Though we often disagree, I have always found Gerald Caplan to be an entertaining political pundit. That said, I have never met Mr. Caplan, and I wouldn’t presume to know whom he consults or the evidence he considers in forming his political opinions.
Apparently Mr. Caplan has no such inhibitions. His recent article (“Harper and the U.S. are wrong on the Iran threat”), which minimized the threat posed by a nuclear Iran, begins with a list of prominent Israeli security and intelligence experts that, he assured his readers, the Prime Minister and I are “unlikely [to] have ever heard of.”
Mr. Caplan returns to this theme at the end of his article, wondering rhetorically: “Is John Baird meeting with [Meir Dagan] this weekend to learn why? Don’t bet on it.” Here’s a tip: don’t go to Vegas with Gerald Caplan. If Mr. Caplan had bothered to pick up the phone and ask me if I had heard of Meir Dagan or Amos Yadlin, I would have told him that not only have I heard of them, I reached out to them weeks ago to ensure they could attend a discussion of the Iranian situation while I am in Tel Aviv this week.
It’s a peculiar taunt, as Mr. Caplan had to know that, as Foreign Minister, I would be privy to a broad range of opinions and expert advice on an issue as fraught as Middle East security. Or does his disdain for those with whom he disagrees extend so far that he cannot imagine they are not merely wrong, in his opinion, but also ignorant and lazy? Perhaps it does, as Mr. Caplan later dismisses Canada’s entire foreign policy as “spin notes and sound bites.”
It might come as a surprise to Mr. Caplan that Liberal MP Irwin Cotler and I frequently discuss the problem posed by a nuclear Iran, and his counsel amounts to much more than “spin notes and sound bites.”
It may also surprise Mr. Caplan to learn how closely I worked, first as Government House Leader and later as Foreign Minister, with New Democrats, Liberals and members of the Bloc Québécois in developing Canada’s response to the Libyan uprising. By listening to different perspectives and expert opinion, as well as to each other, we able to avoid partisan posturing and work constructively to ensure the protection and ultimate victory of the anti-Gadhafi forces.
In Mr. Caplan’s world, it is only a “lunatic fringe” that considers a nuclear Iran to be a primary threat to international security. Well, here in the real world, that “lunatic fringe” is growing quickly, across the political spectrum. Liberals in Canada, and Democrats in Washington, have vocally opposed Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Just last week, in his State of the Union address, President Obama declared: “Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.” And, a few days ago, in Davos, Nobel laureate Shimon Peres averred that Iran was the single greatest threat to Middle East peace. Some fringe! In my visit to the Gulf States last autumn, it quickly became clear that this concern is not simply a product of Western or Israeli bias. The Gulf States know better than I do – even better, I dare say, than Mr. Caplan – the threat Iran poses to the region, and the dramatic and destabilizing power shift that would occur if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons. The fear in the region was palpable.