Monday, August 15, 2005

The one good thing about a lifetime appointment

Babble on.

If you asked me to count the Canadian Senators I could identify, I'd run out of names before I ran out of fingers. Some might find it odd that the first person that jumps to mind when I think of our Upper House is a Liberal: Colin Kenny. It's because he doesn't really act like a Liberal: he doesn't fall into the caucus zombie-line with each and every PMO mistake-of-the-day, and in fact, he'll criticize his own party's government when he feels it's out of line; he speaks and writes publicly where many Senators are prone to live out their sinecure in affluence and indolence; and he focuses his efforts largely upon military matters, an area of good government most Liberals pointedly ignore.

In short, Senator Kenny is the one good example I can see of a lifetime appointment to the Upper House used to its greatest effect.

Today, yet again, our good Senator has challenged the Paul Martin placeholder administration to actually show some leadership, and explain why Canadian troops are in Afghanistan, what we're trying to accomplish, and how long we'll have to be there to achieve our goals.

Along the way, he floats some shaky ideas. Like "The Americans are notorious for storming in, winning bloody battles, and then failing to put forth the resources to sustain the peace." Really? Like where? The Marshall Plan in Europe, MacArthur in Japan, and a commitment to the Korean south that has guaranteed a fifty-year peace are all counter-examples. I'm curious where he can point to the Yanks storming in, winning a bloody battle, and then pulling out and letting things go to hell again.

Or "There is no doubt that Canada should play its part in attempting to suppress terrorism in particular, and global instability in general." I'm all for suppressing terrorism, but a little bit of instability might not be entirely bad for the world. Stable dictatorships aren't a good thing. In fact, there's an argument to be made that short-term instability now could be the best way towards long-term peace later.

But apart from these peripheral remarks, the thrust of Kenny's argument remains sound:

Being up front about why you're at war is called political leadership. It's what our soldiers and their families deserve, and it's what 32 million Canadians must have if they are to believe that this dangerous mission is being fought on their behalf and if they are going to cast aside their reservations about throwing their support behind it.

Unfortunately, most political observers have long ago given up on true leadership from the mob in power today. It seems a reasonable and civil debate on issues like Afghanistan really is too much to ask from the Martin Liberals.

Babble off.


At 2:54 p.m., Blogger Greg said...

I think (but this is just a guess) that he is talking about Vietnam (where the U.S. never lost a set piece battle) and Iraq. Just a guess.

At 3:52 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Greg, if you're right, it's a lazy choice of words on his part.

Maybe if the Americans had actually 'stormed in' to decisively win a conventional war in Vietnam, there would have been a peace to sustain. But instead they fought with one hand tied behind their back, and we all know the debacle that resulted.

At least in Iraq, they've done a proper job of the military end. And regardless of what the naysayers would like to conclude, the jury is still out on Iraq's prospects for peace.

Personally, I think it was just a throwaway line, parroting some accepted wisdom of the Canadian ruling class. Which is disappointing, considering the main thrust of the article is quite solid.

At 11:58 a.m., Blogger Timmy the G said...

One could arguably include Afghanistan itself in Kenny's list. After a brilliant campaign to remove the Taliban, they got distracted in Iraq. Today, warlords and the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan once again.

At 1:17 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Perhaps, Timmy. Only time will tell if they've devoted enough resources or too few in Afghanistan.

But any way you slice it, the examples you and Greg have raised hardly make the U.S. "notorious" for behaving as Kenny suggests. You can't rest your case on Vietnam, and the jury's still out on Iraq and Afghanistan.

I think in the absence of better evidence, it's a characterization he would have done better to avoid.


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