Tuesday, September 05, 2006


OK. We admit it. We got suckered into slugging it out with someone who likely doesn't really deserve the attention.

That's a risk out here in the cyber-sandbox. We play, but sometimes not so nicely. (There's probably something about time-outs that could be said now.)

We hope at least some readers will understand the temptation when right-wing turkeys assume they are the only ones who understand certain issues, like honouring war dead. Or foreign policy in general.

It is a kind of fascism -- not a term we use lightly. It's like saying only lefties understand welfare, the Wheat Board or universal health care. It's very different than saying 'we have a better approach to this issue'. It's saying, 'your view is not valid simply because of who you are'. It's offensive and obnoxious in the extreme.

It's even harder to take when it's not particulary clear they actually understand the issues they wish to appropriate for themselves.

Ooops. Here we go again.

Let's move on.


While we've mentioned the issue of war, it's perhaps worth elaborating on this space's view on the topic of Canadian involvement in Afghanistan, as Jack Layton and, now, Gilles Duceppe have made pulling out a top priority for both of their federal parties.

We think there are many valid criticisms to be made. Like what was the reason we went there in the first place, anyway? A new yen to fix failed states or spillover hysteria over 9/11? A sudden desire to smash oppressors of women or appeasing U.S. foreign policy interests?

However, we went. We are there. We are invested in this mission. We are amassing war dead. This country is significantly engaged. We are committed and therefore we have a serious job to do and have serious decisions facing us.

But, as Layton suggests, to pull out by February because the going is tough? Preposterous.

Actually, it's pretty much just opportunistic.

It is no secret the federal NDP is meeting in Quebec City this month and the activists of the federal party (who tend to be more radical New Democrats frustrated with their more practical provincial parties) will put Canada's role in Afghanistan front and centre. Sorry, no prize for guessing what position they'll take.

Also, an NDP breakthrough in Quebec seems to remain Jack's holy grail. (Good luck with that, dude.) And anti-Afghanistan war sentiment runs very high in La Belle Province -- particularly with lefties.

So, a statement just before the convention about a pullout may seem perfectly reasonable.

Only it's terribly irresponsible and would have horrific consequences if actually carried out.

Layton could simply have made sensible criticisms, such as that Canada has no strategy to build a civil society, in partnership with its NATO allies. Or that Canada has no exit strategy at all. And these are HUGE falures of the Harper government.

He could then have called for a reasonable deadline for such necessary policies to be formulated and made public and then say, if the deadline is not met, a pullout may be ultimately necessary in order to avoid a repeat of British and Russian history in Afghanistan -- a mission without end and countless body bags.

We think this would have been fairly easy to defend at convention. And actually not bad policy.