I am well aware of the fact the previous federal Liberal government had huge corruption and entitlement problems. They'd been in power for twelve years and while they had managed to balance the budget -- even pay off some of the massive PC deficit from the Mulroney years -- they were getting a little generous with blowing our tax dollars.
So I fully realize that it was time to slap them down and ship them out, at least for a little while, so they could clean themselves up.
But did we have to pick such an illiterate, belligerent jackass as our new Prime Minister?
Without a doubt, the man has finally proved how ignorant he truly is in his comments about the current Israel/Palestine/Lebanon situation.
Harper speaks about Middle East
First, let us examine some straightforward historical facts. There is a group of militants in Palestine called Hamas. There is another called Fatah. Fatah used to be in power in the Palestinian Parliament. Hamas used to call for the destruction of Israel, but grew up and now only demands that Palestine be allowed to exist without the Israeli occupation that has gone on for two generations.
In January 2006, mostly due to the corruption in the Fatah party, the Palestinian people voted Fatah out and Hamas in. Hamas was considered an exclusively terrorist group and the major powers of the world immediately moved to cut aid to the entire country of Palestine based on the Palestinian people's democratic choice. (Democracy only works when you choose the leaders we want you to choose.)
In January 2006, one Israeli died in a terrorist bombing in a marketplace. In February, one more died when a guy went nuts and stabbed several people in a market. Meanwhile in Palestine, at checkpoints and through bombings, 18 Palestinians were killed. In February, it was 29. Does this appear somewhat asymmetrical?
In early June, Hamas and Fatah came together and made a statement that they recognized Israel's right to exist and it appeared that everything was working toward peace. Regardless, Palestinians -- even civilians -- continued to die in numbers much greater numbers than Israelis. Later in June, Palestinian militants used a tunnel they had secretly constructed from Gaza to a place just inside Israel, at a military base. They raided this base, killed two soldiers and captured a third.
This brings us roughly up to date (July 17, at least). We have about 300 Palestinians having been killed, about 20 Israelis having been killed, and one soldier being captured. What is the response from Israel? They bomb and blockade Gaza. The generating plant is knocked out. Fuel oil for portable generators is blockaded. Jets fly over day and night creating sonic booms, indistinguishable from actual bombs. Water is cut. Food is blockaded.
Stephen Harper, taking the hard right line that is so popular in the world these days, refers to Israel's response to the capture of its soldier as "measured and justified." He says that Israel "has a right to defend itself."
Really? So if you occupy a foreign country and members of that foreign country attack your military, then you, the occupying power, have the right to starve the entire occupied country? You have the right to collectively punish the entire civilian population because of one captured soldier?
If this is true, Mr. Harper, then what is the "measured and justified" response of the Palestinians? They've been occupied for 40 years. Their orchards -- their livelihood -- are bulldozed every day. A giant wall prevents many of them from going to their own farms from their houses. Their houses are knocked down for the production of settlements for the exclusive use of their foreign occupiers. Their dead children are considered "collateral damage" when an apartment complex is bombed in an attempt to assassinate their leaders. Their parliamentary representatives are kidnapped. If it's justifiable to starve, bomb and blockade almost a million and a half people because of one captured soldier, what is then justifiable for the Palestinians?
The rest of us agree that killing civilians is unjustified, whether Israel or Palestine is doing it.
Mr. Harper supports violence against civilians, but only when our allies do it. If we are to believe that these are "measured and justified" reactions, then how can wars ever end?
I won't pretend I didn't expect this. There is, everyone must realize, a serious danger in putting religious conservatives in government. In Saudi Arabia, they lock little girls inside a burning school because they aren't wearing clothing appropriate for being outside. In Israel, the right wing wants to turn all of Palestine in to Israel. In Palestine, the right wing wants to "push the Jews in to the sea." In North America, the right wing Christians (that being Bush, Harper, Stockwell Day and God only knows who else) want Israel to succeed so that the second coming of Christ can occur. (Again, I kid you not. This is a view held by far, far too many people in our own country.) And that doesn't even begin to address the power brokers who want to manipulate the price and control of oil.
But we let this buffoon in to our government, and pretty soon we're going to have to kick him out. If, as the right wing is gleefully shouting all over U.S. television, there is going to be a "World War Three", it's pretty damned important that we not have Stephen Harper in charge when it comes down.