Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Afghanistan and intelligent, moral minds

Terry Glavin, in collusion with Stan Persky, makes the case for the Canadian mission much better than our Conservative government has. Please read the whole piece:
Why Are We In Afghanistan?

Or, what are two nice lefty writers like you doing in a war like this?

...we thought we should engage in a bit of dialogue as part of our obligation to provide an answer to the question, “Why is Canada in Afghanistan?” And then, we’ll go on to murkier political matters such as, “Why should the left support the Canadian mission?”..

Terry Glavin...on their own, the "anti-war" complaints rarely withstand any serious scrutiny at all. Secondly, just for argument's sake, if we were to go so far as to grant all but the most lunatic "anti-war" arguments—and there is no dearth of those—they still don't add up to a case for withdrawal. They don't come close to justifying an abdication of our basic obligations of solidarity and citizenship as a member of the UN, as a member of NATO, as a member of ISAF, or as a signatory to the Afghanistan Compact...

Our soldiers are helping to hold a critical front in the global struggle against tyranny, slavery, mysogyny, illiteracy, and obscurantism. No self-respecting and well-informed person of the left can refuse to take sides in this kind of a struggle. And it should be expected that there will be armed elements of reaction, arrayed against the people in times like these—and in this case there are such armed reactionary groups, such as the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Hezb-e Islami. One has to be prepared to take up arms against such elements—that's what soldiers are for. We must stay and fight on.

Beyond that, things do get murky, and so I turn for guidance to our Afghan-Canadian comrades, and to our friends who have worked in Afghanistan. But none of these people ever says we should leave. The subject never even comes up...

Aye. This brings us to the central dysfunction at the very core of the entire "anti-war" discourse. It unfolds within a kind of alternative reality, with its own rigid hierarchies of virtue, its own pass codes, its own self-referential, self-confirming feedback loops, and its very own vocabulary. You can make almost anything appear completely rational in this way, so long as you don't let anything in from the outside world. It involves inverting the meanings of words, such that just talking about it requires frequent use of parentheses and the repetition of such qualifiers as "so-called", merely to avoid becoming complicit in its fictions...

...Negotiations actually could produce something we could call "peace," if we weren't too fussy about finding the proper word for it. All the soldiers could go home. And Afghan girls would be sent home from school. There would be millions of refugees wandering the world again. With the armies of nearly 40 countries in full retreat, and Afghanistan reverting to the "host for terrorist and extremist groups" that the United Nations has warned would result, we could expect new and bloody vistas opening up to emboldened Islamist reactionaries, from the Pillars of Hercules all the way to the Banda Sea.

What sort of "progressive" vision is this?..

I'd go farther, and say identity politics has supplanted the politics of solidarity, and the national self-loathing associated with "cultural relativism" has wholly undermined progressive internationalism. Along the way, the counterculture left also jettisoned the old, bedrock progressive conception of human rights as universal rights. And a crude and irrational anti-Americanism—which, paradoxically, owes far more to American counterculture politics than to Canadian progressive-nationalist politics—is a big part of it, too...


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