Blindingly clear for some, obscure and ambiguous for others, the lessons of history need to be given close scrutiny these days, especially by our chickenhawk
prime minister. Like so much else that his regime brays and sputters about, Stephen Harper's recent tough talk
about the Ukraine and the Middle East conceals, minimizes, dismisses or entirely overlooks some very inconvenient truths.
Perhaps still smarting over having missed out on the first Iraqi war, which he supported
, Harper seems to be eagerly embracing
the latest opportunities fate has brought him. Fortunately, The Star's Thomas Walkom is there to remind him and us of some things
best heeded.During the last Iraq war, many nations, including Germany, France and Canada, officially chose to stay aloof.
This Iraq war is supported by a large array of Western nations including France, Britain, Italy, Australia, Germany — and Canada.
And, unfortunately, the opposition parties seem to have drunk from the same poisoned well as Harper:In 2003, Canada’s Liberals and New Democrats vocally opposed going to war in Iraq. Eleven years later, both opposition parties seem onside.
Incited by the recent gruesome and unspeakably barbaric beheadings of two American journalists, historical perspective seems to be lost.
But Walkom points out a salient reminder that not all monsters are or can be dealt with with dispatch:First, the world contains many monsters. The West studiously avoids direct military involvement in Congo’s brutal civil war for instance, even though the atrocities committed there are equally barbaric.Second, Islamic State militants are deliberately trying to draw the U.S. and its allies into the quagmire of Syria and Iraq.
And this, of course, has happened before, with disastrous results that should have surprised no one:Provoking America into overreaction was Osama Bin Laden’s aim in 2001. He succeeded masterfully, provoking not only the West’s ill-fated adventure in Afghanistan but George W. Bush’s subsequent and even more ill-fated invasion of Iraq.
In 2011, NATO’s military attacks on the forces of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi gave Islamic militants another victory.
Not only did NATO warplanes leave Libya in political chaos. They also allowed militants to seize weapons from Gadhafi’s well-stocked armories — weapons that have been used by Islamists throughout North Africa and the Middle East.
Yet a collective amnesia and hysteria seems once more to have taken hold on the world stage, an amnesia exploited by warmongers like Harper. In his Manichean world, the good wear white hats and the bad, black. Suggesting anything more subtle and nuanced would, I suspect, be entirely lost on him.