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article imageOp-Ed: Michael Ignatieff former Liberal leader to return to Harvard

By Ken Hanly     Sep 9, 2012 in Politics
Toronto - After leading the Canadian Federal Liberal Party to a disastrous electoral defeat, former leader Michael Ignatieff will return to Harvard University in a part-time position but will also teach at the University of Toronto as well.
Ignatieff was the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and also of the official opposition in parliament from 2008 until 2011. In the federal election in 2011 Ignatieff led the Liberal Party to its worst result in history. The Liberals came third behind the Conservatives who won a majority and the NDP winning only 34 seats and allowing the leftist New Democratic Party to become the official opposition for the first time. Ignatieff even lost his own seat. He resigned as of May 25, 2011.
Ignatieff had earlier taught at Harvard from 2000-2006 as the Carr Professor of Human Rights Policy. Ignatieff's view on human rights seem to wander about considerably. For example he said of an Israeli attack in Lebanon
In August 2006, Ignatieff said he was "not losing any sleep" over dozens of civilian deaths caused by Israel's attack on Qana during its military actions in Lebanon. Ignatieff recanted those words the following week. Then, on October 11, 2006, Ignatieff described the Qana attack as a war crime (committed by Israel).
After very negative reactions by some within his own party he also recanted his accusations about a war crime and said that it was up to investigators to determine that. He has also said that there may be circumstances when coercive interrogations may need to be used and indefinite detention allowed to combat terrorism. This is exactly the sort of human rights ideas that Harvard is looking for obviously.
Several times Ignatieff seems toforget he id a Canadian and identifies himself as an American. As Ignatieff returns to his lectern at Harvard it will be almost ten years to the day when he published his cover story "The American Empire? Get used to it?" in the New York Times Magazine. Among other topics he gives a ringing endorsement of the Iraq war. He changed his mind much later. In the article he defends U.S. imperialism as a type of benign progressive empire building process. Ignatieff writes:
"America's empire is not like empires of times past, built on colonies, conquest and the white man's burden ... The 21st century imperium is a new invention in the annals of political sciences, an empire lite, a global hegemony whose grace notes are free markets, human rights and democracy, enforced by the most awesome military power the world has ever known."
While Ignatieff may have failed in Canadian politics he is still a star on the academic stage and is still supporting the benign Empire and chastising Russia and China on Syria. The U.S. again is the defender of freedom and democracy against these dictatorial regimes. However as Ignatieff's article also points out Qatar and Saudi Arabia, U.S. allies, are also sending arms to Syria and neither is a democracy and the Saudis no defender of rights.. Al Qaeda is on the rebels' side as well. Ignatieff forgets too that not that long ago Syria was favored as a place to render terror suspects precisely because it had brutal prisons that used torture to elicit information often quite wrong but useful as verifying what intelligence officers wanted to believe.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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