Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Department of Friggin' Amateurs in Training

It seems to me that DFAIT needs a new department name to accurately reflect the quality of work being done by the political leadership there. In short order, we have managed to piss off both the Chinese and the EU due to a complete lack of understanding of the nature of diplomacy.

In the very same issue of the Globe and Mail, China has very publicly 'snubbed' the Harper government. To anyone remotely familar to the Chinese culture of 'face' this is firstly, expected, and secondly, quite a rebuke. It's been known for a while that Harper has let dangle some of the relationships and talks the Liberals had established to this point.

Regardless of how you may feel about Tibet, or human-rights in China, the art of diplomacy is keeping channels of communciation open, and subtly influencing rather than preaching a position.

This is also true for the EU, where Harper has skipped an EU summit in order to avoid direct criticism over reneging on our Kyoto commitments. Now EU leaders are calling for Canada to suffer sanctions over those very same actions. Again, this was a case where subtlety was called for. Being perfectly frank, *most* countries are not going to meet their Kyoto committments, but actively pulling out served no purpose, save perhaps the ability to tell the US that they aren't the only jerkoffs out there on the international climate change scene.

Regardless of Liberal domestic policy, they always held to what I call 'the backpack test' meaning simply, will these actions make me proud and unafraid to wear the maple leaf on my backpack when travelling. I think most Canadians of my generation are familiar with this concept and can agree that was something of an unspoken but powerful agenda.

Complete disengagement and 'preaching' leads to situations like North Korea and Iran where rhetoric and sabre-rattling prevails, but cordial relations and trading, even with people whose viewpoints you disagree with leads to more openness in the end. It's clear to me that our right-wing government, like the one to the south is incapable of the levels of nuance needed to properly handle international relations.

In the case of China, they have always been able to take the 'long view' and when Harper is gone soon enough, this will be but a blip, but the EU will not soon forget.

I think it's clear that amateur hour was fun, but we need the professionals back running things.