Sunday, August 13, 2006

Free To Be Anti-War

When I was in Toronto last weekend, it struck me that the anti-war side in Canada is probably what our anti-war side would look like if we weren't fighting in Iraq. Reading the papers and letters to the editor there were interesting.

What I mean is that I've long suspected that the anti-Iraq War side here has to mute its general anti-war attitudes to avoid alienating the many Americans who support defending ourselves with force where necessary. As a nation, we aren't eager for war but we aren't pacifists. So when the American anti-Iraq War side condemns Iraq, they must couch it as a specific objection. Note how they have since 2002 claimed that Iraq is somehow a "distraction" from more important threats like hunting Osama, or confronting Iran, or figuring out what to do about North Korea, perhaps Darfur, or responding to a hurricane. Or "solving" the Palestinian issue first. Remember that objection? When pressed for specifics they can never explain how they'd use those freed up military forces, but our press corps won't insist on an answer so they get away with it.

In this light, our campaign in Afghanistan is a blessing to the American anti-Iraq War side. While they condemn Iraq for its reasons, conduct, and cost in lives and money, they shield themselves from being identified as simply pacifists by insisting they support the far less visible Afghan War. Afghanistan is the "good war" because this is the country that was complicit in 9/11.

But in Canada, their anti-war side isn't burdened by having to appear willing to defend Canadian interests with force. How can the "good war" be opposed by so many in the "good" country that prides itself on its European attitudes towards force? Is our anti-war side wrong about Afghanistan being the good war?

Or does the Canadian anti-war side reveal what our anti-war side would say if there was no Iraq War going on?

Then, our anti-war side would have to fall back on those nebulous potential "other threats" that the anti-war side would surely be forceful in confronting if only we weren't "tied down" in Afghanistan. They can simply never support the current main war--well, not if a Republican is waging it, of course.

Considering this general anti-war attitude up north, I am certainly grateful that Canada has stood with us in Afghanistan. Thank you to the Princess Patricias once again. And Canada's decision to bolster their military capabilities is certainly welcomed. When home-grown Islamist thugs want to blow up your landmarks and behead your prime minister, you might have to reconsider just how much this blind hatred is really inspired by Iraq.

Oh, and when an audio book company has an ad campaign mocking President Bush, how polite are Canadians, really? I can only imagine the howls here from the nuanced if a company mocked a foreign leader.