Sunday, July 23, 2006

Questions of Conflict

I'm reminded of this image from Ampersand:

Pictures from Beirut? Pictures from Haifa? Pictures from Gaza? Dead people look like dead people to me. Two of the Israelis killed in the Hezbollah bombing of Nazareth (Nazareth!) were Arab Israelis, one of them Christian. One of the Lebanese servicemembers killed was Catholic. One of the IDF servicemembers killed was Druze. Lebanese civilians under fire from the IDF and IAF are Catholic, Maronite (Christian), Eastern Orthodox, Muslim, and Jewish.

This is not quite as cut-and-dried as it seems to appear to some people. It would be much simpler if there were these nice neat religio-ethnic and/or ideological lines in the (Golan) sand, but there aren't. Each side has its hands covered in blood, neither has an excuse. Also, there are various factions sitting on their well-padded ideological rumps far from the front lines cheering their favourites on (a real case of "Let's you and him fight," or maybe even "Let's him and him fight," if I ever saw one), safe and cosseted by distance, not having to live with the negative impacts of their policy suggestions.

The people on the ground, the people actually getting ordnance dropped on their heads, don't quite have that luxury. Seems like damn near all of them just want "that shit to stop," as the President of the United States so eloquently put it.

This begs yet another question: Why is my government putting up with that eloquent (as a kick in the teeth) bastard in the White House, smugly swallowing the party line that Hezbollah is all to blame (this time), and bothering to try to negotiate a cease-fire (let alone trying to honestly broker a deal) is a waste of time?! According to the Jerusalem Post, Italy is acting as a go-between, relaying messages from Israel to Lebanon and back again. Italy?! Why is my government playing procurator, sending its garrison troops off to Afghanistan, the place where Empires Go To Die, to fight a proxy war for the US (they call it "counterinsurgency" these days, and I call it "choosing sides in a civil war," which is not what Canadian forces should be doing), when we should be helping to defuse conflicts like the one threatening to set the entire Middle East literally and figuratively ablaze right now. (Golan Powder Keg, anyone?)

Instead, what we have are cowardly Canadian governments too chickenshit scared and stupid to tell the US to take its imperial dreams and shove them sideways where they'll do them a world of good, getting involved in Afghanistan (and almost in Iraq), and now Stephen "the Smirking Corpse" Harper refusing to be at least even-handed with criticism -- effectively squandering Canada's reputation as an honest broker abroad. How long will it take us to repair our rapidly-shredding credibility? I don't know, but the date at which we can go back to being Pearson's Bluehelmets (instead of Bush's Warhammer set) starts with our going back to not taking sides. As Canadians, we should be concerned with self-determination. Boosting one faction over another is taking sides. That hurts Canadian interests abroad, and it is bad foreign policy for us. The sooner we can stop, the sooner we can start repairing our credibility loss.

Other than that, I have no answers, only sadness, anger, and questions...and I can't tell them apart either.


Blogger Anne Johnson said...

It saddens me to think that when America crumbles it's going to take Canada down along with it. That just shouldn't happen.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Eli said...

I'm afraid you're thinking small, Anne...

7:54 PM  
Blogger SadButTrue said...

As another Canadian with a blog that deals with a lot of US and world political issues, I get asked from time to time why I don't spend more time and effort on the home front, ie, Canadian issues. My deadpan response is to ask the person, 'who ruled Poland in 1938?' This is a great blog, I'm glad I found it (through comment thread at Spocko's Brain.) Just the right blend of serious analysis and sarcastic snark. For some reason I've been stumbling across a lot of Canadian anti-Bush blogs in the last few weeks. Go figure.

12:02 AM  
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