Axworthy fires back at Bush, RiceLast Updated Mon, 07 Mar 2005 17:58:51 EST
Compliments of CBC News
WINNIPEG - Former Canadian foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy launched an attack on U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, defending Canada's decision not to participate in the anti-missile defence system.
"I know it seems improbable to your divinely guided master in the White House that mere mortals might disagree with participating in a missile-defence system that has failed in its last three tests, even though the tests themselves were rigged to show results," Axworthy writes in a column published in the Winnipeg Free Press last week.
"But, gosh, we folks above the 49th parallel are somewhat cautious types who can't quite see laying down billions of dollars in a three-dud poker game."
Axworthy, the current president of the University of Winnipeg, begins the open letter with "Dear Condi."
He said he wrote the column to defend Prime Minister Paul Martin, who he believes has unfairly come under attack in the media for his decision on missile defence. In the column, Axworthy criticizes Bush's handling of the missile defence issue and for not addressing the House of Commons during his recent visit to Canada.
"Such control-freak antics may work in the virtual one-party state that now prevails in Washington," Axworthy writes. "But in Canada we have a residual belief that politicians should be subject to a few checks and balances, an idea that your country once espoused before the days of empire."
In contrast, Axworthy boasts of Canada's parliamentary system, "where those in the executive are held accountable by an opposition for their actions." Axworthy goes on to laud the ability of the governing party's caucus members "to tell their leader that their constituents don't want to follow the ideological, perhaps teleological, fantasies of Canada's continental co-inhabitant."
Axworthy also swipes at the fiscal state of the U.S., referring to the "gargantuan, multibillion-dollar deficits that your government blithely runs up fighting a 'liberation war in Iraq.'"
He blasts the Bush administration for its policies on weapons expenditures, and tax breaks, while cutting food programs for poor children. "Just chalk that up to a different sense of priorities about what a national government's role should be when there isn't a prevailing mood of manifest destiny," he writes.
But Axworthy appears to temper his remarks by the end of the column, saying Rice should "accept that, as a friend on your border, we will offer a different, independent point of view. And that there are times when truth must speak to power." Axworthy said he is receiving more than 100 e-mail messages each day since writing the column and is receiving interview requests from around the globe.
"What I found was that there was this theme in the commentary along the lines of, 'Oh my gosh, what will George Bush think?'" Axworthy told the Winnipeg Free Press. "That wasn't the point. The point was that Canada finally made a decision. And that enabled Canada to have a reasonable, distinctive foreign policy. That's not a bad thing."