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sarahkeebs [userpic]

Penny smart, pound foolish

May 11th, 2006 (08:19 am)
thoughtful

current location: Victoria Street
Mood: thoughtful

I know everyone's already weighed in on this, but since the budget has been approved in principle (thanks, Bloq) I felt compelled to put my two cents in. And I'll make it as simple as I can...


$1200 ≠ $6500+

Okay? Are we all clear on that? In what alternate reality does it make sense for the Tories to dole out a credit which is a) large enough, when all recipients are totalled up, to make a sizable dent in the budget; b) taxable, for heaven's sake, c) totally freakin' useless? According to Childcare Ontario, median annual cost in Ontario for regulated daycare is $6500-$9500. I realize there are other subsidies and tax benefits at work, but come on. It's a flat fee even. PLEASE TELL ME NO ONE IS BUYING THIS! *facedesk*

* * * * * * * * * *
Speaking of which, I was pleased (though unsurprised) to see the new government follow through on its committments to the military. Although I am concerned to see Harper import American-style crypto-Evangelism into Parliament, I feel oddly confident that no stance, no matter how pro-military, will lead to us embracing American-style belligerent foreign policy. I must admit I grow weary of the constant anti-military yammering we are currently deluged with.

Most of you know I'm pretty pro-military.

This fellow sums it up pretty well:
Canada's role in international politics died with Trudeau
Canada's role in international politics died with Trudeau

May 10, 2006
To the editor:

Jim Purdie's recent diatribe against Stephen Harper (Lester B. Pearson's vision has died with Stephen Harper, May 3, 2006) evokes the name of Lester B. Pearson and says that Pearson's vision is dead.

I agree. Pearson's vision for a strong and effective Canada in international politics died on the table after massive injections of Liberal mismanagement starting with Trudeau.

When Pearson came up with the idea of UN peacekeeping, he realized peacekeeping at times is rough and only a strong, disciplined military force could effectively keep the peace between potential combatants.

Pearson never would have allowed the decimation of the armed forces that Trudeau and successive governments so gleefully presided over.

As for "Bush's war in Afghanistan," Mr. Purdie either forgets or chooses to forget that military action in Afghanistan was a multinational action which was taken to bring a terrorist-supporting regime to an end.

The United Nations was on board as was NATO, the EU and many others.

I also remind Mr. Purdie that it wasn't Stephen Harper who deployed our troops to Afghanistan. It was the Liberals.

The current assignment was planned for and agreed to long before the Conservatives came to power.

The last Liberal government warned us that it would be dangerous and for the Canadian people to expect casualties.

I heard no crying and weeping from Liberals and their friends then.

Bill Devey

Peterborough


For whatever reason, apprently Canadian youth agree; according to the War Child Canada Youth Opinion Poll (see starting at p. 49) the majority of Canadian youth see our military as too small. Michael Ignatieff seems pretty pro-military too. The truth is, as he says, that we need to be prepared to do "heavy lifting". A crippling fear of bad PR and a public unwillingness to accept any casualties has lead to a dangerous trend in foreign policy, in the last few decades, and we can only hope it will reverse itself now. Canadians apparently want up to pull out of Afghanistan because of the 15 soldiers who have died since 2002. Their deaths were tragedies, but what is perhaps more tragic is that people are unwilling to attribute any meaning to their deaths except to serve as anti-military symbols. 15 soldiers is simply a very small number, compared to other trobling statistics Canadians seem unwilling to hue-and-cry about. In 1997 (the last year for which I could find data) there were well over 3000 deaths by suicide, 626 from HIV infection, and in 2004 there were 172 shooting homicides, 205 by stabbing, and 135 by beating. In fact, the number of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan in 4 years, doing thier duty, for which they volunteered, knowingly and honourably risking death, was roughly the same as the number of Canadians intentionally burned to death in 2004 alone.

My point is, a fear of public blacklash tends to make governments tiptoe in to military operations, contributing the minimum of troops and resources. This means the wars are longer and more people die, our troops, their troops, and civilians. It's a fairly established piece of military wisdom that - at least, when it comes to infantry-based ground wars - the best method is to overwhelm with superior force from the start. Literally, go big or go home. You simply cannot half-ass a military campaign.

So here's to our troops in Afghanistan - may they begin to receive the support they need, both from the government and from the Canadian people.

Comments

Posted by: chudweiser (chudweiser)
Posted at: May 11th, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC)

People will buy into the new budget as readily as they bought into the Liberal smear campaign of the Conservative party when they told the citizenry that the Conservatives were going to attack abortion rights and gay marriage.

Posted by: sarahkeebs (sarahkeebs)
Posted at: May 12th, 2006 09:22 pm (UTC)
You're half right

Well, as I said, I don't disagree with the whole budget, I just think the daycare thing is stupid beyond belief. It's the hypocisy that irks me -- I mean, if they want to be hardcore fiscal Conservatives and not add on to the welfare state, I understand that, but that would involve not sending people random amounts of money.

And while I know we disagree on this (though I will admit the Liberals did induldge in panicked mud-slinging), the Tories do attack gay marriage.

Too long for a comment, so I'll post...

Posted by: forsoothsayer (forsoothsayer)
Posted at: May 13th, 2006 04:30 am (UTC)

that's terrible. by keeping the military small it ensures that canada does not enter into wars....which it certainly has not needed to do, ever.
WARS SHOULD BE DEFENSIVE, PEOPLE! (not shouting at you)

Posted by: sarahkeebs (sarahkeebs)
Posted at: May 13th, 2006 02:16 pm (UTC)

Ah, but see, I have to disagree (in part). Keeping the military small has *not* kept Canada out of wars, but it has meant that when we do go to war, we are (rightly) ridiculed by our allies, and in fact often hold them back because our military is so poorly equipped. One idea that has been floated occaisionally is that we should keep our military small, but specialize in a few necessary areas, so we could fill particular niches. That makes sense to me, except that if we ever were attacked we'd be dependant on our neighbors and traditional allies for defense (but then, so are we now).

As for the idea that wars should be defensive, I agree. I would, however, include "defense of human rights" in that rubric. Unfortunately, in the current geopolitical climate, that opens up a lot of theatres of operations.

Posted by: forsoothsayer (forsoothsayer)
Posted at: May 13th, 2006 02:21 pm (UTC)

i don't think defense of human rights is a causus belli. if they had wanted it to be, it would have been in the U.N. charter. otherwise, it's just an invasion of sovereignty. no country should be killing large numbers of foreign citizens in an attempt to save them.

Posted by: sarahkeebs (sarahkeebs)
Posted at: May 14th, 2006 03:28 pm (UTC)

Theoretically, I disagree. I think that defending the population of a country from widespread, systematic opression from a non-representative/non-responsive government is perhaps the only grounds for a just war. I think, however, we can both agree that this principle has been exploited or misused a lot, for instance:

1) Installing or propping up an opressive regime in one country, but attacking its neighbor (which may have a reasonably good record) on "human rights grounds" because one is a client-state while the other has a opposing ideology to yours (see everything the US has ever done in Latin America).

2) Letting a state commit human rights abuses for decades, but using human rights as a justification for attacking it when they cut off your oil or otherwise irk you. Especially heinous when people from that country have been begging you for help for decades.

3) Attacking foreign states on human-rights grounds (justified or not) and then continue to support a new government (or your own occupation forces) which don't respect human rights either.

4) Attacking directly or crippling with trade embargoes any state for its human rights record, while still rejuecting its nationals as refugees.

In my mind, the problem is not so much the infringment of another state's sovereignty (the UN Charter's devotion to which is, in my mind, a little out of date) as that belligerent nations consistantly cherry-pick which states warrant "punishment" and which do not. Who and when to attack are based on the attacking states own best interests, or even whims, rather than preventing genocide or the perpetuation of crimes against human rights.

Posted by: sarahkeebs (sarahkeebs)
Posted at: May 14th, 2006 03:33 pm (UTC)

Oh, and I forgot to mention: I obviously agree that inflicting massive "collateral" damage should never occur where a justification of defense of human rights is relied upon. It's obviously contradictory. From what I've read, the "Go Big or Go Home" theory of warfare is also good at reducing total civilian casualties, since the war is shorter. What I think a lot of people (not you, just generally) don't always realize is that so-called "peaceful" strategies like trade embargoes can lead to enormous numbers of civilian casualties through disease and malnutrition, while having little or no effect on the elite.

Posted by: forsoothsayer (forsoothsayer)
Posted at: May 14th, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC)

oh, i agree about the trade embargos and the problem of selective vilification that you mentioned. but if countries are going to select enemies based of geo-political expediency and then find convenient human rights abuses to justify an invasion, then how can you ever expect peace? besides like i said, killing large numbers of people does not make them free. to topple a tyranical government, invasion is simply not the way. too many people end up dying and the country is thrown into chaos for decades. the way to do it is to find local activists or rebels, and quietly supply them with intelligence and arms. if indeed the aim is to bring democracy to that country. there are other ways of course; stimulating economic growth generally leads to democracy as well.

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