How Canadians Lost Their Moral Compass

A few weeks ago, an article in The American Conservative mentioned US troops being instructed to ignore boy rape committed by their Afghan allies. This flashed me back to Christmas 2009, when our Conservative government prorogued Parliament, rather than let the torture issue be discussed. According to news reports at that time, Canadian troops were also ordered to ignore the screams of boys being raped.

It’s not difficult to see what’s right and wrong in this situation. Child rape is pure evil, and in a better world our troops would have arrested the perpetrators. If high-ranking English and/or American officers were involved, arrest them too! Instead of which, Canada withdrew from the Afghan mission.

Ten years later, the war still drags on. And the way things look today, the Taliban enjoy more credence in the Afghan countryside than the Americans do.

For a Canadian senior, this type of thing is highly disturbing. We’re a newer country and I loved seeing Canada take its place in the world as an independent country, standing for human decency.

Today these attitudes are largely discarded. With the Americans now so strong, we’re pulled toward behaving like a satellite state. This tendency is strengthened by the intelligence group, the Five Eyes, which is made up by the white, English speaking nations. The word “allies” is always on the politicians’ lips, even though there’s no major war.

A similar dynamic seems to underlie the Brexit move. The British would not cut ties aimlessly; they must feel they have somewhere to go. And, they definitely bring experience to the table. The U.S. could do worse than learn from them in the Afghan situation: forget propping up a bunch of perverts, and establish a proper imperial government.

Imperialism’s been around a long time, and it operates under one main law. “It’s forbidden to make friends with those who do not submit.” (This saying is attributed to Genghis Khan, but it rings as true today.) In other words when imperialism comes in, right and wrong go out the window.

Unfortunately for the old-style imperialists, our world has undergone rapid and massive change. Population has exploded and so has technology. Other countries have nukes too.

My gut feeling: the aggressive behavior which once created great empires is not just wrong in today’s world. It’s obsolete, and highly risky.

How Canadians lost their moral compass

A few weeks ago, an article in The American Conservative mentioned US troops being instructed to ignore boy rape committed by their Afghan allies. This flashed me back to Christmas 2009, when our Conservative government prorogued Parliament, rather than letting the Afghan torture issue be discussed. According to news reports at that time, Canadian troops were also ordered to ignore the screams of boys being raped.

It’s not very difficult to see what’s right and wrong in this situation. Child rape is purely evil, and in a better world our troops would have arrested the perpetrators. If high-ranking English or American officers were involved, arrest them too! Instead of which, Canada withdrew from the Afghan mission.

Ten years later, that war still drags on. And the way things look today, the Taliban enjoy more credence in the Afghan countryside than the Americans do.

For a Canadian senior, this type of thing is highly disturbing. We’re a newer country and I loved seeing Canada take its place as an independent nation, standing for human decency. Today these attitudes are largely discarded.

With the Americans now so strong, there’s a pull towards behaving like a satellite state. This tendency is heightened by the intelligence group, the Five Eyes, which is made up by the white, English speaking nations. The word “allies” is always on the politicians’ lips, even though there’s no major war.

A similar dynamic seems to underlie the Brexit move. The British would not cut ties aimlessly; they must feel they have somewhere to go. And, they definitely bring experience to the table. The U.S. could do worse than learn from them in the Afghan situation: forget propping up a bunch of perverts, and establish a proper imperial government.

Well imperialism’s been around a long time, and it operates under one main law: it’s forbidden to make friends with those who do not submit. (This saying was attributed to Genghis Khan, but it rings as true today) In other words, when imperialism comes in, right and wrong go out the window.

Unfortunately for the old-style imperialists, the world has undergone rapid change. Population has exploded, and so has technology. Other countries have nukes too.

My gut feeling: the aggressive behavior which once created great empires is not just wrong in today’s world. It’s obsolete, and highly risky.


Canada’s New Shallow

Now approaching the end of his first term, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can look  back on one major accomplishment: legalization of marijuana.

Not many know, and few would care, if Trudeau is a pothead himself. As a politician, his greatest gift might be empathy; he seems to have an innate ability to put himself in other peoples’ shoes, and feel as they do about important issues. Unfortunately, as with the controversy over climate change, this capacity can lead to stalemate.

Canadians rank with the highest greenhouse emitters in the world on a per capita basis. Trudeau supports the Paris agreement, and he wants to cut Canada’s pollution by taxing the use of fossil fuels. At the same time, Trudeau is onside with the corporations that exploit Canada’s natural resources, and he has the utmost sympathy for the workers employed there. Thus he plans to increase bitumen shipments to overseas markets.

Such a union of opposites can make for great poetry; in the real world though, Trudeau’s “pipe dream” undercuts his pretense of caring about mankind’s future here on Earth.

One weakness of Canada’s democratic system is that it’s difficult for many people to see beyond their own immediate needs. As with the wolves, the bears, the squirrels and the robins, their attention is fixed on the moment, and the daily requirements of food and shelter. Politicians’ jobs depend on convincing people that they are the best ones to look after their interests, so the leaders too, focus on the here-and-now.

In comparison to other countries, Canada is one of the most blessed. We have a small, fairly well educated population, in a huge area. If anyone can afford to give something back to the world, and show flexibility and ingenuity with regard to making a living, it’s Canadians.

Unfortunately at the present time, the required leadership is not there.

Coping with the post-truth world

The first U.S. strike on Syria, a year ago, came as a real shocker. Like millions of others, I’d seen the pictures of a gas attack on the internet. However I never expected such a response from the U.S.

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, had initially called for an investigation. Then a couple of days later, he stated that our closest ally had certain knowledge of the Syrian government’s guilt.

As a seventy-four year old who grew up in small B.C. towns in the 1950’s, I doubted this certainty. (Our steady diet of Westerns, in the movie theater and later on TV, instilled a firm belief that the once-common lynch mob justice is not the way to go. These were morality plays, and I’m glad for the indoctrination. We’ll always need trained lawmen to seek out the truth, wherever it leads them.)

Today’s war-torn Syria has several different factions fighting there, any one of which could have the motive and the expertise to stage something like this.

The situation was disturbing, so I went on-line and looked up “investigation into the Syrian atrocity.” That’s when I discovered The American Conservative. The writers at that site have spent their lives in public service, both at home and abroad. They’ve earned PhDs, and written books. Some have advised presidents. I appreciate their expertise very much, and find them quite enlightening.

Here in Canada the news media has fallen into even fewer hands, and it’s a downward spiral; steadily losing readership, they cut quality to stay afloat. Our national broadcaster, the CBC, still has world-class journalists; however the newer management shows little interest in world-wide news. Rather there’s a focus on imperial concerns.

Today, a year or so after the first strike on Syria, two similar cases have arisen.  First, a former Russian spy now living in England was targeted with a deadly nerve poison. Stating that the Russian government was probably the perpetrator,  England immediately expelled their diplomats. Several allied countries did likewise, including Canada.

Soon afterwards, Syrian citizens suffered a second chemical weapons attack. Jumping to conclusions once again, Britain and France joined with the U.S. in retaliation, striking several sites.

Britain and France played a significant role here after World War One, when they divided the Ottoman lands between them, and their participation lends support for the American assertion of Imperial authority in the area.

However many of the problems the Middle East faces today were created by Britain and France, and they won’t be solved by even more simplistic measures.

These are dangerous times.

 

This year’s Easter is filled with violence

Sunday April 9 marked the 100th anniversary of the First World War’s Vimy Ridge battle, where Canada lost 10,000 soldiers in breaching the German lines.   TV ads prepped Canadians for days ahead of time. “They died for your freedom,” the announcer said, in a twist on Easter’s more traditional message.

Prince Philip attended the ceremony, as did Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. According to the speakers,  Vimy Ridge marked Canada’s emergence as a real nation.  This victory was achieved on the Canadians own initiative, without the British generals telling them what to do.

Only days before we’d seen a chemical attack on a Syrian village.  In response the Americans attacked a government base with missiles.

Few draw a connection between today’s violence-ridden Middle East and the First World War.  As one who grew up in the British Empire however, I can’t help but remember.

In fighting for the British Empire our soldiers fought for Englishmen’s freedom to rule over the millions who were less industrialized. Canada would not exist but for the British lust for conquest. However in 1960 Canada’s Prime Minister John Diefenbaker set the country on a higher path by enacting our Bill of Rights. Then in 1982, Pierre Trudeau repatriated the Constitution and established the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

These actions marked this country’s true emergence as a real nation.  People of all races and creeds live in freedom here today, with the chance to have a decent life.

The idea of Canada finding its national identity through some World War I victory may be pagan in origin. Europeans believed they were the master race, but who was the most masterful? Only the battlefield could sort it out; Odin loves a warrior, and the Valkyries take the fallen up to Valhalla, where they feast forever.

Warfare forms a huge part of old Europe’s history.  England and France’s Hundred Years War is fairly typical. Both sides viewed a successful king as one who expanded the realm, and so things went back and forth forever.

World War I introduced slaughter on an industrialized scale. Nobody could have foreseen the monstrous nature of what developed, as the war was triggered unexpectedly by Serbian terrorists. The major European powers had formed defence alliances which committed them to show up in time of need. Then when Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia to avenge the assassination of their heir-apparent Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, a whirlpool developed into which everyone was drawn in.

Not too long before, the French and British had sided with the Ottoman Empire in their dispute with Russia, with the Crimean War. This time though, the Ottomans picked the wrong allies. The mistake cost them dearly and in the aftermath of their demise, France and Britain seized control of their territories in the Middle East.

The Middle Eastern area enjoyed seven hundred years of peace under the Ottomans, but today refugees flee the hell hole by the millions. Apparently the main cause of the present ongoing conflict is sectarian, similar to the deadly rivalry between Protestants and Catholics, hundreds of years ago.

One modest question:  if outsiders refrained from selling arms into the region, would this not cut down on the slaughter?