I guess I should be clear. Despite speaking out against the negative Conservative ads which I consider bigoted and out of line, I have no intention of defending Michael Ignatieff as an intellectual or a politician. I believe that Ignatieff is another in a long line of Western-centric, imperialistic, and even warmongering thinkers who use the intellectual constructs that emerged from the Enlightenment to wrap his ideas in rational respectability. Lest we forget that Mr.Ignatieff was one of the most avid intellectual defenders of Bush’s war in Iraq and he gave a ‘liberal’ respectability to what was obviously a neo-imperialist effort on the part of the US to gain greater control of the geo-politically important oil-rich region. Of course when Ignatieff saw real political power in Canada as a genuine possibility, he attempted to distance himself from his support for the disastrous war. In his article in the New York Times Ignatieff claimed that he failed to ask himself the ‘hard questions.’ Imagine that, a man who generally portrays himself as a world-class intellectual failed at the very thing on which intellectuals should hang their credibility; asking the hard question. But Ignatieff’s failure is not based on any naivety or emotional hopefulness on his part as he might have us believe. Rather, Ignatieff’s words and actions make it clear that his support for the War in Iraq was part of an overriding Western tendency to believe that the powers of the West have the moral authority and credibility to take any measures to enforce their will. This point is clearly demonstrable when we read the soul ‘hard question’ that Ignatieff admits that he failed to ask concerning the War in Iraq; “I let emotions carry me past the hard questions,” Ignatieff claims, “like; can Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites hold together in peace what Saddam Hussein held together by terror?” Instead of asking whether the Western powers have a right to invade a sovereign nation (a nation by the way that the Western powers made and supported in the first place), Ignatieff refers exclusively to whether the forces in Iraq are capable of living up to the Western standards. Of course Ignatieff fails to even mention that though not all the roots of the disputes between Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites are caused by Western interventions they have been badly exasperated in Iraq by years of Western support for dictatorships which either acted in the West’s interests or were kept busy among themselves, thus not acting against Western interests.
For an more eloquent and thorough exploration of this issue see this article from the Guardian.
Thus if anyone wants to attack Michael Ignatieff, why don’t they address issues of war and policy rather than personal geography?