Thursday, May 15, 2008

Did the NDP call Canadian soldiers "terrorists"?

There is a frequently used conservative tactic that finds its way in to both Canadian and American politics. The debating term is the "straw man". A straw man is an opponent you construct - either completely from your imagination or from a series of misquotes - whom you can easily beat.

An excellent example is that people on the left "hate globalization" and want to "end all trade between nations". It's easy to argue with straw men because they don't exist.

Here's another straw man. The NDP should be disregarded on international issues because they called Canadian soldiers "terrorists". Look, I can prove it with this quote from a resolution from an NDP riding association in B.C.:

In such a situation Canadian troops end up acting like terrorists, destroying communities, killing and maiming innocent people.

How dare they! Now it's easy to argue that we can ignore the NDP because they would dare insult our noble troops this way! Canadian troops aren't terrorists! That's just crazy.

Hm. Would someone really say such a thing? What's this odd wording about "such a situation"? My, it's almost like there's some kind of ... oh ... context ... that's missing.

Oh, wait. Hold on. Here it is:

A combat role in Afghanistan is a no-win situation both for Canada and for the Afghani people. Its only dubious value is to curry favour with the militarist government of George W. Bush. No matter how noble our intentions, such as “bringing democracy” or “enabling peaceful development”, these goals cannot be achieved by violence when the “enemy” cannot be distinguished from ordinary citizens. In such a situation Canadian troops end up acting like terrorists, destroying communities, killing and maiming innocent people.

Oh. You mean the riding association was making the point that we would be sending our troops to a place where - through no fault of their own - their orders might lead to them killing civilians? They were making the point that our government would be effectively ordering our troops to do harm to civilians?

My, that's a bit different from the slap-in-the-face the out of context quote led us to think they were delivering. It's almost like the right wing doesn't want to argue the Afghan mission on its merits, but would rather appeal like scoundrels to our patriotism and national pride.

For those interested, they pulled the same trick when the former Minister of Defence was being blasted for letting our troops turn prisoners over to the Afghani government that was then torturing those prisoners. The Conservative defence of this relied on no rationale. They merely hid beyond the troops, saying, "How dare you accuse our troops of war crimes?"

We're not accusing the troops.

We're accusing you.

Recommend this PostProgressive Bloggers

No comments: