Monday, July 31, 2006

I AM CANADIAN

The following is a copy of comments graciously provided to my by my brother-in-law, Neil Osborne, who many of you will know as the lead singer of 54-40, a truly Canadian band.

It is a call to arms in a sense.I fully support Neil's views on the issue he writes about here, although I am far more of a cynic: my comments back to Neil follow his well-thought-out essay.

The links inserted are mine.
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My name is Neil Osborne . I am Canadian. Maybe I’m “the” Canadian. You see I am the singer and chief writer for the veteran Canadian rock group 54.40. I have crisscrossed Canada dozens of times from Gander to Campbell River.

I have sung to thousands on every Canada Day since 1986. I have been interviewed by Peter Gzowski, Ron Mclean, Much Music and every major daily and radio station. My songs have been heard on commuters’ car radios for over 2 decades. I have sung to and partied with Canadian troops at CFB in Kingston numerous times.

I have lived in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. I know the fabric of the quilt that is Canada. I’ve camped on it. I have traveled the world and come to know the unique respect and trust folks from other nations give to Canadian level-headedness and our progressive, “nice people “attitude.

This is my country. It does not lack identity or need redefining. On several occasions Europeans have asked my forgiveness for thinking I was from the United States for they too recognize that my culture is a distinct one.

But I love Americans. They (most) are just so utterly misguided. The American-led attack on Afghanistan was meant (I thought) to bring that Saudi criminal named bin Laden to justice. Regardless of motive, by UN standards the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan -- a sovereign nation -- is not only illegal but devastating to the country and its people.

Americans then took Iraq. Previous to these invasions, only the dictatorships of Stalin and Hitler ever invaded and occupied two or more countries. My father, an RCAF WWII vet, was among those who signed up to liberate the people and countries under Nazi domination -- a just and noble cause.

But now I am sad. My heart is heavy. Anthony Boneca (Cpl) was killed July 9 2006 in Afghanistan. He was in a war that wasn’t his or his Canada’s. A very bad dream turned to a real nightmare. Although I’ve never met him, I know this kid. Were I to have run into him anywhere in the world we surely would have bonded and talked hockey, Tim Horton’s, beer and Canadian rock music.

“Strong, healthy, helpful and considerate” according to his uncle, Anthony had vowed he would not return to Afghanistan again and was looking forward to his homecoming in Thunder Bay. Now Anthony will never see his home. And a family is left with its grief. Death leaves a black hole in many hearts.

With false pride seeded in denial, PM Harper and minister Mackay seem eager to bandy about Churchill-like phrases about ‘these difficult times’ and ‘safety of citizens’ in Canada and Afghanistan. Are the citizens of Thunder Bay any safer now? Is anyone really concerned about an Afghan terrorist attack in Thunder Bay? Is this ambiguous ‘security threat’ of greater importance than the environment, health & education, crystal meth, crime, taxes, employment, the price of real estate, and who might win the Stanley Cup?

Perhaps now it is. Only the threat is not from terrorists but rather our own government and its willingness to send good Canadian kids to be killed for some vain notion that Canada should be a ‘player’ in a distorted version of ‘What the World Needs Now’. This is sickening to me. Our Canadian identity, morals and values have been hijacked without so much as the debate democracy requires.

Lester Pearson’s crowning achievement (and one of Canada’s) was winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his creation of the United Nations peacekeeping force during the 1956 Suez Crisis. We Canadians were the peacekeepers, with a strong bent towards neutrality. We were the new Swiss, only we cared about everybody, not just ourselves.

We used to look at each global situation on its own merit and address the need from a positive perspective. In that spirit, Canada developed and worked to maintain a leading role in UN peacekeeping efforts for many years serving in over 50 missions, including every UN effort until 1989. We now have just 59 military personnel devoted to UN missions.

Canada, which virtually invented peacekeeping and once ranked among the top 10 contributors to UN missions in terms of military personnel, is now ranked 50th. Still, I was unbelievably proud we refused to participate in the invasion and occupation of Iraq

Now, however, our government is commanding our young people to actively kill human beings in Afghanistan. Now it seems to me that it was the fact that the 9/11 attacks killed so many innocent civilians that made it an abhorrent terrorist act yet somehow, killing thousands of Afghan civilians in an effort to force the once US-empowered Taliban to change its policies has become a moral imperative.

We’re told that if we don’t kill certain Afghan nationals we risk the bombing of our cities and murder of our citizens here in Canada. With that kind of logic it’s a wonder the British back in 1812 didn’t do a seal hunt on Canada’s French population.

There is an assumption that the present day Taliban is a breeding ground for terrorists. I would dispute that on lack of any evidence. They are simply fighting a civil war and foreign invaders as they have always done. We (Canada) simply have no legal or moral grounds to be involved as invaders on one side of a civil war, especially one that has at its roots a long history of foreign interference in the region. Clearly, this “war” (occupation) is not of our creation. We should stick to our role as peacekeepers.

A true Canadian will sacrifice anything in aid of a friend in need, as evidenced in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. But when we discover we’ve been deceived and lied to, we Canadians will stand apart and say enough is enough. There is the saying that ‘nice guys finish last’. Not true. Nice guys finish nice guys. And someone who finishes nice is someone you can trust. I am Canadian. You can trust me. I say enough is enough. I am standing apart and am commanding my government to stop this insanity and bring our young people home and have them do work that all Canadians can be proud of.

Regards,
Neil Osborne

P.S. I have added some perspective in the form of quotes for those convinced of a moral imperative to now kill in Afghanistan.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of man as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

-- Helen Keller

"Afghanistan's complexity and lethal tribal politics have been marketed to the public by government and media as a selfless crusade to defeat the `terrorist' Taliban, implant democracy, and liberate Afghan women. Afghanistan is part of the `world-wide struggle against terrorism,' we are told. "None of this is true. In 1989, at the end of the Soviet occupation, Afghanistan fell into anarchy and civil war. An epidemic of banditry and rape ensued. A village prayer leader, Mullah Omar, who lost an eye in the anti-Soviet jihad, armed a group of `talibs' (religious students), and set about defending women from rape. Aided by Pakistan, Taliban stopped the epidemic of rape and drug dealing that had engulfed Afghanistan, and imposed order based on harsh tribal and Sharia religious law.--
- Eric Margolis

“The US poured millions into the Taliban regime until about four months before 9/11. It was only cut off when the regime refused to sign a contract with US oil giant Unocal to build a pipeline south from the Caspian Basin to Pakistan. Much was made of the fact that the Taliban refused to hand over Osama bin Laden to the US. But Bin Laden was a national hero wounded six times in the anti-Soviet struggle -- which the US financed. When the Taliban offered to turn him over to an international tribunal upon seeing evidence of his guilt in 9/11, the US refused. And then invaded. This was by any international legal standard a totally illegal war, which could only have been justified if Afghanistan threatened the US. It is also an illegal occupation.”

- Murray Dobbin
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This is mine....

As for the various conflicts ongoing internationally, I don't know what it will take to make people in this country open their eyes to our slow decent into the black hole that is US politics, but if you can make something happen on whatever level, then good. Whatever it takes. You have a voice, a presence, and a brilliant philosophical mind.

I don't see and end to any of the current slough of wars, regardless of public opinion and pressure. Those conflicts are not only supported and enflamed by the US administration and whatever nefarious goals it has, but ingrained on the participants on a cellular level. I mean that literally. Hundreds of years of conflict have caused a situation where the participants have no real idea why they're fighting, or what the original 'sin' was. They just know that's the way it is. Same in Ireland where people on both 'sides' tell their kids that "those people eat their babies."

The greatest sin there ever has been and ever will be is to teach a child to hate, and that indeterminate, groundless hate is the basis for all these wars and unrest. Add that hate to bizarre and self-serving interpretations of old manuscripts disseminated by possible psychopaths (some studies say that as much as 20% of the human population is, or borders on, psychopathic) and you have a very effective recipe for unending continuation of said conflicts.

The US involvement, and the clown that poses as a President in that country, have created such a profound distrust of "The West" that, despite all the good intentions we might have, I don't believe that we can effect any change at all unless we have peaceful anarchy.

The media does not help: Its subtle slander of any non-white, other-than-Christian, or non-conforming person promotes hatred and distrust of those same non-conformers. Take for example the media's interpretation of so-called riots that burned Paris last summer. Those conflicts were much localised and were not the national catastrophe the media would have had us believe, nor was the ethnic community in full revolt. A small group of rightfully disgruntled, under- or unemployed young males did what young males often do when they are prevented from attaining their goals - or getting enough money to feed themselves: they do stupid, dangerous things.

Having said all that, I fully support any effort on the part of Joe everybody to take a stand and make an issue of political stupidity. Regardless of the electoral system in this country, which supposedly allows us to elect people to speak for us (so how did we get Stephen Harper, who lives in GWB's pants and who is truly a puppet?), they don't and we are - or choose to be -- largely voiceless while our elected officials allow the abduction of this country's people into the US way of thinking and acting, internationally.

My dad said, some years ago, that in 10 years, Canada would be using US currency. I thought he was wrong but I'm not so sure now.

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