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Friday, April 09, 2010 

Harper Is Rewriting Canada's History To Portray A 'War' Tradition

Most Canadians have great pride in Canada's peacekeeping legacy established during the 1950's. The Suez Conflict, Cypress and other conflicts saw brave Canadian soldiers coming between the warring sides and imposing a ceasefire.

But 'peacekeeping' is something that Stephen Harper has no respect for. He wanted us in Iraq and he has us in Afghanistan. Part of the right wing mindset is a firm adherence to 'war culture'. Today, Harper is trying to give Canadians a big dose of his ideology by holding World War One appreciation events across the nation.

World War One was one of the stupidest wars of the 20th century. Here is a recycled post from this site, first published in November, 2008:

Being the peacenik that I am, I simply can't let this story pass without an alternative viewpoint being expressed.

On my television this week, I am being told that Canadian soldiers died for Canada's 'freedom' during the First World War ... to 'protect and preserve our nation'. I struggle with this interpretation of the pointless, meaningless conflict known as 'the First World War'.

Stop any citizen on the street and ask them what the reason for the First World War was ... and see if they know. Essentially, three Royal 'cousins' ... England's King George V - Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II - Russia's Czar Nicholas II (all three were grandsons or grandsons-in-law of Queen Victoria) ... had a royal 'family feud'.

Here is what triggered World War One:
-In June, 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated by a Serb.
-The Austria-Hungarian Empire retaliated against the Kingdom of Serbia.
-The Russian Empire told Austria-Hungary to keep hands off Serbia.
-Austrian-Hungarian Empire said 'screw you' ... declared war on Russia.
-The German Empire joined with Austia-Hungary.
-England joined with Russia and France... Canada was automatically at war because Britain was in a state of war.
-All hell breaks loose ... 20 million people DIE.

In all of this, I am not sure how Canada was threatened as a nation. I am not sure why 60,000 Canadians died (4000 from Saskatchewan) in mud filled trenches in Europe. Young men who joined up with a sense of patriotism and adventure .. how can you fault them? At the time, it seemed like a good idea. But here we are now, with history to assist us in our interpretation of the need for this idiotic bloodbath.

Nearly a century later, our government is struggling to bring meaning and reason to the death of Canadian soldiers in a pointless war. So, we flash their names onto our legislative buildings, and praise them for their courage.

I do NOT doubt their courage. I doubt only those who continue to propagandize the 'need' for armed conflict and the death of young men and women who get caught up in feelings of patriotism.

War is primitive. It is neanderthal. Shame on those, in the modern era, who jump to war as a first option, without any attempts at alternate resolution.

With respect, Brother Dog, the "Proud Tradition of Pearsonian Peacekeeping" is no small part a bit of Liberal revisionism and mythmaking besed in the presumption that Canada's military history does not exist prior to Suez in 1956. The Vimy commemorations do point to real historical events which the Liberal mythology has tended to devalue.

While I won't disagree with your characterization of WWI, it is important to remember the significance of Vimy in our own national narrative (at least prior to the Pearson-Trudeau era. Canadians stormed and took a fortified position that had been successfully held against the more experienced and more "professional" soldiers of both France and Britain.

In World War II (a more justifiable venture, surely) Canadians forged a significant military reputation in places like Hong Kong, Ortona and especially Normandy. In part, the myth of Pearsonian Peacekeeping has displaced the little tidbit that it was a Saskatchewan unit - those "Farmer Johns" of the (not yet Royal) Regina Rifles who were the only Allied unit to achieve all their objectives on D-Day. Nor should we forget that Rommel frequently rearranged his deployments to put stronger divisions in the path of the Canadians due to their reputation of effective soldiery.

In fact, what made Canadian soldiers credible in the early peacekeeping missions was the effective reputation as warriors created on the Normandy beaches and elsewhere.

I believe you make a legitimate point about the present government's tendency to ignore the place of peacekeeping in our military history. But it is equally distorted to pretend that there is nothing else to our history besides.

The real war is Harper's war on Canada.

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