Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Another Iggy Flip-Flop?

If so I'm glad to see it, for Ignatieff has just spoken out against Canadian participation in the U.S. missile defense system. He was responding to Frank McKenna's suggestion that the Liberal party should reconsider its opposition in the wake of North Korea's nuclear test. Here's Iggy:

''I do not support ballistic missile defense or the weaponization of space,'' Ignatieff, a freshman Toronto MP, said Monday in a statement to CanWest News Service.

''We should not participate in these measures. Canada must continue to work with our international partners and allies to ensure that our sovereignty is respected and that our national interests are represented in any multilateral discussions regarding continental security.''

In response to this statement, S. Dion immediately mentioned Iggy's speech to the 2005 Liberal biennial convention, where:

Ignatieff noted that the Martin government's recently announced decision not to join the U.S. in developing the missile shield had proved popular within the party, but warned that ''We need to balance a principled opposition to the weaponization of space with an equally principled commitment to participate in North American defense now.

''We do not want our decisions to fracture the command system of North American defense. And we do not want a principled decision, that is, the decision to resist the militarization of space, to result, without our intending it, in having less control over our national sovereignty. We can't afford ... we can't walk away from the table. We must be there at the table, defending what only we can defend.''

Now, Alicia Johnston, one of Iggy's spokespeople, has argued that the 2005 speech did not call for joining the ballistic missile defense system. It was merely a reference to ''support for the continuation of Canada's current role in NORAD and alongside our international partners and allies.''

And if there is any criticism to be made here, it is that Ms. Johnston has retconned the content of the earlier statement. For example, the Wiki article on Iggy takes the '05 address to be a straightforward statement of support for the system:

Also controversial for many Liberals is Ignatieff's support for a ground-based North American Missile defense Shield.[12] While admitting that opposition to the proposed shield is a popular position among many Liberals, Ignatieff has proclaimed the need for a principled commitment to coordinated North American defense. "We don't want our decisions to fracture the command system of North American defence," he told the party at a national policy conference.[13]

Why don't politicians just say that they changed their position when new facts became available to them? It used to be quite a common approach, a sign of an open mind, in fact. Nowadays, you have to have always been right about everything.

11 comments:

Cerberus said...

This is getting a bit tiresome, even for you BCL.

He said then and he says now, no to missile defence. But you say he flip flopped because he says no now and some detractor thinks he said yes before. Weak. Weak. Weak.

His point in the 2005 address is pretty crystal clear: we have rejected BMD but let's not go overboard in our anti-Americanism.

A defence policy that is rooted in anti-American knee-jerk reactions is no more independent, in my view than Harper's knee-jerk pro-American reaction.

What I still don't understand is that if Iggy is as doomed and done and toast as you say, why do you feel the need to continue the attacks? Surely, if you are right there is no longer the need to keep helping Harper in this way.

bigcitylib said...

Attacking Iggy has got to be a habit now, Ted. I'll miss him when he's gone (in December). I will say he certainly has a stalwart defender in you, though.

However, I'm not sure this post counts as an attack, as I am certainly happy with the position he has arrived at. My point is that I don't think you can call wikipedia a detractor. The fairly neutral interpretation of the 2005 speech (because I think Wiki is pretty neutral) is that it was in favour of missile defense. Convincing people otherwise will require a bit of fancy exegesis.

Hammering Jow said...

In one of his books he argues the necessity of BMD

"Other nations will begin to produce and deploy long-range precision guided weapons and as they do so America will become more vulnerable to attack. In response, it [America] will have to develop missile defense systems to protect the continental United States"

(210-11, The Virtual War, Michael Ignatieff)

Cerberus said...

Come on now, BCL. The headline alone makes it an attack. Your little question mark is a clever FoxNews style way to hide it though. Don't you watch The Daily Show?

And Wiki is the best and the worst source for information precisely because it does seem neutral and has a policy of neutrality but it is anything but.

Cerberus said...

Hammering Jow:

If enemy nations developed long range missiles that could travel the entire world and destroy the US, then the US would be completely foolish not to explore some defensive weaponry to protect itself. Obviously.

But how do you equate that observation as advocacy for BMD? More to the point, how do you equate that observation with advocacy that Canada should be funding the research for that even though it seems pretty likely never to work and especially when you have clear statements that say we shouldn't?

Really, folks, the spinning and invention is getting more than a bit out of hand.

beemers said...
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Peace said...

"If enemy nations developed long range missiles that could travel the entire world and destroy the US, then the US would be completely foolish not to explore some defensive weaponry to protect itself. Obviously.

But how do you equate that observation as advocacy for BMD?"


What the...?! The whole pitch of BMD is to protect US from long range missiles! How can you NOT equate the two? And you accuse others of spinning?

The subject maybe tiresome to Iggy fans, but it's important to Canadians and Liberals who are concerned about a renewed arms race, the weaponization of space, and the amount of resources Canada will be diverting to this corporate welfare venture that has already costed the US HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS with NO CREDIBLE RESULTS. If you find it tiresome, tune out.

Igntieff's position is clear, we should be at the table. And that is the polar opposite of Liberal positions under Chretien and Martin. No spin, no bull.

And fyi, people who opposed BMD are not doing it out their need to go "overboard" in anti-Americanism. They have real substantive disagreements with the program itself. So can the jingos and stick to the issues.

bigcitylib said...
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bigcitylib said...

Ted,

I don't buy the notion that Wikipedia is anti-Iggy. I would think what they would print would be nothing beyond the "conventional wisdom". And yes I do know some of the issues Wiki faces.

Cerberus said...

Peace:

What are you going on about? Martin and Chretien both believed and stated we should be at the table talking with the Americans aobut the defence of our own borders. Like Iggy, Dion and Kennedy, they both believed we shouldn't be doing that with BMD but through other means.

Are we Liberals so anti-American that we can't even talk to the US about NORAD and other staples of our border defence. This is getting ridiculous.

PLease show me - anyone - where Ignatieff has said Canada should be supporting ballistic missile defence? You can't because he never did.

You'd think you had enough to slam Ignatieff on without making things up.

Cerberus said...

BCL:

I didn't say it was anti-Iggy. I just said it isn't necessarily neutral when anyone - anyone - can edit any entry.

Wiki's "neutral" position is that if there are two competing points of view they both get mentioned equally.