Speaking at the G20 meeting
in St. Petersburg Russia Harper noted that many nations held the position that there must be UN approval before action could be taken. Of course Harper rejects that view but makes no mention that any military strike except in self defense without such authorization would be against the UN charter and international law. Harper complains:
"Their view is that the absolute authority of the [UN] Security Council is necessary for any action — even if that means no action at all will be taken. We are simply not prepared to accept the idea that there is a Russian veto over all of our actions. And so that's the fundamental difference of opinion here."
One might ask Harper if he is also against the US veto. The US has used its veto power in the UN literally dozens of times to block resolutions condemning Israel. A complete list can be found here.
at the Jewish Virtual Library. The veto power is a price that the UN must pay to get the most powerful UN nations on board so to speak.
Stephen Harper has been one of the most pro-Israel countries in the world. An article in the Times of Israel
notes some of the issues on which Canada has supported Israel even when almost no one else supported the country. Of course Harper has when speaking in certain venues expressed what he really thinks and no doubt gives clues as to where he would like to take Canada. In the National Post
Dec. 8, 2000 Harper said:
Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status.
This stance does not seem to stop Harper from claiming he is a firm supporter of the Canadian universal health care system or for supporting the supposed "socialist" Obama on the Syria issue, especially when that is the same position being pushed by Israel. Harper can support Obama though he is a great admirer of the US conservative movement. As he said in a speech to the Council for National Policy
a conservative American lobby group:
" Your country, and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world. "
Ironically some of the Tea Party conservatives are now allied
with the anti-war left in opposing Obama's position on Syria.
that he suspects that Assad has gradually increased his use of chemical weapons in the belief he can win through their use:
"I Ihink what we have been seeing over the past several months is the Syrian government, which finds itself in a stalemate, believes that it can win... the civil war in Syria through the use of chemical weapons. And they have been step-by-step ratcheting up that usage to see if anyone is going to challenge it, And I fear that if no one does challenge it, they will use chemical weapons on a scale way beyond anything we have seen to date to win that war. And if that ever happens, I believe, as I told the leaders that last night, that is a precedent that humanity will regret for generations to come."
Yet the momentum seemed to be on the side of Assad much to the consternation of the west. Surely, it would not only be stupid but suicidal to use chemical weapons simply to gain a tactical advantage in a particular location. Obama had already announced his red line and such actions would virtually force him to act. However this is a common explanation given by some analysts. Harper's explanation is just an even less convincing version of the same unlikely narrative.
To explain Canada's cop out John Baird the Foreign Affairs Minister said that the mission was one that would likely involve armed drones and missiles neither of which Canada has. As Harper
"It's also the kind of action that, given the nature of the assets that would be deployed, that Canada could not contribute and is not being asked to contribute to,"
Perhaps the US told Harper that a forceful defense of the mission was a sufficient role for Canada.
As well as mounting a defense of Obama's position, Harper seems to be given a special role of lambasting Putin, to what purpose it is difficult to fathom. Perhaps he is expecting some foul-mouthed reply from Putin to create some international stir and show how uncivilized Putin is or whatever. This could put Harper on the world stage for a fleeting moment. Harper in Dublin
on his way to the G20 meeting blasted Putin for supporting the thugs of the Assad regime. He also called Russia the odd man out when he sits with the G8 leaders:
“I don’t think we should fool ourselves. This is the G7 plus one. Let’s be blunt, that’s what this is — the G7 plus one.”
One positive aspect of Canada's involvement in the Syrian crisis has been aid
for refugees. Foreign Affairs Minister Baird has promised
further aid. Opposition parties have stressed the need for more aid and any further moves by the Conservatives to provide more would no doubt have the support of the opposition.