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Clements: Ten Years at War and a Thanksgiving Dinner!

October 7, 2011

Justification for armed conflict takes many different, yet equally interesting names. Some of my favourite include ‘national security’ and ‘strategic resources’. These are interesting foreign policy terms which are thrown around to justify many, many things. We get to learn about how invading another country can secure our ‘interests’. However, the danger is not the fact that we had entered a war or that we have been there for 10 years. The danger is using fear to justify killing. The danger, is fear over reason.

So while we sit here comforted by the newest Iphone 4S(a disappointment!) Awaiting the newest Jersey Shore, bitching about long line-ups for trains on the way home, the rest of the world trembles. We are a well kept bunch. We have music to listen to, alcohol to drink, bars to attend. This means were doing well. Doesn’t it? We take these luxuries for granted. Today in Afghanistan marks the 10 years since the U.S-led invasion. Now, don’t get me wrong, eliminating the Taliban has gone a long way in contributing to more access to education, increased living standards and especially expanded rights for women. But can we- and should we- be continuing to solve their internal problems?

Figures from the United Nations indicate this year is on course to be the bloodiest yet for civilians, with 1,462 killed in the first half of this year, 80 per cent by fighters”. The civilian death toll is astounding. Yet, we never hear about it. We choose not to hear about it. Collectively, we understand that if we maintain our attention to our lovely, luxurious distractions, that somehow the outside world will never affect us. Fair. But how about the soldiers? How are the men and women doing in uniform that are securing our ‘interests’? Well at least last year, more American soldiers took their own lives than were killed in combat in Afghanistan. Let’s really take a moment to pause and consider this. How can it possibly be that more soldiers are choosing to end their own lives while serving in our ‘national interests’. Should this not say something about the nature of the conflict, and whose interests we are serving?

If you support war, then fine. However, you must support war in terms of what we are really accomplishing and you must not feel shame in doing so. We live in a non-renewable resource based economy, nay, world. Americans, Canadians and all other nations tied to NATO are essentially trying to accomplish what George Kennan so prophetically made clear in a Policy Planning Study of 1948, given only to the President and the National Security Council. “‘We have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth but only 6.3 percent of its population,” Kennan wrote in a Policy Planning Study of 1948. ”In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity.”

This is the world we live in. Every ounce of what we have, we have because we have a leg up on the other developing nations of the world. Our leaders after WWII understood this. Especially the Americans. So this Thanksgiving, be thankful of every cheap coffee you buy and every cheap litre of gas you consume. Cherish the plethora of tTrkey’s available to you at the local store. But understand that this is accomplished by securing oil reserves in foreign countries to continue to fuel our collective machine. It is the machine I used to coast through life unaware of the world. It is the machine I used to belittle others and to feel better about myself.

Those who ‘have’ so desperately want to cling to what they have. I am one of those people. Do you really want world democracy? Do you really want countries, like Canada, to nationalize their resources thereby contributing to a higher price at the pumps? It seems that gas prices is the highlight of our academic debate in this society, especially in the summer.

Lets nationalize our energy! Oh, wait, we tried that with Trudeau and boy did the Americans hate us! In response, we drafted NAFTA to ensure the Americans that yes, our oil, is in their strategic interests.

I leave it to Noam Chomsky to once again better summarize where we are. “All of this, and much more, can proceed as long as the Muashar doctrine prevails. As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.”

I entered University expecting to learn about the great history of the tragic abuses of power from Kings to Divine Rulers throughout the world. I thought that I would learn about the exciting nature of history and how bad it was, ‘back then’. To my horror, what I learned in University was that the people were too ignorant to understand their oppression. They were too uneducated, too disorganized. They were too geographically spread out, it would take days to send messages!

Those excuses do not translate to our time. In an era of instant message communication, one of the ability to access anything, at any time, ignorance is not an excuse. Wealth inequality has never been greater. Our planet has never been in more environmental peril. So this Thanksgiving, be thank-full. Thankful that you don’t have to choose between Taliban rule and American occupation. Be thankful, that your countries resources are allowed to be your own. Be thankful that you are not these citizens of Southern Alberta, who have amazingly and strangely high cancer rates just down stream for the oil sands. Be thankful for being Canadian, because it means were helping the world, right?


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