Carolyn Parrish, HMCS Iroquois, HMCS Fredericton, Joschka Fischer


Iraqi Drama A Hypocritical Tragedy

Edmonton - Monday, March 10, 2003 - by: Ron Thornton

part in
not cast

With the drums of war beating around Iraq as others call for peace, we turn to those who might bring a combination of resolve and compassion to the situation. We seek tough-minded straight shooters who we can trust to deliver a fair and honourable resolution. As we review the cast of characters in this play, we begin to fear that this is one role that was never casted.




Like all good dramas, a little comedic respite is always welcome. This role, unfortunately, is played by Canada and our government. Prime Minister Jean Chretien has had a decade to replace our aging fleet of Sea King helicopters, yet they remain a weapon of potential mass destruction only in regards to their flight crews and flight deck personnel. Still, you would think that when one of these museum pieces rose majestically to the height of a penguin's flight, only to crash upon one of our warships, we could at least find a replacement among our vast military stores. Apparently not. It would seem we have a few good men and women, and damn little of any else, good or bad, in our military quiver.




So, while the Americans are left standing on guard for me and thee, one of our government representatives gives thanks by publically saying how much she hates the bastards. Considering those tyrants south of the border have the capacity to kick our butts using the Rhode Island National Guard, Ontario Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish must be very brave, very stupid, or very misguided in her hatred. Still, she did the right thing by apologizing for her remarks, only to demonstrate the level of her sincerity by going on national television to stand by her original comment. What a patriot. To top it off, the program's Toronto audience thought this was just wonderful. I wonder what kind of response Parrish would have received if the show was taped in Calgary? It is not that we don't feel frustrated by foreign politicians making a mess out of things, but in these parts we find the source of that frustration is due more to political types who originate from Ontario than, say, Ohio.


Ohio knows the pain of war, sacrificing 3093 of its own to Vietnam, a conflict where 91% of those who saw heavy combat are proud to have fought for their country, and where 82% claim defeat was due to a lack of political will. Ohio is also the home of Kent State University, where four students died in 1970 protesting that war's spread to Cambodia. Here in Canada, we have such peaceful doves as those who marched on Toronto's York University last week. None, among the hundreds of these so-called peaceniks, came to the rescue when some of their number roughed up three people at a booth set up by the Young Zionist Partnership and the Canadian Alliance. It is interesting to note that these protesters appear to have the same concept of diplomacy as the very people they criticize, but without the benefit of deadlines or discussion. In fact, they seem to hold dear the very democratic ideals that has made Iraq such a bastion of free speech and political expression.


Germany wants peace, even if its means more meaningless United Nation deadlines for Iraq to maybe disarm or not, with few consequences either way. Germany's Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, leader of the Green Party and a key member of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's coalition government, claims he has always opposed armed struggle. A photograph of him beating a policeman in a 1973 demonstration begs to differ, but this former radical left wing revolutionary's party is not exactly known to be pro-American in any case.




Of course, just plain ole politics couldn't possibly be behind the German position, now could it? An anti-American sentiment is credited for Chancellor Schroeder's razor-thin re-election victory of his Social Democrat-Green coalition last September. During the campaign, his then Justice Minister, Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, was reported to have compared George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler for threatening war to distract from domestic problems. While that remark cost her the cabinet post, any reversal in the German policy regarding Iraq could well cause the defection of the Greens and cause the German government to fall. They were elected, in part, for declaring that they would take no part in military action on Iraq, with or without United Nations approval, regardless as to whether Iraq was meeting its obligations or not. Failing reports of an imminent Iraqi attack on German soil, I wouldn't hold my breathe awaiting a change of heart.



of war

Neither should we expect the Americans to forget the attacks that cost 3000 lives on its soil on September 11th, 2001, which by any measure constituted acts of war against that nation. They responded by declaring a war on terrorism, against those who might threaten the security of the United States and its interests. They will take action, no matter what our own views may be, for if they fail to do so they risk becoming as impotent as the United Nations itself appears on the brink of becoming. The Yanks view Iraq as a threat to their security; a rogue nation with a history of inhumanity that no one can rationally dismiss. It is a nation that has successfully ignored its obligations to disarm for a dozen years. Imagine what the current regime would have done with the billions of dollars that has been kept out of its hands due to the sanction on oil exports. Most believe they would have been invested in an infrastructure that would have had little to do with social welfare and much to do with weapons of warfare. Obviously, it has not escaped anyone's attention that those oil fields also constitute potential spoils of war. One would have to be pretty naive not to see that Iraq would make for a far more lucrative target than, say, mountain caves in Afghanistan.


As for the present drama being played out in the United Nations, any impasse is not so much caused in the name of peace, but instead is a game for a piece of Iraqi oil. France, Russia and China want it, they are afraid the Americans will take it, so it doesn't matter a tinker's damn to them what weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein and his band of merry men may have tucked away in the Iraqi desert. As of last fall, Iraq was reported to have signed several multi-million dollar deals with foreign oil companies, mainly from those three nations. However, those agreements might not be worth much if Saddam is removed from power. They fear, with apparent good reason, that a grateful successor regime would show its thanks by rewarding the Americans with lucrative oil contracts that might effectively squeeze out China, France, and Russia. Is it any wonder that with one of the world's largest oil reserves on the line, the Americans and their fellow Security Council permanent members see the Iraqi situation a little differently?




As you can see, the world's issues are not as black and white as many of us obliviously think them to be. We seek answers, but we discover that what we are told can not always be believed. Some nations claim to seek peace, but what they seek is oil, regardless as the consequences that may face us all. Others seek justice but you wonder, if not for the oil, how differently the process might have played out both diplomatically and militarily. A nation rejects taking military action based solely on political considerations while totally ignoring the real issue of whether such actions might be necessary based on the facts. We have those who argue for peace, yet by their very actions demonstrate a microcosm of the hypocrisy we witness taking place on the world stage. A government member of our own Parliament, with support from some of our own people, arrogantly derides the nation that provides us with the umbrella of security that we have proven to be utterly incompetent in providing for ourselves.


We remain active members of an audience to a probable tragedy, following a script of hidden agendas and hypocrisy that has been demonstrated on so many fronts. Now we near the turning point in our story and experience the suspense of awaiting which of two possible conclusions will be acted out. One version calls war, with all its uncertainties, destruction, and grief. The other calls for a peace that may only result in the postponement of a trial that may prove even greater and graver than the one we presently face.

story needs
a rewrite

We are left with the realization that men and women of sincere good will, working in concert, may have been able to write a much happier ending. It is our misfortune that those with the proper combination of courage, justice, fairness and resolve failed to come together to set down an effective method of disarming a tyrant. Now it may be too late to expect a rewrite.




Ron Thornton

  Two Canadian warships to share Sea King (CBC News, March 4, 2003)
  Galloway, Gloria, Parrish applauded on Bullard talk show (PDF), March 4, 2003, Toronto Globe and Mail
  Oliveira, Mike, York U. war protest turns violent - Jewish student accosted (PDF) March 6, 2003 The National Post, March 6, 2003
  Horsley, William, Profile: Joschka Fischer's three lives, January 9, 2003, BBC News
  Barry, Colleen, Schroeder wins German election, September 23, 2002, Canoe CNews
  Beaumont, Peter and Islam, Faisal, Carve-up of oil riches begins, US plans to ditch industry rivals and force end of OPEC, November 3, 2002, The Observer,3858,4538509,00.html



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