A man ahead of his time


National Post, January 16, 2008. Any attempt to counter terrorists war-torn Afghanistan will not succeed without an intervention in neighbouring Pakistan, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said Wednesday. Mr. Dion hinted NATO could take action in Pakistan, which has a porous border with Afghanistan, if the Pakistani government doesn’t move to track terrorists.

“We are going to have to discuss that very actively if they (the Pakistanis) are not able to deal with it on their own. We could consider that option with the NATO forces in order to help Pakistan help us pacify Afghanistan,” said Mr. Dion in Quebec City, commenting after his two-day trip to Afghanistan last weekend. “As long as we don’t solve the problem in Pakistan, I don’t see how we can solve it in Afghanistan.”

New York Times, February 20, 2009. With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government. Members of Pakistani tribes offered funeral prayers on Feb. 15 for victims of an American missile attack in the North Waziristan region, near the Afghan border. The missile strikes on training camps run by Baitullah Mehsud represent a broadening of the American campaign inside Pakistan, which has been largely carried out by drone aircraft.

In other news, President Obama’s energy secretary, the Nobel-winning physicist Steven Chu, mused earlier this month of a tax on carbon emissions.


A man ahead of his time

  1. Ah, yes, but what’s the name of the EPA Director’s dog?

    • Does it matter, if it doesn’t come when it’s called?

    • Obama’s new dog? Harper.

  2. Stuff like that Pakistan thing – which Dion was crucified for. Are exactly why politicians don’t talk like real people.

  3. Is it Steven Chu or Stephanie Chu?

    Is his wife as educated as he is ?

    Does anyone know if he is a family man ?

  4. American’s were using Predators in Pakistan before Dion made that statement, so it’s more about Dion being out of touch with current affairs than being a man ahead of his time.

    Same with carbon tax. It’s not like Dion was the first to think of a carbon tax and now we are all rushing to catch up with the oracle that is Dion.

    Aaron, it’s time to leave behind your man-crash with Dion.

    • “Man-crash?”

      • “Who is Stephane Dion, Alex?”

        • Speaking of man crushes…

          • Just keeping the evil twin in check.

          • Good luck with that, Dotty.

          • You’re the one with the two part schizo name. Was that last comment from Ti or was it from Guy?

          • There really isn’t that much significance, there. It’s just an ironic nickname I had as a child.

          • ironic nickname I had as a child.”

            ore in other words, when you were a miner.

          • The quality of your puns is inversely proportional to the length of the thread.

          • I can’t bare long threads.

          • So will you be modeling some new ones?

          • LOL, Jack!

          • Not in genes since some nome cancelled the funding.

          • Aw, you’ll get cold watching your chum ski.

          • I plan to keep warm with some arctic char coal.

    • JWL
      As ever missing the pt by a country mile, and now exppressing his dislike of ” man-crashs.”Well, they can get a little messy.

      • I question jwl’s recollection. I’m not sure just how common knowledge it was at the time Dion made his statement that the US was taking direct action in Pakistan.

        Although, I also don’t remember Dion being pilloried for it. When it comes to suggesting military intervention when the targets are brown, there’s nothing the Right doesn’t approve of.

        • It’s more the moralist in me that’s bothered. Dion was like the weedy kid with the lisp and specs and a foreign accent, who warns all the other kids that the ice may be getting a little thin and maybe we should all play something else. Harpie’s the overgrown lout who snears and yells out pile on everyone, the weird kid thinks we can’t do what we want anymore. In all honesty i wanted Dion gone too! He had a tin ear and was almost embarrassingly defenseless, while all the time threatening to bite yr knee-caps. While we have need of Alpha dogs nothing will really change, but then again it has changed. The tone and personal spite is open and naked now, no longer just wittly implied or suggested as it often was in ye olde thymes.
          On brown targets.
          Sometimes i think that absolutely nothing has happened at all since Orwell wrote his Marrakech essay.

          • In all honesty i wanted Dion gone too! He had a tin ear and was almost embarrassingly defenseless

            That’s what the media thought and that’s unsurprising coming from a demographic of people who never left high school.

            Remember just how adolescent the reporting was, even at Maclean’s, during the election?

          • Ti-guy
            Not sure if you mean Dion was not defenseless. But 2nd part of my sentence is as relevent for me. Dion was a bit of a toothless wolf too. That’s what really lost me. I tend to think AP’s pt , that Dion didn’t really grasp the essential differences of Academic and political debate, was largely true.[ not that i know bugger all about either really ]
            Yr pt re: many journos acting like they were still in HS is an interesting one. I wonder if they had other life expriences or even previous careers, that would change for the better or not? In the real world i tend to find the most interesting people are those who have made major switches.

          • I tend to think AP’s pt , that Dion didn’t really grasp the essential differences of Academic and political debate, was largely true.

            I think the”fault” was that he didn’t appreciate that packaging is sometimes more important than the content.

            Most academics believe that ideas and substance will win the day, failing to recognize that most of society (unfortunately) is vain, insecure, and lazy.

          • Austin So.
            I think APs analysis went a little deeper then Academics are smart and the public isn’t. I do see yr pt that the packaging is often more important then the contents.
            Dion seem to feel that the truth is self evident, and that as in academia you just have to make yr case and everthing else will follow. Guile, cunning, savvy, and a fair degree of self interested ruthlessness are also essential in politics. You don’t have academic debaters all sharing a similar desire to just get at the truth in politics, you have opponents who will often as not say black is white one day and the opposite the next, in order to get position on you.
            Dion, to continue the metaphor, seem to me to allways be yelling offside to the ref, and be non-plussed that the opposition actually wanted to prevent him from scoring a goal.

          • Dion hasn’t really impressed me since his Clarity Act days. We can all just pretend that Dion had wonderful, substantive ideas, but was unfairly pilloried by the shallow media.

            The reality is that his signature policy, the Green Shift, was horribly flawed. There is nothing wrong with the concept of a carbon tax, but Dion’s ineptitude has poisoned that well for a generation.

          • CR
            I wonder how much Dion is personally to blame for the disasterous decision [ in hindsight of course ] to water down his plan with all kinds of social- economic add-ons ; thus playing into Harper’s demagoguery : “it’s insane, it’s a tax on everything”? If he had left it a simple straight up tax reduction policy in exchange for a price on carbon. Maybe it would have sold? Dion was definitely the man to do it though.

          • CR
            “not”…of course.

      • I would love to know what the point is, kc. I am sure I am too ignorant to figure it out for myself, so please inform me all-wise one.
        Ti-Guy There are plenty of articles about Predator attacks in Pakistan, well before Dion made his comment, if you care to look –

        ‘ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – When CIA officers decided this month they had a fix on al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader, they also judged there was no way to arrest him. The village where they believed Ayman al-Zawahri was planning a meeting of militants was deep in a rugged, Pashtun tribal homeland where thousands of well-armed men would fight any troops, American or Pakistani, who might enter.

        But the CIA’s unmanned Predator spy planes can carry laser-guided missiles. For days, CIA officers monitored the village by video from the drones, watching al-Qaida militants but also local women and children coming and going, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence analysts say.” Newsday, Jan 23 ’06

        “Eighty-two people were killed, 12 teenagers among them, in an air strike at a religious seminary in Damadola in the Bajaur tribal region on Monday morning …. The operation, he said, was launched following intelligence reports that the seminary was being used as a training facility for terrorist activities …. But local residents believe the air strike was carried out by fixed-wing US drones which fired hellfire missiles at the compound, killing all those inside the seminary, including its administrator Maulvi Liaqat Ali.” Dawn, Oct 30 ’06

        • There are plenty of articles about Predator attacks in Pakistan

          Indeed there are.

        • The pt my oh so unwise one was – in my humble opinion – not whether Dion was an oracle or not only foresaw, but originated these ideas – intervention and CT – but was roundly mocked and pilloried for daring to suggest them. But continue on viewing the universe through yr prism, i love diversity of opinion myself.

          • Speaking of diversity, Kc, I shall henceforth be known as Kermit, Kermie, CR, or “the amphibian”… take your pick. :)

          • I wonder if they have a miss piggy avatar around here? That oughta fix the little green varmint! Hayaah!!!

  5. It would be a sad if internal politics trumps good policy suggestions…

    You can add “focusing stimulus packages towards research into green technologies” as well as “education and research” to that parallel, Aaron…

    • Yeah, it’s like we collectively opted to have this guy taken away by some nice men in white coats. And all because he occasionally dared to suggest doing things differently, also he sucked as apolitician and spoke funny englsh.

  6. Dion who ? .. good grief … the premise of this article is flatly irrelevant as everyone and their dog has been saying the problem is in Pakistan and the yanks have been covertly nuking Al Qaeda leaders and such since day one with or without permission. Now I know Aaron that you are trying your best to stimulate discussion as to whether Dion was this or that but really the only thing he truly displayed was a lact of tact and appropriateness and suffered the poltical consequences as he should have. If you can’t take the heat get the heck out of the seat.

    • No, Dion dared to speak the truth. We just didn’t like hearing it. Course, he didn’t speak it very well. If Ignatieff had made the same pts many of us would be all going – ohhh!! he’s so smart. He speaks so well. And such a nice accent. – and that includes the media. Everyone loves a winner!

  7. We are going to find, as time wears on, that Stephane Dion was right about a great deal indeed.

    • Dion may eventually be proven right about some things, but that will hardly change the fact that he was wrong about most things.

  8. With respect to US attacks on Afghani insurgents and Al-Queda operatives in Pakistan’s “territory”, one has to consider whether or not Asif Ali Zardari’s government can actually claim sovereignity over the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Northwest Frontier Province. While there may be de-jure sovereignity, it doesn’t look like there is de facto sovereignity.

    It doesn’t look like any regional power can actually claim sovereignity in this area; otherwise, there would be some semblance of control by someone. While, strictly speaking, US attacks on this area are a violation of Pakistan’s territorial sovereignity, in the absence of effective control of the area by the central Pakistani government, there’s not much the Pakistani government can say or do about it. Zardari is between a rock and a hard place (literally, given the mountainous terrain); he’s under pressure from the Pakistani people to defend territoriality, but also under pressue from the US to assert control over the area. Doing the former risks the precarious “alliance” with the US; doing the latter risks a civil war. He’s walking a tightrope. Right now it appears (from the safety of my armchair), that he’s allowing the US to act as his proxy in the area; he has to “sell” the incursions of the US acting in its interests as co-incident with Pakistan’s own interests.

    This area, along with Afghanistan generally, has historically been very difficult, if not impossible, areas for ANY colonializing or invading powers to control. If one considers it to be a semi-autonomous state, there is no evidence of a central authority that can claim with justification to represent it. Without a legitimately recognized authority, there can be no soveriegnity. With no soveriegnity, there is (putatively at least) no violation of soveriegn territory.

  9. I wish the media would start playing some of Harper’s election era quotes about carbon taxes, green shift and caps. And his earlier quotes on climate change in general. Breathtaking hypocrisy.

  10. Expanding a floundering imperialist war by attacking the neighboring countries … what’s not to like about that?

    What I especially admire about the idea is that there is no possible downside. The neighboring countries’ governments could not possibly be overthrown and there is no way that the fanatical guerrilla fighters would ever institute a genocide when they’ve taken over and we’ve withdrawn with our tails between our legs. Not gonna happen. Take my word for it boys – when superpowers are involved in intractible guerrilla wars against broad-based popular resistance, it always end happily.

  11. The point was when Dion mentioned Pakistan the Tory attack dogs went berserk on the ‘not a leader’ riff.

  12. Richard E. Nixon (really, is that your name? I’m sure that’s been a challenge…), I’m not saying I “like” it, but it is realpolitik, don’t you think? And I do get your references to Viet Nam and Cambodia.

    However, your prognosis of “fanatical guerilla fighters” instituting a genocide doesn’t seem to ring true. The point I made was that NOBODY has control of the areas in question. Also, I’m curious as to who, or what, you identify as “broad-based” popular resistance in Pakistan; do you envision a resistance throughout Pakistan, or just in the Tribal Areas and NW Frontier Province?

    As an “ally” of the US, either Pakistan has to assert its authority, or the US will do it for her. Zardari is actually better off letting the US do it, while feebly protesting the violation of a territorial sovereignity that he can’t actually claim.

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