Sunday, December 17, 2006

Worth dying for

stick around i got a hunch
we'll bomb this town and stop for lunch
and never, nevermind these awful cries
it's not as real if you don't look in their eyes

These are lyrics from Stabilo's song that I downloaded tonight.

I know why I'm restless. Before a flight, I almost always buy an armful of magazines and newspapers to read on the plane. Tonight, it seemed as though all of what I read stitched together in my mind. Here are the threads I'm weaving with:

Vanity Fair: article on neo-cons fingerpointing at the Bush administration now that Iraq is more than a quagmire.
Us Magazine's (my guilty pleasure) feature on holiday gifts that give back,
The Walrus - "Stars in Africa"
Globe & Mail - Christie Blatchford's weekend article about Shawn Denty, a Canadian soldier who with help from his family, friends and neighbours back home in Oakville, got medical equipment donated to a hospital in Kandahar City, Afghanistan.

First, on its own for a second, because I'm just so beside myself about this, I have to separate this from all other thoughts. US Magazine's feature on "Holiday gifts that give back" includes a US $2,600 Gucci hobo bag that gives 20% of sales to UNICEF-run programs in Mozambique.

Never-mind whether it's 20% of gross or net sales. I just can't help but see it as shockingly crass. Anger-making crass. In another blog entry, I want to rant about this more but I'll move on.

This article in The Walrus spoke about how Oxfam has a staff position for "Artiste liaison manager" responsible for reaching out to potential celebrity spokespeople. It also spoke about a book called "Compassion Fatigue," the title (for these purposes) says it all.

Vanity Fair's Iraq article made me think back to the failure of Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia (aka "Blackhawk down") which made me think back to the days that Republicans said that the US has no business in the business of nation building. The loss of US lives in Somalia weakened the voting public's will to support these kinds of interventions. Clinton thought there was not enough political support at home to intervene in the Rwandan genocide.

Then, I came into my hotel room and logged on to the BBC website and read a debate about what to do about Darfur. It bears noting that I accessed this link to the debate because I had originally clicked on an article about what George Clooney had to say about Darfur. It's from there that I linked in to the debate. And, you know: on one level, there you go. Clooney helped me click through. And when I clicked through, I read the Debate. So there.

But then, when I click through and I read the Debate, I think back to the neocon article. The one where a bunch of intellectuals talk candidly about the failure of the war in Iraq, a war that they all famously advocated for. The glossy pictures of these individuals all giving their best "ponder pose" that accompany their finger-pointing and deflections really does give weight to the ol' "a picture is worth a thousand words."

The connection between the debate about what to do in Darfur and the Vanity Fair article is this: There is no way that the US, or Canada (with its mission in Afghanistan) is going to send peacekeeping troops into Darfur. And a UN peacekeeping force is what's needed.

What is needed to stop the violence in Darfur is for the lives of each UN soldier to be equal to that of each innocent man, woman and child in Darfur. All life is equal in the world except in politics.

This is my new campaign idea: Give soldiers something worth dying for. If we want to end the genocide in Darfur, we must be willing to pay with our soldiers lives. It's just that I can't see any Canadian or US politician being so bold as to say so. Incidentally, I think that a Canadian military presence in Afghanistan is worthy and so this "war worth fighting for" is specifically talking about Iraq.

But are you willing to support the politicians who propose they send your country's soldiers in to intervene, knowing that any foreign troops will be treated by the government of Sudan as hostile invaders? Are you willing to risk the lives of our soldiers to save the lives of their men and women and children.

It's 4:12am now. A busy week ahead of me here in Toronto.

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