Thursday, May 10, 2007

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.
(On the same subject, in Haaretz, Michael Fox reviews What's Left? How Liberals Lost Their Way, that terrific book by our comrade Nick Cohen).


Blogger Blazingcatfur said...

Great piece Terry. I got an interesting e-mail from an Israeli organization by the way- top secret though;) They are seeking assistance. Drop me a line and I will forward it to you. It regards a common interest.

Well that oughta get the paranoids raving...

6:21 PM  
Blogger Incognito said...

Great article in the Ottawa Citizen!

7:05 PM  
Blogger kurt said...

Trekked over to hear Galloway speak at a Respect rally in advance of the byelection in Brent Tower Hills borough last week. He does a good talk but as an old Irishman told him that night the only thing the party has got going for it is that it is anti-war, the rest of Respect is naff. Myself, I am hoping that incoming PM Brown puts British troops in Afghanistan instead of Iraq, on the premise that no nation should pick a fight it cannot win. Afghanistan is winnable, Iraq is not. Besides, we contributed to making Afghanistan the mess it became during and after the Afghan-Soviet war, and deserted them to the Taliban, so we owe them big-time.

Galloway attracted a small group of the usual Trots, Postal workers etc. Had to shake my head at the female campus activist who opened the night of oratory when she claimed that women should have the right to choose to wear burqas in England. Right, what woman would not want to wear a dark tent and breathe stale air, especially when it is 110 F in the shade... and this came from a university student... inexplicable.

5:03 PM  

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