The Canadian Independent

Picking your Battles: Lefty Profs vs the Military Myth

Posted in Afghanistan, Blogs & Bloggers, Foreign Policy, Politics by dave on March 26, 2010

One of the stories making waves in the Blogosphere are conservative types being outraged by this story. Essentially some lefty profs got together and wrote a letter to the administration of the University of Regina about the “Project Hero” program. This is a scholarship program which provides a $1,000 scholarship to the children of deceased Canadian servicemen or women.

In our view, support for “Project Hero” represents a dangerous cultural turn. It associates “heroism” with the act of military intervention. It erases the space for critical discussion of military policy and practices.  In signing on to “Project Hero”, the university is implicated in the disturbing construction of the war in Afghanistan by Western military- and state-elites as the “good war” of our epoch. We insist that our university not be connected with the increasing militarization of Canadian society and politics.

These guys have the right idea.

Militarism is a real problem for Western societies. For all societies. Its waste, first and foremost. Using resources to produce goods and create jobs that people don’t legitimately demand in society, simply those that the government demands, is wasting those resources. Aggressive foreign intervention ruins our moral standing in the world, and makes Canadians less safe by creating enemies with at no tangible benefit to the Canadian people. In response to these enemies, the Canadian state must reduce our legal protections and privacy to keep us safe from them. The Canadian state must tax us more and take more of our income to maintain an aggressive military so they can “get him before he can get us.” (Even though its this kind of thinking that often creates these “blow-back” enemies in the first place.)

I’ve only had experience with one of the professors on the list. George Buri, Department of History. He and another “labor historian” gave a

The Anti-Imperialist League, a collection of anti-war Classical Liberals.

presentation about how the Afghan war is wrong at a university that I was attending a few years ago. While I do think Afghanistan is a mistake for Canada to be participating in, his was a lot more Marxist in tone. Essentially everything was a plot by the United States to do better for itself.

Then again, what do you expect from “libertarian socialists.”

No matter. These people have the right idea, but they are picking the absolute wrong battleground. You can argue passionately and convincingly against militarism, but the place to take your stand isn’t about a scholarship program for kids whose dads and mums are dead because of bad government policy. The actual valuable point they are trying to make, will just get lost in the noise that ensues.