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Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Women are the fulcrums.

Lately, most news outlets have been running stories about the new pope's surprisingly mellow reign, using the one-year anniversary of his bureaucratic apotheosis as an opportunity to say, in a nutshell, "look, he's not nearly as big a fascist as he could have been." Tell that to reverend Cachia in Peterborough:

A 56-year-old Ontario priest celebrated one of the holiest days in the Roman Catholic calendar under the roof of his own breakaway church this weekend, after learning he had been excommunicated for his support of women being ordained as priests.

Rev. Ed Cachia's newly formed Christ the Servant Catholic Church was declared to be a schismatic church by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peterborough yesterday (...)

The National Post story continues here.

While it's true that the "German Shepherd" (still a great pun) hasn't been quite as rabid in his defense of orthodoxy as many had predicted, the bottom line is that he's been firm in his refusal to change one single comma in the church's teachings on homosexuality, the place of women in the church and birth control. The dog may be licking your hand, but he's still guarding the gate.

* * *

So the long-awaited parliamentary debate over Canada's mission in Afghanistan finally took place and... nobody showed up. All these opposition MPs who'd been screaming blue murder over the absence of any forum to discuss and debate the mission apparently decided it was more important to start their Easter vacations two days early.

Although I trust Ignatieff about as far as I can throw him, he did have some choice words in defense of Canada's role in the region: "What I've learned [in my travels] is that you cannot do development in Afghanistan unless you control the security situation." I agree completely and I think the fundamental reasons behind the mission are sound. That doesn't mean I don't have some grave reservations about the execution and planning, however.

The Globe & Mail article is a pretty good summary of the "debate," if you want a closer look.


  • At 7:57 p.m., Blogger I'm basically a warm-hearted creature. said…

    ok. sorry for being naive but...how can we expect to control the security situation in a land that has never been successfully controlled...ever...by a foreign army. check out the bruises on the russian bear. To me, this is a no winner--in so far as there can ever be a winner when people are being killed. The only bright side? If enough Canadian soldiers come home in body bags, the general population might see fit to blame Harper and we might get out of this conservative governance relatively unscathed.

  • At 10:42 a.m., Blogger Labris said…

    I think you're totally right: both Russia and the Brits found themselves in an intractable mess once they set foot in Afghanistan and those are powerful lessons for any foreign army looking to conduct operations in the country. However, given that the majority of Afghanis do not want:

    A) a return of Taliban rule;
    B) a feudalistic system of drug-fuelled warlords running separate enclaves;

    I feel there's an onus on Western nations -- largely responsible for the debacle in the first place -- to help rebuild the shattered infrastructure and support the development of sociocultural institutions strong enough to weather the harsh realities of life there. Unfortunately, that kind of development can not take place without a strong line of defense : in this case, NATO forces present to protect aid workers from attack.

    There are HUGE problems with the mission there. For instance, Canadian troops are remanding captured Talibani to Afghan security forces despite evidence that those security people use torture during interrogations. This makes our troops -- and by extension, you and me -- complicit in that torture. I could continue, but that's one of my major beefs...

    Ultimately, I think the mission is necessary but should be conducted under the closest possible scrutiny by the Canadian government, media and people. It's the only way to ensure that the most help is rendered and the least harm caused.

  • At 10:14 a.m., Blogger I'm basically a warm-hearted creature. said…

    Ok. I see your point. But, when has bringing in foreign troops ever really worked? Over and over again armies/governments/people get into messes because they follow the logic? that if they could control the military, they would subsequently gain control over the situation. Doesn't this, more often than not, add to the mess? Doesn't this create a greater gap...an 'us against them' mentality that, whether we like it or not, puts us smack dab in the middle of the 'bully' camp? Yes the feudal lord rule taliban regieme sucks as an option but...if we are to help, we need to have the trust of the people. Trust is being lost quickly the more we are seen as being complicit in torture and by the very fact that we are riding around with guns. My naivity is shining through again, I know, but, I have to believe in the possibility of non-military options. How many dead does any side need to accrue before this type of option is sought?

  • At 2:12 p.m., Blogger Labris said…

    I don't think we disagree: it's clear that gaining the trust of the Afghani people is absolutely necessary for this mission to work. Otherwise we're just wasting our time (and blood) out there.

    However, I don't think the two responses (military and non-) are mutually exclusive; on the contrary, I believe they're complimentary. Without trust-building exercises and aid monies being channelled into local institutions, the military mission is doomed to the kind of failures we've discussed. On the other hand, without a protective force in place, our aid workers will be kidnapped and/or killed, our resources will be "diverted" and our efforts to help civilians rebuild a civil society will be for naught.


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