30 October 2006

Sick and Tired of This

Why is that whenever someone denigrates Canada, it always has the adjective "second-rate"? We're content to be a "second-rate socialist country," according to a past incarnation of Stephen Harper. When Margaret Atwood attended Harvard, she was shocked to discover that Canadian literature was "second-rate and not worth studying," according to their standards (I'm sure someone's resourceful enough to come up with an Ignatieff joke here). The Canadian Football League is regularly perceived as second-rate compared to the much-glitzier and more polished NFL. The NY Times once said that Canadian music is second-rate, and that for every Sarah McLachlan and Celine Dion (why the hell didn't they say Bryan Adams?) we put out 10 Rita McNeils or Roch Voisines (why the hell didn't they say the Barenaked Ladies?). The list goes on and on...

And now the story going around al Qaeda watercoolers is that we're "second-rate Crusaders."

Well that's just going too far.

Granted, we're not actually on a crusade. Unless you count promoting universal values such as human rights, the rule of law, women's equality, liberal democracy, and freedom of religion/conscience/expression as a crusade. Which I don't. I just consider it to be fulfilling our Responsibility to Protect. This idea that Canadians are "obsessed" with Christianity is also malarkey, but I'm sure that if I were to be sent packing to live in a cave for five years while the entire justice-seeking world was hunting for me, I'd probably say some pretty dumb things too.

So with that in mind, I call on the Canadian Government to prove Ayman al-Zawahiri wrong. Show to him, his jerk of a best friend, and all the others out there that Canada isn't second-rate. Prove to us, and to them, that we're first-rate when it comes to fulfilling our pledges and honouring our commitments. Explain why this mission in Afghanistan is so important to establishing a viable paradigm for the 21st century, one that says that Canada and its friends will not stand idly by while populations are enslaved by armed or foreign insurgencies that seek to deny populations of their rights.


Rob Elford said...

I agree. Afghanistan is a just war. I will reiterate a point I just made on Chris Laroche's blog:

Devin, you had me up until you mention, "...the change in the nature of the mission.." This is a complete falsehood that is unfortunatley gaining traction in Canada but is flatly wrong. Canada was redeployed from Kabul to Kandahar with no intention whatsoever of 'peacekeeping.' (whatever that is or was anyway...[insert entire thesis here!]) The aim was to set up Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) with the aim of stability and reconstruction. Reconstruction is not progressing as well as anyone (even our military) would like because there is little reliable stability from which to reconstuct much at all. Former Minister of National Defence Bill Graham spoke often of the danger and the potential for loss of Canadian lives in Kandahar province. We knew we were getting into situation of heightened conflict (read WAR) but few assessed the enemy would be as difficult to supress as it has (many thanks to Pakistan).

Can we (NATO) win? It is going to be a tough slog. Without clear commitment from all NATO partners the challenge is all the greater. But that is an aside today because if the war is a just war it needs to be fought. Afghanistan, I believe, is a just war. We (Western Liberal Democracy) cannot stand-by and watch states harbour non-state actors with illegitimate aspirations of global domination vis-a-via the perversion of an otherwise beautiful religion. The consequences are simply too important.

UNFORTUNATELY the abject incompetence of the present US Administration in terms of building strategic bridges makes all occident-orient relations a near impossibility. Therefore, Afghanistan is a greater problem and a harder war to win due to illegitimate wars such as Iraq.

So, killing the enemy in Afghanistan does thwart attacks in Canada. It keeps the enemy, those who have no respect for anything respectable, busy on their own turf. Measures of effectiveness are hard to determine however.

Are we strategically winning? I dunno... I don't think Winston Churchill though his side was winning in 1942 either. If it is just, as I said before, it is worth fighting.


So, I am re-posting this comment on your site because I feel strongly that Afghanistan is a fight worth fighting.

RGM said...

Thanks for dropping by and contributing some thoughts, Rob, it's good to hear from you.

Certainly, the dynamics within Canada's 3-D approach to Afghanistan are fluid and shifting, as is the conception of the three-block war. That's to be expected during an insurgency; things simply don't go according to pretty blueprints drawn up in Ottawa/Brussels/Washington/Florida/the Moon.

What we're doing in Afghanistan is vital work, and if we don't get it right, it will have serious repercussions in almost every aspect of the War on Terror & Tyranny. I can think of few things that would be more devastating from the Canadian perspective than for us to precipitiously withdraw because some folks back home got a little squeamish and forgot that there are still monsters to destroy in far-off places about which they know little. Now that is how to use historical figure catchphrases!!!