Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This Could Harm Michael Ignatieff's Prospects, But It Shouldn't

Ignatieff linked to Iraq war planning

With the Canadian left constantly willing to trot out Prime Minister Stephen Harper's early support for the Iraq War, one can only wonder how Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's early involvement in the planning of that war will impact the electoral prospects of the Liberal Party.

It will probably hurt them. But it honestly shouldn't.

On its face, the suggestion that Ignatieff was involved in war planning would suggest that he was helping select targets. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Ignatieff's involvement was as part of an academic advisory group whose goal was integral to any attempt at responsibly prosecuting such a war: namely, the reduction of civilian casualties.

Of course, this hasn't stopped Ignatieff from being critical of pre-war planning.

"First of all, there was some real failures in post-invasion planning," Ignatieff declared in a 2003 Charlie Rose interview. “I saw matrices, you know, checklists compiled by, you know, the department of the army and army planners. They had some of the stuff that you'd want on a good post-invasion checklist, but what I think happened on that side was the military victory occurred so quickly that the post-invasion followup just didn't get generated fast enough."

Considering that Ignatieff was involved in planning the campaign, he could bear some responsibility for that failure. Then again, details are not clear as to whether or not Ignatieff was actually involved in any post-invasion planning.

The work Ignatieff and the Carr Centre did for the Pentagon is extremely laudible work. It should be a credit to Ignatieff.

But considering the stance his party has repeatedly taken toward the Iraq War, it will be hard for Michael Ignatieff to avoid. Which is genuinely a shame.

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