Saturday, February 09, 2008

Afghanistan and the Euston Manifesto

Given the recent release of the report from the Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan and ongoing shenanigans in Ottawa about it, I think a revisit to the Euston Manifesto is highly apropos.

The original Euston Manifesto has been around for nearly two years. When it was released, it felt like a breath of fresh air blowing in from the left. There were those on the left who actually took issue with the tacit support of Islamofascism and regimes like Ba'athist Iraq from those in their own political camp and, more astoundingly, took the courage to go public with their disaffection.

Although as a whole, this group of lefties were no different than most, in that they tended to project of themselves as an uptight, overtly judgmental, ideologically closed bunch, it was good to see them breaking ranks, rather than sticking to the left's untenable position of blaming America and/or Bush for everything wrong with the world. Not surprisingly, then, I found the response from the American left especially heartening.

American Liberalism and the Euston Manifesto
"Now we confront the issue of how to respond to radical Islamism. Some of us view this ideology and its political results as the third major form of totalitarian ideology of the last century, after fascism and Nazism, on the one hand, and Communism, on the other. Others regard it as having a history in the Arab and Islamic world that eludes the label of totalitarianism. We all agree however that it fosters dictatorship, terror, anti-Semitism and the oppression of women. We reject its subordination of politics to the dictates of religious fundamentalists as well as its contempt for the role of individual autonomy and rationality in politics, a rejection not seen on this scale in world politics since the 1940s. We understand that the United States must continue to take the lead with our allies in confronting this danger." (emphasis added)

"We reject the now ossified and unproductive political polarization of American politics rooted as it is in the conflicts of the 1960s, not the first decade of this century. We are frustrated in the choice between conservative governance that thwarts much needed reforms at home, on the one hand, and a liberalism which has great difficulty accepting the projection of American power abroad, on the other. The long era of Republican ascendancy may very well be coming to an end. If and when it does, we seek a renewed and reinvigorated American liberalism, one that is up to the task of fighting and winning the struggle of free and democratic societies against Islamic extremism and the terror it produces." (emphasis added)
Equally refreshing, the Canadian chapter also took a principled stand on Afghanistan, rather than pandering to the hate-anyone-further-to-the-right meme that fills the speaking notes customarily used by the Canadian left:

"We recognize the conflict in Afghanistan as a liberation struggle, waged by the Afghan people and their allies, against oppression, against obscurantism, illiteracy, and the most brutal forms of misogyny. It is a fight for democracy, and for peace, order, and good government. It is also a struggle waged by the sovereign Government of Afghanistan, a member state of the United Nations, against illegal armed groups that seek to overturn the democratic will of the Afghan people." (emphasis added)
This little gem from the Euston Manifesto Canada's blog speaks volumes:

"On April 13th, 2006 at CAW Local 636, in Woodstock, Ontario, I attended a speech in given by Allan Slater, a Christian Brother who had spent some time in Iraq, which included the period that four of his compatriots were being held hostage. One aspect of his stay there impressed me greatly: The Christian Brothers would meet with leaders from different communities and help them work out their differences and avoid conflict.

Apparently the US and British forces had no problem with the activities of the Christian Brothers, Allan commented that they were only concerned for their safety. But the foreign mecenaries who came to fight in the name of Islam had a big problem with them. The Christian Brothers were presented with the choice: flee or die.

Allan did not offer any solutions to the conflicts in the Balkans, Iraq, Darfur, Haiti, Afganistan or Zimbabwe. As soon as bullets start flying towards them, the Christian Brothers have only one solution: leave. Their tactics may help to promote democracy and human rights but they are incapable of assisting the democratically elected government of Iraq defeat the Fascists currently terrorizing the people." (emphasis added)
Those of you who remember the Christian Brothers episode in Iraq may have a variety of views about that group, of course. But for me, I thought then and I maintain now that like all pacifists, they are incorrigible idiots whose behavior plays directly into the hands of the most egregious hate-mongering zealots on the planet. Their foolish antics are responsible for the death of many, many innocents in Iraq and elsewhere.

I fail, also, to see much difference between them and folks like Taliban Jack and his minions across this country who think all we have to do is negotiate. These folks are the first to point an accusing finger at previous American administrations' friendly dealings with various despots, afterall, but now that the winds have changed, it is they who want to shake hands with villany.

As the airways fill with the usual pre-election-obsessive-hype-disorder, both in the United States and here in Canada, we would do well to reflect on the wording of the original Manifesto, for it seems the left never really took its "Statement of Principles" #2 to heart, vis:

"No apology for tyranny:

"We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently "understand", reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy — regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces". (emphasis added)
Thankfully, neither Taliban Jack, nor his party, will ever achieve anything close even to minority government status in Ottawa. All they will ever be able to do is annoy us and provide a legitimate avenue for the expression of naive ideologies. Elsewhere in the world these ideologies would leave them languishing in jails or worse, or, with the reins of power in their hands, ordering others to dig the mass graves in order to make more room in the existing jails.


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