I was reading this article about politics in Canada, specifically our Green Party leader Elizabeth May criticizing the government's war policies. She thinks that our current Conservative government is far too willing to get involved in ill defined conflicts without useful, achievable goals. I agree completely. War is never something that should be entered into with gusto, nor with vague goals of bashing the enemies. It needs to be something we do reluctantly to achieve specific things, and those things need to be something we can do in a short timeframe. Interminable warfare without a good exit strategy is a disaster. The comments after the article though made me sad because I got to see some of the people on *my* side and what a disaster they are.
For example, some people called our current leader Stephen Harper a traitor. There are a lot of problems with traitor as the ultimate insult, particularly that it puts nationalism at the peak of moral behaviour. I can't stand that attitude. People are important, not countries. Setting that aside though this is a terrible way to think about it. Pretty clearly Harper is not a traitor in any literal sense but he also isn't a traitor in some theoretical way either. Thing is, an awful lot of the people in Canada voted for this guy on the basis that he is pro war because they like the idea of going out there and bashing the baddies even when a cursory examination shows that to be futile at best.
Though I am comfortable characterizing Harper as evil it is pretty clear he isn't betraying the values of all Canadians. He betrays the values of many Canadians, certainly, but all leaders do that. You can't please everyone. The problem is that there are a great number of people that are okay with heinous loss of life to no avail as long as it takes place far away and they can be satisfied that bad people are being thumped. Who exactly designates those people as bad rarely seems to enter into the equation, which is a big part of the problem. Bloody vengeance against imaginary boogeymen has a real appeal to many people, much as I would wish otherwise.
What we should say is that our military should not be involved in conflicts without a clear purpose and an obvious way out should we no longer feel that being there is improving things. We should not give in to the notion that people in other countries are less deserving of life than us. What we need to do is change the minds of Canadians at large so that they will make it clear with their votes that such things will not be tolerated in future.