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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Wanna Fight! Your PM Will Pick One For You

Way back in the late 1960s there was an idea floating around about what should be done about all the people who want to fight. The idea was to put them all in one corner and let them destroy each other! I thought it was a good plan.
I come from a generation, the sons and daughters of World War II veterans, who believed war could be ended. Our parents did not call the war they’d been through “the war to end all wars” for no reason. They simply did not want their children to experience the horror they’d gone through. The whole idea for most of them was they went to war to finally put an end to it, and they came back determined to make sure it never happened again.
Now, forty years later, what do we find? There on my TV is an ad from the Canadian Armed Forces calling on people to “fight, fight, fight.” Its enough to turn my stomach, and to make many from my parent’s generation turn over in their graves!
Yet we have a Prime Minister, one who has never had to go to war, and would not physically make it through basic training, urging our young people to join the armed forces so they can fight, fight, fight.
At the same time, this PM, argues that those of us who are opposed to his militaristic intentions are enemies of our armed forces, that we are unpatriotic, ill informed, even stupid, for not wanting to see another generation of our young people have their lives torn apart by foreign conflicts.
Meanwhile, it is in the true sense of patriotism, and devotion to those who gave their lives in the past wars, that we fight the notion that war is justified. Our PM wants us to believe that Canada can succeed where the USSR and the USA could not. He wants us to believe that we can force feed western style “democracy” on a civilization that is far older than ours. He wants us to believe we can right the wrongs in the world with military mite, contrary to all the evidence of history.
And while our PM is so busy force feeding us the notion that mite is right, and that we in the west know better what is right for people half way around the world, our own society is in tatters. We have tens of thousands of people living in the streets, people who are the sons and daughters of war heroes.
We have a PM who wants us to believe that we can fix the problems in other countries while ignoring our own issues.
All the evidence is showing that conditions in Afghanistan and Iraq are deteriorating. Heck, even some of the countries who were the most vocal about going into these places are now pulling out. Many of our NATO allies are refusing to allow their troops into the more dangerous areas, yet our PM insists we should go deeper and deeper into the conflict, spend more and more tax payer dollars on the fight, while shielding himself from any critical review of such action by refusing national debate on the issue and labelling the opposition unpatriotic and cowardly.
Truth is: Sending our armed forces into war without a national debate is the unpatriotic thing to do. How can we in good conscience send people to fight for a cause we are not certain is justified?
Isn’t such a move, all on its own, an act of uncaring towards our armed services personell and their families?
And as far as spreading democracy goes, all the facts demonstrate that this cannot be done. Democracy is not something that can be forced on a people, it is something a people must decide to adopt for themselves. It cannot be transfered or imposed, it must be developed from within.
The other aspect of it is this. The only way we can make “democracy” attractive to nations that do not have democracy is by making democracy attractive to them. We cannot do that by simply saying, our way is better, get with it. The way we make democracy attractive to undemocratic countries is by making it work here at home. We need to set the example. We cannot do that by letting the rights and feedoms of Canadians be eroded, which is what is happening when so many of our own people live in poverty. We do not inspire other nations towards democracy by curtailling democratic rights here at home. Stifling debate does not encourage other countries to open debate. No, when we do things like curtail debate, cut services to the poor while increasing funding to the military, take away rights of habeous corpus and legal representation, we do not inspire others towards democracy. We demonstrate to them that democracy does not work, and must be reigned in. Worse, we come off as total hypocrites.
If Stephen Harper and others of his political persuasion really want to export freedom and democracy then it is incumbent on them to make sure those institutions are working well here at home. The true leader leads by example, not by rhetoric. If we want people to follow us, then we have to walk the talk, not talk the walk. Its all very simple, although those in power seem intent on convincing us it is not.
To win the hearts and minds of the Afghan and Iraqi people, then we need to become a model for them to follow. We must first feed, clothe and house our hungry and homeless. Then we must make sure that every person, national or foreign, is provided with all their democratic rights. When our house is in order, when our own yard is cleaned up, then maybe our neighbours will be inspired to do the same. But if we are going to go around telling our neighbours to clean up their acts, while we ourselves are letting our home deteriorate, then they are just going to look at us and say, ‘worry about your own mess before you bug me about mine.’
We were right, way back, when we suggested that everyone who wants to fight should be put in one corner and allowed to beat the crap out of each other. Trouble is, we have some so-called leaders right now who belong in that corner, but are intent on dragging the rest of us in there with them.
Perhaps its time we took a page from their own book and learned how to “just say NO!”


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