Why The Left In Canada Gets Afghanistan Wrong
My essay in today's Ottawa Citizen: This week, the Citizen provided its readers with a rare glimpse of a scandal that has severely damaged Canada's ability to effectively engage in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and it has nothing to do with the ill-treatment of Taliban detainees. . .
It's about that section of the left that has made common cause with the Islamist far right, and how the sect around which it revolves now provides the staff positions for the Canadian Peace Alliance and the Toronto Stop the War Coalition, as well as the leadership of the War Resisters Support Campaign and other allied groups.
. . .you've got to hand it to these people. They have successfully framed the debate on the left about Canada's policies in Afghanistan, and about Canada's approach to the tragedy of the Middle East. They are among the leading authors of a widely accepted narrative against which NDP leader Jack Layton must now pass muster in order to maintain the allegiance of a vocal component of the NDP's support base.
In that narrative, the Taliban are not the brutal tormentors of the proud Afghan people. George W. Bush is, and so are NATO and the Canadian military. In that narrative, Canadian soldiers are not friends of the Afghan people. They are part of an imperialist army of occupation. In that narrative, Afghanistan and Iraq are conflated in a single quagmire. Zionists control pretty well everything. Israel is always wrong.
If you notice that Hezbollah attributes American support for Israel to a Masonic conspiracy, or that Hamas is a death cult that boasts of turning Palestinian children into human bombs with which to kill Jews, you'll risk being tarred an Islamophobe. If you point out that there is absolutely nothing progressive or liberal or brave about the fashionably strident "troops out" position on Afghanistan, it won't matter that you've been a person of the left all your life, as I have been. You will be called a warmonger, a neoconservative, a red-baiter, and worse.
One thing there wasn't room for was an especially vivid illustration of the convergence of the far left and the far right that's going on here: "Anti-war" hero George Galloway visited Ottawa last year for the specific purpose of attending a Canadian celebration of the 74th birthday of Syria’s fascist movement. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party sports its own stylized swastika, sings its anthem to the tune of Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles, and dreams of a greater Syria from the Nile to the Euphrates.