The PM doth protest too much, methinks

Canada’s prime minister Stephen Harper recently professed some biased opinions, opinions that may well be argued to be dangerous, in an interview with the CBC.1

Harper spoke of overwhelming evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. No evidence was provided.

That Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes caused Harper to respond, “I think there is absolutely no doubt they are lying. Absolutely no doubt.” The words “I think” and “absolutely no doubt” are linguistically at loggerheads. “I think” means “to have a belief or opinion”; beliefs and opinions imply uncertainty. They imply possibility of being wrong. They do not imply “absolutely no doubt.”

As for lying, there is a well-known saying that those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.”2 Then again, one might argue who knows a liar better than another liar? To which one might retort, “How do you know the liar is not lying about someone being a liar?”

The state media CBC did not aid matters with its own piece of disinformation: “An IAEA report last fall said some of Iran’s clandestine activities could be for no other reason than a nuclear weapons program.” The IAEA report has been debunked by many. For example, the IAEA inspector never worked on nuclear weapons.3 Also,

The IAEA claim that a foreign scientist – identified in news reports as Vyacheslav Danilenko – had been involved in building the alleged containment chamber has now been denied firmly by Danilenko himself…4

The well-disinformed Harper reply to the CBC disinformation (why can a state media funded to the tune of $1.7 billion annually not get the story and facts right when a small independent internet newsletter with no budget can? What does it indicate?): “And that, I think, is just beyond dispute at this point.” [italics added] So thinks Harper. Harper added more opinion: “I think the only dispute is how far advanced it is.” [italics added]

Harper opined, “I’ve watched and listened to what the leadership in the Iranian regime says, and it frightens me.” First, the language is demonizing. How would Harper respond if his government were referred to as a “regime”? Second, as for frightening, how about a leaked October 2003 European Commission poll of 500 people from each of the EU’s member nations (n=7,500) who were presented a list of 15 nations and asked: “tell me if in your opinion it presents or not a threat to peace in the world.” The choice of 59 percent was Israel as the top threat to world peace.5

On this there is no dispute: Israel is in possession of nuclear weapons. Israel has launched plenty of wars with its neighbors. Why is the Israeli regime not frightening? Yet Israel is the country that Harper said would always have a “steadfast friend” in a Canadian Conservative government.

Harper opines again, “In my judgment, these are people who have a particular, you know, a fanatically religious worldview, and their statements imply to me no hesitation about using nuclear weapons if they see them achieving their religious or political purposes. And … I think that’s what makes this regime in Iran particularly dangerous.” [italics added]

How is that glass house doing? To talk about “a fanatically religious worldview” when you are allied with hard-Right Christian fundamentalism comes across as chutzpah.6

Harper contends, “While there’s, I think, a growing belief of a number of governments that my assessment is essentially correct, I think there’s still big uncertainty about what exactly to do.” [italics added]

Since Harper is so certain about the danger posed by Iran and its having nuclear weapons, what was Harper’s position on Iraq possessing weapons-of-mass-destruction?

It is inherently dangerous to allow a country such as Iraq to retain weapons of mass destruction, particularly in light of its past aggressive behaviour. If the world community fails to disarm Iraq, we fear that other rogue states will be encouraged to believe that they too can have these most deadly of weapons to systematically defy international resolutions and that the world will do nothing to stop them.7

Another time Harper said, “I don’t know all the facts on Iraq, but I think we should work closely with the Americans.”8

Today Iraq is a destroyed country, millions are refugees, upwards of 600,000 people were killed by a US-led invasion supported by Harper — despite his not knowing all the facts. Is this the credibility people would put their faith in?

Where was the background checks done by CBC News and their ace reporter Peter Mansbridge? What of the duty to report honestly and without prejudice? After all there is a good case that disinformation is a crime against humanity and a crime against peace.9

  1. CBC News, “Iran ‘frightens me,’ Harper says: ‘Beyond dispute’ that Iran is building nuclear weapon, PM tells CBC,” CBC, 17 January 2012. []
  2. Even the Canadian Senate launched an inquiry into the lies of Harper. See althia.raj, “Senate launches an inquiry on Harper’s broken promises,” Eye on the Hill, 16 February 2011. See also “Five Years of Harper: A Legacy of Broken Promises“; “Broken promises piling up for Harper“; “Stephen Harpers Broken Promises: 100+ Reasons Not to Vote for Harper.” []
  3. See Gareth Porter, “IAEA’s ‘Soviet Nuclear Scientist’ Never Worked on Weapons,” Dissident Voice, 10 November 2011. []
  4. Gareth Porter, “Ex-Inspector Rejects IAEA Iran Bomb Test Chamber Claim,” Dissident Voice, 19 November 19 2011. []
  5. See Peter Beaumont, “Israel outraged as EU poll names it a threat to peace,” Observer, 2 November 2003. []
  6. See Marci McDonald, “Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons: The rising clout of Canada’s religious right,” The Walrus, October 2006; Letters, “Harper and the religious right,” The Star, 13 May 2010. []
  7. Stephen Harper supporting the American invasion of Iraq, House of Commons, March 20, 2003. Accessed at In Their Own Words. []
  8. Stephen Harper, Report Newsmagazine, March 25th 2002. As it turned out, Harper wasn’t the only one who didn’t know all the facts. Accessed at In Their Own Words. []
  9. Kim Petersen, “Disinformation: A Crime Against Humanity and a Crime Against Peace,” Dissident Voice, 17 February 2005. []
Kim Petersen is an independent writer and former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be emailed at: kimohp at gmail.com. Twitter: @kimpetersen. Read other articles by Kim.