Bush, Castro and human rights


A few weeks after NDP MP Don Davies suggested Dick Cheney should be barred from entering Canada, Amnesty International says Canadian authorities should arrest George W. Bush when he visits next week. It’s not clear that we have the power to do so. Jason Kenney is unimpressed.

“Amnesty International cherrypicks cases to publicize based on ideology. This kind of stunt helps explain why so many respected human rights advocates have abandoned Amnesty International,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said.

Kenney noted in an email that in the past, Amnesty had not asked for Canada to bar former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, even though the rights organization itself said he had presided over “arbitrary arrests, detention, and criminal prosecution.”

Castro’s last visit to Canada would seem to have been for Pierre Trudeau’s funeral in October 2000.

Human Rights Watch also wants Canada to take action. Noting Amnesty’s call, Andrew Sullivan lays down a straightforward standard: “Either the Geneva Conventions are the law or they are not.”


Bush, Castro and human rights

  1. So Kenney feels that Bush is equivalent to Castro. Got it.

    Does Kenney feel that Castro should be prevented from entering Canada, or arrested upon arrival then?

    • Kenney feels AI is supremely hypocritical, and only gets worked up about “enforcing the law” against their enemies, instead of on the basis of genuinely principled beliefs.

      • Very nice. But not at all relevant to what I posted.

    • So Kenney feels that Bush is equivalent to Castro. Got it.

      Actually, I believe Kenney was saying that Castro is WORSE than Bush.  Even that said though, it’s entirely possible (and would be consistent) that Kenney thinks that NEITHER man should be arrested if he visits Canada.

      • We’d need Castro to visit Canada to test that out.  My guess he wouldn’t let Castro enter the country. 

        • Presumably on the grounds that Castro had violated the GC too…only worster…important distinction that; in Kenny’s mind anyway.

          Love to test it out if only to see just how much of a pretzel JK could contort himself into this time.

          • Especially because he has accused AI of being motivated by ideology…

  2. This canard is a twist of an old favourite of Kenney’s crew.  “If you really cared about democracy, you’d demand change in North Korea, not in America!”  It is a complete logical fallacy (not actively denouncing Castro in no way implies consent of his rule), but they use it because nobody ever challenges them on the fallacy.  Except Andrew Sullivan, I guess. :)

    • It’s Ethical Ethics.   

  3. Can we do it?  Yes.

    Should we do it? Yes.

    Will we do it?  No.

    • I think the answer to that second question is a lot more complicated.  After all, to my mind, not to go all realpolitik on you, but the government needs to balance morality, legality and the BEST INTERESTS OF CANADA, and while there may be some moral, or even legal obligation to arrest Bush, to my mind it’s CERTAINLY not in the “best interests of Canada” to do so.

      Can you IMAGINE what would happen if Canadian authorities arrested George W. Bush!?!?!  It would be insane.

      Besides which, why arrest the mafia soldier while the Godfather is still around?  If we’re going to arrest someone, we should wait for Cheney to visit.

      • Cheney has already visited, and he remained untouched as well.

        However there is a list of countries neither of them can visit for fear of arrest.

        Pity we’re not one of them

        • List please…

          • Your google is broken?

          • Why would I google for something that you have already found?

            Even if I were to find a list, it might not be the list to which you were referring.

            But that’s OK, if you don’t want to provide a simple link, just say so, and I’ll move along. :-)

  4. I’m a bit surprise by Amnesty International’s call, but even more surprised by Andrew Sullivan’s.

    Then again, Sullivan does have a point.  It’s not as though the Geneva Conventions are “polite suggestions”.  They’re not (or at least shouldn’t be) optional.

  5. Does Amnesty International spend time trying to convince Canadian officials to arrest Canadian war criminals or do they solely focus on attention grabbing names? If Canadians are worried about war criminals maybe we should start with our own first and worry about others later.

    It would be terrific if Bush and Chretien were arrested together and sent to The Hague to share a cell. 

    I wonder if Canada did decide to behave crazily and arrest Bush, how long before SEAL teams or somesuch are in Canada freeing President?  No way America is going to let a former President sit in cell for war crimes. If Canada arrested Bush, I would surprised if he was in our custody for more than 48 hrs. 

    TorStar – Oct 2009: Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has told a British newspaper that Canada dispatched Maher Arar to Syria to be tortured.

    • While the Arar case may be an apropos comparison nonetheless, I think calling it a “crime” is more accurate than calling it a “war crime”, but I could be wrong.

      I also think it’s highly improbable that the U.S. would send a SEAL team in to Canada to get President Bush back.  The more interesting question, to my mind, is how would the hypothetical arresting officers get past Bush’s Secret Service detail?  I’d also be surprised if Bush spent more than 24 hours in a cell if someone were actually crazy enough to try this, but I don’t think anyone would need to bust him out physically.  There’s got to be a MILLION things the Americans could just THREATEN to do that would make us give him up pdq.

      • I gave our pols more credit, maybe unfairly. If Canada arrest former US President, surely our pols/bureaucrats would be aware Americans be angry and threaten sanctions before arrest. I assume Canadians know what they are doing and trying to send Bush off to The Hague.

        Your suggestion below about stopping Bush at border, I don’t agree with either. Pointless symbolism that would just anger our large neighbour and they could easily punish us in numerous ways. 

        At some level, all countries’ leaders are criminals because The State does naughty things to its people as punishment. 

        • I’m not sure I totally understand your first paragraph.

          As for stopping Bush at the border, keep in mind that I wasn’t suggesting that it be done per se (in fact, I think it would be a VERY bad idea) so much as expressing curiosity as to what others might think of that suggestion. I agree that it almost certainly won’t happen, and shouldn’t happen.

          • Hastily written.

            You said Americans would threaten Canada with many bad consequences if we arrest President and we would release him before Americans took action. I thought SEALS would be sent because Canadians would be aware that America would be mightily angry if we arrest former President and decided to ignore American threats. 

            Canadian pols would be more witless than I thought if we arrest former President and then release him next day because we are surprised by US anger and threats. 

    •  Tony loves to post one line from a Star article but he never posts a link or any other part of the story.  Why is that, Tony?

      Ignatieff gets his facts wrong in Arar case
      OTTAWA–Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has told a British newspaper that Canada dispatched Maher Arar to Syria to be tortured.
      Ignatieff made the erroneous statement in an interview published in September in The Observer
      while clarifying his stand against torture. He has had to defend
      himself against persistent accusations, often made by Conservative
      opponents, that he supports “torture-lite” based on his previous
      writings on the subject.


      • Michael Kinsley ~ A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth

        • “The truth” being whatever Tony really, really wishes to be true.

  6. Do you suppose there’s any parallel to be made between us not arresting Castro when he visited for a state funeral, and the Americans not arresting, say, Ahmadinejad when he visits the UN?

    • No, both Castro and Ahmadinejad are protected by diplomatic immunity…especially at the UN.

      Bush, no longer president, is not.

      • Ah, good point.  I knew I was missing something.

  7. Amnesty International an arm of the left wing socialist countries led by a bunch of overpaid dummies.

    • Today’s bumper sticker I see.

  8. Like many, I think the notion of arresting Bush is LUDICROUS, that he’d never spend more than an hour in a cell (that’s if the arresting officers were somehow able to get past his Secret Service detail… unlikely) and that holding him for more than 24 hours would start to move quickly from a “diplomatic problem” for Canada to a “military problem” for Canada.

    That said, I’m curious what people (particularly those who are vociferously opposed to the “arrest him!” notion) think of the idea of simply refusing him entry to Canada?  We don’t have to let George W. Bush in to the country after all, and I don’t think I’d necessarily mind that more symbolic act (not that that will happen in a million years either, but it’s a less ridiculous suggestion, imho).  Thoughts?

    • Bush’s visit to Swizterland was cancelled because the Swiss govt claimed they couldn’t guarantee his safety….mobs attacking him and so on.

      And we all know how prone the Swiss are to sudden mass violence, right?  LOL

      But anyway, it worked and the Swiss finessed their way out of it

      However here….Harper likes Bush…and has always supported him, so he’s not about to do the same as the Swiss did.

      • “And we all know how prone the Swiss are to sudden mass violence, right?  LOL”

        Just for the record, in Zurich they have a full-on capital R riot every May Day.

        • LOL trust the Swiss to have a scheduled riot.

        • Like clockwork, one might say.

          • Yes, they are very much a rules-based society — even when protesting.  I’ve personally always found the European attitude to protest marches, etc. to be interesting, very different from us.  In Italy, for instance, they make a big party out of it, with DJs , light shows, plenty of booze etc.  We’re so damn serious about it all.

      • Cancelling the was the right thing to do – too easy to have more than shoes thrown.

        “Neutral Switzerland is among the best-armed nations in the world, with more guns per capita than almost any other country except the United States, Finland, and Yemen.

        At least 2.3 million weapons lie stashed in basements, cupboards, and lofts in this country of less than 8 million people, according to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey.”

        • Not to mention they didn’t want him there, so it was a graceful way out.

          And guns don’t make an ‘armed nation’.

          Even if everyone in Tiananmen Square had guns, they couldn’t have stopped the tanks.

          What protects Switzerland is banks, not a bunch of rifles.

  9. Bush is guilty of waging illegal war (mong other crimes against humanity). It is the absolute worst of the war crimes. (All others spring from the act of war). Castro’s actions pale in comparison. Kenny is a nitwit. 

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