A Fork In The Road For Liberalism: Colin Kenny Or Bob Rae.
This isn't just about distinctly Canadian arguments, you should notice, the rote references to Vietnam notwithstanding. How these arguments play out in the developed democracies of the world will determine the course of "liberal values" in the coming decades. It is a tribute to the toxicity of the side Colin Kenny favours that it played no small role in producing a shabby and small-minded right-wing coalition at the last British elections. The greatest victory the European "anti-war" crowd can claim for itself - the Dutch withdrawal from Afghanistan - was handed to them by the right-wing populist Geert Wilders. In America, the argument descended into a baying of hounds driven mad by the scent of all that Iraqi blood and the election of what crazy Americans regard as their first socialist president, whom almost everyone else is pleased to regard as uber-liberal, at least compared to the last guy. Maybe so, but on matters of women's rights and liberal internationalism, Barack Obama may well be the most reactionary American president since Richard Nixon.
A quick digression: If there is an equivalent debate taking place within Canada's Conservative Party, I am unaware of it. To the shame, consternation and embarrassment of many decent Conservatives in the rank and file, in the federal cabinet, and in the Senate, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Afghan policy is, quite simply: dissemble and otherwise keep shtum. As for the New Democrats, disenchanted by their own great helmsman as many of them are, their party abdicated any right to be taken seriously about what Canada should be doing in Afghanistan after the NDP's 2006 "Support the Troops, Bring "Em Home" resolution.
On to Bob Rae. . .
Not unrelated, and noticed via Jim Denham at Shiraz Socialist, is attention to an important wellspring of a schism that continues to enfeeble the Left (Comrade Lauryn Oates considers examples here and here) more than three decades on: Anti-Orientalist Meets Western Feminist. The post recounts a critical turning point in the Khomeinist counter-revolution - or at least a critical moment in the Euro-American Left's disorientation - March 8, International Women's Day, 1979.
On that day, Iranian women activists and their male supporters demonstrated against an order for women to re-veil themselves in the chador worn in more traditional sectors of society. The demonstrations continued for five days. At their height, they grew to fifty thousand in Tehran, women as well as men. Some leftist men formed a cordon around the women, fighting off armed attackers from a newly formed group, the Hezbollah or “Party of God.” The demonstrators chanted “No to the Chador,” “Down with the Dictatorship,” and even the occasional “Down with Khomeini.” One banner read, “We made the Revolution for Freedom, But Got Unfreedom,” while others proclaimed “At the Dawn of Freedom, There Is No Freedom.” For their part, the Hezbollah chanted “You will cover yourselves or be beaten,” but their response was mainly nonverbal: stones, knives, and even bullets.
Edward Said described protests in solidarity with Iranian women back then as "silly."
His foul legacy persists.