i am proud of my prime minister. I'm not used to this. But what Chretien has done as a Western world leader, by having the courage to say the obvious at this crucial time, leaves me deeply grateful. Of course, I do have one small follow-up request, but first let me say what I love. It's a sad fact -- in danger of getting sadder with each passing day -- that the homespun truths that Chretien uttered, both during the famous CBC interview and at the UN earlier this week, actually profoundly challenge the fundamental mindset that is justifying the world war machine.
Here is the new ideology underpinning Bush's post-9/11 posture. Americans and their allies are blameless victims of evil. To say otherwise is to desecrate the World Trade Center dead.
Stephen Harper is just one of many who has grabbed this tritely declared don't-blame-the-victim sentiment and run amuck with it. I'm sorry, but America's dead do not deserve to be conscripted into this twisted war game
Chretien was courageous enough to say that the Western world has to shoulder some responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in. He challenged the victimhood hypothesis. I thank him for that. Because it looks to me like self-righteous victimhood is turning the mother's milk of the world's children into blood.
Basically, the public relations of persecution demand that we sell ourselves on the idea we're blameless. This is true in personal interaction. "S/he had it coming" is a familiar refrain of abusive thinking. It's equally true for state violence and perpetrators of terrorism. It's a vicious circle.
Only the blameless can be perfect victims. And only perfect victims are allowed to persecute others blamelessly.
I hate to say it, but the masters of this highly successful debate-chilling mindset are the Israeli hawks. Netanyahu's undelivered Concordia speech is a breathtaking example. But Saddam is pretty good, too, at making the evil others responsible for all that is wrong. The irony is that the self-defined blameless do end up being real victims -- as the whole situation in the Middle East shows.
Unfortunately, this violent cycle is North America's fastest-growing import at the moment. Victimhood is actually a pattern that just keeps getting worse until it's broken. And the only way out is to hold oneself accountable. Chretien's remarks are exactly what we need.
Here is another daring point that Chretien made in his September 11 interview. Talking about people suffering the humiliation of poverty and domination, he said, "They are human beings, too, and there are long-term consequences if you don't look hard at that reality."
There it is. It sounds banal -- it is banal. Of course we're all human. But is the denial of our complicated humanness that lays the philosophical ground for the current madness in the world -- the modern-day resurrection of "evil" as the enemy.
Truth is, no matter what happens next, there are huge sums of money to be forked out in the world's flashpoints of violence. When we see others -- the Iraqis or the Palestinians, for example -- as human beings rather than national symbols of evil terrorism incarnate, we will choose to spend on complex solutions embedded in our common humanness. We will spend more money on social and economic infrastructure than on missiles and tanks. We will invest in legal frameworks and civil society.
The fact that all humans enter the world as helpless and dependent beings, who are deformed by loss and lack of care and attention, does not make for one-dimensional foreign policy solutions. But it is a fact. Not a sound-bite like the blow-'em-up simplicity of good vs. evil.
So here's my request, Mr. Chretien. When the U.S. or the UN come knocking on our door to support the coming war in Iraq -- let's say yes. We will spend all the money you are asking us to spend. But not a penny of it on weapons or personnel of mass or minor destruction. As you say, let's be there, instead, to build the schools and services that will break us out of the vicious trap of endless violence. That would be great. Thanks. email@example.com