Sunday, January 23, 2005

Pacificm is limp wristed cowardice

I've grown so tired of someone, somewhere on the left striking up the cry of "war is bad", or "say no to war", and various other permutations of the same thing. In Canada its called "soft power". Soft "power", and yes the quotations are a cynical questioning of the reality of that alleged power, suposes that rather than using ones military as a mechanism to settle international disputes and gain influence, we could have power through diplomacy, trade arrangements, aid and by giving a couple speaches.

Soft "power" works well enough suposing that if people don't agree to play nice they face some sort of consequence, which is exactly the opposite Hard Power. Hard Power on the other hand means you will comply or be brutalized, pilloried and/or slain.

However, without the sword of Damocles hanging over whatever particular murderous despot or glorified military jhunta which mouths a few socialist pieties you happen to be dealing with they don't have any convincing reason to acquience to your request.

Canada can lecture the Sudan on who allowing a genocide to occur within your borders in a bad thing and how they should stop immediately. They can propose sending aid through NGOs to the region. They can go to the UN and try to pass a resolution (which wouldn't work as the Sudan is Muslim and has an automatic voting block on its side as a result). However, it begs the question what does that actually accomplish?


If Canada actually cared to do something about the genocide in progress in the Sudan, it would have tried asking nicely and then flown in 20,000 troops and put them on the ground and rallied others to the task.

Yes that's right, we would have actually gotten our hands dirty, we would have shot the bad guys and not worried overly much about how that offended anyone's cultural sensitivies because we were doing the right thing.

What would this plan of action have accomplished? Thousands of people, if not tens and hundreds of thousands of people who have been brutally slaughtered because of ethnic prejudice would still be alive today.

Timmy the G thinks war is a dangerous narcotic, and is glad Canada only serves as a "peacekeeper". The problem with this is two part, war is a necessary option when the people your facing are unreasonable. Secondly, we don't even bother to "keep the peace" anymore so I'm rather sick of hearing how proud people are over something we did 40 years ago. At the moment as I recall we're quite far down the list of peacekeepers behind superpowers such as Nigeria.

War has brought democracy to Afghanistan and shortly will to Iraq, what has soft power done lately? Tsunami relief isn't soft power Timmy, its charity and sympathy both worthy goals, but power would imply we're gaining influence or favours in return and we aren't. Malayasia already wants all the infidels out.

To end this bit of sabre rattling to paraphrase Thomas Friedman regarding Bosnia "people need to give war a chance."


At 9:20 a.m., Blogger angry_in_t_o said...

We weren't always so "limp-wristed".

At 9:53 a.m., Blogger Timmy the G said...

Hi Chris. Thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting on my thoughts here - even if only to disagree!

I hope you agree that I noted in my post that war is somtimes necessary. Afghanistan is a good example of that. Iraq, in my opinion, is not.

I was replying to a number of bloggers who basically dismissed the idea of soft power altogther, when it actually plays an important role in international relations.

DART is a perfect example of soft power: it is using our army to help, not harm. This promotes a very different view of Canada and its army to the world, and improves world opinon of us - one of the ultimate goals of soft power.

I am not a pacifist, and come from a family with a very long military background. Even so, I do not claim pacifism to be "limp wristed cowardice", with all the contempt that phrase implies. Truly committed pacifists like Quakers or other conscientious objectors often face brutal censure from society and even family members. It is not easy, and it is not cowardice.

"What would this plan of action have accomplished? Thousands of people, if not tens and hundreds of thousands of people who have been brutally slaughtered because of ethnic prejudice would still be alive today."

The same could be said of the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed thanks to the Americans' use of hard power.

The world is not a black and white (or left and right) place, Chris. It's full of messy and unclear shades of grey.

I appreciate your thoughts on this subject, and look forward to visitng again.


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