How nice of the White House to offer us six of its Boeing Co CH-47D heavy-lift transport helicopters at such a reasonable price--a measly 375 million dollars. A Pentagon spokesman explained that the deal is motivated by the kind of selfless, humanitarian vision that has come to define American strategic thinking:
"Canada needs these helicopters to enhance its capabilities in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) [yes, the thing has officially been given its own acronym]...Having the same configuration as the U.S. would greatly contribute to Canada's military capability by making it a more sustainable coalition force to support GWOT," the Pentagon said.
In other words, the more American stuff we have, the more efficiently our Forces can be absorbed into the American imperial system and be deployed as colonial levies in U.S.-led conflicts. Statements like these can leave no doubt but that the American military leadership sees our Forces as a servant of American geo-political ambitions rather than our own. In fact, the Pentagon--doubtless very aware that our current government is happily willing (and even eager) to swallow any species of American insolence--hardly bothers to hide its arrogance. It proclaims that:
...Canadian deployments in support of peacekeeping and humanitarian operations have made a "significant impact to global political and economic stability and have served U.S. national security interests."
The Pentagon obviously assumes that most Canadians will be delighted to hear that their tax dollars and the precious lives of so many of their countrymen have "served U.S. national security interests" rather than been wasted on Canadian security interests.
The Pentagon is probably right: in this dark hour of national demoralisation, the product of two-decades' worth of Canada-hating rhetorical flagellation by our self-loathing media and political élites, Canadians are apt to think that handing our Forces, our resources, and even our very lives over to the pleasure of the United States is but a barely sufficient atonement for our inherent worthlessness, for the abject pusillanimity of our very being, for having so scandalously presumed to deserve an autonomous existence beside a neighbour who embodies the perfection of all the virtues. Before 9/11, Canadian self-hating had been the fairly disreputable fetish of a marginal, mainly Albertan, gaggle of cranks; it now seems to have replaced fluoride as the main additive in our drinking water. One can hardly blame the Pentagon, then, for its plain speaking: they know that few Canadians will care.
Indeed, "interoperability"--for that is what our military's absorption into the U.S. war machine is euphemistically called--will continue apace and go unchecked as long as Canadians can be fooled into thinking that becoming ancillary sepoys in the service of American geo-political ambitions is an ideal way of redeeming our tradition of degenerate parochialism through global "humanitarian" interventions.
Our mission in Afghanistan is the opium which helps keep the masses hallucinating along those lines. News of Haiti's most recent agony should have removed the pipes from Canadian lips, but--as we've been convinced that Afghans are the only suffering people who deserve our development assistance--we've been allowed to keep sucking away at our opiate and, in the process, have forgotten our own shameful role in Haiti's tragedy.
Starving Haitians have lately been reduced to eating dirt and have thus reached depths rarely before seen even in that tormented nation. The collapse of their so-called government may herald the disintegration of what little remains of a functioning Haitian civil society. This is all happening despite the dilatory Brazilian-led "peace-keeping" effort to which Canada has contributed a token force since 2004. It is fitting that we are doing so little to help Haiti, since we have done so much to trigger its current chaos.
In 2004, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, one of the only two elected presidents Haiti has ever had, faced a rebellion fomented by criminal gangs and disgruntled ex-soldiers enraged by Aristide's wise decision to disarm the army (traditionally one of Haiti's most destabilising elements). Aristide had long been out of favour with the White House, which withdrew all humanitarian aid to the impoverished country in 2000 (with Canada and Europe shamefully following suit soon after), presumably in retaliation for the alleged irregularities that marred the 2000 election that returned Aristide to power and the allegedly "authoritarian" nature of his rule (America apparently having discovered some democratic scruples after having supported the homicidal Duvaliers for decades).
Without an army to oppose it, the rebellion gained traction. The White House decided to support the rebellion, thus providing moral and political legitimacy to a glorified street gang led by a violent thug who christened his motley band of killers with the darkly hilarious name, the "National Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Haiti".
Ultimately, in the latest act of a disastrous two-hundred-year tradition of neo-colonial interventionism, the White House decided to send in the Marines and remove Aristide, virtually at gunpoint, rather than protect his government while it completed the last year of its democratically-held mandate. A caretaker administration was installed, and an international force (with a sizable Canadian contingent) was brought in to police the new criminally established status quo. Thus, the U.S., with Canada's sedulous assistance, deposed one of the only legitimate national leaders Haiti has ever produced at the behest of the lowest dregs of Haiti's criminal underworld and of its defunct network of paramilitary death squads.
Canada's role in this catastrophe provides one of the most disgraceful examples of moral cowardice in our history, arguably in all history. While primping ourselves on the "nobility" of our Afghan mission--a project undertaken under the duress of American blackmail, premised on patently unachievable objectives, propping up an Islamist, Sharia-Law-driven, warlord-ridden regime, and now clearly failing on all measurable levels--we threw away a golden opportunity to make an easily achieved, quantifiable step towards the institutionalisation of democracy in the poorest jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere.
Having been shorn of their heavy weapons, Aristide's antagonists were an Interahamwe-like rabble, carrying barely more than antiquated small-arms and big knives. Protecting the president would have required nothing larger than a mechanised infantry brigade without need of artillery or air support-- comfortably fitting within Canada's limited logistical capacity. After two and a half years of ersatz philanthropy in Afghanistan, here was an authentic opportunity to mount an idealistic, stand-alone Canadian operation--to use our small Forces to propagate Canadian values in the defence of a real, functioning democracy.
Instead, we held the Pentagon's hat while it demonstrated to all Haitians that no legitimate president is safe from their mobs, setting back by decades the cause of Haitian democracy and bringing its haunted people to their current horrific reality. You think it worrisome to have a failed state seven thousand miles away in Afghanistan? Consider the risks of having one just off the coast of Cuba, within easy striking distance of North America. If an extremist network ever takes root in Haiti, it will do so on ground made fertile by American venality and Canadian cravenness.
Stephen Harper and his barking acolytes continue to enjoin us to "Support the Troops". I say this: I shall begin to support our troops when they are made to re-connect with what is perhaps the most brilliant thread in the weave of our military history--our voluntary commitment to just wars. The troops I support have yet to be mustered: they are the ones who would have turned back the thuggish canaille converging on Port-au-Prince in 2004, not the ones providing the military life support for Hamid Karzai's failed, madrassa-pocked narco-state.