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Enter Stage Gabbing

Canada wrong to disavow a war with Iraq

The Professor

By Steven Martinovich

(March 24, 2003) - Not surprisingly, Prime Minister Jean Chretien has come under heavy criticism for his decision not to support the American-led war against Iraq. Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper called for Canadian troops in the region, including those in exchange programs with the militaries of the U.S., Britain and Australia, to decamp on the grounds that if they won't be fighting there's no reason for them to be there. Premiers Ralph Klein and Ernie Eves have both stated that Canada could suffer economically over its stand.

In explaining his decision Chretien stated that he believed the UN disarmament process hadn't been given enough time to work -- this after 12 years -- and that it must be Iraqis themselves to affect a regime change. The Chretien government's foreign agenda has been muddled at best in recent years but this latest rebuke to our allies may be the most serious yet.

"If we start to go and change every government that we don't like in the world, where do we stop? Who is next? This is something that we have to reflect on," he stated after months of indecision, not to mention reflection.

Chretien has not realized, where US President George W. Bush has, that the world is far from moving away from an era where the global peace and security, not to mention the promotion of Western democratic values, isn't best secured with military might. Chretien would appear to be under the impression that continued diplomatic dialogue, whether or not it bears fruit, is the exercise of moral power -- and is always better than military action.

Chretien is essentially adopting a European approach to the issue of Iraq, one that Robert Kagan described in his recently released book On Power and Paradise, sees nations "turning away from power ... moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation."

That sees organizations like the UN taking the lead over issues like Iraq, despite the fact that it's recent past includes failing to act in Kosovo, Rawanda and other trouble spots when it had a chance. It's a world where raw power has been banished and men like Saddam Hussein are persuaded to comply with world demands via diplomacy and commercial trade. Using force to remove men like Saddam Hussein, the thought goes, is more dangerous then the man himself.

While that theory may be seductive, Europe and Canada are only able to promote to it thanks to decades of security provided by the US. It's one thing to subscribe to Enlightenment era philosophy about the perfectibility of man and the world, it's quite another to realize that both are far from being perfect. By refusing to take a realistic view of what it will take to force Iraq to comply with UN Security Council resolutions, Canada and Europe are essentially forcing the US into the unilateral path they have accused it of taking.

Canadians might be tempted to argue that Chretien's disavowal of the war against Iraq is a promotion of Canadian values, of our desire for a multilateral approach to solving the world's problems. Canadians used to uphold another value, one that led it to fight in two world wars. We used to believe that evil in the form of people like Hussein should never be allowed to stand. It would appear that our allies, the Americans, the British and the Australians, are the only ones now willing to fight to make it so.

Thanks for reading,

Steven Martinovich

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