Monday, September 17, 2012

Paul Heinbecker and his Friends in Low Places.

When he was composing a lengthy letter of protest to the Ottawa Citizen last week, Paul Heinbecker, a career Foreign Affairs bureaucrat who served for a time as Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York, could not have known at the time that he was writing in a prose genre that is exceedingly rare: the magnificently self-incriminating act of accidental auto-caricature. 
It’s in today’s paper. It will be worth it to read every word. 
Heinbecker seems to have set out partly to lecture me for having been impudently inattentive to the precious feelings of certain of his important friends in my column last week, and partly to publicly despair of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent, long-overdue decision to close down the Khomeinist spy-and-bully operation otherwise known as the Canadian Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ottawa. 
This presents me with the opportunity to disclose certain immediately relevant indecencies that do not exactly add value to what you could call the Heinbecker brand. As it happens, Heinbecker’s own fingerprints are all over the old-boy diplomatic quackery that his complaint to the Ottawa Citizen, unluckily for him, cannot so easily conceal. 
What follows should also go some way to explain Heinbecker’s determination to muddle the subject of Iran and the bomb with a diverting consideration of puerile clichés - diplomats are Canada’s eyes and ears in treacherous faraway places, embassies are good things, hold your friends close and your enemies closer, and so on. 
For Heinbecker’s own views about the Khomeinist menace and its rush to the threshold of nuclear-bomb capability we can turn to his candid and hitherto overlooked remarks at a reception hosted by the organizers of a human rights conference at the University of Winnipeg on February 24, 2007.
Heinbecker offered the opinion that for western governments to carry on about the Khomeinist nuclear threat is to be guilty of “double standards” because Israel’s nuclear program rarely even gets a look-in (as if those two things were even remotely comparable).
Heinbecker then referred approvingly to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s assertion of Iran’s right to develop a nuclear program, calling it “fundamentally and logically sound.” 
It seems unlikely that Ottawa would not have quickly recalled Heinbecker from New York if he’d said anything like that during his 2000-2004 UN ambassador posting.
What comes next requires a bit of recapping. 
In my column I poked fun at the hapless New Democratic Party foreign affairs file-holder Paul Dewar for criticizing Prime Minister Harper’s Iran decision on the grounds that it would be a way better idea if Canada instead reached out and offered the Khomeinists a regimen of therapy in “robust diplomacy.” Even NDP leader Thomas Mulcair was caused to wince uncomfortably about that, in public.
I happened to find it all darkly amusing, because Dewar had just returned to Ottawa from his own aromatherapeutic escapade in “robust diplomacy” at a global nuclear disarmament conference in the sad Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan. He’d ended up allowing the state-controlled media to portray him as an enthusiastic backer of the deranged bid by Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era strongman president Nursultan Nazarbayev for the Nobel Peace Prize. The whole thing was like something straight out of Borat.
What I couldn’t find funny was the moral obscenity of the United Nations’ current envoy-jobbery exercise in “robust diplomacy,” in the abbatoir of Syria, now led (after former UN boss Kofi Annan washed its blood from his hands) by the twilight-years Arab League diplocrats Lakhdar Brahimi and Mokhtar Lamani. It was mostly their delicate feelings that Heinbecker is right to assume I don’t care much about.
I noted as well that Lamani showed up earlier this year as a “distinguished fellow, former ambassador and special envoy for peace” on Paul Dewar’s list of celebrity endorsers during Dewar’s failed bid for the NDP leadership, and that Brahimi and Lamani were also coincidentally the two svengalis Dewar had convinced the late NDP leader Jack Layton to nominate for the leadership of the “eminent persons” group that Layton wanted Canada to send to parlay a peace bargain with the Taliban.
One thing I didn’t mention, which is relevant now, is that Heinbecker also lent his name to Dewar’s campaign, and he did so specifically to endorse Dewar’s wished-for Canadian policy towards Iran: “Like Paul Dewar, I do not believe we should allow ourselves to be stampeded into supporting a war based on arbitrary timelines and hyped intelligence.” 
To understand something of Lakhdar Brahimi’s candid views on these subjects, it helps to know why he came close to getting himself fired by the UN in 2004, during his time as the UN’s special envoy to Iraq. It was for letting it slip to a reporter that he regarded Israel’s policies as “the great poison in the region.”
This just happens to be precisely the propaganda lie that Iran’s Khomeinists and pretty well all the Arab dictatorships have been force-feeding their captive populations, for decades, in order to explain away their poverty, backwardness and oppression. The U.S.-backed Israeli “poison” was even aggravating the jihadist and sectarian violence in Iraq, Brahimi said.
Annan was quick to distance himself from Brahimi’s vulgarity, but the unpleasantness did leave a bit of a smell on Brahimi’s job applications from then on. It was around this time that Brahimi started showing up on the “distinguished fellow” circuit, a quiet vocation Lamani went on to enter in 2007 when he turned up at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ontario, where Heinbecker had also landed a place for himself as a distinguished fellow.
Lamani had just decamped from a failed Arab League assignment in Iraq that had ended in nasty recriminations after only a few months. This appears to be Lamani’s “special envoy for peace” role as advertised by Dewar and which Heinbecker has now dramatized by placing Lamani even outside Baghdad’s heavily-armoured “Green Zone.”
The Lakhdar Brahimi who shows up in Heinbecker’s complaint in the Ottawa Citizen today is a selfless and distinguished gentleman “in frail health” who you can almost picture riding in a rickety way among the teeming Syrian hoi-polloi on a white UN horse with only his Sancho Panza sidekick Mokhtar Lamani as aide-manservant. Lamani appears in Heinbecker’s version as an only slightly less heroic figure with “a long career of risk-taking in dangerous assignments in the public interest.”
But what all this mutual back-patting and serial resumé-fluffing cannot camouflage is the astonishing record of abject failure Brahimi and Lamani have managed to accomplish, oversee, troubleshoot and undersecretary in conditions of luxury almost unimaginable to the people of the teeming “Arab world” slums. 
While their string of more recent UN boondoggle-catastrophes runs from Taliban-era Afghanistan to post-Saddam Iraq, their comings and goings over the past quarter of a century reveal a cavalcade of macabre ego-tripping, status-quo safeguarding and boot-polishing work in Beirut and Baghdad, Brussels and New York, Geneva and Cairo. Brahimi and Lamani have enjoyed one comfortable postng after another as administrative butlers, headwaiters and errand-runners for the oil-money crime families and torture-state dictators of the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Now they’re back from semi-retirement and they’re at it again, this time in Syria. It will surprise nobody who has watched these disgusting dramas unfold that Brahimi and Lamani have been warmly welcomed to Damascus by the Khomeinist proxy and Baathist butcher Bashir al Assad, and by the “official” and contrived opposition Assad’s regime so generously tolerates. Neither should it come as a shock to anyone that the Syrian rebels on the ground of that brutalized and broken country have sensibly dismissed the duo’s assignment as yet another grotesque UN ritual involving globe-trotting envoys kissing the faces of the murderers of the Syrian people.
These things might serve to provide at least a hint of why Heinbecker is relying on lipstick and high heels in the effort to make “robust diplomacy” look presentable. Certainly nothing in his complaint challenges the factual accuracy of a single word of my column. But because Heinbecker claims to know what my own opinion is and gets that wrong too, I’ll reiterate.
My contention was that the rousting of Tehran’s agents from their Ottawa compound on Metcalfe Street and the shuttering our useless embassy in Tehran is at least a good start, and perhaps we might now turn to some more effective means of isolating, containing and ultimately assisting in the overthrow of the Khomeinist despotism that is the cause of all this grief in the first place. I’m hardly going to apologize for holding that view.
Heinbecker pleads for keeping diplomats to the fore because “we need to bear witness to the horrors.” Well no, actually, some of us would rather skip the horrors altogether, thanks. Something like 26,000 Syrians have already been slaughtered. The great Iranian people remain enslaved and they have lost almost all hope of any help coming from the outside world. Their black-turbaned overlords are now at the brink of nuclear-bomb capability. Israel has been brought to the brink of a pre-emptive war that could end up engulfing much of the world in massacres and flames and chaos.
In open defiance of UN conventions against incitement to genocide, one fat ayatollah after another has solemnly pledged to revisit the Holocaust upon the people of Israel one day, then denied the Holocaust ever happened, in contravention of every principle of human decency, the next. The UN Security Council has now issued six nuclear-program warnings to Iran in a row, with four containing sanctions, all to get the ayatollahs to back off, and all to no avail. The International Atomic Energy Agency has now issued 12 stern warnings and none have made a bit of difference.
Its latest “serious concern” warning from only last week won the backing of the United States, Russia, Britain and China with 31 in favour, three abstentions, and only the senile Cuban delegate opposed. After an undisclosed number of watered-down versions, the final, approved version: Iran continues to snub its nose at UN demands; Iran continues its uranium enrichment program in defiance of the UN Security Council; Iran continues to dodge UN inspections at the Parchin military base. On and on.
This latest unenforceable resolution doesn’t leave one with the impression that it is based on the “hyped intelligence” Heinbecker has been sneering about, nor does it seem likely that everyone else is crazy and it’s Tehran’s state of mind that is, as Heinbecker put it in Winnipeg, “fundamentally and logically sound.”
Just as last week’s resolution was being negotiated, Assad’s Air Force was dropping more bombs on the people of Aleppo and Lakhdar Brahimi’s ample backside was causing his chair to creak in the presidential palace drawing room in Damascus where he was politely inquiring of Assad how many crumbs his blood-drenched regime might be willing to let drop from its table in order to make everyone just shut up and go away. That's what "robust diplomacy" gets you.
Bibi Netanyahu may well be a belligerent schmuck, but you can’t blame him for any of this. You can also say what you like about Canada’s reckless, poorly-tutored, Zionist-favouring, geopolitics-misunderstanding prime minister. But you’ve got to admit that it does seem to appear as though he’s not being altogether rash in his disinclination to subcontract and outsource Canada’s foreign policy to Paul Heinbecker, Lakhdar Brahimi, Mokhtar Lamani, Paul Dewar and Nursultan Nazarbayev.
For good or ill, Canada has now chosen to defect from the diplomatic travesty that has obliged ordinary Canadians to put up with Khomeinist thugs in their midst and to abstain from the diplomatic obsequies that require Canadian diplomats to smile when Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini’s appointments secretaries spit in their faces.
Of course it’s not enough. It's merely an act of conscientious objection. But it will have to do for the moment, and in the meantime I reckon I’ll continue to “disparage diplomacy” of the Heinbecker-Dewar kind, no matter how much it upsets Heinbecker or any of his creepy friends.

5 Comments:

Blogger Henry said...

Very well put, Terry. Nice work, once again.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Henry said...

Very well put, Terry. Nice work, once again.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

In this little nuclear weapons kerfuffle, the only "belligerent schmucks" I see are the fascist troglodytes oppressing Iran and masquerading as holy men. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking out forcefully and articulately about the potential new Holocaust hanging over his people. Should he be "nice" about the Iranian leadership's constant threats to wipe Israel off the map? Would typical Western diplomatic bullshit-speak be more in your comfort zone?

2:39 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for an enlightening piece Terry.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for an enlightening piece Terry.

4:17 PM  

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