Friday, September 05, 2008

Peacekeeping: We Don't Do It Anymore

Way back when, I wrote a mildly over-the-top piece on how much Conservatives hate Canada. Basically, the values that most Canadians hold are not the values that the Conservatives - or even the Liberals - seem to hold.

The most obvious of these views is the value we place on peacekeeping.

Even the Ministry of Defence knows this. They conducted a study and found that most Canadians still want our soldiers to be doing peacekeeping.

The Canadian Press article starts out with some simple facts about the feelings of Canadians. Percentages of this and that. What it comes down to is that most of us think of ourselves as a peacekeeping nation.

Then the article gets shifty. After mentioning one comment from one person about not being able to picture "a Canadian soldier carrying guns.", we have this quote:
Traditional peacekeeping, which usually meant monitoring ceasefires, largely disappeared with the end of the Cold War.

Right. Nice lie. This is the how the news media slips opinion in to news.

This misleading statement would make you think that traditional peacekeeping opportunities have disappeared. They haven't. What has disappeared is the desire of our military and political leaders to undertake those missions.

Rwanda was there, desperately needing help to prevent a genocide. Dallaire even knew what to do. But the rest of the world, Canada's government included, opted to do nothing. They let "traditional peacekeeping" fail in a grand and horrible way, with 800 000 dead, so they could pretend that "traditional peacekeeping" was itself dead.

And now the Canadian Press is helping them with this pretence. And at the end of article they're going to lament how little we trust journalists.

Referring to failed Bosnia-Serbia intervention, the article continues:
That frustrating experience shaped the attitude of a generation of soldiers, who were eager to shed the United Nations blue beret, which they saw as a symbol of weakness and indecision.

Really? The soldiers saw it as a sign of weakness? Who is writing this article? Where is the survey that demonstrates this? Is this the infantry or the military brass? Besides which, it doesn't matter what the soldiers think. It is the civilian population that selects the missions. If those enrolled don't like peacekeeping, they don't have to stay enrolled.
Yet the public clings to the romanticized notion of brave soldiers standing between belligerents.

Yeah. We stupid, ignorant Canadians have these stupid, romantic morals and values. God, we're so fricking naive, aren't we?

But there is hope, because there are these two comments, the first from Desmond Morton, a military historian at McGill University:
“I think the (peacekeeping) values are profound, and while I may think they may not be wholly realistic, they are rather more attractive than the values I encounter in the United States”

What? You're actually going to acknowledge, in a national paper, that Canadians aren't just Americans with a National Inferiority Complex? You're actually admitting that there are some values that are different between one country and the other? Be careful. Jeffrey Simpson is going to call you a "knee-jerk anti-American" any second now (any evidence you present notwithstanding).

And this comment:
“Many participants claimed not to trust the media to report events in Afghanistan accurately,” the survey said.

Well, that's good. At least people are learning. That's very promising.

But of course, we have an excuse from the Canadian Association of Journalists, Mary Welch:
“In these kinds of situations there's always a shoot-the-messenger kind of mentality,” Ms. Welch said.

We're not shooting the messengers. We're "shooting" the liars who tow the government line and get our soldiers shot. We're expecting journalists to stand up, not roll over. If you find us distrusting you, it's because we've caught you lying too many times.

The fact is that Canadians should be in charge of what their military is doing. At this time, we are not. The Liberals failed to steer the military in to the post Cold War peacekeeping force that we wanted. The Conservatives are taking that military force and using it aggressively. Neither party deserves to be leading this country if they aren't carrying the morals and values of Canadians with them.

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Anonymous said...

“I do not picture a Canadian soldier carrying guns.”

LOL. What next for Canada? Police without guns? Firemen without firehoses? Ambulances without stretchers? Obviously some Canadians are wacked.

Greg said...

“I do not picture a Canadian soldier carrying guns.”

That was the CP's point. They picked out one comment from all of the comments they received in order to make the pro-peacekeeping crowd look unrealistic. Even if the context is accurate, it's one person that's whacked - but the CP is using it as representative.

I favour peacekeeping and I know that Canadian soldiers carry guns when they do peacekeeping, or anti-piracy or even when they handle the aftermath of a natural disaster.

But the CP has an agenda, clearly, to make peacekeeping seem naive and unrealistic. So they give us the most unrealistic quote they can.