Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Red Toryism Is Not Isolationism

But oddly enough, David Orchard seems to think so

One may wonder if Liberal leader Stephane Dion is disappointed or relieved that David Orchard, his star candidate in Desthene-Missinni-Churchill River riding, has manged to produce so little press coverage.

When the press did bite at that particular worm, it was

In a recent candidates debate in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Orchard talked about what a few of his priorities are.

“One of my priorities is the war,” Orchard announced.

Indeed. Orchard priorities the war so highly that he's decided to join the party that deployed Canadian forces to Afghanistan in the first place, under a leader who was a member of the cabinet that decided to do so.

Orchard's views on the war are far from secret. In February of this year, Orchard published an article on Globalresearch.ca in which he makes some remarkable comments.

Orchard essentially compares Canada's involvement in Afghanistan to slavery, and also attempts to cast doubts on previous humanitarian interventions in Yugoslavia and Haiti.

Orchard would likely portray his comments as embodying the concerns with national sovereignty so deeply held within Red Toryism. But apparently Orchard never received the memo that Red Toryism does not condone genocides, such as those being perpetrated by Slobodan Milosevic.

Nor does Red Toryism condone unarmed civilians caught in the midst of civil conflicts being left to their own devices.

Nor does Red Toryism condone harbouring terrorists while they plan attacks against foreign countries.

In short, Red Toryism is not isolationism, and never has been. In fact, it never could have been.

Most historians agree that the very notion of Canadian sovereignty was born out of the two World Wars. Most Canadians felt our sovereingty had been earned in those conflicts, and many of the things that came in the immediate aftermath seem to bear this to be true.

In fact, the Canadian citizenship act wasn't passed until 1946. Prior to that, there was actually no such thing as a Canadian citizenship. Rather, Canadians were generally viewed as citizens of the British empire.

In 1926, between the two wars, Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King was instrumental in prompting the Balfour Declaration of 1926, which declared equality amongst Commonwealth countries.

It simply isn't logical for Red Toryism to be so offended by the notion of a foreign intervention, where necessary, considering that the very element with which it remains so preoccupied -- sovereignty -- was born out of such an intervention.

After all, Canada's involvement in the Second World War didn't end at the German border, nor did it end at the Italian coastline.

The great legacy of that war -- deposing one of history's brutal dictator and preventing the wholesale genocide of Jewish people in Europe -- remains an accomplishment of which all Canadians worthy of the name remain proud.

If Canada hadn't entered the Second World War not only would this legacy never have been achieved, but it's likely that key links between the United States and Britain would never have been forged. Without this support it's unlikely that Britain could have turned away the German attack, and that other preoccupation of so many Red Tories -- distress over ever-closer links between Canada and the United States -- would have come to to pass much, much sooner.

Ironically, Red Toryism never could have come to truly exist if Canada's leaders of the day had thought in the inherently isolationist vein that David Orchard does today.

Orchard also writes in a manner that suggests he believes Canadian forces bombed civilian targets indiscriminately in Afghanistan, Haiti and former Yugoslavia.

But even more concerning is Orchard's equation of Canada's efforts abroad with slavery.

"Military assaults against the poverty stricken farmers of Afghanistan and Haiti, and an Iraqi population struggling for its very survival, are part of a long, barbarous tradition going back to slave ships and colonial resource wars and will some day, I believe, be seen in that context," Orchard writes.

Unfortuantely for Mr Orchard, this is most unequivocally not the case. Should Canadian troops start herding Afghans on to slave galleons and forcing them to row their way across the ocean to pick cotton on plantations, then the war in Afghanistan will be seen in that context.

David Orchard can feel free to hold his breath until that happens if he so wishes. It wouldn't be a very good idea, but he's free to try it.

In the end, it seems, there's a reason why David Orchard is a marginal figure in Canadian political history, who only managed to attain a brief semblance of prominence when the Progressive Conservative party was already on its deathbed.

It's because he's a marginal thinker. Only a marginal thinker could look at the conflict in Afghanistan, look at the government that was deposed there, and see the Amistad.

Only a marginal thinker like David Orchard.

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