students constructing culture
CANADA AT WAR 80% 1.5 BWR ND 7-25274-86121-7 04
Winter â€˜07 04
Afghanistan. Iraq. Soldiers. Citizens. Money. Anti-War Movement. Violence. Peace.
Canada at War
â€œWar does not determine who is right - only who is left.â€? -Bertrand Russell
Canada at War. A Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publication 75 University Avenue West Waterloo, On. N2L 3C5 519 884 0710 ext. 2738 519 883 0873 (fax) firstname.lastname@example.org Editor In Chief Alex Hundert Managing Editor Mary Erskine Art & Design Coordinator Kara hagedorn Distribution Manager Jacob Pries Associate Editors Josh Smyth Global Mark Ciesluck Local Daniel Guillemette Trends, Culture, Counterculture Ryan bolton Literary Contributors Ryan Bolton, Jackie Boyce, Mark Ciesluck, Rob Elliot, Shane Fallowfield, Jesse Freeston, Matt Given, Kelly Grevers, alex Hundert, Jacob Pries, JoSh Smyth, Igor Valentic, Phil wolters
War is bad. We all know that. War is one of the worst things that could possibly happen to a country: death, destruction and misery. War is fucking awful. As Canadians, we have very little first hand knowledge of this... war has never happened to us, at least not in the modern era. We have brought war to other peoples; justified in the case of our invasion of Europe in WWII, not so when we backed the American Imperial Project in the Korean War. Blueprint Magazine believes that the current war being fought in Afghanistan is of the second kind; supporting the American Imperial Project. And while our government denies this, the Americans thank us profusely for our assistance. War is bad. That’s why as Canadians, we fashion ourselves as peacekeepers instead of warriors. But in truth, our country has fewer than 60 deployed UN peacekeepers. In fact, we have more civilian contractors and RCMP officers in Iraq than we do peacekeepers worldwide. Canadian peacekeepers faced abject failure in Rwanda and provided security for blue beret death squads in Haiti. If peacekeeping is our solution to war, we need to be much better at it. War is bad. The war in Afghanistan is no exception. No war is. None are righteous, but some are necessary. War in Afghanistan is not necessary. They are no threat to us. And while the Taliban were a terribly repressive regime, that cannot justify invading and occupying their country for over 5 years. The notion of reconstruction is a noble one, but the thought that it can be accomplished by soldiers is a fantasy. Also, it’s not up to us to rebuild Afghanistan... it is however in our interest. It is in the interest of the American Imperial Project that Western influence be paramount in the reconstruction of nations in the “Muslim World.” War is bad. As Canadian citizens we urgently need to rethink our understandings of wars and the war machine, to re-examine our nation’s role in the world, and to reconsider the role of our military. We need to get out of Afghanistan. We need to. - alex hundert. Editor-in-Chief
WLUSP Administration President Fraser McCracken VP Advertising Anglea Foster VP Brantford Paige Desmond Chair, BOD Keren Gottfried Vice Chair, BOD Arthur Wong Directors Rafiq Andani Penny Shearer
Please send letters and submissions to Alex.Hundert@wlusp.com
Global A Conservative Voice by Rob Elliot............................................................................................Page 4 The Real Afghanistan by Josh Smyth....................................................................................Pages 5-6 Local War Reconstruction Lecture Series: A Starting Point by Ryan Bolton..........................................Page 7 Personal Reflections on National ‘Heros’ by Phil Walters............................................................Page 9 All We Are Saying is Give Peace a Chance by Jacob Pries.............................................................Page 9 Trends, Culture, Counterculture The Calm Outside The Storm by Jesse Freeston...........................................................................Page 11 Art & Idea by Matt Given..........................................................................................................Page 13 Literary Collapse by Igor Valentic...........................................................................................................Page 14 War Against Ourselves by Jackie Boyce......................................................................................Page 15 Apathy, Autocracy by Kelly Grevers.............................................................................................Page 16 Drafts by Shane Fallowfield........................................................................................................Page 17 More Photo contest details.....................................................................................www.BlueprintMagazine.ca
Global A Conservative Voice Rob Elliot In October 2001, one month after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Canada deployed a naval task force to the Persian Gulf. Ever since then, Canada has played a key role in fighting the Taliban in the war torn country of Afghanistan. In July of last year Canadian forces took a major leadership role in the southern part of the country. The NATO-led operation in this region included 2,200 Canadians deployed around Kandahar. In May 2006, the Conservative government led the House of Commons in extending Canada’s role in the country for two more years; this decision is still met with some opposition. The opposition comes from those who would have Canadians support our troops, but not the mission. This objection to Canada’s foreign mission is to say that what we are doing in Afghanistan doesn’t matter. After years of Taliban rule and oppression of the Afghan people, they are finally able to live their lives without fear or persecution. Our men and women in the field are contributing to the development of an Afghanistan with infrastructure and stability. Unfortunately, along the way towards the goal we set out in 2001, there have been casualties. Even today as our forces fight the Taliban in their last stronghold, these continue.
This, however, does not change the legitimacy or the value of the mission. The commitment made by the Liberal government to the people of Afghanistan was not to turn and run when a certain amount of committed, young Canadians died. These Canadians who are risking their lives are doing so for something they
believe in. They are making a real, visible difference and they know that they are there for the right reasons. The important thing to remember when you are considering protesting our place in the Middle East is that this mission is not about cozying up to the United States; it is about liberating a people. We have a responsibility to be a world leader in fighting the evils brought by oppression of the innocent. There is a whole world filled with these evils. Right now we are fighting in Afghanistan, and proving to be committed not for ourselves and our personal interests, but for a better world for everyone.
As I write this opinion piece I take comfort in the fact that there is currently an all-party contingent in Afghanistan witnessing the re-construction process and just how much the things our troops are doing matter. There can be little legitimate opposition to our role on the world stage, as not an enforcer of our own culture and values but as a liberator. We must continue to contribute where we care. I am glad to say that I care and I am proud to know that there are men and women over there, flying our flag who also care. I encourage those who oppose our current place in the world and in the Middle East to abandon their attempts to transform public opinion about this mission. Even when times get tough, we need to be strong and united, for when the insurgents in Afghanistan break our spirits, our resolve and our commitment win. Even if I have to go to the nearest recruiter and sign myself up, I cannot let them win, and I hope you won’t either. I want to thank our troops for their bravery, our Conservative government for their commitment and you, the Canadian public, for your concern. Please wear red every Friday to show your support for our troops. Thank you.
5 - GLOBAL
The Real Afghanistan Josh Smyth, Editor For the first time in two generations, Canada is at war. The 2500-odd pairs of Canadian boots pounding the dust in Afghanistan aren’t there to separate old enemies or protect a fragile peace. Canada is in Afghanistan to fight a long, dirty, and brutal counterinsurgency campaign against a diverse group of factions, men only united under the label of “Taliban” when they are too dead to argue the point. Canada is at war, but what do we know of it on the home front? Mainstream war coverage is so jingoistic as to verge on the pornographic. The “support our troops” bumper stickers have started to appear – a statement that, without a question mark attached, offends every democratic tradition our nation stands for. Should we support our troops? This isn’t a matter of patriotism, rhetoric, or tradition. This is a judgment between two competing stories of life on the ground, half a planet away. The first story is one familiar to anyone reading the papers. Canadian troops as heroic defenders of the embattled democratic Afghanistan, risking their lives to protect the freedoms of innocent Afghans against the foul Taliban. Attached to this story are countless photos of heavily armored Canadian troops ambling through villages, passing out sweets and sitting cross-legged with tribal elders. The Afghan state being defended is an oasis of empowered women, enlightened human rights, religious toleration, and resistance to the dominance of the drug trade. Our soldiers have taken up the role of “armed social workers,” jacks-of-all-trades equally comfortable hunting down Taliban and digging wells. There is a bellicose element to this story, too – Canadian soldiers as avengers of the dead of September 11th, as stalwart allies of
our American brothers, as a small nation punching above its weight on the world stage. It is this first story that tingles the testicles of flabby Canadian parliamentarians. It is this story that is fed to the soldiers packed into planes and sent off to patrol the poppy fields. This is not, though, the story written on the bullets we put into Afghan brains or on the shrapnel shredding Canadian limbs. That is the tragedy of this war: that our troops are dying and killing for a lie. The real picture of the Afghan War is far more sobering. It has much more in common with the dirty war in Colombia than with the beaches of Normandy. Canada is indeed shouldering more than its share of the burden – but that burden is a war fought at the behest of American expediency, not human rights. Canada has sold its soul for a bit of international prestige with which to puff up our collective chests. The first face of the real war in Afghanistan is the government we are defending. Canadian soldiers, firstly, are based in Kandahar. Like all of Afghanistan outside of the
capital of Kabul, the central government has almost no meaning here. The governor, Asidullah Khalid, is a man chosen by his friendliness to American leaders; without the ISAF to hold the province, he would be unlikely to live another week. Optimists would note, of course, that a democratically elected government appointed him. Ascribing too much worth to the democratic credentials of the Kabul regime, though, is dangerous. As Human Rights Watch notes, “the turnout was only 36% of registered voters.” More to the point, the same report makes the point that many of the winners of the election are warlords who have been implicated in gross humanrights abuses, and at least one is a Taliban governor who “arranged” his own election at gunpoint. This is the government for which we fight. The American invasion exchanged a bunch of violent religious fanatics for a group of equally violent warlords who find the democratic process a convenient way of consolidating their power. Progress. (continued on page 6)
GLOBAL - 6
(continued from page 5) On the other side of who we are fighting for, of course, is who we are fighting against – and how we fight them. The term “Taliban” is far too vague a label to have any real meaning. There certainly large numbers of resistance fighters associated with the formal Taliban regime, but there are also myriad other groups involved. Fundamentalist Afghans unassociated with the Taliban, Pashtun tribesmen, smugglers and criminals, international Jihadis. More ominously, though, there are growing numbers of fighters recruited as a direct result of our tactics. Afghanistan, more than any other nation on Earth, is a narco-state. 50% of Afghan GDP comes from opium poppies. This is no fault of the Afghans – poppies are the only thing between them and starvation. It’s no wonder, though, that when our troops destroy their crops, they are driven into the arms of the resistance. As with any other war zone, creating reams of unemployed, angry young men is a recipe for disaster. This policy is largely an American one, but let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that one white man with a gun is
easily distinguished from another. The Afghans certainly have no reason to; Canadian troops are just as brutal as the Americans, and we have a regular practice of tossing our prisoners into the black hole of Guantanamo. This is how we fight. Why we fight is another question. If human rights were really an overriding concern, there would be Canadian boots down in Darfur, not to mention a dozen other vicious conflicts. Nor are we in Afghanistan for our own security; indeed, by throwing in our lot with the Americans, we have made Canada a real target for the first time. The only plausible reason here are much more cynical: our desire, as a nation, to curry favor with the Americans by fighting wars against nouns – “terror” and “drugs”. This is Afghanistan. This is the war that Canada refuses to look in the eye. As long as we persist in maintaining our sickly idealistic view of the conflict, we dishonor both the men and women who fight, and the men and women whom they kill. Democracy, freedom, and prosperity cannot be given to the Afghan people by force. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we stop this madness.
Local War Reconstruction Lecture Series: A Starting Point Ryan Bolton, Literary Editor Last Friday, Wilfrid Laurier University held a speaker series with numerous prominent specialists on a given topic. A topic that the media has been quotidianly riddled within the last few years: Iraq and Afghanistan. Accordingly, the lectures purported to question the effectiveness, reasoning, and possible consequences of Canada’s role in reconstructing these war-torn societies. Arguing that the media strictly reports on militaristic actions and war fatalities, the series sought to bring the socio-cultural and psychological impact on these societies to the light. The series, verbosely entitled, “State and Nation Building in the Twenty-first Century: Problems and Prospects for Canadian Involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan” conjured many imperative notions and sound research, yet overall missed the mark on any substantially conclusive proposals. Presented in two separate panels, each roughly two hours long, the lectures attempted to unearth plausible notions for reconstruction in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The opening panel, “Afghanistan,” was spearheaded by three specialized academics: Cheshmak FarhoumandSims of Saint Paul University, Jean Daudelin of Carleton University, and Geoffrey Hayes of the University of Waterloo lectured respectively. Cheshmak FarhoumandSims, a peace researcher, presented her adamant views on the importance of women as an integral part of any given society. With special
emphasis on the Made in K-W relationship between the protection Colt Canada (formerly Diemaco Systems), with factory and of women’s rights headquarters in Kitchener, produces the C-7 assault rifle. The C-7 and peace buildis standard equipment for the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan and ing in conflict zones, elsewhere, as well as several foreign armies. A gun made just a few such as Afghanistan, kilometres from Wilfrid Laurier fires the vast majority of bullets which she visited in fired by Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Are you okay with that? 2003, FarhoumandSims’ lecture was steeped in research Give them a call! and pertinent facts. Colt Canada Corporation She often alluded to 1036 Wilson Avenue, Kitchener, data such as AfghaniOntario, N2C 1J3 stan being the fourth Tel: 519-893-6840 poorest country in the world and that the country; therefore noting that 80% of Afghan women are illiterate. his knowledge simply comes from On the whole, Farhoumand-Sims’ his research. Sticking to the topic arguments as to the reconstruction at hand, state building, Daudelin of Afghanistan are nicely summed made numerous contentious claims up in her assertion that, “There can throughout his lecture. For instance, never be peace in Afghanistan, until according to Daudelin, state buildmen and women are equal.” While a ing is like organized crime as “States strong claim, it is difficult to eloare not built by nice people” but by quently support as the first step in warlords. Furthermore, Daudelin the reconstruction of a dilapidated argued that opium cultivation is country. “fantastic for peasant farmers,” beFollowing Farhoumandlieving that this should be supportSims’ lecture, Jean Daudelin presented his paper, “Dangerously Ambitious?” He begen his lecture with a disclaimer that he does not speak Pashtu or Dari (Afghanistan’s two official languages)
(continued from page 7) should be supported, not fought against. Daudelin’s central argument, quite provocative in relation to his colleagues’, was that, “it doesn’t make sense to build [a strong Afghan state], because there aren’t resources to sustain it.” Daudelin continued that the Afghan State will collapse when troops pull out because Afghanistan is unsustainable. Possibly a cynical viewpoint, yet feasible nonetheless. Geoffrey Hayes, co-editor of Afghanistan: Transition under Threat, provided a thorough look to the past in following Canadian foreign policy in Afghanistan. Seeing that Canada has changed its role at least three times in Afghanistan since 2001, and arguing that of late, especially in the summer and fall of 2006, that the Canadian military has been amazingly successful. Other than giving a systematic account of recent research, Hayes lacked any bold claims towards Canada’s reconstructive role in Afghanistan, but merely noted that, “you need boots on the ground to get some of these things done.” Hayes believes that in the short run, Canada will still be involved in Afghanistan, missing a sufficient standpoint in how reconstruction should be handled. The second panel, titled “Iraq,” was headed by two foreign affairs pundits: Tareq Ismail of the University of Calgary and Sarah Meharg of Pearson Peacekeeping Centre and the Royal Military College of Canada. Ismail, a native of Iraq, began his lecture outlining several myths about his home country. Arguing that Iraq is a historical and
geographical state, dealing with more religious and cultural divides than just Shiites and Sunni, and that we have forgotten that America brought Saddam Hussein to power, Ismail made his indignation towards Hussein quite apparent. Ismail eloquently described the dire situation in Iraq as being a function of the destruction of a majority of the country’s infrastructure, specifically referring to the fact that there are currently no functioning universities in Iraq. In his conclusion, Ismail quipped that President George Bush should read the ancient text, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and believes that the U.S. cannot just walk away from
Iraq forfeiting all economic means. Albeit, full of personal anecdotes and statistics such as America spending approximately $1.3 trillion in Iraq before the end of the war, Ismail lacked any argument towards Canada’s potential role within Iraq, or any possible solutions to the complex issue for that matter. Sarah Meharg, a leading post-conflict reconstruction theorist, presented her lecture, “The
Dark Side of Reconstruction: Iraq and Other Forgotten Places.” Overall, Meharg outlined the evolution of reconstruction since WWI, gave numerous examples of reconstruction, proposed Canada’s potential role in the reconstruction of Iraq, and concluded in describing emerging trends in reconstruction. Meharg stressed the psycho-social and cultural impact that reconstruction has on the people, seeing that this is typically left out by the media. Meharg also made the provocative claim that there is an apparent connection between destruction and reconstruction in Iraq. For instance, Meharg described a situation in which a pilot bombed a building knowing his brother would be contracted to reconstruct. In arguing that she takes a non-political stance, Meharg concluded, “Canada has a role to play [in Iraq], but it’s not in the military.” After the final lecture, moderator Brent Sasley of Wilfrid Laurier stated that the means behind this speaker series was to create some dialogue about Canadian foreign policy--which undeniably, the series did produce. However, albeit some contentious claims were presented, on the whole, no conclusive arguments were made in relation to where Canadian foreign policy should be heading in the near future. Seemingly, explicitly provocative statements were too risqué in creating dialogue about current Canadian foreign affairs. Thus, making it quite difficult to ascertain any decisive notions or propositions on what rightly needs to be done in these two greatly calamitous countries.
9 - LOCAL
Personal Reflections On National ‘Heroes’ Phil Wolters So I was watching the Leaf game this Saturday, and before the game there was a ceremony honouring Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. My first reaction was the ridiculously selfish one that always hits me when someone is honoured before a game. It was the old, “hurry it up so we can watch some hockey already” reaction. In this case, it was quickly followed by a sense of shame for reacting that way. After all, what’s five minutes to recognize the work our troops are doing in Afghanistan compared to the 45 minute epic honouring Steve Yzerman? Surely our proud and noble soldiers deserve some recognition for the way they’re putting their lives on the line to represent us overseas. Right? Right. But the five minutes before the game isn’t the heart of the issue here, it’s just a recent symptom. The issue is the glorification of war through the image of the brave and noble soldier risking it all for the well-being of his or her country. Or for freedom. Or for democracy. Or for any number of idealized notions that we never really stop to consider. We preach against war and against going to war for any but the most urgent reasons, yet at the same time we glorify the soldier and the act of being a soldier, emphasizing the nobility and heroism of those men and women. And somehow we never notice that these things are at odds with each other. I come from Trenton, Ontario, which is home to CFB Trenton, one of the largest air bases in the country.
Living in this town means being confronted with the humanity of our soldiers on a daily basis. My experience with Canadian soldiers includes people in uniform standing in line at the grocery store and guys at the pub talking about how they want to go to Afghanistan right now because danger pay is so high. It’s sometimes very hard to reconcile their everyday experiences with the image of the noble, self-sacrificing soldier. This is where it gets tricky. This is where the temptation lies, for me, to say, “These are just regular people who happened to end up in the military. At least some of them want to go to Afghanistan. And, while we’re on the subject, that mission may or may not actually be doing any good. What’s noble or heroic about any of that?” But of course that’s every bit as short-sighted as blind acceptance of the noble ideal is. These people really are representing our country overseas, and they really are putting their lives at risk to do so. And that action, in and of itself, is noble. So what do we think? How do we reconcile the idea of the noble soldier with the images of soldiers in their everyday lives? How do we recognize the sacrifices they make without creating a romanticized ideal? Can we?
All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance! Jacob Pries Security, stability, freedom, democracy, and equality; it is for these reasons we are currently fighting insurgents in Afghanistan. That is the rationale we are being given for fighting this dirty war. Unfortunately, these goals are not compatible with war and they cannot, and will not, result from using C-7 assault rifles. This war is supposed
to be a solution, but it solves nothing. It simply escalates and exacerbates an already dire situation. Unlike the role which Canada has historically played, today we are not trying to de-escalate. In fact, we are killing people in their homes, while they sleep. We are butchering people because they don’t agree with being occupied.
(continued from page 10) This is not the Canada that I want to see. This is not the Canada that most people think exists. But it is the Canada that we have. We spend $4.146 billion a year fighting our war in Afghanistan, basically to blow shit up. Yet we can barely scrape together 0.3% of our GDP for Official Development Assistance (ODA), this despite having the declared objective of 0.7%, the UN target. Instead, we are spending all that money to build things that are intended to destroy. Although we are not alone -- globally roughly $1 trillion a year is spent on armed forces and only $60 billion on aid. It is just an example of our current priorities; priorities that are in dire need of reform. Just think about all we could do for human security, that thing we are trying to impose on Afghanistan, if we spent the trillion dollars on peace building and peace making. Instead of people investing in companies who profit from creating technologies used to kill people, we could invest in mak-
ing peopleâ€™s lives better. Instead of fostering a culture of war, we could be building a culture of peace. Fortunately for us there is something we can do. We are fortunate because we live in Canada, which is one of the wealthiest places in the world; especially in terms of education, equality, justice, freedom, as well as in resource and material wealth. Waterloo in particular has been named one of the worldâ€™s most intelligent cities and Wilfrid Laurier is one of the reasons we have attained this distinction, yet as individuals and as a school we do not give ourselves the credit we deserve. Even though it may not seem to be the case, we have an incredible amount of power and influence. We can influence our internationally renowned community to press for changes. We can figure out solutions, we can insist on a new approach. We have an amazing opportunity to invest the wealth we are squandering, to help create a culture that celebrates, promotes, and fosters peace in practice, not just in
theory, because these injustices will not disappear otherwise. The fact stands, that peace will only be achieved when we actively work towards it rather than against it. Our freedom and wealth affords us the opportunity to be active. There are blank canvases everywhere, waiting for you to act, to let your voice ring out over the silent mass. So, ask questions and start discussion; with your professors, with your friends, with your community leaders. Discuss. Dissect. Learn. Unlearn. Find people who are interested and run with it. Spread the word. Let that knowledge that has been building up explode forth. Plant seeds, drop questions, be critical, write--because the more you write, the more it grows. The ripples will go farther than you can imagine. I know it has happened to me. They have come bouncing back with such energy and enthusiasm that I have been spurred on to see if we can make a bigger splash. Because why the fuck not, what have we got to lose?
Trends, Culture, Counterculture The Calm Outside the Storm Jesse Freeston
We in North America are currently engaged in two hostile invasions of foreign countries and many of us could successfully go weeks on end without discussing these events. My goal here is not to argue over the morality of these invasions, but rather to uncover the root source of the shortage of civilian evaluation. In the conflicts of past generations, such as World War II, citizens who were not actively engaged in combat were called upon to forfeit their self-interests and endure significant material sacrifices to help in the war effort, in effect investing in the mission. Furthermore, with almost 10% of Canadians serving militarily throughout the war, every Canadian had close friends or family members in the line of fire. The result was a home front where individuals were required to consistently confront the reasoning behind Canada’s involvement and the accompanying ethical concerns that inevitably arise when one ponders supporting the killing of strangers on foreign soil. Our forces killed mercilessly, but did so with the knowledge that there was a nation behind them. A nation who, by agreeing to ration food and fuel, had agreed with our government that the past actions and future ambitions of the Third Reich warranted our full display of force. Do our forces enjoy
a similar mandate and clarity of purpose today? While we like to hold up our nonparticipation in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a distinctly Canadian rebuke of that invasion, Canada is certainly not in any coalition of the un-willing. Paul Cellucci, the former US ambassador to Canada, admitted in 2003 that “Ironically, the Canadians indirectly provide more support for us in Iraq than most of those 46 countries that are fully supporting us.” Besides the indirect assistance we have provided in forms such as Persian Gulf naval blockades and military planning consultants (best to leave that off one’s résumé), some of our most cherished icons have sided with violence. How could we forget the unflinching support that esteemed international relations experts Don Cherry and Wayne Gretzky offered for the operation in 2003? After all, they represent a majority of the living members of the CBC’s Ten Greatest Canadians, which Canadians voted for in 2004. In a sense, that could be spun as a form of democratic Canadian approval for the invasion of Iraq. In case you are wondering, David Suzuki is the only other living member, but since when have we cared what he has to say. Celebrity opinions aside, Canadians have cooperated in the invasions of Iraq, and indeed Afghanistan,
through our silence. So, it follows that if Canadians are not crashing down the doors of parliament to put a stop to these campaigns then they must be supportive of them. Could there be another explanation for the indifference the average Canadian shows toward our involvement? I believe there is. We could learn a lot about our apathetic approach to Canada’s involvement in these wars by comparing the discrepancies between generations. War today is fought in a much different fashion than it was back in the 1940s. In sharp contrast to the Canada of WWII there is no longer such a thing as a war at home. Our lives continue undeterred by the acts of violence that are being carried out under a blood-red maple leaf. Furthermore, just under 10,000 Canadian troops have made the ominous trip overseas since the first wave of troops landed back in February of 2002. This represents roughly 0.0003% of our current population, meaning that most Canadians do not have a close relationship with anyone in combat. This is in stark contrast to the 10% participation observed in WWII. Modern warfare is not troop-intensive in the way it used to be, nor does it demand sacrifices from the remaining civilian population like it once did,
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(Continued from page 11) and I am not here criticizing these developments. However, the price that the targeted country pays has not been reduced in turn. Civilian casualties have become far more common than enemy combatant casualties, bringing the use of euphemisms like ‘pacification’ and ‘collateral damage’ to the brink of redundancy. In Iraq, civilian casualties are now estimated to be in the
neighbourhood of 700,000. Furthermore, the destruction of civilian infrastructure remains a central tactic of any invading force, helping to incite civil war like the one being waged in Iraq today. All this means that although modern engagement has made war relatively unnoticeable from the home front, it is still just as horrific for those whose homes happen to lie on the battlefield. My point here is not that our government should return to food rationing or bring back the draft in order to re-engage our individual self interest in war. I am arguing that since the repercussions of our contribution are as ghastly as ever,
our obligation to remain informed has remained equally consistent. While it is disheartening to force oneself to read statistics and personal accounts that attempt to reflect the bleak reality on the ground, we must do so. If we woke up every morning under the specter of possible Nazi Germany rule, it would be much easier to support an inevitable military campaign to stop that from materializing. However, neither the governments of Iraq or Afghanistan, despite their clear flaws, had imperialist ambitions. In fact, the Taliban never even secured control of all of Afghanistan. If every Canadian routinely evaluated the consequences
13-TRENDS, CULTURE, COUNTERCULTURE
Art & Idea Matt Given
Igor Valentic Left. She wrote: take me out tonight. Left. She said: fuck me tonight. Left, right… She wrote: you never write. Left. Scene (set the tone): sand-mist and tied-down tide mornings blood-splattered and spilt like me (or you) on a television nightmare; night-vision green with severed limbs and bombs, guns, tanks and 1942 all over again. And then: voiceover narration (like your Hollywoodfucked movie about everything all pretty-slushed and fucked and catering to your every need like blowjobs on fuck-all missions nowhere). But we’re talking about my scene. My scene: my sand-tide dawn, my crime, my story. Like this (that) happened to you (happened to me) like some object-dark writhe of agony-splashed humanity tight-gripped in tears and horror like Eastern front trenches lined with mud and flesh – something like a horror-dirt playground all mine-mimed in these (our) red-mist dreams of scope and shot like a 1914 Christmas all death-wrapped in children and angels like the memory of a father’s war. Something like guns and god in a desert spelling an ending like a story never ever forever now then and over again and again like an empty notebook love-story about you (or me) like dust-parades marching for nothing now – marching for nothing forever. Until our roofs cave in. Until the lights go out. Until these (our) screams drown out my tomorrowthought thoughts like those forget-it lyric-poems placefucked in zonal confrontation like my (your) preachers preachment preaching forgiveness like1969 deception and survival on a battle-front horror-parade like Christian Fascism or Islamic Fundamentalism all combatwrapped in retail-priced pennies of limb and sorrow like my nightmare blood-red screams of slaughter; all those (my) feelings betraying the you in the me in the you. In your head. We are crashing. Something like reptilian paradises all casino-mired
and spewing hate and love like the heralded hierarchical devastation of Amerika© dreams all trick-wrapped in wars clad in verbal discrepancies speak-lying about drugs and terror instead of chemically-fucked fat-food made from maternal breast-milk like translation is supposed to mean something, like condoned starvation principles (face-fucking us from afar) is supposed to mean something; like post-emotional television riots stealing our souls so silently, like a suck-fest parade marching itself dry on dirt-messed (point-black) mistquestion disasters like our (very own) suicidal denial of carbon-monoxide infestations suffocating our packaged and protected mini-worlds of deceit (and slow death). Picture me all sad and dying in your world; except sand instead of snow and red instead of white. And so impure – like disease, like infection – our misery silently scurrying in quick-shuffled boot-steps across sand and tide like we’re meant to achieve something today – so we can fail (again) tomorrow; like flag and country or god and allegiance; like everything ends up being about slaves (bleeding blood with no hope or salvation) painting deserts red like the words of (our) fore-fathered wars (now) so unwarned. Something like a slow-motion collage of wasted (and wasting) beer-binged memories (or nightmares) convincing me (and you) that artillery decapitation was a painting about guts and god and guns all wrapped up in governmental glory like all the simple things we forget – the simple things that keep us alive. But maybe, we pray, the children are sleeping. And maybe, we pray, the children stay sleeping. Like anymore, our sadness everywhere. Something dead and drying holed up in the darkened hell of this (our) own abysmal misfortune mirroring our souls like all those television tears we never dare cry – never dare feel. But anymore, like always, it’s the chopped-out cut of a helicopter that silences a battle-dying army – stealing this the breath of my last breath. Like the time a dying army shivered off a battlefield to die at home; like retribution and forgiveness distorted in godly nightmares that were supposed to give us something – give us anything. Like this (our) shit-sad day of loss reminding us of these (our) sad-shit days withering away over and over again in loss after loss; like loss of soul; like loss of feeling; like this (our) emptiness reminding us of our emptiness then and our emptiness now, our dread now like our dread then, our cities dying at home like our cit-
15 - LITERARY
ies dying away; something like crying and dying, like the dying now and the crying then, the crying now and the dying then, the tears now, the deaths then; the deaths then, the tears now – and what’s the difference; everything like no escape from this all-consuming, ravaging monotony strangling our vocabulary like fear-mongering Evangelical television priests selling our souls for pennies on Christmas like white lights on a red night all trap-wrapped in the dream of a red-mist point-blank shot erasing the graphic-silhouette outline of a child in the black-and-grey rain’s fall. Like this (our) downfall. Left. She wrote: I’m fucking someone else. Left. She said: you should have taken me out. Left, right… She wrote: you never write. Left. Like storming beaches in the words of a father’s stained memory plaguing my living-room-trapped nightmares that echo his father’s cold-morning alcoholism, mirroring these (my) cold (so cold) shivered shouts. Like pain is repeated history. But war, for me, is (nothing) but horror transfixed in cyclically retributive boredom masquerading as restoratively scheduled masturbation; something fuckmarked in a locket of ‘hurt-and-love’ all wrapped up in the pain of a shivering, homeless, mass execution like a 1953 Amerikan© parade pack-fucking its way through these (our) Nazi ghettos like time-honored misdemeanors drowned in confetti shit-storms self-sucking themselves in the celebration of flag-waving (god-spewing) bullshit manifesting truth out of lies as our eyes stray stick-glued to mass-medium stupidity like plague and infection is a book about god, or belief, or whatever. But this was never about you or me or about how we feel. This was never about god – or war. Something like wet-sand backyard Barbie-doll graveyards haunt-fucking us like wish-empty dreams about pacifistic racism held at a belt’s length like a tortured sparrow; my metaphor for the memory of a memory of a memory like this storybook ending (now) ending with nothing but diseased malfunction like kids loaded on guns and drugs march-marching me down like i’m supposed to feel something (right about now) but the red-mist poof of a scope-shouted shot rings the end of my humanity like paranoia on a (night-dark) warm-winter morning shivered cold and ended bright-
War Against Ourselves Jackie Boyce
I’ve never seen a bomb drop. I’ve never felt genuine hunger. I’ve never had to walk until my feet bled. I’ve never seen a bullet hit a body. I’ve never physically pulled a trigger on a gun or witnessed the blood empty
right in a rains fallen finish like a flood drowning a city like unheeded fore-fathered warnings unwarned – like kneeling in sand, choking past empty prayers through sand-spat words like mind-fucked sorrow-songs trapped in the chaos of dust-heaved blood-coughs. Like a killer whale orca monster tracking me down on an oil shoreline. Left. She wrote: he fucks me harder. Left. She said: I hope you fucking die. Left, right… She wrote: you never write… Left. And so anger. And so confusion. And then cue my climax. Like we’re moving in. Like we’re in position. Like we engage. Breathe in, breathe out, count one-two (break) three and fire. Hit. Hit. Shift. Relocate. Retarget. Hold. Breathe-breathe, count one-two and three hit. Hit. Bang-bang, breathe-breathe, kill-kill. Red-mist ending after red-mist ending shaking over me like a tear breathing down my cheek – like a shiver silencing my (empty-sold soulless) spine. Like you feel the lack of god. Like the shift of a shiver of a shrug. Bodies emptying, retreating; everything ended like the echo of a helicopter’s whisper. Like that’s the end. We’re out. Everyone’s dead. And then epilogue: the end of my life. And no one notices. Like a kid pulling a trigger back. Kids killing kids, over and over again. So Goodbye. The forecast is gloom and doom and 1967. Or 91 flooding back into 89 or 83 or shifting back up to 93 or drowning in 01 and 03 and so forth and so forth. And we pray – we pray so hard – that the children are sleeping. Like no wonder my life just ended somewhere in between the chopped-out cut of a helicopters breath. Like no wonder no one notices i’m not breathing. Like anymore, no one cares. And then end. Left. She wrote: I lied. Left. She wrote: I love you. Left, right… She said: I got your letters. Left. from a corpse. I’ve never seen lightning strike, but I have heard thunder. I can’t pretend I haven’t looked the other way; but, I can’t dig up the dead and say, “I’m sorry” because every inch of my apathy is covered in eulogies. (continued on page 16)
Apathy, Autocracy Kelly Grevers
Welcome to canada, above the land of the brave; still with the walls, the sounds, the waves. The rise, the fall, the firing guns. Still strain and strive, with the walk alive; where cascades of apathy run free, through the land and sea-to-sea; a war is waged on you today. Each weapon strikes another face, everything you do is a disgrace, everything you are you kill, your eyes can only see not will; every action a fight, everything you live for has died, every breath you take is death, every penny ever spent; have you fought the tide yourself or were you watching from the shelf... Apathy, our grand plie. Ignorance the game we play, we get, we give. The way we live; from our precious merry-go-round up atop our burial ground, running free from sea-to-sea, nature’s just our bluff you see; canada we live it, rough; Canada, we can’t get enough; in Canada, just wait and see, you too can live in apathy. You too can hold this pride we share, led to the slaughtered disguised like we care; squishing our footsteps and standing behind with empty cups, empty hearts and mind... To mine fields of the war we are but we’re not searching or looking for more; apathy, ignorance, bliss COME ON; who are we, where have we gone? Are we the tolerance we claim to be (tolerance is noth-
ing when we don’t understand) and we’re spoken for already, who gives a damn? You could get into issues, you could touch the grit, but let’s evaluate and think about who really gives a shit! canada, the empty cup; oh canada what’s up; genocide of culture, genocide of mind, genocide of people; canada has died; canada exists no more; we’ve woven our dreams and locked the door… A fantasyland of titles grand! Welcome! It started with a state that gave itself a title, meaning that was to unite us for a while. It had a location, a place to start, people inside it that claimed to have heart; forgetting half of what was already there; how it got there, to where it is questions start and stem from this. Wars were fought, wars are being fought, more than thoughts; no one can say it’s all been peace, no one in between these seas... War has been raging from the start, now fighting the silence and breaking apart. Oh, but it wasn’t your fault. Oh, but it wasn’t your crime. People are dying and it’s on your dime. People are killing and it’s in your name, speaking for you and you feel no shame! Where are the questions? Tell me where to find hope; there is no solace in this life tied with rope; your life, walking the line and having your fun. Running around it, eating it up; while they weren’t searching you were filling your cup; but should you be mad, should you be angry? They are
(continued from page 15) But, I can say that I’ve woken up in the middle of the night, feeling disoriented and confused, because something was missing. Something is missing and it cannot be bought or paid for in our consumer-driven society. There’s an emptiness lurking that cannot be shrugged away or ignored any longer. This country may be in a state of peace, but for its citizens, it is at war. Our family trees have bodies hanging from the branches and this history is not just a hangover; it will not disappear with a bottle of water and an aspirin. Gas prices. Guns. Terrorism. Injustices. Famine. Machetes. Death. Weapons of mass destruction. Genocide. Rape. We can-
feeding you answers and whom are they blaming? canada is fighting a war; building an empire that you just ignore. Inside our own borders, outside the lines there’s a genocide starting from inside your mind; we are the people, we are the shame but we decide to do nothing and dole out the blame; we decide to hide behind the name we’ve been given, shoot our veins with our canadian heaven. Pass me another beer could you please? I seem to have forgotten identity; holding the rope, stringing along, what’s the true “oh canada” song? And freedom, what’s that? Do you say what’s on your mind? Are you asking for answers that you cannot find? Are you taking advantage of our national lines? Are you aware, or at ease, braced for this disease? What does Canada mean to you? A fight behind the bar; canada at war. A building, a streetlight; our whole life is a fight... Apathy. Apathy it burns. Apathy takes and apathy steals, apathy’s driving canada’s wheels; where are the canadian trees, our peacekeepers and aborigines? What are we doing, do you even know? Take some action and let it show; apathy pauses but it hasn’t stopped, it takes what it needs but you’re never dropped; how can we live based on these wars? The only questions asked are those that are left on shore; oh canada, free on the frontline alright; avoiding the one justifiable fight...
not sleep this one off; we will continue to awaken with an uneasiness in our stomachs and a pain that we do not have the words to describe. We are lucky. We are spoiled. But do we really believe our need for anti-depressants, alcohol, and drugs are unrelated to Baghdad? Denial is a gift to many, but really, I think we are all just sleeping. It is time we woke up. This is Canada in 2007 and this is a war. Against ourselves.
Shane Fallowfield “Dammit, close that fucking door already!” I had to force the door shut with my good foot to keep the snow from drifting in. The wind was sleddog-cold outside; it nipped about your fingers, licked the back of your neck and howled down the back alley by the 7-11. The Earl of Wessex was crowded with late night fish-and-chip drunks and young college kids who’d split pitchers during Armageddon, never mind a typical glacial December night. The snow fell in fat flakes over the road and sent the midnight shift buses gliding and swinging around each other like a Las Vegas dance routine. “Can I get a rum and Coke?” “Double?” the bartender questioned. A slender man sporting a beard and ponytail, deftly moving around the liquor bottles, while making eyes at the little bar maid with the strawberry blonde hair and the nice caboose passing out poutines amidst the back booths. They were just another batch of kids, paying their way through school by slinging booze to their best friends and old farts like me after classes. Jesus I envied them; the way they ran and rutted and rocked and rolled like the sun would never dare come up on them. “Wouldja look at that?” asked the man who sat next to me who could have taken up two stools, the three hundred and twenty rolling pounds of middle age spread that he was. His face was patchy with fishy white jowls and he wore a thick black parka puffed up around his head like he was drinking in an igloo. He was saddled up to the bar like a regular, like they just rolled him into a janitor’s closet at the end of the night and brought him back out again when they opened in the morning. He pointed to the TV screen when it cut from another losing Leaf’s game to a brief news report about a local college campus war protest. Some young girl, with her hair done up in twists like those guys from Jamaica, was behind a megaphone. She was all but drowned out by the eruptions of laughter from a pack of suits-and-ties in one of the booths. “Young fucks don’t appreciate what’s what anymore now do they?” he nudged me with a fleshy elbow before hollering back to some students leaving the bar as they lit up. “Shut that fucking door! It’s forty-fucking-below out there!” They scampered out and became pin pricks of fire through the frosted windows. “You see what the fuck I mean? You know what we need in this country? The draft, that’s what.” I coughed and finished my first of what would be many drinks. I signaled the bartender and asked for a double of bourbon. Rum and Coke was a young person’s drink and I didn’t feel like I deserved it anymore. “You know what used to make men? The army. Now they’ve got school and dope and booze and all this namby-pamby tree hugger horseshit. My old man was
as hard as a rock when he came home from the Canadian Navy and he made me the man I am today. Do you think any of these pampered fucks would go to war? Do you think any of them would defend this country against the Nazi’s or would they stay home with the women? I’ve got grandchildren here you know. And if I could, I’d get my ass over there and shoot me every fucking towel head that looked at me cross-eyed.” I kept clearing my throat and tried to keep pace. “Yeah, my nephew’s over there right now. Infantry.” “Good on him, good on him! See what I mean now! There is hope for the fuckin’ future. He’ll do us all proud over there won’t he! He’ll show the rest of these pussies what it means to defend one’s fucking country! It’s time we purged all the pinkos and pussies and made this country whole again. AND WILL SOMEONE SHUT THAT FUCKING DOOR.” Two girls stumbled in from the blizzard; drunk, giggly, and looking face-to-face for someone they might recognize. They wandered through the bar propping each other up, and if it weren’t for their smiles you’d think they were refugees making their way from some great unfolding humanitarian disaster. Like the women in Korea as they ran from their villages, but those women weren’t drunk and they weren’t laughing. “This country needs more men like your nephew.” He belched under his breath and waved at the bartender. “Not more men like these. Not more dope heads and drunks. This country needs to wake the fuck up!” I slid off the bar to go and take a piss, the brace biting like ice against the flesh of my leg. When I got home I had to rub it down with motor oil to keep it from rusting. It chaffed against the back of my knee and left a running sore in the summer, so it was better when it was cold and all I had to worry about was dull brown flaking and the fear of it locking up on a slippery batch of concrete stairs. “Hey, hey buddy! What happened to your leg?” He swiveled on the stool and nearly cracked one of its supports. “My nephew has it. He needs it more than I do.”
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Volume 6 Issue 3 February 2007