Tall, Dark, and Mysterious

12/13/2005

Quick, somebody hand me a violin that only dogs can hear:

File under: Character Writ Large, Home And Native Land, I Read The News Today, Oh Boy. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 10:45 pm.

Paul Martin, who shall remain nameless, has hurt David Wilkins’s feelings:

“Just think about this. What if one of our best friends criticized you directly and incorrectly almost relentlessly? What if that friend’s agenda was to highlight your perceived flaws while avoiding mentioning your successes? What if that friend demanded respect but offered little in return?” Wilkins asked.

I’ll be honest: I’d feel pretty bad.

Then again, my mommy always said that if your best friend doesn’t visit you for thirty years and imposes tariffs on your lumber even when NAFTA tells them not to and doesn’t seem to mind deporting your citizens to be tortured in foreign countries, then maybe they’re not really your friend after all.

10 Comments

  1. Oh for crying out loud. I rather think John Bolton wouldn’t whine like that.

    - meep — 12/14/2005 @ 1:47 am

  2. “The United States is, in fact, reducing emissions and spending more money on tackling climate change than any other country in the world, having spent over 20 billion dollars in the last five years,” said Wilkins.

    “I would respectfully submit to you that when it comes to a ‘global conscience,’ the United States is walking the walk,” he added.

    Thanks for the laugh, MS. I really needed that. I don’t know where to begin making fun of these two paragraphs.

    By the way, it should not be suprising at all that Bush would send an unqualified crony to Canada as his ambassador.

    - Chris Phan — 12/14/2005 @ 8:57 am

  3. I’d say that Bush is very unkind to his unqualified cronies — he should be appointing them to the ambassadorship to Jamaica or something more pleasant.

    - meep — 12/14/2005 @ 11:05 am

  4. Oh, now this is interesting: when I posted this yesterday, the CTV article had a picture of Wilkins grinning, with a caption along the lines of “US Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins smiles as he [blah blah blah].” And I’m not being ungenerous if I observe that his smile did not look “friendly”. (Update - Google’s cached it.)

    I see they’ve replaced that picture with Wilkins looking appropriately authoritative and reproachful.

    Mind you, I can see why Wilkins is confused: Canada never comes up in US elections. Or…during any other time in the US, for that matter.

    But, speaking of highlighting perceived flaws while avoiding mentioning (perceived?) successes, I find it amusing that Wilkins is ignoring the various and sundry ways that Paul Martin has kissed American ass during the last few years - scroll down to Duceppe’s (rather on-point) comments at the end of the CTV piece.

    [More, from the “credit where it’s due” files: Harper gets in a zinger: [Harper] said he couldn’t understand why Wilkins intervened, saying that in terms of Canada-U.S. relations, nothing Martin says can be taken seriously. Ouch; that’s gotta hurt.]

    - Moebius Stripper — 12/14/2005 @ 11:26 am

  5. Maybe he and Bono can commiserate.

    - Geoff — 12/14/2005 @ 11:25 pm

  6. The deportation thing didn’t make the news here in the States. So I looked at the wikipedia links in your blogstory and found the following:

    On June 14, 2005, Franco Pillarella, Canadian ambassador to Syria at the time of Arar’s deportation, said that he had no reason to believe Arar had been badly treated, and in general had no reason to conclusively believe that Syria engaged in routine torture.

    So, aren’t you bing a bit snarky when you say the U.S doesn’t seem to mind deporting your citizens to be tortured in foreign countries?

    I’ll be the first to admit that the U.S doesn’t always play fair with Canada on trade issues, but 30 years ago, Canada was a partner of the U.S in international affairs, and that is not the case today.

    - Rex — 12/15/2005 @ 8:59 am

  7. Me? Snarky? Seriously, though, Rex, you might want to peruse the more recent, more rigorous, report on Arar’s deportation, or the CBC article about it, which was the result of the Canadian inquiry into Arar’s deportation. I’m inclined to trust the fact-finder who spent eight months researching the Arar case, over a politician with a huge conflict of interest who just has “no reason to believe” something that might make his job a lot less pleasant.

    Though this entire post was positively dripping with snark, I was serious about Wilkins not minding deporting our citizens to be tortured. From the horse’s mouth:

    The ambassador, a former speaker of the South Carolina legislature and a close political ally of President George W. Bush, was also at a loss to explain why American authorities refused to participate in a public inquiry in Canada into the Arar affair.
    “I honestly don’t know the answer to that,” said Wilkins. “Were they asked? I don’t know.”

    Yes, Mr. Wilkins, they were. There were serious allegations that Arar had been tortured. An ambassador who opposes deporting Canadians to be tortured would do well to address those allegations. Being informed about an inquiry on the topic might be a good first step. Actually participating in the inquiry would be a good second step. Loudly condemning torture when the inquiry reveals that it occured, and promising to do one’s best not to allow it to happen again, would be a suitable way to convince the nation you deal with regularly and as part of your job that you don’t want to play any role in their citizens to being tortured. I don’t think I’m being uncharitable in saying that a glib statement to the effect of being surprised if there aren’t other such deportations in the future counts as indifference.

    And yes, Canada isn’t the partner to the US that it used to be. Heck, neither are a lot of other countries, and Wilkins and company might do well to consider other explanations besides, “Canada is just trying to score political points during an election campaign.”

    - Moebius Stripper — 12/15/2005 @ 9:27 am

  8. Amusingly enough, I was the one to have added that bit about Pillarella to Wikipedia (here).

    Rex, I can assure you that Pillarella’s statements were met with incredulity and shock in Canadian media, and the context of the quoted remark referred specifically to his judgment at the time, when Arar was still in custody. I don’t know anyone, at least in Canada, who doubts that Arar was tortured in Syria, and I believe the U.S. government is on record in saying that torture is routinely practised there.

    There is certainly complicity on the part of the Canadian government, especially with the Mounties, in Arar’s deportation and imprisonment. But the U.S. government bears most of the responsibility for what happened to him.

    - saforrest — 12/18/2005 @ 10:47 pm

  9. (Since I may as well add it, for the record:)

    “I understand political expediency, but the last time I looked, the United States was not on the ballot for the Jan. 23 election[.]

    The last time I looked, Iraq wasn’t on the ballot for the Nov. X election (pick an even numbered year after 2000). I mean seriously, if an ambassador doesn’t understand that foreign policy is part of politics, that person is in the wrong line of work.

    “Just think about this: What if one of our best friends criticized you directly and incorrectly almost relentlessly? What if that friend’s agenda was to highlight your perceived flaws while avoiding mentioning your successes? What if that friend demanded respect but offered little in return?” Wilkins asked.

    Wilkins, France; France, Wilkins. Let me tell a joke my uncle from The South told me last year and was apparently one of the best jokes around: “A guy went to a garage sale and found an old French rifle. The owner said it was in mint condition and showed the buyer a piece of paper attached to it. It read: ‘Never fired, dropped once.’” My uncle thought it was a hoot; my brother and I looked at each other and sighed, unnoticebly apparently. So he told it again.

    And here’s something Martin said, with implied comments in square brackets:

    “I have not made the United States a target in this campaign [moreso than I usually do, which is a lot],” he said, explaining that his disputed positions on softwood lumber and climate change were adopted “long before any election was contemplated [see next brackets].”

    “Let me simply say to anyone who wants to question what I have been saying, beginning with (Conservative Leader) Stephen Harper [preceeding phrase (mention of Harper) added solely because it is an election], that I am the prime minister of this country [for now], that our [non-]position on climate change will be determined by the government of Canada [except in the provinces that have already far surpassed it, like Quebec], that the fact is that we do expect our partners to honour their agreements [Groupaction?] — and I will defend [my job in] Canada. Period.”

    - Nicholas — 12/19/2005 @ 6:37 pm

  10. Update: yes, it’s true, Canadian politicians do nothing but insult the US, while the Americans would never say a bad word about us, and would certainly never make unsubstantiated accusations that have been debunked repeatedly.

    (Also, be sure to check out the second page, where Tucker Carlson asserts, without a trace of irony, that the US doesn’t pay any attention to Canada at all - this after a (more than?) three-paragraph tirade about us. Also, *sniff*, what sort of best friend doesn’t even know our name? You can’t make this stuff up. Anyway, I guess now Canada and the US are even: Martin described the US’ stances on softwood lumber, handguns, and the Kyoto Accord, and an American politician has accused Canada of making the 9/11 attacks possible.)

    - Moebius Stripper — 12/20/2005 @ 1:35 pm

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