We all know what damage the invasion of Iraq has done to the international system and America's standing in the world, but the damage caused by a second war in the Persian Gulf -- even one not involving a land invasion -- would be incalculably larger. Unlike in the Iraq case, there isn't anything even vaguely resembling a case for American action under international law. This war would be unilateralism on steroids, leaving the United States utterly isolated in the global community. The international agenda, as a consequence, would shift largely to one dominated by the question of how to contain, constrain, and control American military power. Schemes to reform existing institutions and make them more effective would be moot. The only problem anyone would be genuinely interested in solving would be Washington's erratic behavior. Meanwhile, the worthy cause of waging war on al-Qaeda would become more and more indistinguishable from a looming clash of civilizations.And for those of us north of the 49th paralell (actually, I'm not, but you get the idea) there's this little nugget, via DailyKos:
The H.M.C.S. Ottawa has been dispatched to the Persian Gulf, leaving in September, from British Columbia. Officially the H.M.C.S. Ottawa is being deployed as part of Canada's contribution to fighting the "War on Terrorism." The Canadian vessel is the first publicly known ship to be deployed to the waters of the Middle East in about a year.5 The Canadian vessel is slated to be fully integrated into "Expeditionary Strike Group 5 (ESG 5), which will be seafaring in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, off the Iranian coast.As the article mentions, this is not the first time Canadian vessels have been in the Gulf. But if a Canadian vessel ends up in the Gulf, supporting an American attack on Iran, the Liberals need to move to topple this government. Whether they've got a leader or not, whether they've got the money or not. If you want to pretend to be the governing party of Canada, the party of serious policy, then Canada cannot - in any way whatsoever - support a unilateral attack on Iran. I'm assuming - commitments to Washington notwithstanding - that if the Prime Minister wants, the Ottawa can be withdrawn from the area. Hell, send it to the Indian Ocean to support Afghanistan - anything would be better than putting the Canadian stamp on Iran.
Now, before you accuse me of alarmism, read the title of this post again - What is going on here? I don't know. But I do know that the Tories have made "relations with Washington" a priority, and Harper has never turned down an opportunity to demonize various scary muslims. I assume that this posting for the Ottawa has been in the works for a while, possibly before the election. The question is what the Ottawa's mission will be when it gets there - will we be there if missiles start flying?
I think I should also say that even if the Ottawa doesn't directly fire on Iranian assets (the Ottawa is armed with torpedoes and Harpoon missiles, as well as defensive weaponry) simply being there - even in a supporting or defensive role - will constitute participation in the eyes of the world. For all of the above reasons, we can't be there.
What is Ignatieff's position on Iran, I wonder?