|UNDOF Peacekeeping post, Golan Heights|
"Good God, is it four in the afternoon already? Monica, you'd better leave before Hill gets back. She gets cranky..." ~ Bill Clinton, 1994
"Mr. President, the Vice President has shot a lawyer." ~ Secret Service Agent to George W. Bush
"If I can impart any wisdom to you as you graduate and go forth from this place, it is this. Keep an enemies list. And never stop loathing with every breath of your being every single person on that enemies list." ~ Richard Nixon, speaking at graduation ceremonies, Northwestern, 1988
"Damned Liberals. Damned New Democrats. Damned Bloc. Damned Green Party. Damned Conservatives. Jim, let's have all parties abolished and the government of the country placed exclusively under my absolute tyrannical control. I can be trusted, right? Right? Jim?" ~ Stephen Harper, September 2012
In recent days I've been adding a couple of passages in my ongoing work in progress. In the midst of war breaking out in the Golan Heights between Syria and Israel (incidentally, as of this writing things are flaring up there), I wrote a political blunder by a leader who while unnamed, is essentially the buffoon currently running my country. Yes, it's Stephen Harper.
Up until now, when I've written world leaders in the book, it's usually been by title. The American President goes unnamed. So do the British Prime Minister and the Israeli Prime Minister. The Syrian President will also go unnamed (though I've been paying a fair amount of attention to the domestic situation there and contemplating how to write it in). The exception has, of course, been the leadership of Iran.
In reality and in my book, a UN mission of peacekeeping troops called UNDOF holds the line in a demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria in the Golan. For the purposes of my book, the commander of the mission is a Canadian general. I decided to write the following passages, and it reflects my political stance. The first passage is from the night before, featuring the American President in the Oval Office watching some news in the aftermath of the Very Bad Thing (no, I'm not telling). The second is from the point of view of my UNDOF commander.
Though I never name the PM in question in either passage, it's fairly obvious who I'm referring to. I'm wondering though, does it come across as a political rant against someone I rather dislike?
Judge for yourselves.
He picked up the remote, turning up the volume. The Canadian Prime Minister was in the midst of a press conference, apparently talking about the building crisis in the Middle East. The President had spoken earlier with the PM about the situation and the peacekeeping force in between the lines. It made sense for him to be speaking to the press; after all, the UNDOF commander was a Canadian general. The President sighed in dismay at the sight of the man, who had always been far too partisan, too much of a control freak and hard ideologue for his comfort. We’ve got plenty of those on this side of the border too, on both sides of the political fence, the President reminded himself.
“Of course we’re very alarmed by the crisis,” the Prime Minister was saying in that cold, detached way of his. He looked as though he was wishing to break away from the press. His relationship with the media was, at the best of times, a tense one. “We’re consulting with our allies and the United Nations on the situation. Our peacekeeping troops are on duty in the area, as you know, and this government is always concerned with the well being of our soldiers. If you’ll excuse me, that’s all the time I have at the moment.” He stepped away from the podium, accompanied by an aide. The PM walked towards the exit, apparently forgetting his microphone was still on as he muttered, “Like I could give a damn about peacekeepers.”
There was an audible gasp from the press gallery, and the PM turned, looked at the reporters he despised, as if realizing his mistake. His eyes flashed with the deer-in-the-headlights look. The President shook his head at the absurdity of it all, hearing the sound of reporters erupt into shouts and questions. “That’s going to cost you,” he told the screen. The Prime Minister disappeared through a doorway, ignoring the shouts of the press. The President changed the channel, finding CNN.
It had been a long day already for the commander of UNDOF, his staff, and the multinational troops under his command along what had been the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria. Now, without a night’s sleep, it had stretched into a second day. His name was Alec Bryson, a major-general in the Canadian Forces, and for the last year commanding officer of the peacekeeping force that had kept the two sides apart. Last night the Syrians had come through his lines.
Bryson had been a career officer for nearly thirty years, with an impressive record of service. He was handsome, with cropped dark blond hair and brown eyes. He wore working fatigues at the moment, as did his staff, which had been spent the night burning up phone lines to Damascus, Tel Aviv, and the UN. He had spoken with leaders from both sides since after the (Very Bad Thing, to be disclosed later), pleading for calm, for patience. It had fallen on deaf ears. The Israelis were infuriated by the invasion. The Syrians were no doubt were being prodded by Iran into the invasion. Neither side would listen to him.
He had also placed calls back to his own government. The Prime Minister would take no calls; he was in full damage control mode after his blunder the previous night. The Minister of Defence, an ineffective politician at best, had little to say. Politicians, Bryson thought with disgust. He had heard about the press conference, and the PM’s remark about peacekeepers didn’t surprise him. For all the man’s love of photo ops with soldiers in the war zone, the PM seemed to have little regard for the well being of those troops. Veterans had to hound and prod his government for care and fair treatment. The troops amounted to little more than handy photo-op material for the PM and his team of advisors. And he had an institutional loathing for the very concept of peacekeeping.
Bryson sighed. He wasn’t political, thought little of most people who went into that profession. There were a handful of them who were decent, but most of them were just opportunistic and short sighted. Still, the petty vindictiveness and contempt that he had seen out of the PM annoyed him. While he had to serve at the behest of the man, it didn’t mean he had to respect him. And one day after his retirement, he could always write his memoirs. Of course, after last night’s stupidity, I wonder how long he’ll still be in office, the general thought. That, at least, gave him a measure of satisfaction.
There we've got it. Are my political stripes showing?
In the meantime, I leave you with this, a little something I found while looking for images on political blunders...