened" IT crowd like a piccolo is something new.

Ken Burch

"We used to be peacekeepers, we used to have the capabilities [but] we gave them away, because people wanted hospitals and schools and roads. And God bless them, but the costs are coming in."

As opposed to sending tens of thousands of Canadians to die for nothing in Iraq, which would have been FREE?

 

Frmrsldr

What are Canadians dying for in Afghanistan?

Ken Burch

Good point.  But they ARE in that war, as opposed to basically not being in the war Iggy WANTED them in in Iraq(at the time when he was openly saying that imperialism wasn't such a bad idea).    On foreign policy, Iggy is basically Colonel Blimp after leaving the steambath

remind remind's picture

Thought Colonel Klink might be better.

George Victor

 

That was Iggy's strangest inference, I thought, KB.  Canada as empire. But perhaps he had been reading too much family history in the preparation of his bio and confused the present with  politics in the time of his  forbears ).Laughing

Frmrsldr

Iggy and Harpo's mentality about Afghanistan are the same. "It's the only war we got, so let's make the best of it." Iraq didn't turn out to be so great either.

NorthReport

So Ignatieff has become so frightened of the Cons that he was afraid to visit his home in France this summer. If this is true, what's Ignatieff going to do when he is faced with a serious issue. Run for the hills. Just what we are looking for in a prime minister.

 

Tories may target Ignatieff's Provence estate

 

http://www.canada.com/news/Tories+target+Ignatieff+Provence+estate/19487...

 

remind remind's picture

Iggy has a wife and children?! Who knew! ;)

janfromthebruce

Iggy is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. That said, he made his bed and now must lie in it. Becoming Iffy is not a good move.

janfromthebruce

remind wrote:

Iggy has a wife and children?! Who knew! ;)

Hopefully they are in the military cause it would show that his own walk the talk of empiralism and building and such stuff.

Michelle

To be fair, we all express disgust for Canada sometimes.  Would we prefer someone who is jingoistically patriotic and "my country right or wrong"?  Or is it more honest to occasionally express disgust and/or embarrassment with your country when you think it's on a seriously wrong course?

I find Canada "disgusting" on First Nations issues, too.  Does that mean I am unqualified to be involved in Canada's political life?

remind remind's picture

I am not sure what your point is michelle, or actually what/whom you were addressing with your comment.

Michelle

Just rhetorical questions.  I notice a lot of others in the thread are saying similar things.  The point is, I'm unmoved by Conservative appeals to patriotic condemnation of Iggy.  I have better reasons to dislike him. :)

madmax

I would expect, its reference to the thread title started way back in July taken from Macleans, which appears to be very anti Ignatief.

remind remind's picture

Okay, thanks michelle.

Personally, I have issues with someone wanting to be PM, who has been out of the country for most of his life, it indicates a distinct lack of interest in Canada and Canadians.

However, I dislike him more for his stance on torture and colonialism endeavours.

 

B9sus4 B9sus4's picture

Ooh, Iggy! I love it when the stooges and bum boys of big rapists, torturers, murderers, mass murderers, genociders, baby burners, granny rapers, old people butcherers, etc., attach the loverly label HUMAN RIGHTS folks to themselves. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! (Excuse me. I'm laffin' to abate my tears of rage and grief.) 

Well, I could list a whole bunch of folks who call themselves HUMAN RIGHTS experts, professors, lawyers, whatnot, who happily serve the interests of the bloodsucking few.. but.. oughtn't we all to know that by now? Oh, wait.. heh.. we wouldn't know that if we gots all our "information" from MSM, would we. We would have to go sift through the alternate takes on those awful CONSPIRACY THEORY websites, ie., such as this one, wouldn't we.

Ooooooooh!

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
I love it when the stooges and bum boys

 

A "bum boy"?

 

Please tell us what a "bum boy" is?

Frmrsldr

Michelle wrote:

To be fair, we all express disgust for Canada sometimes.  Would we prefer someone who is jingoistically patriotic and "my country right or wrong"?  Or is it more honest to occasionally express disgust and/or embarrassment with your country when you think it's on a seriously wrong course?

I find Canada "disgusting" on First Nations issues, too.  Does that mean I am unqualified to be involved in Canada's political life?

Two points:

There is a big difference between the two statements: "Frmrsldr is disgusting."

"Frmrsldr's actions are disgusting."

The first statement attacks the person and is an ad hominem statement.

Iggy doesn't criticize Canada on the same (praiseworthy) grounds you do.

Iggy criticizes Canada on the grounds Harpo does. Namely, that Canada isn't enough like the U.S.A. in terms of its jingoistic patriotism, pride of its military (history), foreign policy, economic policy, environmental policy, health care, etc.

George Victor

madmax wrote:

I would expect, its reference to the thread title started way back in July taken from Macleans, which appears to be very anti Ignatief.

Max, Macleans (published and edited by M'lord Blacks choice of editor for National Post) is not only appaently "anti-Ignatieff", it is an anti-democratic organ of the neo-con movement in Canada, and so skillfully presented, it would cause Goebbels to hang his head in shame at his own immature fumblings.  How easily  we play the sheep and jump on such a propagandistic bandwagon? 

Like Michelle, I'm ashamed of Canada's sellout of First Nations, of its corporate base, of its environmental responsibility, etc. etc. Let's take a deep breath and try not to salivate in response to White's manipulation.  Please. It's unseemly.

remind remind's picture

Frmrsldr wrote:
Iggy doesn't criticize Canada on the same (praiseworthy) grounds you do.

Iggy criticizes Canada on the grounds Harpo does. Namely, that Canada isn't enough like the U.S.A. in terms of its jingoistic patriotism, pride of its military (history), foreign policy, economic policy, environmental policy, health care, etc.

Exactly!