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Posted by on Nov 17, 2011 in At TMV | 3 comments

Canada’s Stephen Harper and Iran

Israel is moving — inexorably — towards a confrontation with Iran. As Tom Walkom points out in today’s Toronto Star, the Israelis do not necessarily believe that Iran will unleash a nuclear attack on their country. The result would surely be mutually asssured destruction. But the bomb is Israel’s trump card. The Israelis are:

terrified that the loss of Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the Middle East would weaken its hand in its dealing with other enemies, a weakening that, in the long run, might encourage Jewish citizens to abandon a country that prides itself on being a Jewish state.

However, recent events have also led the Iranians to some rock hard convictions about nuclear weapons:

The 1980 war with Iraq, however, reawakened Iran’s appetite for weapons of deterrence.

By 2001, Iran faced Saddam Hussein’s hostile Iraq on one side and an equally hostile U.S. operating in Afghanistan on the other.

The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq eliminated Saddam. But it also demonstrated that countries without nuclear weapons could be easily picked off — which spooked Iran even more.

In short, both nations see nuclear weapons as the guarantors of their existence. In the past, Canada wisely stayed out of such conflicts, believing that discretion was the better part of valor:

We sat out the brief 1956 Suez war that pitted Britain, France and Israel against Egypt. We avoided involvement in America’s bruising Vietnam War and explicitly rejected Washington’s entreaties to join its 2003 invasion of Iraq.

We went into Afghanistan only after the United States invoked a clause in the NATO treaty that obligated us to do so.

But that was then. Stephen Harper’s foreign policy does not depend on discretion. He believed that Canada should have joined in the invasion of Iraq. And his support for Israel is unconditional.

Walkom puts the choice quite succinctly:

Is it better to let Iran follow in the footsteps of the U.S., France, Britain, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea by acquiring nuclear weapons?

Or is better to unleash another Mideast war?

For Canadians the question is, which choice would Stephen Harper make?

Owen Gray grew up in Montreal, where he received a B. A. from Concordia University. After crossing the border and completing a Master’s degree at the University of North Carolina, he returned to Canada, married, raised a family and taught high school for 32 years. Now retired, he lives — with his wife and youngest son — on the northern shores of Lake Ontario. This post is cross posted from his blog.