Here's mud in your eye
Posted by aogWednesday, 01 August 2007 at 09:39 TrackBack Ping URL

Mr. Burnet was complaining of my moderate temperment, which means it’s time for a gratuitous swipe at our not yet conquered and put to work as slaves in the oil pits neighbors to the north —

Mr. Donolo also said that a lack of progress in Afghanistan may be behind another finding that shows 65 per cent of Canadians believe their role on the world stage is more suited to peacekeeping than as enforcers of peace.

So a majority of Canadians think they should keep the peace, but not enforce the peace. O…K… Good luck with that!

Crossposted in Low Earth Orbit

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Peter Burnet Thursday, 02 August 2007 at 06:38

Ah yes, you Americans doing postgraduate work in Canadian Studies will find lots of these noble, nonsensical tropes. My personal favourite, heard frequently in Starbacks over triple low-fat moccachinos, is: “We shouldn’t be fighting in Afghanistan, we should be nation-building”.

When we do fight, we put together a pretty impressive show, but it can be very hard to get us there. Firstly, we haven’t much of a military tradition or constituency, which I tried to explore here. Secondly we need a self-image that is a counterpoint to that of the rapacious Yankee trader who likes to travel the world chewing ‘baccy and picking fights. But, in the end, as with most things in life, it is really all the fault of you Americans. You keep unfailingly telling us how nice we all are, and we’ve come to believe it and think we can export niceness the way you think you can export democracy. If you would all just start saying: “Wow, those Canadians sure are a bunch of tough, mean s.o.b.’s”, we might come to cherish that and be of more help to you.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 02 August 2007 at 09:12

You’re saying that Canada’s self image is in fact controlled by the USA? Wow. I had thought that the resurgence of militarism you mentioned was driven by the anti-Americanism of proving our view of Canada as a pacifist backwater wrong.

I am reminded much of Brit’s Mom’s post about how we don’t understand each other, in which she wrote that the British know, deep down, that militaries are for killing other people, but they don’t want to believe that or talk about it. That struck me as, frankly, a bad case of denial but it was a sensitive time so I didn’t respond then. The linking thread is the denial that doing good requires getting one’s hands dirty with the muck of reality, having a military but not wanting to kill anyone with it, or peace keeping without enforcement. Perhaps it’s just my jingoism, but I see that as an unhealthy attitude.

Angel Thursday, 02 August 2007 at 09:43

hi there!..I gave up trying to analyze the inconsistencies of Libs arguments if u can even call them that…Keep up the good fight!! :)

Don’t start a comment with ‘hi’, that’s a classic marker for junk.

Peter Burnet Friday, 03 August 2007 at 04:59

AOG, there is nothing particularly Canadian or unusual or even unhealthy in a smaller country being sensitive to or preoccupied by distinctions between it and a much larger neighbour, particularly when they are linguistically and culturally similar. Think Scotland/England, Austria/Germany or Norway/Sweden. Ever met a Kiwi? Super people, but within five minutes they will steer a conversation on any subject at all to how they are different from the Aussies. If you think for a moment about different regions within the States, I’m sure you will see plenty of that. But not only do we love to talk about our differences, we also frequently beat ourselves up for talking so much about them.

As to war and the Brits, I agree that Anglo-Canadian-Euros can be trapped in gooey rhetorical miasmas when it comes to the realities of conflict, but different countries have both different myths and different common acceptable political languages to express them. There are plenty of other issues where you folks can be similarly constipated—after all, you pretty much invented political correctness. But why is everybody beating up on the Brits all of a sudden? They stepped up to the plate after 9/11 faster than the Aussies and Canadians at greater cost, and all three outpaced the rest of the world. Be careful of tiring of your friends and being attracted by the lure of grand reconciliations with your adversaries. That is a trick the Dems like to play when they are in power, and they sure muck things up when they do.

But here’s a tale you Yankee warmongers will enjoy. A Dutch leftist journalist named Linda Polman wrote a book a few years back savaging the UN for its feckless peacekeeping. Being a Euro-leftist, she wore her anti-American colours up front and thought the solution was lots more UN, but she is a good journalist and gave a riveting and bitter account of the tragic failures of several UN missions. She was also honest enough to admit that, by comparison, the Americans actually do something effective when they intervene. One chapter was on the civil war in Haiti. The UN went in—Dutch, Scandinavians, etc., the usual suspects— and were all political correctness and cultural sensitivity, but they couldn’t do a darn thing to protect these wretched people begging for protection or to supply them with food or anything else they needed. No resources, bureaucratic nightmares, limited rules of engagement, etc. They were, however, very polite and “multiculturally” respectful. Then they were replaced by US Special Forces, hardbitten vets who didn’t try to hide their impatience with the pathological cesspool around them or pretend they were happy to be there. The Euros couldn’t contain their disdain. But the Forces had a job to do and the commander told the local folks something like: “Now, y’all just do exactly what I say and we’ll get along just fine.” So they did exactly what he said, and they were fine. They weren’t stupid.

erp Friday, 03 August 2007 at 07:26

You may not like to admit it, but “Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” George Orwell

Canadians and brits can have a holier than thou attitude only because they know no matter what, we’ll send in the marines. They may be surprised. Next time they get into a spot of trouble, perhaps we won’t be “looking for a fight” and leave them to figure out how to stop people from killing them by peaceful means.

Peter Burnet Friday, 03 August 2007 at 07:55

Yes, erp, there is a long history of smug Canadians and others complaining that Americans don’t know what they are doing in international affairs and enraged Americans replying by threatening to cut everyone loose to fend for themselves. Thank goodness the record shows we all eventually come to our senses.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 03 August 2007 at 09:00

Mr. Burnet;

Actually, political correctness is a Soviet invention. But there’s little doubt that the American chattering classes have taken it to as if it were their own. I certainly hope I haven’t given the impression that I have any more tolerance for it here than elsewhere.

I’m not sure I see everyone beating up on the Brits all of a sudden — I thought I was banging on the Canadians. Certainly the blogospheric reaction to John Smeaton shows that we can still all celebrate Britishness.

Peter Burnet Friday, 03 August 2007 at 09:44

I thought I was banging on the Canadians.

Oh well, that’s all right then.

I’ll have to think for a while about that assertion that political correctness is a Soviet invention. I’m not so sure. But can there be any doubt that the UN, war crimes tribunals and an awful lot of international law were American in origin?

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 03 August 2007 at 10:18

It was Lenin who encapsulted the modern version, although the sort of hypocrisy it embodies probably started about 5 minutes after language was invented. But I think I would agree that the toxic combination of Law and political correctness is American in origin.

Bret Friday, 03 August 2007 at 11:30

I think the hypocrisy started before PC language was invented.

Tom C., Stamford,Ct. Friday, 03 August 2007 at 12:03

PC is Gramscian. What’s toxic is the combination of American law with the Progressive left’s infiltration of the administrative state, media and academia.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 03 August 2007 at 12:35


When I wrote “language”, I meant “language”, no qualifiers.

Bret Friday, 03 August 2007 at 12:46

Ahhh. Got it.

erp Friday, 03 August 2007 at 13:12

Peter, so you’re confident that no matter how you and the brits deliberately put yourself in harm’s way, we’ll come to our senses, contain our rage, and eventually send in the marines to make everything better.

I hope you’re wrong about that.

Political correctness? I thought it was invented by Donna Shalala while she was Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Peter Burnet Friday, 03 August 2007 at 14:09

Not at all, erp. With respect to Canada at least, you’ve never done so before so why would we expect that?

cjm Friday, 03 August 2007 at 21:52

i like to refer to canada as 51-59. invest in flag making companies, they will be booming soon.

Michael Herdegen Saturday, 04 August 2007 at 06:17

No matter how irritated U.S. citizens might be, we’ll almost always ride to the rescue, because that’s what Alpha nations do - as David Cohen has written many times.

And regardless of what people (with no knowledge or backround in military affairs) might think the world over, expeditions such as bombing Serbia back to the Stone Age, or the current Afghanistan and Iraqi adventures, send an extremely clear message to the people across the world who are charged with tending to their nations’ military capabilites: “We may or may not ‘win’, but you will definitely lose.”

And that’s a valuable communication for all parties concerned, and especially benefits Americans. Sun Tzu would approve.

cjm Saturday, 04 August 2007 at 09:48

the real players — whose militaries rarely if ever are activated — know our military alone has combat experience, and lots of it. wars drive innovation, and our weapons systems are accelerating away from others’ at an incredible rate.

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