Michael Ignatieff…. politician

David Sax has an essay on Foreign Policy‘s web site about Harvard Professor Michael Ignatieff’s quixotic move towards politics. Ignatieff is the flip-side of all the anti-war/anti-Bush protestors who threatened to move to Canada and then didn’t; he supported the war but has decided to move to Canada… and run for Parliament: Canadians normally don?t ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

David Sax has an essay on Foreign Policy's web site about Harvard Professor Michael Ignatieff's quixotic move towards politics. Ignatieff is the flip-side of all the anti-war/anti-Bush protestors who threatened to move to Canada and then didn't; he supported the war but has decided to move to Canada... and run for Parliament: Canadians normally don?t get fired up about foreign policy in their parliamentary elections. Then again, Michael Ignatieff is not a normal candidate. Last fall, the professor left his post as director of Harvard University?s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy to run for parliament in his native Canada. His new office is in a bare-bones campaign headquarters on an industrial corner in suburban Toronto, where he prepares for the January 23 election. Ignatieff, a Liberal Party candidate who is considered by many to be one of the best minds Canada has ever produced, wants Canada to assume a greater role in world affairs.... ?In the foreign policy of the 21st century, the key thing to be is a producer of good ideas,? says Ignatieff. ?As a middle power, our policy is not leveraged by power but by ideas.? Unfortunately for Ignatieff, many Canadians don?t like his ideas. Ignatieff supported the Iraq war, which an overwhelming majority of his compatriots opposed. He backed the proposed continental missile defense shield, which the Liberal government refused to endorse. And he?s been taking heat for his controversial endorsement of interrogation techniques such as sleep deprivation that are, he says, ?lesser evils? than torture. His critics paint him as a neocon in humanitarian clothing. At his nomination rally in late November, hecklers shouted, ?American,? ?Torture lite,? and ?Illegal war.? The heckling set the tone for a tumultuous campaign. Already tagged as a carpetbagger (he has never lived in the district in which he?s running) handpicked by the Liberal Party, Ignatieff hurt himself when he told the Harvard Crimson that he might return to Harvard if he were to lose?a statement he later retracted, saying it was a joke. Still, the comment helped his opponents who portray him as disloyal to Canada. Rather unexpectedly, he has also faced protesters who claim his 1993 book on ethnic nationalism, Blood and Belonging, is insulting to Ukrainians, a group that accounts for 7 percent of his district. If he wins, even bigger challenges await; there is already talk of Ignatieff eventually becoming leader of the Liberal Party. But Ottawa is not Harvard, and if elected, Ignatieff would find it difficult to bring his ideals into policy. ?[It] will be a test of whether principled intelligence can survive the Lilliputian reality of Canadian politics,? wrote the columnist Robert Sibley in the Ottawa Citizen at the start of the campaign. Ignatieff is aware of the difficulties. ?I?ve gone into politics to test what you can achieve if you believe certain things,? says Ignatieff. ?If I?m asked to do stuff that just seems to be in the dishonorable compromise realm, then I should get out. If I forget these noble words, my wife will kick me in the backside.? That is, only if the voters don?t do so first. Ignatieff is in a can't lose situation. Wither he wins and climbs the ladder of Liberal Party politics -- or he loses and writes a book that's excerpted in the New York Times Magazine about what it's like to be a candidate who speaks truth to power.

David Sax has an essay on Foreign Policy‘s web site about Harvard Professor Michael Ignatieff’s quixotic move towards politics. Ignatieff is the flip-side of all the anti-war/anti-Bush protestors who threatened to move to Canada and then didn’t; he supported the war but has decided to move to Canada… and run for Parliament:

Canadians normally don?t get fired up about foreign policy in their parliamentary elections. Then again, Michael Ignatieff is not a normal candidate. Last fall, the professor left his post as director of Harvard University?s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy to run for parliament in his native Canada. His new office is in a bare-bones campaign headquarters on an industrial corner in suburban Toronto, where he prepares for the January 23 election. Ignatieff, a Liberal Party candidate who is considered by many to be one of the best minds Canada has ever produced, wants Canada to assume a greater role in world affairs…. ?In the foreign policy of the 21st century, the key thing to be is a producer of good ideas,? says Ignatieff. ?As a middle power, our policy is not leveraged by power but by ideas.? Unfortunately for Ignatieff, many Canadians don?t like his ideas. Ignatieff supported the Iraq war, which an overwhelming majority of his compatriots opposed. He backed the proposed continental missile defense shield, which the Liberal government refused to endorse. And he?s been taking heat for his controversial endorsement of interrogation techniques such as sleep deprivation that are, he says, ?lesser evils? than torture. His critics paint him as a neocon in humanitarian clothing. At his nomination rally in late November, hecklers shouted, ?American,? ?Torture lite,? and ?Illegal war.? The heckling set the tone for a tumultuous campaign. Already tagged as a carpetbagger (he has never lived in the district in which he?s running) handpicked by the Liberal Party, Ignatieff hurt himself when he told the Harvard Crimson that he might return to Harvard if he were to lose?a statement he later retracted, saying it was a joke. Still, the comment helped his opponents who portray him as disloyal to Canada. Rather unexpectedly, he has also faced protesters who claim his 1993 book on ethnic nationalism, Blood and Belonging, is insulting to Ukrainians, a group that accounts for 7 percent of his district. If he wins, even bigger challenges await; there is already talk of Ignatieff eventually becoming leader of the Liberal Party. But Ottawa is not Harvard, and if elected, Ignatieff would find it difficult to bring his ideals into policy. ?[It] will be a test of whether principled intelligence can survive the Lilliputian reality of Canadian politics,? wrote the columnist Robert Sibley in the Ottawa Citizen at the start of the campaign. Ignatieff is aware of the difficulties. ?I?ve gone into politics to test what you can achieve if you believe certain things,? says Ignatieff. ?If I?m asked to do stuff that just seems to be in the dishonorable compromise realm, then I should get out. If I forget these noble words, my wife will kick me in the backside.? That is, only if the voters don?t do so first.

Ignatieff is in a can’t lose situation. Wither he wins and climbs the ladder of Liberal Party politics — or he loses and writes a book that’s excerpted in the New York Times Magazine about what it’s like to be a candidate who speaks truth to power.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

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