Thursday, November 24, 2011

Manichean PM turning Canada from peace-keeping to military "machismo"

Man·i·che·an   noun ... an adherent of the dualistic religious system of Manes, a combination of Gnostic Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and various other elements, with a basic doctrine of a conflict between light and dark, matter being regarded as dark and evil. (From Dictionary.com)
There is a very dangerous and unwelcome change taking place in the corridors of power in Ottawa. It concerns the transformation of this "peace-keeping" nation to one of militarism, given the ceremony in the Senate, of all places, of the troops who returned from the Libyan mission.
Presenting the General  who commanded the NATO troops with a medal, by the Governor General, is one thing.
The prime minister making a speech about how those who talk about human rights have, on occasion, to "walk the walk" is another thing.
And all of this could easily and should have been conducted in a military parade square on some Canadian Military base where national television cameras could and would have covered the event. Oh, and by the way, that "fly-past" of a bomber flanked by F-18 fighter jets, cost the Canadian taxpayers only half a million dollars, freely spent by a government alleged to be pursuing all cost-cutting measures available to it. Humph!
As at least two of one of the many panels on Power and Politics on CBC today put it, there were clear signals of a future of military campaigns to come.
By John Ivison, National Post, November 24, 2011
While the job in Libya may be done, Mr. Harper’s comments during the ceremony suggested there may be other missions that will soon require Canada’s attention.

“Those who talk the talk of human rights must from time to time be prepared to walk the walk …. Heaven forbid that we should fail to do that of which we are capable when the path of duty is clear. Our government is not that kind of government. Canada is not that kind of nation,” he said.
He wasn’t specific, but it seems he was preparing the ground for future interventions — perhaps in Syria or in a possible conflict between Israel and Iran.
The more strident tone was in keeping with other comments Mr. Harper has made since the May election, leading some observers to suggest Conservative foreign policy in the era of majority governments will be governed more by a sense of moral duty than domestic politics.
It is Harper's dividing the world into "good and bad" characters, and by implication attempting to place Canada firmly in the camp of the "good," that sounds eerily and frighteningly similar to the kind of vocabulary and policy setting agenda of George W. Bush, he of infamous manichean fame.
It was the Manicheans who originally divided the world into a neat little dichotomy, of good versus evil, presumably as mentor and guide to the simple minds of both Harper and Bush, many centuries ago. Their worldview (the Manicheans) is no more sustainable with a reality check today than it was when originally propagated.
However, for those who consider their responsibilities so clearly that they are without ambiguity cluttering up their minds, or their policy choices, they are not in need of any facts to support their dichotomizing.
And while it may make instant and powerful headlines, and provide the "base" with both clarity and encouragement to keep those dollars rolling into party coffers, it is not now, never was, and never shall be a substitute for leadership in a very complex and turbulent world.
Was Harper signalling that Canada is considering joining, (God forbid leading!) an attack against Iran?
Was Harper signalling that Canada is considering joining (once again God forbid leading!) an attack against Syria?
As John Ivison himself queried on CBC, is North Korea next?
Militarizing Canada, as a prominent player on the world's conflicted stage, is not the direction that Canadian taxpayers nor their children and grandchildren wish to see their country hijacked toward.
And it is quite literally a hijacking of the honourable traditions that have been followed for generations starting with Lester B. Pearson, he our only Nobel Peace Prize recipient, for his peace-keeping solution to the Suez Crisis.
National interest trumped by moralizing, by a Manichean anti-intellectual? Is this the best that the Prime Minister can offer to Canadians and to the world community of nations?
Are we trying to make up for some glaring weakness in our history that demonstrates that we have been less than fully "macho" in our participation in global conflicts? Is some masculinity at risk somehow leading the government to some serious over-reaching in turning this country into a "fighter nation" whose people seek to fly fighter jets and armed ships, to demonstrate our "equality" with the "big boys" of the G8....most of which countries are facing serious budget cuts to their military, thankfully, given the extreme over-commitments of the last half century, especially in the U.S.
November 24, 2011 will be remembered as a dark day in the history books of Canada, and Canadians will have only ourselves to "thank" for giving this man and his gang of sycophants a majority government on May 2, 2011.

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