Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Murky Lessons Of History

Blindingly clear for some, obscure and ambiguous for others, the lessons of history need to be given close scrutiny these days, especially by our chickenhawk prime minister. Like so much else that his regime brays and sputters about, Stephen Harper's recent tough talk about the Ukraine and the Middle East conceals, minimizes, dismisses or entirely overlooks some very inconvenient truths.

Perhaps still smarting over having missed out on the first Iraqi war, which he supported, Harper seems to be eagerly embracing the latest opportunities fate has brought him. Fortunately, The Star's Thomas Walkom is there to remind him and us of some things best heeded.

During the last Iraq war, many nations, including Germany, France and Canada, officially chose to stay aloof.

This Iraq war is supported by a large array of Western nations including France, Britain, Italy, Australia, Germany — and Canada.

And, unfortunately, the opposition parties seem to have drunk from the same poisoned well as Harper:

In 2003, Canada’s Liberals and New Democrats vocally opposed going to war in Iraq. Eleven years later, both opposition parties seem onside.

Incited by the recent gruesome and unspeakably barbaric beheadings of two American journalists, historical perspective seems to be lost.

But Walkom points out a salient reminder that not all monsters are or can be dealt with with dispatch:

First, the world contains many monsters. The West studiously avoids direct military involvement in Congo’s brutal civil war for instance, even though the atrocities committed there are equally barbaric.

Second, Islamic State militants are deliberately trying to draw the U.S. and its allies into the quagmire of Syria and Iraq.

And this, of course, has happened before, with disastrous results that should have surprised no one:

Provoking America into overreaction was Osama Bin Laden’s aim in 2001. He succeeded masterfully, provoking not only the West’s ill-fated adventure in Afghanistan but George W. Bush’s subsequent and even more ill-fated invasion of Iraq.

In 2011, NATO’s military attacks on the forces of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi gave Islamic militants another victory.

Not only did NATO warplanes leave Libya in political chaos. They also allowed militants to seize weapons from Gadhafi’s well-stocked armories — weapons that have been used by Islamists throughout North Africa and the Middle East.

Yet a collective amnesia and hysteria seems once more to have taken hold on the world stage, an amnesia exploited by warmongers like Harper. In his Manichean world, the good wear white hats and the bad, black. Suggesting anything more subtle and nuanced would, I suspect, be entirely lost on him.


  1. As Santayana wrote, Lorne, those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    1. And as we know, Owen, Harper and many more like him are particularly inapt students.

    2. .. failing completely at the task before him.. that of Canada and its governance.. Stephen Harper now presumes to bestow upon other countries or continents the gift of his wisdom. The fabrication of a self anointed 'statesman' is underway.. Stevie's great billowing parachute

      When we peel away, in future years the layers of secrecy, obstruction and incompetence of the so called Harper Government, we'll see that he rose to and held that government with the aid of equally & deeply flawed partners. And so what if he now contradicts everything he ever said while clawing his way upward? Who could keep track?

      Grasping, mealy & deeply presumptuous, just like him.. and many it would now seem, enchanted by the opportunity to inflict their evangelical ideology upon what they feel are a witless undeserving electorate or citizenry.

      So, it seems the task this government is rounding to, whether Canadians agree with them or not.. is becoming partners with energy entities, China, standing with Israel, curtailing democracy as well as science or biology, especially any biology related to women being pro-choice, suppressing the vote, eliminating Environmental protection and finding a reasonable old fashioned winnable war to join in..

      Afghanistan didn't work out so well and Harper had to pull a rabbit out of his ass by proroguing Parliament to avoid questions on detainee torture.
      The legacy is mud. But Harper is a mudder. His complicits not so much. Peter Kent, Baird, Fantino, MacKay, Leitch & her late saint Flaherty and all the rest, including Harper, teeter now on the razor edge of deniability..

      After all, we have to prove what they did and what they hid. All baseless smears, right? And currently they command an awful lot of lawyers to defy obstruct appeal and delay any forensics into their dark deep closets.

      Not much room to maneuver with failures on every file, incompetence in every Ministry.. and the specter of betrayal or exposure over the Election Fraud of 2011. Funny how Nigel Wright now manages our Canada Pension Plan.. one assumes with Harper & Joe Oliver's blessing

      The Harper Plague Ship wallows on, infecting any who venture too close, making almost no headway on its furtive run.. as Fred DeLorey brays 'Friend, we need your 5 or 25 dollars to defend Israel & the tar sands, invade Iraq & frack Quebec, beat down Putin & Trudeau.. and protect Chinese supertankers from radical First Nation Elders'

    3. The sins and crimes of the Harper crew are indeed many, Salamander, and history will judge him accordingly. Let's just hope that his adventurism abroad costs no more Canadian lives, unlike his fruitless adventure in Afghanistan did.