The readable Ignatieff

An unofficial collection of the Liberal leader’s freely available writings, for all your educational or objectionable purposes

The readable IgnatieffGoogle Scholar—a search engine for academic journals and papers—is a fairly decent way to kill a few hours. It’s also what started this, an unofficial collection of Michael Ignatieff’s freely available writings, assembled here for all your educational or objectionable purposes.

Do try to contain yourselves.

Academic Journals
Intervention and State Failure, Dissent Magazine
The Challenges of American Imperial Power, Naval War College Review
Canada in the Age of Terror, The Center for Foreign Policy Studies
Ethics in the New War, Canadian Military Journal
Human Rights as Politics, Human Rights as Idolatry, Princeton
Why Eastern Europe’s Revolutions Could Succeed, Foreign Affairs
Mobilizing Public Support for the United Nations, Center for Public Leadership
Blood and Belonging, Harvard
The Burden, Australian Universities Review

The Guardian
The Observations of Jean-Paul Sartre
Who do we think we are?
Who killed Frank Olson?
It’s war, but it doesn’t have to be dirty
What will victory look like?
Something happened
Why Bush must send in his troops
Friends disunited
Iraqis fight a lonely battle for democracy

New York Times
His Art was All He Mastered, book review
Minor Differences Mean a Lot, book review
Future Meltdown, book review
Fault Lines, book review
Dead Souls, book review
In the Name of the Most Merciful, book review
Return of the L-Word?, op-ed
Counting Bodies in Kosovo, op-ed
The Next President’s Duty to Intervene, op-ed
A Bungling UN Undermines Itself, op-ed
The Reluctant Imperialist, feature
Blood Money, book review
The Right Trial for Milosevic, op-ed
What did the CIA do to his father?, feature
Exhibit A: Blood Sisters, feature
What Terror Keeps Teaching Us, feature
Is the Human Rights Era Ending?, op-ed
Barbarians at the Gates, book review
Nation-Building Lite, feature
When A Bridge Is Not A Bridge, feature
American Empire: The Burden, feature
I Am Iraq, feature
Why are We in Iraq? (And Liberia? And Afghanistan?), feature
The Year of Living Dangerously, feature
Lesser Evils, feature
Mirage in The Desert, feature
The Terrorist as Auteur, feature
Democratic Providentialism, feature
The Uncommitted, feature
Who Are Americans to Think Freedom is Theirs to Spread?, feature
Iranian Lessons, feature
The Broken Contract, feature
Getting Iraq Wrong, feature
Common Sense to the Rescue of Policy, book review

Books (limited previews only)
Wealth and Virtue, 1986
The Rights Revolution, 2000
Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, 2003
Charlie Johnson in the Flames, 2003
American Exceptionalism and Human Rights, 2005

(Note. Prospect Magazine had made available all of Ignatieff’s writing for them, but the link seems to have died since they redesigned their website. Older pieces from the Guardian and Observer are archived, but require a subscription or a fee. Academic essays and papers that are similarly hidden from view were not included.)




Browse

The readable Ignatieff

  1. Thanks, Aaron!

  2. "The President's call to arms – bring the evil-doers to justice or bring justice to the evil-doers – will get us through the first stage of combat, but it does not define our aims for the long haul. Wars are like that. First we declare them. Then we figure out why we are fighting them."

    Michael Ignatieff, "What will victory look like?", The Guardian, Friday 19 October 2001

    • So? This quote is an accurate depiction of what was going on in the media a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

      • The day after 9/11, France's "Le Monde" ran its famous banner headline proclaiming "WE ARE ALL AMERICANS".

        I guess Michael Ignatieff took that message to heart. And then some.

  3. "We live in a world that has no precedents since the age of the later Roman emperors.What is so remarkable is not simply the military domination of the world by a single power. (…) What is remarkable is the combination of all these: technological dominance at a lower cost proportional to wealth than at any other time in history, absence of peer competitors, and inflexible resolve to defend its way of life—and those of other nations as well, who, like Canada (I happen to be a Canadian citizen), are happy to shelter under American imperial protection.

    Parallels to the Roman Empire become evident."

    Michael Ignatieff, "The Challenges of American Imperial Power", Naval War College Review, 2003

    • "I happen to be a Canadian citizen"

      That says it all. He describes his attachment to Canada even more tepidly at p. 11 of his book "The Russian Album", if you can beleive it. I don't have the book at my fingertips at the moment but will cite it here later. Essentially he states that he doesn't share his father's Canadian patriotism.

      The country that provide shelter to his family just seems like a hotel to him, to paraphrase Yann Martel.

      Michael Ignatieff, our first post-modern party leader.

      • I have some questions about Mr. Ignatieff's political instincts and policy positions, but this "Canadian of convenience" claptrap is really tiresome.

        George Grant, Alice Massey, George Ignatieff … pretty much his entire extended family … contains many dedicated, influential Canadians. (He'd be a valid candidate even if he were an immigrant or first-generation Canadian, but that's beside the point with nativists.) He was born here, educated here, taught here, worked as a journalist here, then made a big play of his success in academics and media abroad.

        While he was working abroad, he still made time for return trips to his home country, for family, to accept little things like honorary doctorates from Canadian Universities, to deliver Massey Lectures, etc. Then he decided to drop a lucrative position at Harvard and moved home to run as an MP in Toronto — twice. That was 4 years and 2 elections ago. Now he's Leader of the Opposition.

        Does travelling broadly and being successful internationally make one a "post-modern Canadian"?

        There's lots to question Iggy on. But this citizenship litmus-test line just plumbs the depths of mouth-breathing stupidity.

        • Hear,Hear.

          Everyone born here "happens" to be a Canadian citizen. It's only those who choose to do the hard work of becoming a citizen, though born elsewhere, who do not "happen" to be Canadians.

        • I have some questions about Mr. Ignatieff's political instincts and policy positions

          I have some questions about those too.

          Ignatieff's political instincts: Where are they?
          Ignatieff's policy positions: What are they?

          It's ironic. He's such a prolific author, yet these two basic questions remain unanswered. Ignatieff the intellectual seems to be an entirely different person from Iggy the politician.

        • I have some questions about Mr. Ignatieff's political instincts and policy positions

          I have some questions about those too.

          Ignatieff's political instincts: Where are they?
          Ignatieff's policy positions: What are they?

          It's ironic. He's such a prolific author, yet these two basic questions remain unanswered. Ignatieff the intellectual seems to be an entirely different person than Iggy the politician.

          • Agreed. But it's difficult to escape the feeling — shared by most who cover the subject — that he's learned from what happened to Dion. Dion was under continuous assault for eons before the election writ. Most coverage was how about how effective the Tory war room was, how much money they were raising, how shaky Dion looked, etc.

            For Iggy: Why set out big, even controversial, policy positions before you have to? Why let the gov't take shots at your policies when you, as Opposition, should be doing it to them (It's your job to shoot arrows, not to take them.) Why not bide your time, build your team, raise your money … and let the gov't deal with the job losses, auto bailouts, wars, internal divisions (HST), etc.? Especially over the summer in Canada, when most of the country and half of the media have their brains set to idle.

          • Still, couldn't he at least give us a hint? He's been in politics for three whole years now and nobody seems to know where he stands on most issues. Sure, everyone knows that Iggy is pro-oilsands, pro-stimulus, pro-America, and pro-nine week EI qualification, but nobody seems to know where he stands on the other stuff. His political speeches consist mostly of useless platitudes, and he's languishing in the polls. That's why so many Canadian journalists have criticized him about this.

          • Because in so doing, he would make himself indistinguishable from a Conservative.

          • You cannot really expect a policy reveal with no election looming. In fact, despite our expectations, Harper didn't release his policies until 3/4 of the way through the last election…after the debate!

          • Have you changed your mind about Iggy? Before he became the leader, you weren't exactly his biggest fan.

      • HI folks! as promised, here's Iggy in his own words in "The Russian Album" p. 11 Picador USA softcover edition:

        "And to this day [my father] is a much more patriotic and sentimental Canadian than I am. For him Canada was the country that gave him a new start. For me, being a Canadian was just one of those privileges I took for granted."

        The back cover of the book describes the author, Mr. Ignatieff and indicates that "He lives in London and Cambridge, Massachusetts."

        Why does this man want to lead us? Where does he want to take this country policy-wise?

        I'll venture an answer on both: 1) Because the Liberal backroom boys convinced him and 2) where the Liberal backroom boys tell him to.

        • I completely agree with your last point about the "Liberal backroom boys". I think they've hijacked his brain. There's such a huge disconnect between Michael Ignatieff, the intellectual who fearlessly expounded on every issue ("it's time to abandon the fantasy of the Royal Family"), and Iggy the Canadian politician, who seems to be muted and cowed by his political masters and advisors.

          As we speak, the Liberal platform is (finally!) being crafted, and it's questionable how much input Ignatieff has added to the process. It makes me wonder who's really in charge of the party.

  4. "Every political party is in the identity business. Getting your mitts on the symbolism of identity is crucial to getting into power."

    Michael Ignatieff, "Who do we think we are?". The Guardian, 1999

      • Hear, hear. Michael Ignatieff has been hiding his mitts for far too long. Bring on the mitts, bring on the symbolism, bring on the identity. It's time for Iggy to emerge from his shell.

  5. So basically here's a few decades worth of evidence that Iggy is respected enough to be published repeatedly, in both academic journals and newspapers, all around the world. His interests appear broad and he's also demonstrated he has the ability to reflect upon, modify or evolve a position, and even declare himself to have been in error.

    He knows the problems of the world and sees how they compete and interlink. He's shared his thoughts in a dialogue with experts, politicians, the media and the public. He knows the challenges of being a small, progressive democracy in the age of superpowers and in the age of "terror".

    Without a rigid ideology to inform his every political move, what hope have we in such a leader?

    • Hear, hear. Michael Ignatieff is a very impressive guy, and he deserves respect for his highly accomplished pre-political career. He's also an excellent writer, and as I browse through the links that Aaron helpfully provided, I find that I agree with at least some of what he has written.

  6. Aaron – what exactly do you mean by "do try to contain yourselves"?

    Boy, the international world pays a lot of attention to him.

      • Unfortunately, all the links are from Canadian sources. It's almost as if the outside world doesn't care.

      • Unfortunately, all the links to that joke you mentioned are from Canadian sources. It's almost as if the outside world doesn't care.

        • As Google shows -> Results . . . about 427,000 for harper misses photo op; that was quick work analysing the sources.

          However, your point that, ". . . the outside world doesn't care." – about Harper? If accurate, would you not agrees that it does not reflect too well upon him, or Canada

          • You're not using google correctly if you think that there are 427,000 links for this story. You need to focus your search terms and use quotation marks.

            In general, the outside world doesn't pay Canada much attention, regardless of who leads it.

          • "You're not using google correctly . . ."

            I merely pasted the information from the search page because I doubted you had checked each link before claiming, ". . .all the links to that joke you mentioned are from Canadian sources."

            You say, "In general, the outside world doesn't pay Canada much attention, regardless of who leads it."

            Harper says, “[T]his country cannot enhance its cherished place in this world by losing its special position on this continent. We cannot let our military sovereignty in NORAD wither away. We cannot watch our economic security in NAFTA weaken. So I tell you that on our common interests with the United States, including on missile defence, our Conservative government will take Canada back to the table.” (Stephen Harper, 2005 Conservative Convention Speech Speaking Notes, March 18, 2005)

            Who to believe? You or Harper? Neither?

          • How are Crit's and Harper's statements contradictory?

          • For the record, I was actually at the G20, and I can confirm that Harper's non-appearance was definitely the subject of much mirthful speculation and coverage by my journalist colleagues, both Canadian and otherwise. In our, and possibly his defence, it was one of the few noteworthy moments in what was a very long, very boring day of waiting for the closing press conferences, so it's not surprising it would have gotten more attention than you might otherwise expect.

          • Yes, but even though your journalist colleagues snickered, how many non-Canadians cared enough to write about it? I think the story was buried in a few wire service reports, but to say this story received international attention is an exaggeration.

          • Technically, it did receive international attention because I remember distinctly two foreign written stories about it plus some online wire service story pick-ups.

            But I would say not enough to call it an "international story".

          • Agreed. Definitely not enough. Aside from a few bored reporters, nobody outside of Canada seemed to notice it or care about it. Of course, here in Canada, the usual shrieking harpies were wringing their hands with fake embarrassment. It was all quite theatrical.

          • Harper is therefore absolved of being an international laughing-stock and restored to obscurity. Not that one blames him for that, he's just a very domestic guy and that's fine; but the fact remains that Iggy, the journalist, has more brand-name recognition internationally than Harper, the Prime Minister.

          • It is probably about as much international publicity that Harper has received for anything. A quick google search turns up Harper in the loo or toilet stories from the BBC, Guardian, Independent, CNN, Huffington Post, NYT, Scotsman, ABC, etc. in the first few pages. That's just searching in English – I recall France and China picked it up too, likely others.

          • Just shows how our journalists in Canada rate with the rest of the world. Stories coming back to Canada from our great media – did Harper go the bathroom? Why was he is that bathroom so long? Was there any other leader in the bathroom too? Did he see any other leader in the bathroom? Did Harper talk to anyone while he was in the bathroom? Did he wash his hands with soap or just splash water on them? Did he flush? To conclude – what a bunch of crap.

  7. I, for one, am happy to see the list is as long as it is. Canada has suffered in recent years from an excess of partisanship, not an excess of reason. And if some of the views are controversial, what's the worry?

    It's not like Stephen Harper has hewed anywhere close to his published views once he got elected, so bashing Ignatieff as though the same result is likely is a bit rich.

  8. "Viewed from the United States, the differences between Americans and Canadians may seem very minor. Viewed from Canada, they form the crux of an identity. To paraphrase Freud, Canadian identity is a national form of the narcissism of minor difference."

    Michael Ignatieff, "Minor Differences Mean a Lot", New York Times, 1990.

    • I found the quote, that says it all… and the headline writes itself.

      Michael Ignatieff thinks story about assassinated American diplomat is "semi-funny". Michael Ignatief: Just Visiting… Planet Earth.

      "There was a story in the New York Times recently, which is one of those semi-funny, semi-not-so-funny, stories that helps us to focus this issue. An American diplomat was assassinated in Amman, Jordan. "
      - Michael Ignatieff
      Canada in the Age of Terror

      • Its impossible to believe there is no context to that quote.

      • and figuring there must be context, I found it complements of the link above:

        The Times sent several reporters to Amman to ask the Americans who remained how they
        felt about their security now that an American had been gunned down in a
        terrorist attack. At least one American, an academic on leave, teaching in
        Amman, said what he did about his security dilemma: when he got into a taxi and
        they asked him where he came from, he said “I'm from Canada,” but the taxi
        driver, a Jordanian, turned around and said, “where from?” and the guy began to
        make it up and said, “well, I'm from Montreal,” and the taxi driver said, “I was
        10 years in Montreal myself” and the American, now in big trouble, figuring that
        a display of local knowledge was called for, said “those Expos are a great team,
        eh?” Which was, of course, the giveaway, because if you have got local
        knowledge, it has got to be the right local knowledge, and as Canadians know,
        there are many things true about the Expos, but a good team is not one of them.

        People, do we really have to be so petty?

        • I joke
          to poke
          fun
          at the
          excited
          one

        • Obviously, all these quotes people (including Harper) are pulling out have context, but "cheap shot artists" (as Daniel Veniez recently put it) aren't interested context. If you're interested in context, read the works in their entirety.

          Blues Clair's point was clear to me.

      • and figuring there must be context, I found it complements of the link above:

        The Times
        sent several reporters to Amman to ask the Americans who remained how they
        felt about their security now that an American had been gunned down in a
        terrorist attack. At least one American, an academic on leave, teaching in
        Amman, said what he did about his security dilemma: when he got into a taxi and
        they asked him where he came from, he said “I'm from Canada,” but the taxi
        driver, a Jordanian, turned around and said, “where from?” and the guy began to
        make it up and said, “well, I'm from Montreal,” and the taxi driver said, “I was
        10 years in Montreal myself” and the American, now in big trouble, figuring that
        a display of local knowledge was called for, said “those Expos are a great team,
        eh?” Which was, of course, the giveaway, because if you have got local
        knowledge, it has got to be the right local knowledge, and as Canadians know,
        there are many things true about the Expos, but a good team is not one of them.

        People, do we really have to be so petty?

  9. Impressive list, at least the journal articles and books. I disagree with a lot of what he's written, but there's no denying the man is to be taken seriously as an intellectual.

  10. Impressive list, at least the journal articles and books. I disagree with a lot of what he's written but there's no denying the man is to be taken seriously as an intellectual.

  11. Impressive list, at least the journal articles and books. I disagree with a lot of what he's written but there's no denying the man is to be taken seriously as an intellectual.

    Thanks to Wherry for doing the legwork on these.

  12. How many political researchers will lose their jobs because of this post?

    • Au contraire. The Tory Shop of Errors will be on full alert until they get through this entire list. Will likely have to go full Sparrow through the weekend.

  13. Thanks for the compilation effort, Aaron. It's a very valuable resource and my newest bookmark.

  14. Just wanted to add one that didn't make the list — Ignatieff's review of The Prince for the Globe and Mail.

    • A gold mine. Thanks, Kady.

      "If you must harm a rival, he advises, make sure that you destroy him, lest you leave him strong enough to wreak revenge."

      "The appearance of sincerity, nobility and truthfulness will serve you if you do not possess the real thing. "Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.""

      This sounds familiar. I think someone else in Ottawa has been reading it too.

      "A leader must take care to entrust to his subordinates all the dirty work of politics, so that his own reputation remains unsullied. A prince should leave "matters of reproach" to subordinates, claiming "matters of grace" to himself."

      Oh. Maybe not then…

    • A gold mine. Thanks, Kady.

      "If you must harm a rival, he advises, make sure that you destroy him, lest you leave him strong enough to wreak revenge."

      "The appearance of sincerity, nobility and truthfulness will serve you if you do not possess the real thing. "Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.""

      This sounds familiar. I think someone else in Ottawa has been reading it too.

      "A leader must take care to entrust to his subordinates all the dirty work of politics, so that his own reputation remains unsullied. A prince should leave "matters of reproach" to subordinates, claiming "matters of grace" to himself."

      Oh. Maybe not then…

  15. I also echo my thanks for the compilation effort Aaron.

  16. Geez Aaron – you've got Crit Reasoning so excited he wetting his pants. Perhaps you should have released this stuff a bit at a time so as not to bring on a heart attack or something.

    By the way – I happen to be Canadian too.

    • you've got Crit Reasoning so excited he wetting his pants

      Yes, me so excited me wetting my pants.

    • you've got Crit Reasoning so excited he wetting his pants

      Yes, me so excited me wetting my pants. You so clever.

  17. Whoops, I boo-booed – and we all know you HAVE to have the last word.

    correction folks – "he's wetting his pants".

    • Fortunately, I'm a lot younger than you, and therefore I have better bladder control. ;-)

      • Depends.

  18. Okay – Crit Reasoning has to have the last word – so you have it.

    You don't know how old I am and I don't know or care how old you are.

    But, I will let you have this as your last word to keep you happy.

    • “If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain.”

      Winston Churchill

      • LOL – after he crossed the floor back and forth. Actually, the first part doesn't make sense when the Conservatives refer to Liberals as bleeding hearts – contradiction or what.

        The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
        - Winston Churchill

        • Wasn't it Wiliam Pitt (the Elder) that first uttered those words?

  19. Thanks!

  20. Dammit, you have surpassed me in your commenting score.

  21. Only temporarily, I'm sure! :)

    • Dammit, you just caught up!

  22. Ah, but you are on fire, and I am obliged to cook dinner tonight : (

  23. Ah, but you are on fire, and I am obliged to cook dinner tonight : )

    • Speaking of dinner, I just got back from dinner with my old high school buddy Andrew Leung, the Roman Catholic priest who was interviewed by the Globe and Mail for their article entitled: "How to avoid a Wafergate" .

      I told him my little "Wafergate" anecdote. I'm not sure whether he really believed me (it must seem far-fetched).

      • Hey, that's a terrific blog by Andrew Leung, I hope he keeps it up now that he's back in Canada. (How great that he's at St. Basil's, btw, that's a beautiful church.)

        I do hope someone writes a thorough historical article about Wafergate, with the appropriate footnote. ("3. The term 'Wafergate' can be traced to a comment made some hours after the video was released, by a Maclean's commenter known only as 'Critical Reasoning,' which quickly caught on; there is some evidence that it was initally used ironically, though it was soon being used without irony . . ." etc.)

        • If that ever happens, I'll be absolutely delighted! I've always had a secret desire to become a trivial (yet entertaining) footnote in Canadian history.

          (btw, thanks for your kind comments about the blog. I'll pass them along.)

  24. It does warm the cockles to see the frog so squirmy and floppy and giggly. Thanks, Aaron.

  25. Ok, lets all post a quote.

    From ETHICS AND THE NEW WAR
    by Dr. Michael Ignatieff

    Editor's Note: This is the text of the 2001 Young
    Memorial Lecture, delivered by Dr. Ignatieff at Royal
    Military College on 25 October 2001.

    …"One of the most difficult aspects of understanding the force of ethical imperatives in the use of military violence is to drop that idea of ethics as a set of handcuffs and to begin to think of ethics as a force enabler — to think of ethics not in a negative sense but in a positive sense, as a force multiplier.
    The Canadian Forces, because of their long peacekeeping tradition, know that ethical behaviour in the field is a powerful force multiplier — precisely because we don't have that much force anyway."…

    Thanks Aaron.
    Thanks Google Scholar.

  26. Thanks a lot, Aaron. great compilation.

    Now let's watch the cons plumb every article for attack ad fodder.

  27. I've just finished reading a novel by Ignatieff … "Scar Tissue" – not bad stuff, but didn't see it on your list …

  28. I flush more common sense down the toilet every day than this idiot has realised in his entire life.

    • Because I genuinely need to know, 1 – how exactly do you measure it to know for sure, and 2 – how much sense does it make to flush common sense down the toilet?

    • You certainly flushed a lot before posting your comment.

  29. Noone who believes the nonsenses Ignatieff professes to believe, such as Bush et al 'fightng for Democracy!!!' in Iraq or Afghanistan (or ay of the dozens of other countries they have invaded in the last hunder+ years) or that we bombed Yugoslavia for 76 days to 'prevent genocide', has any business calling themselves an 'intellectual'. The man is intelligent, no doubt, and writes well, no doubt – but an 'intellectual' needs to have some courage and honesty as well as intelligence, courage and honesty to challenge power, rather than sell out to it. Those who believe such people are 'intellectuals' would be in the same boat. Like everything else in Capitalistland, illusion and lies are being substituted for reality, as the citizens allow their brains to be mushified rather than challenge the Emperor's edicts. (website is http://www.rudemacedon.ca/greenisland.html , which the automatic machine does not like and will not allow for some reason, if anyone is interested in a bit more truthful intellectualism such as we engage in on Green island …)

  30. It boggles my mind that someone with such a great career would want to go into politics. How is he not loosing his mind?

  31. How about a list of Harper's writings ….?

  32. over education –doesn't mean U have it!!! It means the know how– to govern & run the gauntlet! It takes experience –being able 2 read people—find a commom ground 4 all–not just yourself–also deal with financial affairs– & not talk with "forked tongue"

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