Polygonic

That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

The ‘cautious nod’ of leadership

Showing up a bit late to the Grand Lodge of the Bleeding Obvious, PM Stephen Harper has given what the G&M calls a cautious nod to the Afghan government entering into some form of negotiation with Taliban forces to end the decade-old anarchic bloodbath over which we help to preside.

Oh, they’ll be relieved.

Even a cautious nod is coming some distance towards acknowledging reality. But is being a latecomer to reality anything we should be proud of? There is no longer any obvious foreign policymaker behind which Harper can hide anymore, thus he’s been dragged kicking and screaming (or cautiously nodding) into the daylight of the contemporary global consensus and the full toll of a decade of fruitless warfare. That’s the style of leadership that got us ignored at the UN last week.

Maybe Taliban Jack ought to have a crack at foreign policy after all?

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Filed under: Canada, International, Politics, , , ,

Getting it right in the end

By this title, do I mean “getting it correct at the end of the day,” or do I mean “getting a sharp stab directly in the butt-cheek?” With the NDP, I mean both.

√Čric at ThreeHundredEight has hashed out some best-case and worst-case scenarios were a federal election held today. I was happily surprised that the NDP’s best-case scenario looks quite rosy, with 42 seats and over 20% of the vote. This looks bizarrely rosy at the moment, but it is the best possible estimate using their current toplines.

The worst-case is worse, as expected, with a projected seat count of 14. This is the imaginary figure (but maybe not so imaginary) that has NDP supporters trembling a bit. Most pundits are blaming the NDP’s ultra-democratic long-gun registry approach, which is understandable. It’s tempting to say that Layton should have whipped the vote and should have declared that the party line was the line caucus must tow. Perhaps it would have stemmed some of the current bleeding. But, I think it was kind of an audaciously democratic move, and one which differentiated the NDP from the Liberals, so I see it in a positive light.

Jack Layton has a proclivity towards taking calculated risks that beget slow-burn benefits. In 2006, he was derided with the epithet Taliban Jack for suggesting that Afghan insurgents would need to come to the negotiating table with NATO, as this all-out war on shadows wasn’t going very well and would simply never end any other way, barring unilateral withdrawal. The position hurt the NDP, as the press and other parties gleefully joined forces in distancing themselves from Layton’s anti-troops lunacy. Why are you against the troops, Jack?

Today, Jack’s position is supported by the U.S. President, the British military leadership, and the Afghan President himself.

It’s one example of the NDP leader knowingly taking the road that is politically landmined, but he trusts that he and his party can survive the journey long enough to be vindicated in the end. As it may be with the LGR, if they can make hay out of the new bill they’re proposing.

Moral vindication does not necessarily lead to electoral success, unfortunately. But if the NDP can begin to draw together a broad picture of themselves as not only the “audaciously progressive party,” but also as the most democratic of the parties, the most constituency-focussed of the parties, and the most daring and insightful party with regards to the long-term policies in Canadians’ interest, then perhaps they’ll reap those elusive dividends in time for the next election. Either that, or I’m more naive than Layton himself.

Filed under: Canada, Politics, , , , ,

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