Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Richard Gwyn's muddled forgetfullness

I don't normally use this blog to comment on non-Toronto issues - but I found Toronto Star columnist Richard Gwyn's recent effort especially troubling.

Given that the US election is today, I've decided to make an exception.

In his column:

TheStar.com - U.S. choice: Visionary or isolationist?

Gwyn does actually make some valid points:

1. That should Kerry win the election, only to find his overtures to countries such as France, Germany and Canada spurned, this will prove Bush correct. I have the latter (contingent) point as 8-1 odds on.

2. That the UN is a largely ineffective and often corrupt. Gywn - perhaps because he doesn't wish to upset the sensibilities of the average mindless left-wing Canadian UN lover - is way too kind.

However, as a whole, the column hoists itself by it's own petard.

Gwyn sets up two views of America - one being:

creative, generous, daring, visionary. It is exuberantly, at times naïvely, optimistic. It's the America that has been called, "the last, best hope of the world."

and the other one of :

...spurning of the rules of international law, from the jailing of prisoners without trial at Guantanamo, Cuba, to their torturing in Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq; to the racial profiling of tourists and visitors; by its commitment to the doctrine of a "preventive" attack on any country that might, perhaps, possibly, one day threaten it; and to the doctrine that "either you are with us, or you are against us," this America is the alternative candidate in this election

Gywn states that neither presidential candidiate embodies either of these two supposed 'sides' of the American nation - yet then states that 'this is what Tuesday's election is all about'!

Gwyn imbues the Kerry camp with a shiny crown adorned by vision and optimism, while according the Bush camp with the thorny crown of suspicion and isolationism. The problem here is that the isolationist forces in the US - on both the military side and the economic protectionism side - seem to line up squarely behind Senator Kerry. In other words, Gwyn has the picture completely reversed.

It is the Bush administration that has demonstrated vision and optimism - and perhaps naivete - in attempting to establish democracy in Iraq. It is the Bush administration that has attempted to help the UN retain any sense of meaning by delivering meaningful consequences to back Security Council resolutions.

It's true that the US has taken an awful black-eye by going ahead without the support of the likes of France and Germany. However, it was already taking a black eye for the UN embargo on Iraq - purportedly one of the 'reasons' behind the attacks on the WTC. Remember all the rhetoric about 'US sanctions' killing 500,000 Iraqi children.

Well - this morning, under cover of the election glare, the Sudanese Army and police have surrounded the refugee camps Darfur. God only knows what will happen next. Should the worst occur, perhaps at least the morally bankrupt leaders of France and Germany will at least begin to think.

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