A couple of days ago I explained why I couldn’t work up enough fake outrage to attack Prime Minister Trudeau for holding cabinet meetings in resorts, away from Ottawa. I couldn’t even bother to be outraged by the fact that he’s less likely to be found in the House of Commons than was Stephen Harper.
Now the contrived outrage is about his handling of the murder of John Ridsdel. In an article in the Toronto Sun, columnist Tarek Fatah compares Prime Minister Trudeau, unfavourably, to John F Kennedy … he’s probably right. I think John Kennedy was a weak and misguided president who set America on a long, downwards course of strategic failure, and I suspect the Justin Trudeau is a “lesser” man. Mr Fatah goes farther and suggests that Prime Minister Trudeau lacks the advice of people like John Kenneth Galbraith, Robert S. McNamara, Dean Rusk and Henry Cabot Lodge; “thank heavens” is all I can say ~ they, along with e.g. McGeorge Bundy, General Maxwell Taylor and Robert Kennedy were the primary reason President Kennedy bumbled and bungled … it wasn’t that he was a stupid man (far from it, and neither is Justin Trudeau) it is that he surrounded himself, à la a Sun King, with courtiers, reflections of himself, rather than with seasoned people, people with “bottom,” like those who had advised Truman and Eisenhower.
I do agree with Mr Fatah that the killing of Mr Risdel was an “act of war” and I suspect that Prime Minister Trudeau’s inner circle is very much troubled by that because if that political flame can be fanned it might derail their agenda in which words like “war” have no place. But the outrage isn’t real.
Prime Minister Trudeau, correctly, publicly ruled out paying ransom … correctly because that is the stated, public position of the Government of the Philippines who must be the lead in situations like this. Secondly, as retired Colonel Mike Day, who, unlike Mr Fatah, actually knows about this sort of thing, points out, a rescue would have been “a significant tactical challenge” for any force that is not there, on the ground, working alongside the Philippines armed forces. As far as I know we are not. We should be working much more closely with the Philippines and other Asian nations, but not because of Abu Sayyaf, but rather, because it is is our best, strategic interests to do so.
I believe that Prime Minister Trudeau was engaged in the process of trying to rescue Mr Risdel. He may not have been as comfortable as some might have wished. It is, likely, the first time he met a “team” of civil servants and a few uniformed people, too, who spring into action when this sort of crisis occurs, and he and his “inner circle” might not have liked what they heard. These situations are not about Sunny Ways and selfies, they are not going to allow the government to keep on campaigning. These situations require hard choices (governing, in other words) and we simply don’t know ~ I don’t, you don’t know and Mr Fatah doesn’t know ~ if Prime Minister Trudeau made good choices or bad one, or if he just dithered. For now let’s give him the benefit of the doubt …
But let’s hope that this gruesome tragedy helps to focus the government’s mind on governing, not on platitudes and self serving publicity trips.