Down with dinosaurs

President Barack Obama at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago. It marked the opening of “a new era,” the prime minister said.

“We saw the replacement of confrontation with dialogue.” That was Stephen Harper lauding the work of U.S.

President Barack Obama at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago. It marked the opening of “a new era,” the prime minister said.

The president had just made overtures for new relations with Cuba and opened dialogue with another vaunted American enemy, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. This summit followed Obama’s previous extension of an olive branch to axis of evil member, Iran. Along the way, just for good measure, the president threw in a plan to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

What is transpiring is startling. Compared to the dark ages of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, a starker contrast could hardly be possible. Obama is a one-man dinosaur wrecking crew. Redneck Republicans don’t know what has hit them. Confrontation was their modus-operandi. Animosity toward the United States was the result.

At the summit, Obama noted how he was criticized for wanting to talk to enemies because it would be seen “as a sign of weakness.” But, as he said, the American people didn’t buy this line of thinking, “And there’s a good reason why they didn’t buy it — because it doesn’t make sense.”

His new era of enlightenment is all the more important because there are signs that others could become a part of it.

It has frequently been noted how our own prime minister has hurt himself with his negative and excessively combative approach, a major example being the crisis he touched off in the fall over his budget update. It brought down hell on him.

But here was Harper in Port of Spain singing the praises of dialogue and diplomacy and singing yet again the praises of a liberal president. He was suddenly welcoming the opening to Cuba, which is surprising for a Conservative of his ilk and took no issue with the warmth shown to Chavez.

Harper has a long way to go before he can talk of himself as a champion of diplomacy. On Russia and the Middle East he has taken a confrontational approach. On China he is only now awakening to the importance of building relations. On Guantanamo he has been silent, on nuclear proliferation, the same.

But you get the sense the new U.S. president may be having a significant impact on Harper, softening the rough edges, broadening his mind. On the weekend, the prime minister was wise to salute the new Obama approach. Best to leave behind any Jurassic Park ties and get on board the big new train.

 
 
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