Vive Le Canada

Harper Looking At Obsolete Vision Of World
Date: Thursday, November 30 2006
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Nov. 30, 2006. 01:00 AM
HAROON SIDDIQUI

As Stephen Harper takes satisfaction in the NATO decision to free up a few more troops for deployment in southern Afghanistan, Canada seems oblivious to a major reassessment underway in Washington and elsewhere away from the military and cultural confrontations with the Muslim world.

The Pope is making amends in Turkey, dropping his long-standing opposition to its entry into the European Union.

George W. Bush is in Jordan to try and find a political way out of Iraq, where the U.S. military engagement has now lasted longer than it did in World War II.

His host in Amman, King Abdullah, wants him to help avert a potential civil war in Lebanon, as well as the humanitarian crisis in the Israeli Occupied Territories. The same message was conveyed to Dick Cheney Saturday by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who said the Arab-Israeli dispute is "the core issue" in the Middle East.

On all three fronts, Washington needs the help of Syria and Iran something the Iraqi government already understands. Baghdad has just normalized relations with Damascus after a 24-year break, and has been paying heed to Tehran.

All this is the exact opposite of what the Bush neo-cons had in mind in launching their war of choice on Iraq. A major oil producer and developed Arab state would be in American hands.

Arabs, Palestinians in particular, would be more amenable to American and Israeli dictates, as would Iran and Syria, the patrons of Hezbollah, Hamas and other anti-Israel militias.

Lebanon, too, now represents the opposite of what Israel had envisaged in invading and pulverizing it last summer. The pro-Western Siniora government is teetering, pushed by the pro-Syrian, pro-Iranian Hezbollah, which is also said to be training Shiite militias in Iraq.

It is these failed American-Israeli policies that Harper has committed Canada to. While he took pride in boarding Bush's sinking ship, the president is being counselled to bail out, and quickly.

A bipartisan Congressional commission, co-chaired by Jim Baker, the veteran diplomat and Republican troubleshooter, is likely to recommend that Bush enlist regional help in managing the crises roiling the Middle East.

Jimmy Carter has already called for the same.

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