Let's not kid ourselves. The Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Lawrence Cannon, head to the United-Nations on Monday...and it ain't to discuss Afghanistan as official Ottawa maintains.
There have been significant developments in the case of the missing diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay and that's what the last minute trip to New York is all about. Harper's mission may be under the cover of Afghanistan, but the truth is the Afghan mess is a NATO mission which the United Nations wants nothing of. And, the Americans already have their own plans, including 17,000 additional troops, to deal with the Taliban insurgency Canada and its other allies have been unable to quell.
The mess though involving Canada's diplomats, Fowler and Guay, is entirely of the making of the United-Nations. That is precisely what Stephen Harper will tell the U-N's Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, when the two confront one another on Monday.
Robert Fowler, Ban Ki Moon's secret personal envoy to Niger, and his diplomatic companion, Louis Guay, their driver, Soumania Moukaila, were kidnapped on December 14 just outside Niger's capital, Niamay. We know now, via secret video and a ransom demand, that they are being held by the Algeria based, A.Q.I.M. - Al Quaida in Islamic Maghrec - which has spread its tentacles into Niger, Mali, Burnika Faso, Libya and Chad.
It is Canada and the United=States that have advanced the investigation this far, primarily with the collaboration of American undercover operatives based in Mali. In other words the United-Nations and its Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, have been totally ineffective in any effort to secure the release of Fowler and Guay. Prime Minister Harper will be happy to make that point when he meets the U.N.'s high command in New York.
The payback Harper will extract is twofold: Personal pressure from the Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, on the Government of Mauritania to facilitate the exchange of two imprisoned Al-Quaida members for the release of the two Canadian diplomats. If need be Harper will emphasize that it is Canada that has done all of the grunt work in this investigation. Which brings-up point number two: The pesky matter of Canada's 2010 candidacy for one of two vacant seats on the Security Council of the United-Nations.
The former American President, George W. Bush was clearly unappreciative of the U.N.
Harper's response was accordingly lukewarm when a couple of years back our candidacy for the Security Council was proposed. There is a new guy in the White House now. Doubtless he'll soon be seeking assistance from the United-Nations to bolster America's tattered international reputation and clean-up several matters: Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iran and others. Prime Minister Harper knows that a powerful ally like Canada on the Security-Council would gain substantial appreciation from the Americans.....That just may be why when the Foreign Affairs Minister, Lawrence Cannon, leaves Harper's side at the United-Nations; he'll be heading straight to Washington for a first encounter with Secretary Of State, Hilary Clinton.
I guess a bitterly cold February day in Ottawa can be just as intriguing as pretty much anywhere else in the cloak and dagger underbelly of international politics.