Conservative election strategy: Bomb Syria
How do you win re-election after being found guilty of criminally cheating at the last three elections, abusing the rules of parliament, gagging public servants, using the Canada Revenue Agency to intimidate organizations that hold opposing views, attacking the Supreme Court, incapacitating independent watchdogs, silencing scientists, spying on citizens, mistreating veterans, harassing the first nations, and passing legislation that shreds the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
The answer: Muslim refugees.
In 2001, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard told the whole world that Muslim refugees in boats were throwing children overboard to seek asylum in Australia. That statement by John Howard during his re-election campaign was a complete fabrication. But by the time people found that Howard had lied it was too late. He had swayed the voters and Howard won the election.
Fast forward to 2015, we are again hearing how Muslim refugees in boats are causing the deaths of their own children in their greedy eagerness to seek a better life in the west at the taxpayers’ expense. And all of a sudden, the Conservative polling numbers, which had been tumbling for the past few weeks, especially on account of the Duffy scandal, are recovering rapidly, so much so, that some polls even have the Tories leading the pack.
Why is the electorate having a sudden change of heart?
One word: Fear.
Fear is a primal emotion, and in the world of politics, when you sow fear reap votes.
And if there’s one thing the Conservatives are extremely deft at, it is fear mongering.
Remember how the Thornhill Conservative candidate Peter Kent tweeted a photo that allegedly showed how a refugee who came to Europe from Syria was once an ISIS fighter? The photo had already been debunked as a fake. Kent was eventually forced to take down the tweet, but by that time, it had already gone viral.
Stephen Harper is a lucky man.
The Prime Minister gets boatloads of Muslim refugees just when he needed them the most, just as Howard did with the Afghan refugees in 2001. Isn’t it a coincidence that Lynton Crosby, the ‘Lizard of Oz’ who ran Howard’s campaign then, is running Harper’s campaign today?
Is it really all just chance?
To answer that question, let’s look at just who is responsible for the mess in Syria that is the source of this refugee crisis.
The western powers, including the Harper government, armed the rebellion against Syrian dictator Bashir-al Assad. Not only were we bringing democracy to Syria as part of the “Arab spring”, we were fighting yet another proxy way against Russia. The US and her allies knew that there were elements of Al-Qaeda in Iraq amongst the rebels. The western leaders were even warned that an ‘Islamic State’ could be the outcome of the unrest in Syria, but that was considered a positive.
We had a situation where the Al-Qaeda was fighting against the west in Iraq and fighting for the west in Syria. Our governments soon realized that the Al-Qaeda group, now renamed ISIS, were doing things that Wahhabist extremists do best: gruesomely behead lots and lots of people. Our leaders decided that enough was enough, and started the war against ISIS, and lo and behold, President Assad, the enemy of our enemy, became our friend. But then, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, right?
At the same time, we are supporting the Peshamarga, the army of Iraqi Kurdistan, in their battle against ISIS. But our NATO-ally Turkey is bombing Kurds because Turkey is worried about a resurgence of the Kurdish independent movement in that country.
If that’s not complicated enough, we are selling billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia, but the Saudi royal family is funding Al-Qaeda.
We, in the west, are not entirely sure who is doing what to whom. The civilians in Syria do not really know either, but I don’t think they really care. All they know is that lots of groups out there are dropping bombs on them. So they flee the certainty of death on land and face the uncertainty of life at sea.
And back in Canada, the Conservatives, with a little help from their friend the ‘Lizard of Oz’, demonize and dehumanize these “swarms of refugees,” as the British Prime Minister David Cameron calls them. Then they use ‘dog whistle politics’, i.e., political messaging that includes coded language that resonates with certain carefully identified groups.
The photo of the drowned Syrian boy was nothing but a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things. If anything, it’s now helping the Conservatives. News stories are beginning to appear deriding Alan Kurdi’s father as a selfish man, possibly a human smuggler, who killed his son in his quest for new teeth. And a teary-eyed Stephen Harper promises more military action.
For the Conservatives, the plan is simple: more bombs mean more refugees. And more refugees mean more votes.