Category Archives: Afghanistan

Welcome to the 1,000th Politics, Re-Spun Editorial!

Steve Harper, the greatest threat to Canadian security in the modern era.

Happy August! Happy Day!

I have a few comments about this, the 1,000th editorial at Politics, Re-Spun. But you can read them below, about my sabbatical plan, new visions for this almost 12-year-old website, and other things.

But at the top of this post, I have something slightly more urgent to delve into before I check out for a break.

That great sick freak, Donald Rumsfeld is generally credited with popularizing the concept of unknown unknowns to our modern/post-modern era. Being a sick freak, he spun that bafflement along with his people’s neo-conservative neo-imperialism in the post-9/11 world to destabilizing things on a variety of continents.

And we know Stephen Harper has a large sick, freaky imperialist vision as well.

On Labour Day, my post [already written] will be about what happens when we start forgetting all the things that Harper and his neoliberal and neo-conservative/imperialist buddies have stripped from our civilization. It will also be about what happens when young people don’t even know we had it better, before Harper and his sick, freaky neoliberal compatriots waged war on all things progressive. These young people live in the land of unknown unknowns. Like, in BC, the neoLiberal government has decimated society for so long that those who graduated from high school two months ago have only known the long knives. They did their entire K-12 education under them, guided by the equally sick Fraser Institute. How could these recent grads ever know that it used to be so much better?! That’s its own particular tragedy.

But here’s another unknown unknown. And it all comes from the fact that Stephen Harper is the greatest threat to Canadian security that we have known in this modern/post-modern era. I put that in bold for a reason:

How, you ask?

It hit me last night in one small phrase in an op-ed in a newspaper from way over there, in St. John’s, courtesy of a union thug called Lana Payne. I’ve made it bold.

Robert Murray is an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Alberta. He specializes in security and defence policy.

He recently wrote a commentary critical of the Harper government’s “strong, sometimes inflammatory, rhetoric” with respect to its foreign policy. The government is ignoring, he noted, the historical successes of Canada’s foreign policy. The current government has rejected this “proud tradition … in favour of an approach that can lead to threats to Canada’s national security and/or irrelevance on the international scene.”

Silencing dissent – Columnists – The Telegram.

We have all long lamented how our reputation around the world has turned to scum. Scuttling international climate deals, siding with baby murdering Israeli bombing of Palestinian hospitals in Gaza, gutting regulations, promoting pipelines, proroguing parliament twice [the second time BY PHONE even!].

And we lament this loss of moral influence around the world.

So we sigh about that and say, “someday we’ll get it back.” Then we go on living our lives, hoping for a better future for Canada.

But here’s the other side of that. The more our government, who speaks for us [ostensibly], sides with despots, the more other people in the world see us as a threat, because we are. We are a threat to peace and freedom and democracy and dignity. And some people, including extremists, will react badly to that.

What do I mean? Well, here’s an example. In the good old black and white days of the Cold War [tm], the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. We [the west] decided that was bad. So we helped arm the mujahideen. And since no one can ever hold Afghanistan, the Soviets bailed. Then, a couple decades later, some of those same mujahideen blew up the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Who knew?! Aside from the US government, roughly 13 years ago this week. But Bush was on vacation doing his manly cowboy thing on his ranch in Texas, so there’s that.

Skip forward to this month. Does Harper’s belligerent, imperialist foreign policy stance open Canada to attack from other extremists?

Yes.

In the past, we were ignored, or we were a moral compass for others.

Now, our compass is covered in tarsands and sludge from a tailing pond spill in BC.

And we aren’t being ignored. We’re now part of the problem propping up Israel’s infanticide in Gaza and all the other international morally criminal acts we are supporting.

And here’s the unknown unknown. We don’t know who is going to hate us for how Harper is ruining Canada’s reputation. We can sure guess, but that’s something that can keep us awake at nights.

We live in a delusion of complacency and entitlement. Just like America before 9/11. And wow, was America shocked when it was attacked. Are we as deluded about how nice and polite we are as Canadians, when our prime minister is bouncing around the world, telling despots that Canada has their back, and serenading Israel’s prime minister with a Beatles song.

We certainly, though, can’t know for sure who among those who now hate us, will decide to do something about that. Will someone target Canadians overseas for murder, kidnapping, terrorism? Will someone attack a symbolic location in Canada: the CN Tower, parliament, the TSE, a nuclear power plant, a refinery?

It would be naive to think that there is no risk associated with Harper’s imperialist stance. But we’ve been naive for years now. How often have YOU talked about Canada as a new target for extremists? Have you wondered if there’s a bullseye on your back?

And we’ve also been lucky. But when will that luck run out?

A handful of sycophantic Canadian MPs just went to Israel to suck up to them and their “heroes” killing children and bombing schools and hospitals in Gaza. Will the next [non/spin]fact-finding MP mission be greeted with a Palestinian suicide bomber? Will we feign surprise? Really?

Will Canadian aid workers in some troubled place be massacred because of Harper and Baird?

But we also know what happens when all of us “innocent” people get unjustly attacked by terrorists. We saw it in America after 9/11. Are we innocent if we let this imperialist speak for Canada?

And Stephen Harper is sitting in the wood-paneled rec room of his own Oval Office in Ottawa, with his fleet of idling black SUVs outside his building waiting to whisk him away to an undisclosed location. With Dick Cheney.

Don’t think for a second that Harper would not use an attack on Canada/Canadians as a justification to go much further than America ever did in terms of increasing his soft fascist footprint.

It’s almost like Harper is poking the bear.

But the bear kills us, not him. Ever.

So it’s time to ramp up our efforts to get rid of this despot, and any other Canadian political leader who similarly exposes Canada to insecurity because of their imperialist, racist, neoconservative, and/or soft fascist principles.

Nobody voted for that!

*******************

So as you figure out what YOU’RE going to do to take Canada back, I’m taking a break. To ponder that, and other things.

  1.  I’m taking some time off until Labour Day, or maybe after that because I’ve already written the Labour Day post. And that won’t necessarily stop the other writers on the website from posting, just because I’m off to decompress, part of the time bobbing up and down in Skookumchuck Narrows.
  2. I recall in December 2005 I had such a long time off while doing my Political Science MA that I was able to ponder things, make connections, discover some unknown unknowns and basically do all the things that should happen on sabbaticals. Out of that month came a conference I ran at SFU on Earth Day on April 22, 2006 called “Canada 22: Envisioning Post-Neoliberalism.” It was a great day. In the morning we were imaging what a Canada could look like after we fix the scourge of neoliberalism. And in the afternoon we imagined how we’d get there. The Occupy Movement and groups like the Metro Vancouver Alliance are building on that theme.
  3. And in time off, which is a luxury most in the world don’t enjoy, often serendipity plays a card. I am open to unexpected developments. It could be quite exciting!
  4. I’m working on a new visual theme for the website, one that will be far more responsive for being viewed and interacted with on phones and tablets.
  5. Maybe in several weeks, there will be far more editorials on art, which has been lacking. Maybe more audio/video interviews. Maybe more GroupThinkReSpun posts. More poetry or photography? Maybe the whole focus will revolved around Gandhi’s Seven Deadly Social Sins: Wealth Without Work, Pleasure Without Conscience, Knowledge Without Character, Business Without Ethics, Science Without Humanity, Religion Without Sacrifice, Politics Without Principle.

So until I return, enjoy your summer, hug those you love, seek peace, and plan for a better world!

How the Conservative Government Dishonours the Military

deletemeSo Canada is leaving its occupation of Afghanistan.

I never liked the mission. I never liked the context. I never liked the propaganda. I never liked the transformation of some kind of Canada into this occupying Canada.

162 killed and 2,179 wounded? But here’s the very very hard question. Who is the government NOT counting? They are the people the government is actively disowning, to the shame of all of us.

I’ll tell you who some of them are:

Continue reading How the Conservative Government Dishonours the Military

Kate, Robin and Stewart’s Challenge To Us All About PTSD

I will be doing regular updates on two events to increase awareness about PTSD, particularly as the Canadian Forces spends too little on treatment of its members and PTSD. Regardless of all the ways we could improve our military or the Canadian government’s often imperialistic foreign policy, the real human beings who signed up are being mistreated. We cannot stand for this.

Kate MacEachern is walking from Cape Breton to Ottawa and Robin and Stewart are running in the Victoria Marathon, all to raise awareness and funds for PTSD

You can donate to either or both campaigns by following the links at “Got PTSD?”.

Kate MacEachern and The Long Way Home

Kate MacEachern started her long walk in early September. On August 13, she frame the whole journey like this:

Today, she’s here:

Robin & Stewart’s Marathon for Veterans

Robin and Stewart are taking part in the Victoria Marathon to raise awareness and funds for PTSD treatment.

Stu and I have been focused in the last two weeks at gaining a greater understanding of PTSD: how it affects our Veterans, what programs and supports exist, what is missing, and why.

No small feat.  And no short blog could even scratch the surface of these issues, but we are throwing our hats in the ring.  We are running in shirts emblazoned with “Raising Awareness for PTSD” – and we are starting with our own awareness.  We sadly have an unfair advantage in our starting point, Stu much more so than me.  He has seen and experienced things first hand that I am thankful I have not, and I will not and cannot speak to his story.  I just know that as I engage in researching PTSD, as I read the stories and the articles, I see my partner through different eyes.

As I undertake this greater awareness of PTSD in an academic, theoretical and practical manner, I realize my awareness of it in a personal way.  I am reminded of my army brat, base-life in the 80s and 90s – of elementary and high school friends whose parents went away on deployment and came back changed – and the anguish and confusion felt.

Only now do I have a context for my recollection of whispers in the playground at CFB Kingston, when we’d gossip about René’s dad who had come back but wasn’t allowed to live with them anymore, or Michelle’s Dad who “just wasn’t the same” after Rwanda.  We used terms like “mental” and “pitiful”.  It was 1993.  I was 13.  I had no idea.  I can’t speak to the tools, resources, programs or support systems available to René’s and Michelle’s families or the THOUSANDS like them.  But I can speak to the attitude in the schoolyard.  It was one I still, unfortunately, butt heads with in the Legions and over beers with “the old boys”.  There is still a horrible, misinformed, misguided and dangerous impression out there that the condition of PTSD only afflicts men and women of weak character.  I cannot state emphatically enough that this is not true.  I know this from what I have learned; academically, theoretically, practically and personally.  Any awareness of PTSD has to start from this point.

There are men and women of strong, courageous, proud and noble character out there, doing amazing things to raise awareness of PTSD, and openly discussing their own experiences with the disease.   I am so grateful for the work they do and the opportunity to learn from them.  By way of an introduction to these amazing people, I would highly suggest the TVO film “War in the Mind” – which “documents the struggles and battles these heroes face against this disabling and destructive disorder, which remains largely under-acknowledged by the Canadian military. Interwoven throughout is a critical analysis of the historical and scientific aspects of PTSD and examination of possible treatments for it”.

These struggles need to be acknowledged and discussed.  And those charged with supporting our Veterans need to be continually challenged to do their job.  For Stewart and I, this is goes further than the shirts on our backs.

– See more at: http://legionbcyukon.ca/blogs/robin-and-stewart/robin-stewart-understanding-ptsd#sthash.1EIQgJmK.dpuf