"It's certainly raising Canada's leadership role, once again, in the United Nations and in the world community where we used to have an important leadership role," he said...
"It's certainly engaged our military," Harper said. "It has made it a better military."
I have already posted on the dangers of using the military to enhance our reputation, but Harper's latest comments show a real detachment that is dangerous. First off, I don't agree with Harper when he says:
"If I can be frank about this, you know, in some ways I think we can complain that only a handful of countries are carrying the bulk of the load and the bulk of the danger there," Harper told Peter Mansbridge. "But, you know, the shoe was often on the other foot. For a lot of the last 30 or 40 years, we were the ones hanging back."
Canada has consistently made substantial contributions to several United Nations peacekeeping missions, so the "hanging back" suggestion seems to differentiate between bringing people together and killing people. I am offended that Harper suggests we haven't carried our weight in the past, as though peacekeeping doesn't count.
Harper argues that the military is a better military today because of our involvement. Like a team that needs game experience, there is something wrong with the idea that active war is required to keep the troops "fresh". I see nothing wrong with an army that lacks experience, its speaks to a peaceful world.
With regard to our prestige, Harper reveals his desire to be relevant on the world stage. This government has made the military a key priority on several fronts, which suggests that the Harper view concurs with the ideal that "might is right". Apparently, we are willing to sacrifice a few "heroes" because the tradeoff is enhanced appearances. It is almost as if the higher the bodycount, the more Canada can brag to the world about our "commitment". This notion is mostly folly and shows little regard to the soldiers Harper is so quick to champion.
Afghanistan doesn't raise our "leadership role", nor should it be part of our reasoning for our involvement. I thought this was a moral fight, an ideological necessity that defines our values. Afghanistan isn't about the world pecking order, or at least it shouldn't be. Canada already enjoys a role in the world affairs. A middle power that other countries envy, Canada is seen as an inclusive collection of people that operates fairly. There is a reason American college students put Canadian flags on their backpacks when travelling abroad, let's not forget that. I don't care if Canada is noticed, especially if it requires death and destruction to draw attention. Harper has a grandiose vision of the world and seems willing to sacrifice to get the mirage of the gold star. Look at me, look at me.
In the comments knb wondered if Harper equated death with a better military. Here is the quote, you be the judge:
I can tell you its certainly engaged our military. It's made them a better military, not withstanding and maybe because of the casualties.