Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Clinging to militarism and the hubris it reinforces as our mask for authentic power

Of course we completely reject Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion’s argument that it was already a ‘done deal’ and he had no options but to sign the export permit on those light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, a deal negotiated by the former Conservative government. He could have, and should have, refused.

Just as John Turner should have revoked those patronage appointments made by Pierre Trudeau on his exit from the national stage.

Just as Putin should have refused to sell those surface-to-air missiles to Iran, a deal consummated just this week.

Just as President Barack Obama would be well advised to refuse to sell cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, as a “pandering” to invoke a restoration of their friendship, given the frayed nerves over the Iran nuclear deal, and the Saudi belief that the United States is moving away from its traditional ally, Saudi Arabia, and toward a more friendly posture with Iran. (On this Netanyahu and the Saudi leadership would seem to be in profound agreement.

Back to the Canadian ‘deal’ on light-armoured vehicles: not only is the Saudi government deeply engaged with the Islamic terrorists, either directly or indirectly, through the funding provided by some of their most wealth citizens, it also is fully committed to the abuses of human rights, that include not only a Neanderthal view of the relationships between men and women, to the total demeaning of women. The Dion argument that, if Canada had not completed the sale, some other country would have...

What kind of rationalization is that?  Is a bank robber now at liberty to say, after completing his haul, “If I had not done it, someone else would have?” Is a person who drives drunk, slams into another vehicle, killing all six occupants, now free to tell the court, “If I had not done it, someone else would have?”

And as for the argument that some 400 jobs in London Ontario are dependent on those light-armoured vehicles, why could the government not demonstrate a commitment to a new way of operating on the international stage, by re-directing those workers, high skilled as they probably are, into a new renewable energy production facility. Could we not begin to withdraw from full participation in the arms race, including all weapons, knowing full well that the weapons lobby in the United States will only begin to consider drawing down their production if and when they are shamed into such a stance.

And as for those cluster bombs that Obama is reported to be considering offering to the Saudi’s, just what the Middle East needs is another highly sophisticated, killing machine to eradicate another half million innocent civilians, in order to re-establish the Sunni superiority in the face of a rising tide of Shia power. Of course, both Obama and the Saudi’s will no doubt argue that they are only engaged in such a sale/purchase as part of the very necessary even urgent need to wipe ISIS out, and those headlines will ignore completely any prospect of “collateral damage” from the cluster bombs. That would change the story from a clean, clinical and objective “business deal” between two governments who will argue that in order to survive in the current global climate of fear, violence, chicanery, and hard power, every country has to “keep pace” with the rapid advance in weapons design and delivery systems.

It is time for the international community to cease and desist in putting on the mask of hard power, for the purpose of “looking invincible” in order to garner more political weight, influence and opportunities to inflict abuse/harm/conflict on whichever country or force is the ‘enemy-du-jour’.

We are watching a game of uber-transactional interactions, dedicated either to enhance power directly or to smooth ruffled feathers which is just another way to enhance nation state power....and in the words of the proverbial comic, “How is that working out?”

Putting aside a presidential campaign for the Republican nomination that is calculated to motivate knee-jerk red-necks to rush to vote for either Trump or Cruz, and the Putin public relations campaign that effectively starves his people while he expands his geopolitical influence through arms sales, and military interventions of the most illicit kind, the price we all pay for this political/military/national security/corporate state power, enforced by military deals, arms deals and military parades (dangerously including but not restricted to North Korea, and Trump’s willy-nilly off-hand comment that he would welcome both Japan and South Korea acquiring nuclear weapons), we are tilting toward becoming victimized by our own short-sighted, illegitimate and self-sabotaging clinging to the militarism of the last two-plus centuries.

And there is no end in sight!

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