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Whither, Canada?
November 5, 2010 12:16 PM   Subscribe

We used to be Peacekeepers.

Things don't seem like they used to be.
posted by Alex404 (50 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
God that comic depressed me today. Here's to making sure that y'all of my frozen family have a shit weekend too!
posted by Alex404 at 12:18 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I need to go outside for a while....
posted by schmod at 12:20 PM on November 5, 2010


This post seems a little broad in its collection of complaints, but, yeah, there's no pride here. That said, somehow it gobsmacks me that the Tories, even following several seasons of fuck-ups that should have mortally wounded them, would win an election if it were called today. We've changed, and it depresses the shit out of me.
posted by Roachbeard at 12:27 PM on November 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


For the larger world wondering what that editorial cartoon means, the section of the four-lane Trans-Canada Highway between Canadian Forces Base Trenton and Toronto is known as the Highway of Heroes. Whenever the body of a Canadian soldier killed on overseas duty is "repatriated" to Canada, the aircraft lands at CFB Trenton and the procession makes the long sad drive to the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto, where the exact cause of death is confirmed. Along the route, many of the overpasses are peopled with random groups of Canadians, typically with flags or handmade banners paying tribute. That's the background to the brilliantly caustic rendition by the editorial cartoonist here.
More here.
posted by Mike D at 12:32 PM on November 5, 2010 [20 favorites]


He came to power in 2006 sceptical of Canada’s traditional multilateralism (“a weak-nation strategy”, he said)

Yeah, only the weak rely on persuasion and cooperation. Real countries TAKE what they want.

Why do we think of the morality of a country as being different than the morality of the people inside?
posted by Malor at 12:34 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Common thread in all of the links presented:
Global opinion has not been good to us lately.
Maybe it's because we've been acting like regular assholes.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:35 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait, what? We're supposed to be surprised at the various and sundry sins committed in Canada's name? Only if you never paid attention in history class, I guess, or truly believed in the fuzzy nationalist bullshit the Liberal Party of Canada has used to get itself elected. Truth is, we have always pillaged the environment to grow the national treasury. Our storied commitment to promoting peace and well-being abroad has never progressed past the imperial dictates of the bosses in London or Washington. (Or Toronto, for that matter.) We believe in peace, order and good government, says the law, except, of course, if you're born indigenous, in which case we've kept you in wretchedness with residential schools, soldiers and infectious disease. Nothing's quite as abhorrent as Annex/Kitsilano liberals who politely wring their hands and profess to be shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.
posted by docgonzo at 12:37 PM on November 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't know if global opinion has not been good to us lately:
We are the number one "country brand" in the world now. Whatever the hell that means.
posted by dogbusonline at 12:45 PM on November 5, 2010


We went into Afghanistan out of sympathy for the US after 9/11, and because we didn't want to seem out of step with our allies (plus it was a way of sidestepping participation in Iraq). When the Conservatives got in, they changed the mission to one of aggressive combat. To restore Canada's pride of place in international affairs would mean breaching with the US. Look at the shitstorm that approach unleashed on the French. No, we are a satellite of the US, and there is no way out. Canada's brief time in the limelight came with the post-war end of the British Empire, but it was doomed by the soaring economic and political liberalization of the US. Anyway, this was all discussed long ago in George Grant's Lament for a Nation.
posted by No Robots at 12:45 PM on November 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


If it makes you guys feel any better (or warmer) you have our permission to give us the finger and go back to being Canada full time. The world needs a Canada a whole lot more than it needs another one of us. Besides, most organisms get along just fine with one asshole...
posted by jim in austin at 1:05 PM on November 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


you have our permission to give us the finger and go back to being Canada full time.

Great. Let's start with a Trudeau salute.
posted by No Robots at 1:09 PM on November 5, 2010


Our storied commitment to promoting peace and well-being abroad has never progressed past the imperial dictates of the bosses in London or Washington.

I dunno, 1996-2000 under Lloyd Axworthy may be an small break from that rule:

"Lloyd Axworthy carried out a controversial 18-month social security review, which imperfectly attempted to balance employment insurance reforms and benefit reductions with job creation measures. However, Axworthy is best known for his term as minister of foreign affairs (1996-2000) and for innovative policies that sought to make the most of limited resources following a series of government cutbacks in the mid-1990s. He was widely credited with initiating a shift in Canadian foreign policy away from preoccupations with instruments of traditional state power and territorial security and toward human security campaigns that included and mobilized civil society actors at home and abroad. His notable human security endeavours included the successful adoption in December 1997 of the Ottawa Convention banning the production, use, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. His contribution to what became known as the "Ottawa Process," and the signing of the landmines treaty on 1 January 1998, led to a nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize. Under Lloyd Axworthy, the concept of human security was focused on freedom from fear or the protection of people from violence. At the UNITED NATIONS (UN), Axworthy became a strong advocate on behalf of women and children caught in the midst of armed conflict. His determination that state sovereignty could no longer shield abuses committed against civilians in a global society was the context for Canadian leadership over a treaty establishing an International Criminal Court (ICC) that came into force in July 2002. The ICC and child soldier campaigns earned Axworthy the North-South Institute's Peace Award.

As chair of the advisory board to the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) immediately following his term as foreign minister, Lloyd Axworthy actively promoted the responsibility to protect, the idea that the protection of human rights and security takes precedence over traditional non-interference in the affairs of sovereign states. Published in December 2001, The Responsibility to Protect report laid out a set of principles to guide actions carried out by the international community to protect individuals under threat.


Whether or not he was effective, some of us took his approach to heart. Of course, this was before EVERYTHING CHANGED on account of a POST 9/11 WORLD
posted by Hoopo at 1:20 PM on November 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wait, what? We're supposed to be surprised at the various and sundry sins committed in Canada's name?

Fuck you. Fuck you in your sanctimonious, condescending ass.

First of all, the Imperial Dictates of the bosses of Toronto? Are you fucking kidding me? We conquered poor BC in some far flung past and have since oppressed you in our mission of stringing up child soldiers and destroying our environment? How fucking brotherly do I have to make this post for self victimizing shitheads like you not to turn this into an anti Toronto thing? Shall I say 'My frozen family, except for Toronto, because we're all fucks?'

And you know, I may be aware there are people indigenous to this country. And I may be aware that our track record with them isn't that good. In fact, for the record, I never talk about Canada being a tolerant, multicultural place without at least mentioning that we're built on the ashes of a culture we spent hundreds of years raping and assaulting.

So therefore we've never done anything good? When I grew up in this country, I believed it was a peaceful, tolerant nation, with a strong welfare state, and happy, healthy, fortunate people. Is it this simple? No. But I and many who grew up with me were raised with the same ideals that we now see squandered. There are things in our past to be proud of, and I don't want to get in a historical shooting matching about it. You want to paint with a huge brush of equivalency across the swaths of our history? Fine. You want to write off vast swaths of your nation as hand wringing, ignorant, and ineffectual? Fine.

But what the fuck are you doing about it?
posted by Alex404 at 1:20 PM on November 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


And it's the Canucks against the Leafs.
posted by No Robots at 1:27 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fuck you. Fuck you in your sanctimonious, condescending ass.

I was here for the hockey, but all of a sudden a Metatalk thread broke out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:37 PM on November 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


Those overpass banner displays give me such mixed feelings. You know the people there are well-meaning and patriotic - I bear them no grudge - but it all feeds into this gross militaristic lie that is the 'Highway of Heroes'. The Canadian Forces have been the butt of jokes for so long, it's hard to find fault in their getting respect for any reason*. And it's such a striking visual, when it's finally not around anymore, people will reminisce about "when folks showed respect" or some such.

I'm raising my kids that Trudeau and Pearson represent the best of Canada, Mulroney and Harper the worst. I'm spectacularly unthrilled with how close Canada is with the U.S. post-9/11, but admittedly the situation could be colossally worse. I'm glad there aren't U.S. troops driving under those overpasses.

* see Rob Furlong.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:38 PM on November 5, 2010


Not much to say other than I'm proud of this country where I live, I'm just not sure where it's headed, and that's a bit frightening.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:43 PM on November 5, 2010


So therefore we've never done anything good? When I grew up in this country, I believed it was a peaceful, tolerant nation, with a strong welfare state, and happy, healthy, fortunate people. Is it this simple? No. But I and many who grew up with me were raised with the same ideals that we now see squandered. There are things in our past to be proud of, and I don't want to get in a historical shooting matching about it. You want to paint with a huge brush of equivalency across the swaths of our history? Fine. You want to write off vast swaths of your nation as hand wringing, ignorant, and ineffectual? Fine.

But what the fuck are you doing about it?


Well, since you've gone and raised the tenor of this thread to such a high level, I don't feel bad pointing out that my contribution might just be disabusing other Canadians of their childhood fantasies about their country. Indeed, your shrill, self-satisfied and ultimately ineffectual ranting seems to be a pretty accurate indictment about what passes for intellectual activity in the Annex/Kitsilano. (Oh, and so like a Torontonian to seize on yet another slur on their world class city while ignoring the simultaneous insult to Terminal City. You're not always the straw that stirs the drink, y'know.)

In sum, sorry you're mad I pointed out you grew up believing in a fairytale. Always easier to pine away for a past that never was than grapple with a messy and confusing present, eh?
posted by docgonzo at 1:56 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I too have mixed feeling about the highway of "heroes" but it beats unloading dead soldiers under the cover of darkness with laws preventing anyone from seeing or photographing the coffins.
posted by GuyZero at 1:57 PM on November 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why do we think of the morality of a country as being different than the morality of the people inside?

Well, the 62% of us who didn't vote for the government running the country are inside.

And a sizable portion of the power base of the government doesn't care one way or another about our foreign relations, they're still recovering from the psychic trauma caused by a man who has been out of power for 30 years and dead for 10, because he once made us share.

The part that maybe bothers me the most is that when Bush did this shit, it was somewhat original stupidity. It was obviously stupid and cynical, but it was original and maybe some people didn't see the results coming. We don't even have that excuse.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 2:05 PM on November 5, 2010


I too have mixed feeling about the highway of "heroes" but it beats unloading dead soldiers under the cover of darkness with laws preventing anyone from seeing or photographing the coffins.

It's hard to say which is worse, but I agree that this is a pretty awful.

Perhaps, in some larger sense, both are about sweeping the truth under the curtain.

In Canada's case, it's about hiding the gruesome details of war by changing the narrative to one of unthinking patriotic celebration. In the case of the United States, we hide our war narrative by keeping the coffins hidden and by launching rape charges against journalists overseas.

At the root, both are cowardly acts, to be sure.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:08 PM on November 5, 2010


I'm sorry for flaming out in my own thread. The whole point was to get a constructive conversation amongst Canadians off the ground. Thanks Mike D for clarifying the nature of the post. Please carry on.
posted by Alex404 at 2:19 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mulroney and Harper the worst.

For me, Harper has done something I'd have heretofore deemed impossible: he's made Mulroney look, in retrospect and by comparison, like a statesman of real moral authority despite his flaws. Harper's just that awful, that craven and small-minded. Harper speaks to the worst side of this country, nurtures our meanest instincts, sows discord and lavishes his twisted affections most slavishly on our divisions. It's left us a hollow shell of the country I still try to maintain pride in.

It's not just that Mulroney can legitimately lay claim to the best environmental record of any PM in living memory (do not let Chretien's Liberals off the hook on that one, by the way - they sleepwalked through the first phase of the climate change age by paying the emptiest and most cynical of lip service to the issues at hand). It's that we have neither a coherent energy policy nor a real climate policy - and indeed the mess that exists now is so bad it just drove Jim Prentice out of government entirely rather than be stuck apologizing for it any longer - it's that this is where we stand on the most crucial issue of this century . . . and something verging on a majority of Canadians don't give a fuck.

I'm appalled by Harper, but that goes without saying. What really bothers me, though, is that I've discovered depths of disappointment in my fellow Canadians under his spiteful watch that I never would have imagined possible.
posted by gompa at 2:28 PM on November 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's quite possible to think that things have taken a turn for the worse without believing that they were peachy before.

Foreign affairs and domestic affairs are not the same, and the government is not always easy handed. Native Americans were royally fucked, often unintentionally, occasionally deliberately. But not every part of society experienced what they experienced.

Many people are waking up to find a grimmer, uglier world than they might have experienced even ten or twenty years ago. Others are seeing more of the same.

I'd be really careful about dichotomizing the issue. It only exacerbates differences, and does nothing to foster any kind of understanding. It's destructive, and does nothing for anyone's cause.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:29 PM on November 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


"easy handed" should read "even handed."
Sorry.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:29 PM on November 5, 2010


Right on, gompa. I'm an NDPer, but I've always had a soft spot for Muldoon. These Alberta Report guys are a completely different beast.
posted by No Robots at 2:37 PM on November 5, 2010


changing the narrative to one of unthinking patriotic celebration

This is too glib. While "Highway of Heroes" is a bit of jingoistic propaganda, the fact that our war dead are moved slowly down the busiest highway in Canada during rush hour, is part of our long history of acknowledging that Canadians die when we go to war, that this is the price of our involvement, right or wrong. Our veteran's day is called Remembrance Day, and it's explicitly for honouring our war dead, not for celebrating any positive part of our military accomplishments or culture. The ceremonies are deliberately funereal, a very sobre moment of reflection upon the costs in blood that we incur. The poppy that is the symbol of Remembrance Day comes from the poem "In Flanders Field", which is about seeing a field of crosses marking graves, covered in a profusion of blood red flowers.

In this, at least, Canada has a fundamentally healthy attitude.
posted by fatbird at 2:38 PM on November 5, 2010 [16 favorites]


I concur. I'd feel much better about the whole thing if it weren't called Highway of Heroes.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:40 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


What would you prefer it be called?
posted by chugg at 2:51 PM on November 5, 2010


Remembrance Road.
posted by No Robots at 2:54 PM on November 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


VIVE! Roméo Dallaire
posted by clavdivs at 3:20 PM on November 5, 2010


What would you prefer it be called?

I don't know that it needs a name particularly, but something that doesn't convey the old lie "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" would be great. That's the crux of my opposition.

What's important here is that: a) the soldiers are being seen to be brought home (unlike in the U.S., as GuyZero points out); and b) they are being honoured by the public along the way. There's no real need to attach permanence to the patch of highway their corpses moved along any more than there is to re-name any planes they might have flown in on the way across the Atlantic; the naming, and most particularly the name, smack of ugly politics to me.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:33 PM on November 5, 2010


For some of us, the disenchantment began with Canada's complicity in the overthrow of Haiti's elected government.
posted by fredludd at 3:36 PM on November 5, 2010


GYOFB.

What complete and utter horseshit. Throughout the Cold War, the main emphasis of Canada's military - in terms of manpower and spending - was preparing to fight the Soviets. We had thousands of soldiers permanently stationed in Germany, and we had American nuclear weapons on Canadian soil into the 1990s. We never had more than 1100 peacekeepers in Cyprus. That so-called "peacekeeping" mission in Bosnia? It involved active combat. The Chretien government was so petrified of Canadians learning what was really going on - and so invested in this bullshit myth about Canadian soldiers being friendly peacekeepers, unlike those big mean Americans who go around fighting with people - that when Canadian soldiers got killed by landmines, the Defence Department lied to their families about what killed them, saying they were killed in traffic accidents instead. Peacekeeping my ass.

Peacekeeping, the way the myth is shoved down the throat of unsuspecting schoolchildren across the country, conjured up a situation that has been almost non-existent for the last 20 years: a conflict in which two stable armies reach a truce and require a third party to monitor the terms of that truce and keep the combatants physically separated. Made lots of sense in the Sinai and Cyprus. I'd love to hear an example of where traditional peacekeeping would be useful today. There hasn't been demand for it since the Cold War - not in Bosnia, not in Rwanda, not in Sudan. Oh, and why is it that the people who lament the dirty business of Afghanistan - Romeo Dallaire included - seem to imagine that stopping the genocide in Rwanda wouldn't have involved a vicious war in which civilians were killed? Why is it that the people most in favour of humanitarian intervention are also most in favour of denying the military the tools they would need to effect such an intervention? And most critical of the war in which Canada is currently protecting civilians from the return of a murderous regime?

And what the fuck does the success of the oil sands have to do with any of this? Oh, yeah, I know, let's just buy our oil from Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela instead. No environmental or political concerns there, no sir. What a lot of tedious moaning. How, exactly, would the people of Alberta be better off without the money generated by the oil sands? Anyone morally opposed is welcome to lobby their provincial government not to accept the equalization dollars they generate. And to suggest to the oil workers of Newfoundland where they could find jobs at home.

It's also a real shame that Canada was rejected by the membership of the United Nations, a collection of whiny, Communistical anti-Semites variously upset that Canada hasn't agreed to redistribute its wealth to purchase indulgences (sorry, carbon emissions credits) from the idle and corrupt of the world, and that we've had the temerity not to call for immediate ceasefires by Israel every time it has an act of war committed against it by genocidal religious fanatics.
posted by Dasein at 4:08 PM on November 5, 2010


Anyone who may be against the war but would still like to show their support for Canadian soldiers (in a more private way) can donate to the Canadian Military Families Fund.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:31 PM on November 5, 2010


Gompa: "Harper speaks to the worst side of this country, nurtures our meanest instincts,"

And they're listening and eating it up. That's the biggest disappointment for me - that there seems to be such a strong constituency for the Reform-style Conservatives, and that most of them live outside of Alberta.

I thought Dreadnought's comment in the Rob Ford thread was a useful perspective on these changes.
posted by sneebler at 4:44 PM on November 5, 2010


why is it that the people who lament the dirty business of Afghanistan - Romeo Dallaire included - seem to imagine that stopping the genocide in Rwanda wouldn't have involved a vicious war in which civilians were killed?

Whether or not there's any truth to what you're saying here, when did Romeo Dallaire ever say this? What do you even mean with this statement? The man was trying to prevent an imminent genocide in Rwanda, I'm not sure what the possibility of a war has to do with it.

And stating this:

"...the United Nations, a collection of whiny, Communistical anti-Semites variously upset that Canada hasn't agreed to redistribute its wealth to purchase indulgences (sorry, carbon emissions credits) from the idle and corrupt of the world, and that we've had the temerity not to call for immediate ceasefires by Israel every time it has an act of war committed against it by genocidal religious fanatics."

while telling people to get their own blog is just bizarre. Did everyone miss nap time today or something?
posted by Hoopo at 4:45 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dasein: "How, exactly, would the people of Alberta be better off without the money generated by the oil sands?"

Well, frankly we'd be better off developing the oil/tar sands slowly as a long-term replacement energy source to bridge the gap between conventional oil and some future energy economy. If you wanted to take a longer perspective, we'd be better off using that non-renewable resource to make things out of rather than burning it for fuel.

But THE POLITICIANS of Alberta have decided that we need those dollars NOW, and energy companies are lining up to take advantage, claiming that jobs now are more important than effective management of resources for the future. Notice how I'm not mentioning how we could imagine the oil sands as a shared resource for Canadians?

And the idea that if we didn't have the oil sands to supply Canada's energy means we'd be buying it from "dirty" countries is a complete red herring. If we weren't so intent on selling gas and oil to the US for short-term profit, there would be more than enough to meet Canada's needs. (I'm not saying we shouldn't sell to the US, either...)

But then I must be one of those whining, Communist, anti-Semites of whom you speak.
posted by sneebler at 5:02 PM on November 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I remember when the conflict in Afghanistan first started early in the decade, I had thought that it could turn into a perfect American/Canadian co-production in a good cop/bad cop style: the Americans could go in and kick ass, and the Canadians could wear blue smurf helmets and be nice (while packing sidearms), gain the trust of the common folks, and help rebuild things...

well...
posted by ovvl at 5:15 PM on November 5, 2010


...and then Canada's General says: "We're gonna go into the mountains of Afghanistan and kick ass!" Uh, dude, haven't you read Sun-Tzu?
posted by ovvl at 5:23 PM on November 5, 2010


Whether or not there's any truth to what you're saying here, when did Romeo Dallaire ever say this? What do you even mean with this statement? The man was trying to prevent an imminent genocide in Rwanda, I'm not sure what the possibility of a war has to do with it.

Sorry, you're quite right - I was misremembering Dallaire's position. And, yes, he was trying to do a good thing in Rwanda. My point about war is that the sort of intervention Dallaire was advocating was tantamount to a war - a just war, but a war nonetheless, and one in which the very same civilian casualties that occur in Afghanistan are inevitable. The point is that this alleged alternative to Canada's current (big bad Conservative) direction in foreign policy - humanitarian interventions - are just as bloody and full of potential problems as Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

while telling people to get their own blog is just bizarre.

It's a bad post, IMO - it's just a bunch of axe-grinding. But if it stands, I'm going to say what I think of it.

But then I must be one of those whining, Communist, anti-Semites of whom you speak.

I was speaking of the countries of this world to whom we supposedly did not suck up enough to with a Security Council seat, not of anyone on this site. If the complaint is that Canada was rejected for a seat on the UNSC, well, then, let's go through the reasons that are typically offered:

The Conservative government’s increasingly unflinching support for Israel...cost it support in the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world. The government’s perceived indifference to Southeast Asia cost votes in that region, while cutting back on the number of African nations receiving aid undermined support on that continent. Canada’s foot-dragging in creating a carbon market played heavily against it among numerous small island nations that perceive melting icecaps and rising sea levels as a mortal threat

You will note that two of these reasons amount to absolutely nothing more than whining - oh, we didn't pay enough attention to SE Asia? Are your feelings hurt? Countries complaining about their aid being cut are not only whining, they're whining about good policy, which is to concentrate your aid on better-governed countries so you can actually make an impact.

The foot-dragging in creating a carbon market is just too rich. There is not one country in the world - not one! - that has managed to cut its carbon emissions while growing its economy. The countries most in favour of a carbon market are those whose emissions are allowed to grow under carbon-reduction schemes. They know - as does anyone who's being honest - that there is no way for economies to cut carbon and grow at the same time, not in the next 20 years, not given the deep entrenchment of fossil fuels in our way of life. Which means there's huge money to be made selling credits to rich countries so they can continue to grow. It's global socialism wrapped in green: give us your money. Why? Because you're rich, that's why. Also to save the planet.

Then there's the Israel factor. No surprise there - the UN delights in electing the world's most barbarous regimes to the human rights council where they can spend their time denouncing Israel and devising international meetings where their leaders can fly on the wealth stolen from their people and further denounce Israel while ignoring, well, pretty well every other abuse, except of course those committed by America. No one can honestly look at the behaviour of the Arab countries and large portions of the third world and conclude that their voting record - a complete obsession with everything it does wrong, entirely one-sided and with no pretense of balance - and not see it as an expression of anti-Semitism. That Canada has failed to please these countries should be held up as a mark of pride. Instead we get a bunch of hand-wringing about how nobody loves us anymore. It's juvenile and embarrassing.
posted by Dasein at 9:08 PM on November 5, 2010


Sneebler, I agree that Dreadnought's comment was right on, and it's saddening. The word "socialist" is starting to get used as a dismissive insult...

I wonder what Tommy Thompson would be called if he were around today.
posted by anthill at 9:20 PM on November 5, 2010


Our veteran's day is called Remembrance Day, and it's explicitly for honouring our war dead, not for celebrating any positive part of our military accomplishments or culture.

Do you really believe that? Try and count how many times you hear the word "hero" uttered on November 21st and how often "protection of our values" rhetoric is espoused. Ever notice how the war dead have always done the sacrificing and were never themselves sacrificed? It can be very difficult to countenance the waste of a life in battle, no matter how many traumatized senior citizens tearfully implore us to never again treat humans as expendable objects. The "honouring" of the dead seems an ideological tack to attribute meaning to lives that have been wantonly squandered. Let's mourn them, not honour them.
posted by Roachbeard at 9:50 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


""Look fellows, why do we keep on electing a government made up of cats? Why don't we elect a government made up of mice?" "Oh," they said, "he's a Bolshevik. Lock him up!"
posted by ovvl at 10:11 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Roachbeard, I don't feel that "protecting our values" rhetoric gets used that often up here, but maybe it's rising with the "Support our Troops" ribbons and the Highway of Heroes.

This may come from naive blinded childhood brainwashing, but I disagree that Canadian soldiers' lives have been wantonly squandered in the 20th century. Well, maybe in WWII our troops got sent in as British meat shields. But Korea? There's a lot of gratitude to this day from the South. We could preparing for war with the Soviets without contradicting the Canadian national myth... we're on the ICBM path from the USA to Russia, what were we supposed to do? As for 80s-90s Peacekeeping and "peacekeeping", I'm interested in what Dasein has to say about that.

The thing that saddens me the most about Canada is being mired as a nation of resource extraction. We're importing American adversarial, cynical individualism, without getting the bonus of brave entrepreneurial spirit. We're exporting our trees, rocks, and tar, and keeping the silt, slag, and sludge.

It's ironic that Newfoundlanders are being held up to shield the tar sands from criticism. They're only stuck working there because of a colossal natural resource management failure back home.
posted by anthill at 10:40 PM on November 5, 2010


Do you really believe that?

Yes, I do.

Try and count how many times you hear the word "hero" uttered on November 21st and how often "protection of our values" rhetoric is espoused.

November 11th, not the 21st.

Ever notice how the war dead have always done the sacrificing and were never themselves sacrificed? It can be very difficult to countenance the waste of a life in battle, no matter how many traumatized senior citizens tearfully implore us to never again treat humans as expendable objects.

Remembrance Day is a general acknowledgment of those who died in the uniforms we gave them, and it usually tries very hard to avoid engaging the politics of the conflict in which they were killed. The point is honouring the dead, not fighting the political battle when it's obviously too late for those we're supposed to be honouring.

The "honouring" of the dead seems an ideological tack to attribute meaning to lives that have been wantonly squandered.

Are you saying that every Canadian soldier who has ever died in wartime was a life "wantonly squandered"?

Let's mourn them, not honour them.

Mourning is a huge part of Remembrance Day. The old men sitting in their berets, watching a wreath being lain, tearing up, are remembering the comrades they left behind.
posted by fatbird at 11:11 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I'm done with the fetishism of the Highway of Heroes and I'm done with the red poppy campaign. The government (which has a party that was initially supported by actual, for-real Nazis) are crypto-fascist only because they got rid of press avenues where their people could say openly fascist things. I'm done with the Legion because they do the following:
1) Administer programs which should be the business of the state, or:
2) Cling on to branch buildings against all reasonable expectations of use to continue a minor racket in tavern-keeping, or:
3) Touch off occasional censorship campaigns when somebody dares suggest that Canadians ever did bad things while serving. Our civic understanding of WW2 is measurably worse because of the Legion.
4) Oh yeah one of our local Legion halls gave first prize at a custume party to a guy dressed as a Klansman and his buddy, who went in blackface as a lynching victim.

On a personal note, my grandfather, who fought with distinction in WW2, thought the Legion was filled with assholes.

The veterans' cult is a general drain on our critical thinking and resources. It's always some motherfucker who wants to head off discussion about the legitimacy of a war who talks about honouring the troops. It is a strategy that forces those who oppose wars to stammer a line about the troops before every point. In my town, the municipal government spent a million dollars to erect huge stone slabs listing every dead vet. My town is, incidentally, a failing industrial community with huge numbers of poor people, and we already had a cenotaph.

So no red poppy for me. Maybe a white one, probably none. The cult has worn out its welcome with me. I feel for veterans, but I'll say so in my way, not through these rituals.
posted by mobunited at 12:52 AM on November 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


We went into Afghanistan out of sympathy for the US after 9/11, and because we didn't want to seem out of step with our allies (plus it was a way of sidestepping participation in Iraq). When the Conservatives got in, they changed the mission to one of aggressive combat.

Let's be honest here: Our military presence was doubled in summer of 2005, shortly after it was announced troops would be returning to Kandahar. Conservatives were elected on January 23, 2006. Yes, Operations Mountain Thrust and Medusa were conducted in 2006, but aggressive combat was inevitable regardless of the government.

That said, this is a country of small and mean and petty people, lead by the same. The best thing I can say about Canada these days is at least it's underpopulated.

That Canada has failed to please these countries should be held up as a mark of pride.

“Our engagement internationally is based on the principles that this country holds dear; it is not based on popularity... We take our positions based on the promotion of our values — freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, justice, development, humanitarian assistance for those who need it. Those are the things we are pursuing and that does not change, regardless of what the outcome of secret votes is.”

'And those grapes were probably really sour anyway.'
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:15 AM on November 6, 2010


And, yes, he was trying to do a good thing in Rwanda.

He did many wonderful things. Is saving 30,000 lives not good enough for you. The UN cannot declare, wage, or intervene in a war unless directed by UNHQ (that outmoded babel of eternal footdragging).

can i have my two minutes back.
i like to stay out of Canada business, but there seems to be some U.N. talk.
posted by clavdivs at 1:30 AM on November 6, 2010


you just keep out of it, then; the United Nations are a horrid gaggle of corrupt anti-semites whose stupid club we never wanted to be in anyway but our valued principle and principled value of politeness forced us to go through the motions of applying to it even though we never really wanted to.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:38 AM on November 6, 2010


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