Stephen Harper, the newly-elected Conservative prime minister of Canada,
is huffing and puffing about Canada asserting its sovereignity over the arctic
waters of the Nortwest Passage. “The United States defends its sovereignty;
the Canadian government will defend our sovereignty,” said Harper at the
end of a news conference, promising to deploy naval icebreakers into the
The resulting brouhaha is hilarious on so many different levels
it’s hard to know where to start.
But let’s just start by considering all the
wisecracks about the Canadian military to have been made already,
shall we? True, they’re about as intimidating as three troops of Girl
Scouts nowadays, but it’s not really fair to harsh on them; they were
a tough, professional service before po-mo leftism in the Canadian
elite made it national policy that the military could never be more
than a joke.
What’s much funnier is that the U.S. mainstream media sees Harper’s
maneuver as an I’m-not-your-poodle message to George Bush. There’s
some justification for this; Harper is doubtless playing that card to
stroke Canadian Liberal voters, who indeed do tend to hate Bush almost
as intensely and irrationally as the U.S. press does.
But really! Over a bunch of ice floes on the sub-zero ass-end of
nowhere? Harper, an ex-libertarian, isn’t that stupid. Anybody who
can’t hear the wink-wink-nudge-nudge in Harper’s parody of territorial
posturing is tone-deaf.
Harper is doing something much deeper and funnier here. He’s
catching the Left in a trap. If they want to join him in
his anti-Bush polemic, they’re going to have to stand behind the
principles of — national sovereignity?
Patriotism? Rendered idiots by their hatred, many of them
will probably take the bait — not anticipating that their own
rhetoric is going to come back around to hammer them flat sometime
when there’s a serious issue on the table.
Harper is such a clever bastard that he’s setting this trap right
in front of their faces and daring them to notice. Read that quote
“The United States defends its sovereignty; the Canadian government
will defend our sovereignty.”
By invoking Canadian national sovereignity, and justifying it on
the direct analogy with the U.S.’s right to act as a sovereign
nation, Harper just kicked transnational
progressivism in the nuts. But by making it look like an
anti-American, anti-Bush move, he has made it almost impossible for
anyone in the Liberal Party to argue with the anti-tranzi terms in
which he has framed the issue – because arguing would look
like rolling over to the Americans!
It’s beautiful, I tell you. Beautiful. The most adroit political
mindfuck I’ve seen in years. My respect for Harper just shot up about