Let's be clear -- Saudi Arabia is awful. Like many other countries around the world, they deserve to be called out, again and again and again on any number of human rights issues. And yet . . .
Here's the thing - Harper called out Russia on Ukraine over Twitter and I have no issue with that. We had no horse in the race. We as a free nation, believed that Russia was in the wrong by annexing a sovereign nation. We called them on it. That's a good thing.
We, as Canadians believe that bloggers and women's rights activists should not be imprisoned for their writing and protests. Why is it different to call out Saudi Arabia on this, on social media? Individual lives are at stake. By publically trying to shame the Saudi regime for its heavy handed treatment of protesters, we have endangered the very people whose captivity we're protesting.
Saudi Arabia is not a rational, thoughtful country, prone to reconsider its actions when chastised on the world stage by a low to middling world power -- they are the sort of nation that feels the need to flex its muscles when challenged. Trudeau and Freeland don't know this? Weakness does not go over well in the Arab world. They laugh at it. They exploit it. They will not capitulate when condemned for wrongful actions -- they will double down. They will retaliate. How do our leaders not understand this? Have they not watched world events in their lifetimes?
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that publically singling out bad behaviour by a supposedly friendly government is bad form. To do it about a situation where you have a vested interest, and where outcomes are far from certain, is pure idiocy.
Do Trudeau and his diplomatic team think they've made captivity better for the blogger, his sister and the other rights activists? Can they not envision that they might have actually made things worse?
This has never been about calling out the Saudis on human rights abuses. That is an ongoing issue. Nothing has changed from last week, a year ago, three years ago. The difference right now is that the very people Trudeau's team was meant to be advocating for, are now in more danger and less likely to be released due to the constant need for public displays of piety by our government.
Our allies are not backing off on this because they disagree with the sentiments expressed in the tweets, or because we are now suddenly the only virtuous, liberal democracy left -- they are dumbfounded by the stupidity of our leaders. They aren't afraid of standing up to tyrants -- they just know that diplomacy requires tact and subtlety, not grandstanding and praise-seeking. It is quiet, in the background and leaves all parties with their dignity in tact -- regardless of whether they deserve that.
No impassioned Tweet was ever going to gain the release of these imprisoned activists. If the Trudeau government didn't realize that already, it's frightening just how very immature they are.