Topic: Bush Administraiton
Not that we've never had problems with the Great White North, but the relationship between Canada and us looks pretty bleak these days, even with a new conservative government led by Paul Martin that the right wingers predicted would be a lot more cozy with W. This happy vision of solid North American front behind George W. Bush and all his works may have been a tad overly optimistic, in retrospect. (Besides, W. & Co. are hardly conservatives.) From the beginning, things started off on the wrong foot when W. went to Canada to meet Martin and insisted on pressuring him on missile defense. Martin was reportedly furious that Bush leaned on him when he had already told Condi that he didn't want to discuss, what for him, is a very touchy political hot potato. Rice had assured Martin it wouldn’t come up before the meeting, but you can't tell W. anything; he, having never had trouble always getting everything we wants handed to him on a silver platter, doesn't understand some governments in the world really are democracies and their politicians actually have to answer to their constituencies. A large majority of Canadians are not on board with spending a bunch of money on a technology that hasn't worked, after many billions already spent so far (And appears unlikely ever to work.), and they want nothing to do with Star Wars, period.
When you factor in the long running trade dispute over softwood lumber imports from Canada and the $ 4 billion a NAFTA ruling says the US owes them for unfairly collecting duties on those imports, it's easy to see why Condi's visit to Ottawa this Monday was a bit strained. Paul Martin has been pretty undiplomatic about the whole thing and has said the administration's behavior on the lumber trade is "a breach of faith," and demands the "duties must be refunded." Joel Brinkley in the NYT writes that partly as a result of the lumber issue Canada is, "Working hard to build its relationship with China...some officials are saying Canada may shift a significant portion of its trade, particularly oil, from the United States to China." China is already buying up major Canadian oil companies like a kid in a candy shop----it's odd that there are no panicked investigations going on congress over the Chinese take over of our biggest energy importer's oil industry---a State Department official says, though, "Petroleum is a fungible resource, are we are going to fill our energy needs from wherever we can get oil." There you go, 'don't worry be happy:' that's their great plan; screw a friendly country that provides most of our energy needs, lets protect a miniscule special interest, instead. (Is there a country out there that we haven't alienated yet, particularly one that exports oil to us? Oh yeah, Saudi Arabia; they're still our best buddies.)
Condi says she's willing to talk about the lumber issue with the Canadian's but, "it’s important to keep it in perspective." It's true that lumber is only 3% of Canada's overall trade with the US, but I think the real issue is; they are tired of being pushed around by us (About half the world could probably relate to that.). If it really is such a small matter to Condi, then why are we pushing away such an important ally to protect a relatively small industry compared to our desperate need for fossil fuel? When you consider Canada is planning to send one-quarter of what they're now sending us to China instead, this intransigence seems just slightly counter-productive. Oh well, never mind, we'll just wait on Iraq to become a stable democracy and then they'll make up the difference in what we're losing to China.
The twinkie defense:
John Tierney wrote an Op-Ed in the Times yesterday condemning the Democrats for "gleefully suggesting" Karl Rove and Scooter Libby are getting their just deserts for claiming Saddam had WMD. He writes, "No one deserves to be indicted on conspiracy charges for belonging to a group that believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction." That's such a red herring: if indictments do come down, for either of them, it won't be because the WIGs "believed" Saddam had WMD, it will because an orchestrated whispering campaign was launched by Rove and Libby against Joseph Wilson, who dared to contradict the party line, and in the process they outed a covert agent, his wife, who was considered "fair game," and then, most importantly, tried to cover their tracks when they were hauled in front of a Grand Jury.
The Bush defenders would like to make this an argument about whether the CIA and other country's intelligence services thought Iraq had WMD---Bill and Hillary believed it!---but this time around they're not going to be able to hide behind that lame excuse. Just like when the Clinton bashers had no problem with Ken Starr sniffing Monika's stained blue dress during the Whitewater investigation, they can't turn around now and say Patrick Fitzgerald should focus exclusively on whether Karl Rove and Scooter Libby violated the law by outing a covert agent. A Special Prosecutor can't look the other way when he has evidence of a crime being committed, especially when it's obstruction of justice and perjury. (Isn't that what they slick Willy on?)
By the way, it would have been nice if this "group" had actually known Iraq had WMD, instead of just believing they did, before launching a war that has cost $200 billion, 2000 dead Americans and over 20,000 wounded. The terrible results of this foreign policy mistake---this little boo boo---one could certainly argue, as Howard Dean has, does qualify as a crime, if not treason: Our military is a shadow of its once formidable self, daily being bled white of man power and materiel; our diplomacy is a shambles, we can't even convince other countries that a nuclear Iran is a problem; and we're so broke from this slight miscalculation, that our entire country is in hock to the Chinese for at least the next century.
Tierney can question the motives of Joseph Wilson and make fun of Howard Dean all he wants, but that's pretty weak tea compared to the enormity of the political fallout that's coming from this case. The right wingers are desperately trying to find some justification for Rove and Libby's despicable behavior, but they can't, this time the "twinkie defense" won't do.