Trudeau, Harper and the Boston bombings: Let's go back to the tape -

Trudeau, Harper and the Boston bombings: Let’s go back to the tape

John Geddes on what the Liberal Leader said … and how the PM responded


There’s been so much discussion about Justin Trudeau’s answer when CBC’s Peter Mansbridge asked him about the Boston bombings, in this interview, that I went back, listened carefully another time, and typed up what Trudeau said. My transcript is below, in case anyone finds it helpful.

It’s better to listen, though, since hearing Trudeau’s voice helps when it comes to catching his nuance. His tone takes on an insistent quality on the need to consider “root causes” and, later, on not fostering a “culture of fear and mistrust,” as if while he spoke he already anticipated objections.

He sure got them, and from the highest level. “When you see this type of violent act,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “you do not sit around trying to rationalize it or make excuses for it or figure out its root causes.”

To me, Harper is here conflating very different reactions, as if they were interchangeable.

It’s obvious, I would think, that nobody should ever indulge in rationalizing or making excuses for a terrorist attack. But trying to understand root causes? That seems a pragmatic, defensible course, and not the same as rationalizing or excusing.

But the Prime Minister went on with greater clarity: “You condemn it categorically, and to the extent you can deal with the perpetrators, you deal with them as harshly as possible.”

In this second part of his reaction, he seems to me to be exactly right. Condemn the attack, speak of the need to find the attackers, and to prosecute them—that’s what citizens would expect and demand.

So how does Harper’s two-pronged critique apply, as he clearly intended, to Trudeau’s answer in the CBC interview? It’s a long and rather meandering reply. However, I don’t hear Trudeau rationalizing or excusing terror. He does clearly call for an exploration of root causes.

And that part of Trudeau’s answer strikes me as unsettling only because he introduces his interest in causes without first offering the three essential elements that the Prime Minister persuasively tells us must be there in a leader’s response—condemnation, pursuit, prosecution.

When I consider them together, I’m not all that impressed by either Trudeau’s answer or Harper’s counterstrike.

The Liberal leader spoke of sympathy for victims and concern about underlying causes, as is proper, but failed to express a leader’s necessary outrage and convey a sense of urgency about the need for justice to be done. The Prime Minister was far better on outrage and justice, but conveniently blurred crucial distinctions about those other possible reactions.


Here is Justin Trudeau answering Peter Mansbridge’s questions about how he would react to a situation like the Boston bombings:

“First thing you offer support and sympathy and condolences, and can we send down EMTs, as we contributed after 9/ll. I mean, is there any material, immediate support we can offer. And then at the same time, over the coming days, we have to look at the root causes.

“Now, we don’t know now whether it was terrorism or a single crazy, or a domestic issue or a foreign issue. But there is no question that this happened because there is someone who feels completely excluded, completely at war with innocents, at war with a society. And our approach has to be, okay, where do those tensions come from?

“Yes, we have to make sure that we’re promoting security and we’re keeping our borders safe, and monitoring the kinds of violent subgroups that happen around. But we also have to monitor and encourage people to not point fingers at each other and lay blame for personal ills or societal ills on a specific group, whether it be the West or the government, or Bostonians, or whatever it is.

“Because it’s that idea of dividing humans against ourselves, pointing out that they’re not like us, and in order to achieve political goals we can kill innocents here—that’s something that no society in the world that is healthy, regardless of ideology, will accept.

[Mansbridge asks if he would talk to RCMP, CSIS, the Armed Forces.]

“Of course, I’d be worried about what specific targets there are. But there will always be more targets, more shopping centres, more public events, more gatherings than we can evacuate or we can deal with.

“Yes, there is a need for security and response and being proactive and making sure that we have information. But we also need to make sure that as we go forward that we don’t emphasize a culture of fear and mistrust, because that ends up marginalizing even further people who are already feeling like they are enemies of society rather than people who have hope for the future and faith that we an work together and succeed.”


Trudeau, Harper and the Boston bombings: Let’s go back to the tape

  1. Komarade Geddes the Dauphine was in waaay over his head in his stupid responce …

    • Comrade is spelt with a C…just say’n, if you want to really impress a journalist..

      • But he did pretty well on the “over his head” talking point, to be fair.

      • And response has two s’s and no c…

        • Good spotting…and i rather think waaay doesn’t have 3 a’s…eh!

          • This comment was deleted.

          • Wrong…lighten up and get a sense of humour bud. No one but you is being serious here.

          • Also, clayton should have put a comma between off and grammar. Tee hee.

          • He’ll come back and F bomb you if you keep that up. By the way, shouldn’t clayton be capitalized?

  2. The article is less than informative. One suspects that Mr. Geddes is considering politics and practising the art of obfuscation. Condemnation is fine if one clearly states concern is with the outcome without starting to name or imply the guilty parties. To fail to identify the root cause is to ensure that the same thing happens again and again. If we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.

  3. “It’s better to listen, though, since hearing Trudeau’s voice helps when it comes to catching his nuance”

    And watch…

    As ever, Mr Geddes the voice of reason. I concur. I wasn’t that impressed with either party with regard to that question. JT was all over the place, back to some of his bad syntactical habits[ he really needs to work on cleaning up on those, like – throwing monitor around without anchoring to something, anything] and the PM was of course his usual strategically lying self[ how else can you describe it?]

    Yes Justin should have made the PM’s only valid point first, and more forcefully. And you’re absolutely right, you have to both listen to and watch Justin’s response. Not, as Mitch Wolfe did at Huffington, simply run the text into one long screed without any sort of context provided by PM’s questions. And then proceed to stick whatever conclusion he could on just about any unrelated out of context remark he could salvage from the wreckage he had created.

    I’ve noticed this about JT. If you really want to get the guy, you have to both watch and listen to him. He “sounds” a bit gushier than he looks. He doesn’t have that gotcha attention manner that his father had over the air. And that syntax sometimes makes me wonder if he isn’t mildly dyslexic, or something similar.[ and no that doesn’t equate to stupid]
    Hopefully he gets over some of these limitation in the next couple of years, as i’m sure he will; if he can survive the barrage of filth the CPC in particular will throw at him.

    • Did Harper even make his ‘own valid point’ first?

      • Haha. no he did. He offered an official statement of sympathy, as did Trudeau. Then after being told of Trudeau’s interview, he crafted a different response and turned the question around to an attack on Canada and how to respond. At least I think that is what Harper did. Maybe he turned it around to being President of the USA and how to respond. Either way, he did not address the question Trudeau was asked.

    • Well, I’m relieved to know that I’m not the only one who has issues with how Trudeau puts his words together. On more than one occasion I’ve had to re-read quotes from him several times, and in the end still not be sure of just what he was saying. Not spouting off TP after TP is all fine and good, however, if he can’t learn to speak unscripted in a clear and unambiguous manner, then the LPC is in for years of hurt (which I might add would be self-inflicted as IMO Trudea was not properly tested in the recent leadership contest). This stuff isn’t rocket science, and is expected of a leader.

      • Geez…the guy is bilingual, with french his dominant language…

        Maybe if you guys spoke a different language 70% of the time, then you understand how easy it is to get tongue-tied once in a while…

        Bloody intolerant white english Canadian folk are…

        • Stephane Dion’s English was not fantastic. It was quite obviously his second language. However, I always understood the point he was making as he was coherent. Is it really too much to ask for as much from Trudeau? Especially as Trudeau seems far more at ease in English than Dion did.

          Nice ad hominem at the end.

          • So, while you demand perfect coherent english from JT, you didn’t from Dion…?

            I’m sorry, but the ad hominem is largely true. A lot of people (not you) do not bother trying to understand someone with any accent, unless it is British. I’ve had white Canadians/Americans come up to me speaking slowly in english you know just so I can understand them (very considerate of them).

          • I believe you misunderstood what I wrote, or perhaps I was just not clear. Dion’s English was quite accented (to my ears), however, he was coherent. His coherency was possibly due to the rigours imparted from getting a PhD and being an ex-prof. FWIW, I’m one of the few people who would admit to having voted Liberal when Dion was leader.

            Trudeau’s accent is non-existent or extremely mild (again, to my ears). However, too often he is not coherent.

            For me, accent is a non-issue. However, coherency is very much an issue to me. Hence my criticism of Trudeau. IMO a leader needs to be coherent.

          • Fair enough. I don’t disagree with that statement.

            Being asked to answer thoughts on a question on the fly is not an easy skill to master versus delivering a prepared text. And a lot harder a skill to master than rocket science IMHO.

            However, sometimes the situation/circumstances in which the question is asked, changes the directness of that answer. A one-on-one mushy interview versus a podium are very different environments.

            Probably why Harper rarely does it….

            The only criticism I would agree on is that of timing. Probably not a time to engage in this kind of interview before issuing a statement on events as important as this one was.

          • No disagreement from me on the comment re Harper. It seems to me that just about all the Conservatives just mouth talking points and/or answer the question they wished they were asked rather than the question they were actually asked – especially during QP. I’d say that politicians of all parties do this to some extent, but the Conservatives seemed to have really gone all in with this, IMO.

  4. every time Justin opens his mouth he removes a little more doubt about not being ready for prime time – just watch as time goes by more and more we will see and hear the same – this shouldn’t be surprising one look at what he chose as a profession lets you – PS: I am not insulting other drama teachers nor am I saying they can’t make it to be Prime Minister .. what I am saying is that he is quite talented at acting !!! his ability to keep his profile for the camera and to display the roguish charm and just the right amount of flair to drive women to new heights of gigglee ness is quite something however when it is discovered that the emperor has no clothes it happens fast !!! The faster we promote empty suits into positions of power the more the media bulids them up – the quicker the slide down into the pit! This of course is inevitable and and now can not be avoided as it is too late however you can tell that both Harper and Mulcair are enjoying this more and more every day – better to keep your mouth shut and have everyone think you are a fool rather than open it and let everyone know for certain !!!

  5. Pierre Trudeau, on troops in the streets, suspension of civil liberties with the War Measures Act, hundreds rounded up without warrant…”Just watch me!”

    Not much concern about root causes, or civil liberties. Condemn, and bring the perpetrators to justice, by whatever means necessary.

    Terrorist-double-tapper-drone-missile-king-in-Chief Obama is raining down drone missiles on pretty much anything that moves.**

    **Except banksters. Bankster terrorists don’t get prosecuted, or even charged, and get to keep their multi-million dollar bonuses.

    • Oh man, don’t you just hate it when you fall asleep and wake up 30 years later?!
      The “Trudeau” you’re referring to has been dead for more than a decade, and Obama isn’t the Minister of Defence – he’s the President of another country.

  6. I think anyone who asked Harper about the argument for Iraq, or even Afghanistan beyond hunting Bin Laden would in fact get a “root causes” response. I mean, that is basically the idea that was/is described as neoconservative – that Middle East democracy would change the dynamic. It does have a plausible track record from world war two, instead of sowing salt holding out a hand to Japan worked a lot better than Versailles. So Harper’s criticism of Trudeau’s response either dropped root causes as a rhetorical point or for the specific situation more so than the reality of his view or because he doesn’t give much credence to the idea now. I doubt he’s as positive on Middle East democracy now as he was but I’d think he still does believe there is a positive change in Iraq and Afghanistan from before. I do agree with his criticism of Trudeau to a point, interestingly it’s his own position that he’s misrepresenting in how he put it.

  7. good grief!!! I kind of feel sorry for the young man becuase the faster the main stream media build you up the the higher the fall will be when they start tearing down the wall that this humpty dumpty is sitting on!

  8. Trudeau’s responses are lame. These are not the first comments a leader should be expressing regarding an incident the magnitude of the Boston bombings.
    His final quote noted in this article suggests a need for more “information” yet he goes on to assume the mindset of the bombers. Perhaps he should first get educated on the profiles of persons who commit such heinous crimes against society before he attributes their actions to a sense of disenfranchisement. I also find it telling that he makes an assumption of an inability of society in general to properly process their own feelings regarding this horrible act.

  9. Harper’s statement seems to respond to a question Trudeau was never asked: What would you do if there was a terrorist incident in Canada.

    Also, this was Harper’s initial response:

    “I was shocked to learn of the explosions that occurred today during the running of the Boston Marathon. It is truly a sad day when an event as inspiring as the Boston Marathon is clouded by such senseless violence.

    “Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured or affected by this horrible incident. We stand with our American neighbours in this difficult time.”

    It seems like Trudeau’s and Harper’s initial response are very similar:

    “First thing you offer support and sympathy and condolences, and can we send down EMTs, as we contributed after 9/ll. I mean, is there any material, immediate support we can offer.

  10. It’s obvious, I would think, that nobody should ever indulge in rationalizing or making excuses for a terrorist attack


    How about – Britain wouldn’t let us be our own nation?

  11. Geddes: You forgot a dozen or so ‘you knows’

  12. Less than 24 hours was it, and the Conservative’s attack ad proved factual! What a bunch of wogs Liberals are!

    • What? Wogs? Are a you a Scientologist? Decrepit Suez engineer? Please explain.

      • “Decrepit Suez engineer” made my spit-take my coffee. AND I NEED THAT COFFEE, FROBISHER! (haven’t heard “wog” since Fawlty Towers).

        • Sorry about your keyboard. Unfortunately, I am a hobo. So there is nowhere to send the invoice.

  13. Since when is understanding synonymous with sympathy?

    • Since Harper said so, silly!

  14. Actually neither leader hit the proverbial nail on its head. Since you cannot change the past, after assisting the victims the only goal should be that it never happens again.

    However, both leaders did made their attempts to address the above. Harper by immediate and sever retribution. He knows that this will lead to the maximum appreciation by the voters. I suspect he is also intelligent enough to know that it is completely ineffective in stopping the next incident. (While you can debate whether ordinary criminals are deterred by punishment, the notion that terrorists or crazies consider the consequences is frankly, crazy.) However, Harper does give good advice to young Trudeau, give the voters what they want even if it is not what is needed.

    Trudeau of course understands that you catch and punish the perpetrators, although he perhaps understands that cops & agents are trained to do that. However, without knowing the root causes, how would a political leader know if increased intervention for mentally ill or increased border security was the answer. In any case, it was too soon to begin analyzing that answer; Harper was right. It was a time for a politician to play to emotion not reason.

    Harper is a consummate politician. Whether it be diddling on a piano, a surprise flight to Afghanistan, a sweater vest, recognizing Quebec as a nation, or making a meaningless gesture to First Nations, his timing and insight into the political impact of his actions is amazing. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be able to translate that into the political accomplishments we associate with Pearson, Mulroney, Trudeau or even Chretien. His is a raw talent, gifted at elections yet challenged by governing. Young Trudeau seems to naturally gravitate towards the necessities of leadership and bypasses some of the wily art of politicking necessary to get elected. They make an interesting contrast.

    • Mansfield asked Trudeau what he would do as Canadian PM reacting to the Boston terrorism. How exactly should the Canadian PM ensure that the Boston terrorists are caught and punished? The Canadian PM has no power over the US justice system. Trudeau answered the question asked of him – not the question that Harper would like to make you believe was asked.

      • I won’t dispute that junior’s approach would ultimately lead to better, more informed policy. I simply note that PM Stephen Harper knew how to manage the situation and the public to his political advantage. Don’t you think that is what Canadians want in their PM?

        • I don’t know. I don’t want it. I take every word out of Harper’s mouth as being politically calculated. I see no empathy or compassion there. When he expresses empathy, I assume it is because he thinks that will win him political points. Since Harper sets the tone, I think Harper makes Canada a lesser country than it is capable of being. Obviously some see it differently.

          • I am with you, catherine. I see him as a cold, calculating fish, a shark. Politicizing everything, always with the meanest spirit he can muster. But I do think that other Canadians will tire of that way of governing, and I hope Trudeau grows to show everyone he will be a good, if different kind of, prime minister. Harper is a bully, plain and simple.

    • I would disagree that immediate and severe retribution is not needed. This was a horrific act. Justice demands that the perpetrators of the act be found and made to pay for what they did. Since the act was so horrific, anything less than a severe penalty would be inadequate. As for the immediate aspect of it, the phrase “justice delayed is justice denied” comes to mind.

      Now one can argue that an attempt to obtain immediate and severe retribution could well result in the further curtailing of rights and the possibility of other undesirable collateral damage. And given past actions by authorities in the US (and to a lesser extent in Canada) I’d agree that that should be a real concern, and I’d hope that the relevant organizations would be looking out for it. However, I do think that it is not just a matter of giving the voters what they want, it’s a matter of justice being done and being seen to be done. It’s as simple as that.

      • As the primary action of a Canadian PM…. in a foreign country…. really?

        Do you really want Stephen Harper to be judged by how well he brings the perpetrators of horrific crimes IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES to justice IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES the metric by which he is judged…. really?

        • I don’t see how this was his primary action.

          And, where exactly did I say anything resembling that I wanted “Stephen Harper to be judged by how well he brings the perpetrators of horrific crimes …”? Matter of fact, I couldn’t care less how Harper is judged.

          Having said, that I don’t really have a problem with the gist of what he said. A horrific act deserves strong condemnation and it deserves to be punished in a strong manner. It matters not whether that condemnation is voiced overseas or at home.

          • We are just commenting on the fact that Harper was attacking Justin’s response to the question of what one should do as Canadian Prime Minister about the bombings in Boston. You seem to be falling for one of Harper’s political misinformation campaigns and thinking the question is the one that Harper would have you believe rather than the question that was actually asked.

    • Have you ever read the Wikipedia entry for William Lyon Mackenzie King? In general it says of him pretty much how you’ve just described Harper. That he had a natural talent for playing into the Canadian psyche with an excellent sense of timing and political culture. Yet, as a person he was distant, off-putting, and even a bit paranoid. He’s the longest serving Prime Minister and people know almost nothing of him.

      Harper is resembling King more and more and that description of yours practically confirms it.

    • Interesting. Harper’s Minister talks about root causes. Of course, we all know that Harper let’s his ministers say whatever they want and Harper doesn’t have to agree with it. Yeah, right.

      The more I learn about this, the angrier it makes me. I hope Geddes reflects on this more and writes a more balanced article where he acknowledges the exact question Trudeau was being asked, the fact that Harper’s government has been happy to talk about root causes of terrorism in the past, and the fact that Harper was so eager to politicize this tragedy that he couldn’t even wait until he was back in Canada.

  15. While Trudeau’s answer could have been better, he at least was responding to a direct, not-pre-arranged question. Harper, on the other hand, took time out of his overseas trip for a funeral to specifically talk about Trudeau’s response even though no one asked him to, and so you can be sure it was calculated and politically motivated.

    So, while both Trudeau and Harper have expressed compassion for the victims, Trudeau is the only one I believe has any compassion. Harper was eager to use the tragedy as quickly as possible for political gain and I do not think he would be capable of doing that if he had the image of that poor 8 year old boy dying. When Trudeau talks about the 8 year old boy, it rings true. Harper, not at all. He has squandered any trust that might be conferred by his office and he does not demonstrate in any way that he has an average level of human empathy for others. I think he lacks empathy, and that is a serious flaw to have in Canada’s leader. We are all the poorer because of this flaw in Harper.

  16. HarryP hit the nail on the head! Why would JT be talking about pursuing and prosecuting the bombers? That’s the job of US law enforcement agencies. He was asked what he would do if he were PM of Canada when Boston happened. I think offer sympathy, support, and assistance, then help to build a better society so it’s less likely to happen again is a perfectly acceptable answer. What else could he have said?

    • Yes, there is that too. Geddes seems to ignore that the simple fact that Trudeau was answering a specific question asked of him, whereas no one asked Harper to give his opinion on Trudeau’s answer – Harper was eager to give it unrequested, so eager, that he did it from the UK while there to attend a funeral. Harper conveniently ignored the question being asked because it served his own political purposes, which obviously is all he was interested in. Why did Geddes ignore the specific question asked of Trudeau?

      You are exactly right – he was asked how he would react as Cdn PM and he first said he would offer sympathy, support and ask how he could help, elaborating on this a bit. Beyond that what can you do except to then look back at Canada and see what you can do in learning, improved security? What the heck is Harper talking about in the Canadian PM tracking down the Boston bombers. You can’t just ship our troops to the US without the US wanting our troops there, and there is no indication they want them. Harper twists the question and Geddes falls for it.

      • harper is obviously a neanderthal. nuff said.

  17. Mr. Geddes, could you please edit your column to include the exact question Mansfield asked, rather than paraphrasing it? I think knowing the exact question makes it much easier to analyze both Trudeau’s and Harper’s statements and motivations.

  18. Give him a little time; all the leaders and cabinet ministers get more polished as speakers with time. Just give him a chance.

  19. Plain and simple is the fact that there is Evil in the World. It exists. Its root cause is the sinful nature of man, as well as the devil and his fellow fallen angels, who are very active in this world. Human wisdom alone, without the wisdom of God, can try to figure out every root and cause of evil acts and get know where. We as humans can yield to good, as well as to evil. We can submit to God through Jesus Christ, or live selfishly, indulge in sin, or give ourselves over to pride and evil in ever increasing portions. Bottom line is, the root of all evil is Sin, which humanism denies. So keep looking for the invisible root if you want, but its inside of us all……..But there is a cure…….which humanism fights against passionaltly………

    ………Ephesians 6:11-17……..

    11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
    14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

    • Good grief.

      • Perhaps there was an extra ‘o’ in the first word?

  20. Wow can’t tell this magazine is Liberal favored….dislike

    • i put it up on the board for you.

  21. I have a problem with your condemnation “And that part of Trudeau’s answer strikes me as unsettling only because
    he introduces his interest in causes without first offering the three
    essential elements that the Prime Minister persuasively tells us must be
    there in a leader’s response—condemnation, pursuit, prosecution.”

    Are you saying that a leader must first play to the emotions of his audience? Trudeau’s response was the logical reaction to a most illogical event. No-one who carries out acts like this is working within parameters we’re prepared for. To hope to prevent future instances we MUST determine motives, and the causes of the mindset within which those motives are developed. Otherwise we will continue to be surprised and appalled as these scenarios repeat, and repeat.

  22. Well it’s a good thing we now actually know who the bombers are and can put Trudeau’s comments in better context, and consider that he made them 2 hours after the event and they weren’t broadcast for 24 hours.
    Now we know the bombers came from Chechnya, we can start looking at “root causes”??
    What a stupid idea. Sorry.

    • Actually there are root causes that apply to Chechnya. It just doesn’t excuse their actions.

      • Agreed.

      • And if “root causes” had been taken seriously as a topic, the Boston brothers might never have been allowed in to the US in the first place.

        • How so?

          Surely you aren’t saying guilt by association or profiling is ok, or that you’d keep anybody from Chechnya out on principle?

    • Don’t be sorry. But try not to be stupid

  23. Komarade Geddes the Dauphine was on the side of the bombers not with the victums..

  24. They are enemies of society unless your society is a misogynistic sixth century society. Then it’s fine…

  25. Justin does a politically correct song and dance. He talks about sympathy for victims, then jumps to psychoanalyzing causes, and moves to the “culture of fear” malarky. However, he doesn’t talk much about responses(secure the border? No kidding, Einstein.Harper nailed the question. If the Americans or other allies are attacked, help them. If Canada is attacked then get the terrorist lowlifes and make them pay. I get the feeling that Justin would respond to an attack on Canadian territory by taking tips from a self-help manual. In dangerous times like this, you need an adult running things. Sorry, Justin! Canada is too important to be trusted to a mere boy like you. Give us a call when you become a man and grow a backbone. You could take a lesson from Margaret Thatcher who was a far tougher leader than you seem capable of being. You’re nothing more than a real life Stewart Smalley(SNL character).

  26. Did this asshole Trudeau go to school in Canada?……..I HPOE NOT.

    • Hopefully not the same school you WNET to.

  27. I think we have to look at this in a way the pundits (esp. Andrew Coyne, despite his half-hearted defence of Trudeau) are ignoring. It should have to do with the way we give ‘weightings’ to the words. Trudeau’s use of ‘excluded’ in no way leads to the suggestion of coddling the terrorists; the tape clearly indicates that he is thinking out loud, using words to get towards the right words. Of course, the opposition (CPC) will put the wrong emphasis on the words. So the problem now is, who will make the most political hay of this? Maybe Obama is Trudeau’s biggest ‘defender’ here. The problem is also, of course, the age-old problem of might is right versus a more reasoned look at relations with other states, etc.

    For weight of words, I say my argument (of course,I will defend my argument), I say, to quote the hard-hitting (some would say ineloquent) PM: it is a no-brainer. For a better example of charged words, why not consider the currrent PM’s petulant comment about our not getting involved with Bush in Iraq; he said and I quote almost verbatim: ‘We will join the battle in Iraq but we will be at the back of the parade.’ Meditate on that.

  28. Even people who confuse trying to understand motivation with sympathizing, as Stephen Harper counted on, and prefer the approach of blind hatred, possibly of an entire group, and revenge, should get the notion that understanding the enemy is the way to defeat him.

    The police monitor the Muslim community, certainly in the US and likely here. It’s known that some Muslims have cooperated with police and reported suspicious behaviour, as in the Toronto case.

    In the Boston case, the FBI were warned about the older brother, probably by Russia, followed up, but for some reason, didn’t take him very seriously. In other cases, the FBI has taken suspects so seriously it engaged in “sting operations” where someone who has shown an indication of leaning toward Jihad is encouraged by under-cover agents to carry out a fake plot and then they arrest and prosecute him. This is controversial because it may prevent a real terrorist attack, or the person might never have done such a thing, and it may discourage cooperation if people get the idea they are being unfairly targeted, or even entrapped.

    We don’t know why the FBI seemed to under-estimate the danger of the Boston terrorists or if they over-estimated it in other cases. But it’s surely obvious that the better they understand the nature of the ideological cause, the mix of politics and religion, the kind of people attracted, the related behaviours and reasons, the better job they will do. And, it’s easy to see the importance, and the challenge, of understanding both the community and individuals, of encouraging cooperation, and striking a balance between aggressive pursuit of individuals and alienating the community.

    Even people with zero empathy, who like the idea of revenge and directing hatred at all Muslims, and can’t stand the idea of understanding motivations, should get the practical arguments in relation to prevention. Of course, they wish it was possible to deal with whole issue through demonization of an entire group, deportation, preventing immigration, torture, indefinite incarceration without trial, denying basic rights of the accused, killing as many people as possible for whatever reason, and politicians vowing retribution. But, they should be able to understand the limits and downsides of that approach.