Letter writer speaks of fear, hate and ignorance

Bigotry and racism are easy to whip up

To the Expositor:

March 19, 2015 marked the twelfth anniversary of the illegal US, UK and Australian invasion of Iraq in 2003. A war based on false assertions of Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction. A war conducted in the absence of UN sanctioning or Iraqi threat to the invading nations. A war that some estimate led to 2.7 million Iraqi deaths from violence (1.5 million) or from violently-imposed deprivation (1.2 million).

Bush and Cheney did not save Iraq. They simply left Iraq in a mess and the USA globally regarded as the number one threat to world peace. They did not protect the West from anything.

Back in 2003, Stephen Harper, our then Leader of the Opposition, argued Canada should join the US’ “Coalition of the Willing” fighting in Iraq. Twelve years later, after a dry run that saw Canada help the US come to the aid of Libya, that has also been left in a mess, our now prime minister, Stephen Harper, is getting his wish. He and his Conservative band of merry men have decided it is again time to help the US “help the Muslim world.” He’s got us fighting in Iraq.

He has also decided it is time we join them in fighting a “sanitary-war” not only in Iraq, but also in Syria and before long in Africa and who knows if Harper is lucky and re-elected—maybe even in Iran and the Ukraine. Deciding our “way of life is threatened”—a line stolen directly from the US playbook—he has also decided that, back home in Canada, the best way to protect our Charter guaranteed individual rights, is to bless us with Bill C-51, a domestic surveillance tool that can take those guaranteed individual rights away from any Canadian whenever “the powers that be” so decide. He is of course doing it for our own good.

Can he be so naive as to believe that the US, with Canada at its side, will be able to succeed where Bush and Cheney failed. No he is not. He far more likely wants to succeed where Bush and Cheney succeeded: to play the fear card that got Bush re-elected to another term even after it was well known he was being less than honest with his country’s citizens.

Let’s keep in mind that many of Harper’s key backroom strategists are cut from the same cloth as the backroom strategists of the US Republican Party. They know well, as does Harper, that the fear card is a good one that poor, power hungry leaders do not hesitate to play to get re-elected. Case in point, Georges W., one of our PM’s heroes.

The Fear Card may well be the only one he has left to play to stay in power. Believing he had a winning hand by extracting and exporting expensive dirty oil shows his long term planning was at best, short-sighted, not just on the environmental front but also on the economic front. Marketed as a sound fiscal manager, he blew away the surplus our country had when he came to power, and has busied himself running up record annual deficits ever since. With year to year record lows on the job growth front and poor paying part-time jobs being the rule rather than the exception when it comes to available jobs, he won’t have that feather in his cap to brag about come the fall election.

I’m afraid to say there are few accolades awaiting him when it comes to his accomplishments on the international front. Our international reputation as a fair and honest country has been severely tarnished as have been the world’s hopes and expectations of Canada when it comes to the part we have to play as sound environmental protectionists. Harper has little to brag about on either the domestic or international fronts over his time at the helm. All indications are that the economic picture will not be a rosy one come October election time. And if I can read the tea leaves, he surely can.

That said, run on a fear platform. Scare the electorate enough to have them believing in and focused on the necessity of a low-casualty, far-away war against foreign evil-doers and keep homefront critics under surveillance and silenced when need be with Bill C-51. It may be Harper’s best bet at another four years. As for his promise to balance the budget, it remains a promise. One he’ll be able to justify ignoring if we are at war given that balanced budgets are not what people worry about when they are fearful, at war and looking for work.

I cannot close this letter without saying that the war against ISIS/ISIL is the seventh one the Western world is fighting in Iraq since 1914. It has been argued that the Western world’s “interests” in the area’s oil were the key reason for these wars. It also bears noting that the Iraqi deaths from violence or violently-imposed deprivation attributable to these wars total 9 million. This has been described as “[a] carnage that Western Mainstream media have resolutely ignored; one that tragically illustrates the adage that “History ignored yields history repeated.” *

While this does not justify the madness of movements such as ISIS/ISIL, it does go a long way to explaining the roots of their raison-d’etre. And maybe explaining what might be best described as the crazed desperation that causes such bodies to come into being.

Will Canada’s involvement in this war save the Middle East? No. Will it help Harper get re-elected as it did George W.? I do not know. All I can say for sure is that Canada is at war and that as Sir Winston Churchill has said: “During times of war, the truth is so fragile it must be protected by a bodyguard of lies.”

When I think of how we treated Japanese-Canadians during WWII, and think of how readily we turned back boats of Jewish refugees during that same war or look at our ongoing breach of our treaties with our First Nations, I feel for Muslim Canadians. Bigotry and racism are easy to whip up when we let fear, hate and ignorance prevail—when we fail to act in ways that show our reverence of life, all life. At the end of the day “we reap what we sow.”

Gary Champagne

Spring Bay

*Thomas King, one of my favourite Canadian authors, has said that when he looks at the money that was to be made over the past 50 years alone from such ventures such as Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan maybe the adage that “History ignored yields history repeated” should have as a corollary: “Those who understand the lessons of history are only too happy to repeat them.”