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Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Ezra Levant is an unbelievable tool

Does that headline even require a following article? Oh, what the heck...

In his last two columns, Levant has taken time away from his discussion of how Kyoto will actually freeze the core of the earth, shaking us out of orbit and sprialling us into the sun (or some such... I can't bring myself to follow his argument) and instead listed five reasons for Canada to join the Americans in war with Iraq, along with six "myths" about the war. Read it quick, because the Sun seems to archive nothing, and the link only connects to the latest.

Let's take them one by one, shall we? I'm going to start with the myths, because they're high-larious.

"Myth 1: The war is an anti-Muslim crusade." Hey, he's right. This is a myth. The Americans are not interested in Iraq because it's a Muslim country... in fact, Hussein is primarily the secular leader of a secular nation. However, here's Levant's gutbuster: "This myth grants Saddam, Osama bin Laden and other Islamic fascists the status of spokesmen for a billion other Muslims." Um, didn't Iraq and Iran fight a decade-long war primarily around Iran's desire to extend its theocracy? Isn't that a primary goal of bin Laden? Wouldn't Saddam happily stick a knife in bin Laden's throat, rather than deal with the sort of revolutionary furor bin Laden tends to represent? There's a lot of these sorts of false connections drawn between bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in this column... I won't exhaust you with them all.

Myth 2: The war is simply America being a bully and a lone wolf. He then alludes to "a dozen other countries" with military presence in the region. And by "in the region," he means Afghanistan. If the USA is not interested in war, there will be no war. As for bullying, the recent UN resolution was a reaction to the American brinkmanship.... the rest of the world was trying to pull the US back from the cliff of unilateralism. If there's an international presence in the coming war, it will be to create the impression of legitimacy, as a choice preferable to allowing the world to become more dangerous through the doctrines of unilateralism and "preventative war".

Myth 3: The war is illegal. Ezra argues that because Iraq is in violation of the terms of cease-fire at the end of the last war, the war is "legal". I have no idea what this means. Since the Americans refuse to sign on to any sort of international court, there's no law to appeal to. No one gave NATO "permission" to invade Afghanistan, but the world accepted it because September 11 was arguably an act of war. I can wish it had been seen as a criminal act, rather than giving al Quada the legitimacy of a nation-state, but there it is. Iraq, on the other hand, doesn't seem to pose any new threat to the west or its neighbours. If that's the standard by which we measure "legality" --- in other words, if international legitimacy of a country's motives is the measurement of "legality" --- this war will not be legal.

Myth 4: The war will kill innocent people. I like when he says "of course it will". So, what part of this is a myth, again?

Myth 5: Iraq is not the real threat. He agrees that there are other threats, and schedules their bombings to follow. Because we'll bomb peace into this world eventually! This is an interesting Ezra strategy: list out actual problems (N. Korea), say your solution will be right for that problem, too, and that therefore it's right for this imaginary problem. Note how this strategy works: North Korea, like Iraq, is trying to build a nuke. Except, North Korea has an actual plant capable of producing plutonium. We know where it is. We had cameras in it. Iraq has some mysterious mobile underground cavern, which the Americans can show you on their satellite photos if your security clearance is high enough, but which Hans Blix is unable to find on the ground. But the threats are equated casually in Ezra's writing, and therefore they are equal, without any argument to establish they're equal. I think the argument would have been more interesting if the "Myth" was "Iraq is not a real threat."

Myth 6: Terrorism will only stop when we change our foreign policy. I like this one... I like it a lot. Ezra is again making a casual connection between two wildly unrelated things --- in this case, Iraq and terrorism. Even the American government, after a couple of days of trying to publicly link al Quada and Saddam, realized it wasn't flying and dropped it as a reason to go to war. But this is my favourite for a few reasons. First of all, I like what this shows us about Ezra's thinking on his myth #1... after all, the main thing shared between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein is --- wait for it --- Islam. Very, very different types of Islam, with very different goals. But this isn't a war against Islam. But bin Laden and Saddam are the same. Huh? The other reason I like this one is because it inadvertently makes one of my main arguments. Ezra is trying to suggest that we need to bomb Iraq to stop terrorism, but those crazy peaceniks would have you believe that the way to stop terrorism is to change our foreign policy. Well, if Iraq was involved in terrorism against the west, this might be an argument worth having, but the main way that Iraq has been involved with terrorism was in giving money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. BUT, there's nothing like bombing innocent people without even an air of legitimacy to create an atmosphere where people feel such hate and desperation that they're ready to take the middle three weeks of flight school.

On to the five reasons? I'm tempted, but perhaps I should take a breather.

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