Riding the Haines Road the other day one of our cyclists blurted out the phrase “ass over teakettle.”
I had never heard that expression before.
A bit of research lead me to an 1899 book of Virginia folk expressions. This expression and its counterparts — ass over appetite, over applecart and ass over endways, bring us to the same definition: “a messed up situation.”
Much to my dismay, this phrase describes Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.
If our mission there is truly one of peacekeeping we will certainly fail. Inserting a handful of soldiers into a historically complex cultural region of the world with the hopes of erasing centuries of ill will is, at best, naïve.
The outcome will be nothing short of tragic.
If, on the other hand, we are really at war, the result will be the same. We have never fought, nor can we hope to succeed in a war with insurgents, and a lot of them.
Combat against suicide bombers — women and children as weapons — is the latest and most technologically advanced phase of warfare.
In order to win this type of conflict, we must be willing to sustain a large number of casualties and we must be willing to inflict utter hell on civilian populations.
Canadians are not willing to do either.
Stephen Harper has allowed himself to be drawn into an untenable situation, which more than likely will bring down the Conservative government.
Tony Blair and George W. Bush are already heading to similar fates at the hands of their morally conscious citizenry.
Canadians will not tolerate a foreign policy in which success can only be defined by the elimination of Middle Eastern cultural and religious traditions; nor should they.
Harper’s ass-over-teakettle approach to winning the peace in that part of the world will have serious ramifications for generations of Canadians to come.
Imbedding ourselves in the Afghanistan as either warrior or peacekeeper is self-defeating and illegal.
It is self-defeating because it will forever unsettle the true cultural diversity on which Canada gains its strength.
There is absolutely no doubt that America’s invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal. Canada’s complicity is equally criminal.
United States Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson — the chief US prosecutor at the post-Second World War war crimes tribunal in Nuremberg — clearly outlined the illegality of aggression:
“To initiate a war of aggression is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
For Canada now the only way out of both Afghanistan and Iraq is to wait until the US finds a clever way to install governments in both countries that will ask us to leave.
That appears to be the only exit strategy, it will be a long time coming, and it will cause irreparable damage to Canada’s standing in the world community.
In short, Harper has us ass-over-teakettle at the moment.
But there is another strategy: Canadians must rise up and demand the immediate withdrawal of all our forces from that part of the world.
If we do not do that, we are allowing a policy to continue that is contrary to true conservative values: We have allowed ourselves to make war against civilian populations.
Conservatives must not allow Canada to be drawn further into the US’ uninterrupted sequence of wars for any reason. The military conflicts fought for the peace and stability of the US have not made them, or us, safer, more peace loving, or secure.
Peacekeeping as both a military and a civilian enterprise must begin, not with warfare, but with education at home.
We must begin to educate ourselves on Islamic art, culture, language and history.
We must come to grips with what globalization has done, and continues to do, to Middle Eastern cultural and religious traditions.
And we must be willing to re-evaluate our commitment to our neighbours to the south.
We are under no obligation to prop up and support a foreign policy that is contrary to our view of ourselves.
It is high time, in the truest conservative sense, to exert our independence both militarily and economically.
It is essential that we begin to find ways to decentralize economically.
We must be willing to recognize the mistake of being pulled into abyss of free trade if is does not first benefit Canadian values.
And we must certainly admit the selfishness and the senselessness of trying to “peace-keep” with the barrel of a gun.
All Canadians – and especially conservatives – must rally behind our rich history of being friendly, independent, and peaceable.
Harper is wrong on this one.
He is ass-over-teakettle.