Editor, The Nelson Daily
I just watched P. M. Harper do his cold warrior toughest-man-on-the-block pose for the world's media. Here is a quote, more or less:
"We know from History, that those who make it their historical mission to turn back the clock, as Mr. Putin has done, will ultimately fail."
He added three fine adjectives to describe Putin:" aggressive, militaristic, imperialistic." He mentioned "our NATO allies" and the need to uphold them in Europe.
Wow. This is a Canadian Prime Minister? In the year 2014? Just who is turning back the clock? This is not a US President in 1982, but a Canadian, speaking as if he were channelling Margaret Thatcher. This has to be significant – for us as citizens of Canada, if not for others. It is just so odd to hear a small-power (maybe a "middle" power?) talk tough as Harper is doing for us.
Of course by now we know Canada is not the nation we were, for Harper is indeed doing what he promised... to change the land he governs so we cannot recognize it, after living under the policies of his brand of conservatism. You rock, Steve!
I would not push this too far, but I do wonder if he is someone else's stalking horse, saying his cold-war lines as a test for NATO to do more in the Ukraine. The fact that NATO was dragged into Afghanistan by the USA in 2001and stayed so long, demonstrate that this alliance might again follow an interventionist policy.
If the other NATO powers of some importance (UK, France, Germany, Italy) respond favourably to Harper's chest-thumping toward Putin, then maybe a tough line on Russia can be promoted by the USA.. The USA is not going to give up its assumed status as world policeman without flexing its muscles, its superior technologies of war.
Worst-case scenario for NATO nations: as our capitalist masters face more and more the consequences of the failure of their economies to deliver a decent life to citizens, the appeal of war-time national-and-social team-psychology will become stronger.
A pitch for wartime unity will be made to us. This is a very old ploy. It can still work. War unites us: it gives us "meaning," as Chris Hedges would say.
Who would or could take time for organizing mass protests against government policies for the economy, against ruin of our environment by corporate development of our resources – when we are in a state of imminent war?
Such protesters would be traitorous, as the media will tell us.
Since Harper is so fond of citing “History” to prove him right, let us think historically, by all means.
The tough, thrusting Harperite line in global power-politics (think about his rhetoric about Israel or Iran as further examples) is troubling. He gives us good reason here in Nelson, and everywhere else in Canada, to be extremely skeptical about this year's commemorations for World War One and its start a century ago. We are going to see attempts to make that war look good, noble, justified and worthwhile. It was none of those things.
You will hear it said over and over, "If you love your freedom, thank a veteran." We are free because we fought Germany? What a load of crap, what ignorance of history! Our freedoms came from our own struggle with domestic enemies of freedom: owners of vast properties and wealth, capitalist corporations, aristocracy and governments under the control of these foes of our democratic liberties. Read the history. War did not make us a free nation.
I remain cautiously optimistic that Canadians now are too conscious and sufficiently well-informed to be led into war as we were in past generations, whether a hot war or a "cold" one.
I hope George Orwell was wrong, and a barrage of subtle media hysteria, with hostile global blocs and permanent quasi-war, is not our future.
Charles Jeanes, Nelson, BC