6.05.2005

in no way threatening to me

Thanks to ALPF, I have learned that another American war resister is seeking asylum in Canada. I am so out of the loop, lost as I am in the ancient world. Good thing you guys keep me informed.
US Army Pvt. Brandon Hughey, 20, told the [Canadian] Immigration and Refugee Board that he refused "to kill people or lose my life under false pretenses."

Hughey said he believed the war in Iraq was illegal and his conscience obliged him to desert his Ft. Hood, Texas army base last year. He said when he joined the military at 17 he was looking for a way to put himself through college and respected the military.

"I believe some things are worth fighting for, like defending my home and my family," Hughey told the board. "I had no moral objection to fighting back then. In some circumstances, war can be justified."

He believed US President George W. Bush had proof that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, so he initially supported the war. But he later determined he didn't want to fight a country that was not posing a direct threat to the United States "and people who were in no way threatening to me."
I know that it's unlikely, perhaps impossible, that American military refusing to serve will be granted asylum in Canada right now. Until there's actually a draft, that's the way it will be, in accordance with current Canadian law. My purpose in writing about Hughey isn't to urge Canada to do anything. It's just to highlight this one brave person, choosing to lay down his arms.

Brandon Hughey has a website, so we can send him our support directly. I'm sure he's getting a lot of abuse from rabid wingnuts. I figure he could use some good wishes.

Hughey's attorney is Jeffrey House, the same person representing Jeremy Hinzman, the first conscientious objector to seek refuge in Canada.

Sometimes I imagine a scenario where our new home becomes a stop on an underground railroad for draft resisters. As long as they like dogs.

Brandon Hughey's website is full of good anti-war & anti-occupation links, in addition to his own story. Good luck, Brandon. We are with you.

86 comments:

redsock said...

From his website:

"No contract or enlistment oath can be used as an excuse to participate in acts of aggression or crimes against humanity. ... I will not allow myself to face persecution by the U.S. government for following the higher international and moral law."


Fucking A right!

Lone Primate said...

I used to think, you know, you sign up, you have to do what you're told. But it seems to me now that it's possible for a person, who loves his or her country, to sign up out of a desire to serve, protect, and defend it, exclusive of attacking other countries. And there is precedent for this right around here. There were militia units from New York State that refused to cross the border in the War of 1812 and invade Canada because they adamantly believed they had signed up to defend New York, not to invade someone else's country. That makes some sense.

One has to ask one's self... does the United States armed forces exist to defend the United States, or to compel foreigners (who have not even attacked the US) to obey... and how is that different from slavery?

L-girl said...

Slavery - good point.

A person's conscience is a stronger calling than a signed contract. If ordered to commit atrocities, is "I was under orders" an excuse?

So if a person's conscience tell him/her not to serve, even if they've enlisted, I think they have to listen.

The greater danger is not listening to our consciences - the group-think that leads to Mi Lai, Abu Ghraib and other similar crimes.

Lone Primate said...

The matter of conscience is a telling point. I'm not sure I would be brave enough to have the courage of my convictions. I sure have to admire the people who do.

When I was a kid and all that Schoolhouse Rock stuff was floating around every weekend, I was just miserable with jealousy that I wasn't quite in that "club"... being "American". I think that's a characteristic of a lot of Canadians, and I really do believe if we're honest, at least some of our desire to be "not American" stems from jealousy. It's one way to react to it.

But the US was something really admirable then. Vietnam was over and the US seemed to have learned from it (violent toys vanished while I was really young). The US came through Watergate and proved democracy trumped cynical power. Jimmy Carter brokered peace between Egypt and Israel. All without dropping a bomb. The US seemed like Superman in those days. Strong, selfless, benevolent. I know that's naive, but it was still closer to the truth then. It was easy to admire and envy the USA back then, in those proud Bicentennial days. I wish those days would come back again, somehow. Maybe after Iraq. I hope they're not gone for good.

L-girl said...

Those days were but a sliver of US history.

Vietnam and Iraq are more the norm, though usually it was done on a smaller scale - Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Granada...

Lone Primate said...

For what it's worth, even Canadians can sometimes get stirred up. What did it for me, and a lot of other Canadians, a few years ago, was this:

http://www.canadaka.net/modules.php?name=Downloads&d_op=viewdownloaddetails&lid=3&title=Molson%20Canadian%20-%20I%20am%20anthem.mov

You have to enter a number you read out of a box to download the file, because they don't want people linking to it. But this song and little movie is what a national anthem ought to be about... it's not about blowing things up or resisting this or overthrowing the other... it's more about feeling good about home, even the goofiness of it. Best of all... it's a beer commercial. What could be more Canadian than that? :)

RobfromAlberta said...

I recognise that these guys cannot, in good conscience, fight a war they do not believe in. However, since they signed a contract which they have broken, they should at least stay and face the punishment. It's not like they execute deserters anymore.

Lone Primate said...

I think you'd have to know what the contract said before you could really pass judgement on that. Where do you draw the line? A guy's supposed to rot in prison because a captain said "eat your own foot" and he refused? Is an order an order, or is there room for thought in there?

It seems to me that soldiers in the US swear an oath to "defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic". I don't think it logically follows that that includes invading a country that's no threat to the US or its constitution and then sitting on its oil. But if the US government thinks so, then maybe these guys are right to leave. After all, we don't agree that Germany was "defending" itself when it invaded Poland in 1939, though that was Germany's line at the time.

RobfromAlberta said...

It's not a question of whether the war was right or wrong. It's a question of whether or not these guys knew this situation might arise when they signed up. Considering how often the US engages in combat actions abroad, they should have known it was a possibility. Certainly Jeremy Hinzman knew it was, he said as much in an interview recently.

Lone Primate said...

That's true, but I suppose you deal with that as an eventuality. One might argue if you don't want to be in a car accident, don't get a license. But sometimes you have to drive. It's a considered risk.

Given that the US was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, I think it's a legitimate cause to want to sign up and stand in defence. There ought to be a way you can do that without fear of being sent to violate someone else's home. Those are two very different things. To me, the National Guard ought to be a role like that. But they even send those guys overseas. What choice do you have left if you feel strongly about defending your home, and yet not wanting to invade someone else's, other than signing up to do the former and balking when ordered to do the latter? And then it's go to Canada or go to jail? So much for freedom!

L-girl said...

Another question is, why are you concerned with these guys being punished? How would it hurt Canada if they were to stay and become productive residents?

I don't think they took an oath to do whatever they were told, under any circumstances, to fight any war no matter how wrong. But if they did - and now they feel they can no longer honor it...?

RobfromAlberta said...

I don't care if they are punished or not. In fact, I would be happy for them if they weren't. But it's bad optics for Canada if we start giving asylum to deserters. People should have the strength of their convictions to face the consequences for their decisions, instead of expecting someone else to pay for their poor judgement.

L-girl said...

L-girl on iPAQ:

I do see what you mean, Rob. On another subject I'd probably agree with you. I'm a big believer in personal responsibility.

I guess I'm so passionately against this war, I lose some rationality. I want so badly to support the dissenters.

L.

L-girl said...

Loneprimate: I tried to get that Molson/Canada Kicks Ass download, it wouldn't work...

Lone Primate said...

Bad for optics? Whose? Canada's, for welcoming people who oppose what is widely seen as an illegal war of aggression (which it is... Iraq in no way attacked the US or even threatened to)? Or "bad optics" for the United States, when even its own soldiers are drawing the line and saying "this is wrong"? It should be bad optics for them. If they reach the point where they're too embarrassed by the consciences of their own fighting men to frivilously invade other countries, so much the better for us all. Next time someone attacks Pearl Harbor, fine. Till then, Yankee, stay home.

There were an awful lot of Nuremburg defendents who signed up to do whatever was required of them and wanted the rest of us to accept that orders were orders and they had no choice. That shrug and abdication made the Holocaust possible. We didn't let them off the hook. There's a difference between "defence" and "invasion", and it's a good thing for people who know the difference to stand up and point that out.

Lone Primate said...

Laura, did you enter the code number and click the "go get it" button? They have the thing set up so you can't just link to the file.

L-girl said...

I did that, and downloaded the file - but it wouldn't play. I'll try again later in the week, no time right now.

LP, thanks for your defense of the resisters. :)

RobfromAlberta said...

Bad for optics? Whose? Canada's, for welcoming people who oppose what is widely seen as an illegal war of aggression (which it is... Iraq in no way attacked the US or even threatened to)?

In the grand scheme of things, there is only one country that matters to Canada's continued existence and that is the USA. If they are angry enough, they can pull the plug on this little experiment we call a country any time they choose. Europe and China will not come to our aid and the American Left is too busy navel-gazing to help. The sooner people understand that, the better. We may not like what the US does a lot of the time, but we have to avoid antagonizing them every chance we get.

Lone Primate said...

Rob, you're being ridiculous. Whether you, or they, like it not, we are a different country and we have different views and opinions, and the right to live by them short of actually attacking the US by force of arms. And if they can't accept that, then I guess we're going to have to build the Bomb or something.

Or does your credo of not upsetting the bigger guy apply universally? Would you be as quick to nod if I said "maybe Alberta should stop antagonizing Ontario every chance they get, lest the 12 million of us decide to put the smackdown on the 3 million of them and pull the plug on their 'little experiment'? Alberta might have the oil, but after all, Ontario has the reactors..."? Seems to me what's sauce for the beaver is sauce for the wild rose.

Or maybe we just have to accept there are legitimate differences between groups of people, however inconvenient, and short of war, we just have to live with them.

L-girl said...

Could we please refrain from calling other people's ideas ridiculous? Thank you.

RobfromAlberta said...

The credo does not apply universally nor does it mean we must acquiesce every time. We must stand up when it really matters, but we must also be prudent.

As for Alberta v. Ontario, we really have nothing to fear from you. We sell almost nothing to Ontario, virtually every drop of our oil that we export goes to the US.

One other point since you mentioned it, I have actually been in favour of Canada building nuclear weapons for awhile. The day is coming when American desperation for raw materials is going to be so acute, they will be tempted to seize ours by force. Since the Canadian Left has declawed the Canadian military and is also busily disarming the Canadian public, nukes may be our only deterrence.

Lone Primate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lone Primate said...

I don't think we owe the US the kind of fealty you're suggesting. If we don't agree with something they're doing, and our policies towards it are a little embarrassing to them, that's probably a good thing. They just have to suck it up, not "pull the plug" on our country.

I like how suddenly, though, US hunger for resources... like, presumably, "Alberta's" oil... becomes a "Canadian" problem. That's sort of what I was getting at with my facetious crack about Ontario's reactors. Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't you in a rush to leave the country, taking your black gold with you?

How many reactors does Alberta have again...?
http://www.nucleartourist.com/world/canada.htm

I think this moots the related question of having a robust enough manufacturing sector to actually produce a deliverable weapon. But maybe it highlights the point that we're stronger when we think of ourselves as a nation working together instead of petty regions jealously hording our particular advantages.

Lone Primate said...

I find it interesting, too, that you advocate meek compliance where accommodating the demands and policies of the American Right are concerned... but when it comes to them coveting the basis of your province's wealth ("raw materials"), you're ready to immolate Chicago. Although, there is a certain philosophical consistency there, come to think of it. :)

RobfromAlberta said...

They just have to suck it up

No, they don't. That's my point. We are in no position to make demands.

I like how suddenly, though, US hunger for resources... like, presumably, "Alberta's" oil... becomes a "Canadian" problem.

Whether you like it or not, it's a fact. History is full of examples in which a strong country took what it wanted from a weak neighbour.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't you in a rush to leave the country, taking your black gold with you?

In a rush? No. Resigned to the inevitability of it? Yes.

How many reactors does Alberta have again...?

None, what's your point?

I think this moots the related question of having a robust enough manufacturing sector to actually produce a deliverable weapon.

Canada could produce and test a nuclear weapon in a matter of weeks. All you need is a nuclear reactor, a source of fissionable material and the expertise. We have plenty of all three.

RobfromAlberta said...

I find it interesting, too, that you advocate meek compliance where accommodating the demands and policies of the American Right are concerned

Friends if possible, foes if necessary. Billions for defence, not a dime for tribute.

Lone Primate said...

Whether you like it or not, it's a fact. History is full of examples in which a strong country took what it wanted from a weak neighbour.

I wasn't talking so much about their supposed rapaciousness as the apparently hypocrisy in your position. It's like Alberta's advantages are meant to be only Alberta's advantage and the rest of us are wrong to presume ourselves part owners... till the advantage becomes a military disadvantage, and then the tune changes.

How many reactors does Alberta have again...?

None, what's your point?


I know oil's grand stuff. You can even make plastic out of it. But it's hard to make a hydrogen bomb out of it.

On the other hand, if you have the means to produce plutonium and your reactor design requires you have the world's largest commercial supply of heavy water on hand, not to mention the heavy manufacturing base required to produce a delivery system, you just might have the basis for a thermonuclear weapons program. Now Canada has those, it's true. But they're not in Alberta.

Canada could produce and test a nuclear weapon in a matter of weeks. All you need is a nuclear reactor, a source of fissionable material and the expertise. We have plenty of all three.

Well, more precisely, Ontario has plenty of all three. These are "Canadian" assets in much the same way as Alberta's oil is. Nationhood is like that.

Of course, a more direct solution would be to completely forgo independence, bow to the REALLY inevitable, and just join the US. Not a dime for tribute; just the export of Alberta boys in khaki. Problem solved, and no more pushy Ottawa! Those bullies.

RobfromAlberta said...

Well, you've got two different arguments going on at the same time here. Assuming a united Canada, yes Ontario would be the logical choice to build our theoretical nuclear deterrence.

If, on the other hand, Alberta were to separate, it would probably be a moot point for us, since I'm sure we would would have a much more amicable relationship with the US. However, if we did feel the need to build or acquire a nuclear weapon, we could certainly do it. There has been an ongoing debate over whether to build a nuclear plant near the tarsands to provide cheap energy for the oil extraction process. I wouldn't be surprised to see one built in the next 20 years.

Lone Primate said...

If, on the other hand, Alberta were to separate, it would probably be a moot point for us, since I'm sure we would would have a much more amicable relationship with the US.

This seems a bit at odds with your assertion that "The day is coming when American desperation for raw materials is going to be so acute, they will be tempted to seize ours by force." Or do you intend to take Confucius's advice and "lie back and enjoy it", since it's being done by someone so "amicable"?

However, if we did feel the need to build or acquire a nuclear weapon, we could certainly do it.

WHO AM I?
I have huge oil reserves, and I am contemplating a nuclear weapons program to defend it and myself from the United States. I am:

a) the Islamic Republic of Iran
b) the Republic of Venezuela
c) the Independent Republic of Alberta
d) a "terrorist state" about to be "liberated"

RobfromAlberta said...

This seems a bit at odds with your assertion that "The day is coming when American desperation for raw materials is going to be so acute, they will be tempted to seize ours by force."

I don't think so. Alberta sells almost all its oil to the US anyway, so they really don't need to seize it by force. They'd be more interested in metals, water, hydro, etc. However, maybe the US decides to go all Manifest Destiny on us someday. I'd like to have a couple aces in my hand should that day come.

Upshot, we be good neighbours, we mind our own business, but we keep a Lousiville Slugger handy in case the big guy next door gets drunk some night and comes crashing through the front door.

Lone Primate said...

I think in the long term there are going to be significant pressures put on Canada. The US has something like 300 million people now. They place an awful burden on the land, especially in the Southwest. If I recall correctly, the Colorado, that mighty river that leaps and bounds through the Grand Canyon, never reaches the Pacific anymore. It gets completely used up by human beings along the way.

I think the time's coming when eyes will turn north. Canada's still mostly open space, and while a lot of it is... well... tundra... there's still a lot of untapped potential here. We need to run a prudent course. On the one hand, we cannot sit smugly on resources we are not using while neighbours starve, thirst, or go without. The question of invasion entirely aside, that just is not right. But I think we need to be good shepherds of what we have. We should share it, but carefully. Sensibly, renewably wherever possible. Rather than just shovel it into a gaping maw, when the time comes, we must be brave enough to say, "We will help you, but you must help yourselves..." In much the same way you shouldn't use all next year's seed baking pies to keep a neighbour at a comfy 350 lbs., we need to offer enough to keep him a trimmer 180 or so. Live within your means, and we'll work to make up the rest. That kind of thing.

Let's just hope this isn't a recipe for "one tin soldier rides away". It depends on a fair amount of goodwill, understanding, and self-examination from the States.

L-girl said...

There are a lot of pressures in the US stemming from a mistaken belief in unlimited resources, and from unchecked greed. But I think fears of a US invasion of Canada for land acquisition is more than a bit far-fetched.

Lone Primate said...

Yeah, I bet Mexico did too. :) And Iraq.

L-girl said...

That's an obvious answer, but it's wrong in many ways. Mexico was not surprised. That war was fully expected, and it was fully in keeping with US policy at the time. Iraq is fully in keeping with current US policy.

In modern times, US targets are separated from the mainland by oceans, and are people of non-Western culture. That last is extremely important in how the wars are sold in the States.

If the US tries to hoard Canadian resources, it is more likely to come through unfair treaties than warfare and invasion.

Believe me, I'm the last person to underestimate the arrogance of the American empire. And of course, no one knows what will happen, say, 300 years from now. But you're painting a picture with colors that don't really exist.

RobfromAlberta said...

I don't mean to suggest it would happen any time soon. But a very plausible scenario could be envisioned which would allow the US to use military force in Canada. It would start with economic sanctions against "unfair" Canadian trade practices hurting American jobs. Given Canada's dependence on US exports, this would cause tremendous hardship in Canada. Inevitable unrest would follow as successive minority governments fall. Anti-American sentiment grows and eventually isolated acts of violence directed at US interests result. The US government is "alarmed" by the growing instability on its northern border and fears terrorists will use the opportunity to infiltrate Canada. A naval blockade of the ports of Halifax, Vancouver as well as the St. Lawrence Seaway are required to prevent terrorists entering the country. This, of course, further degrades the Canadian economy and further measures are needed to "stabilize" the country. Washington "regrets" every measure it takes and each step is small and apparently done for the benefit of Canadians, so Americans feel good about themselves.

L-girl said...

It's not implausible, in the sense that one can spin out all kinds of future scenarios.

Loneprimate was using the Mexico or Iraq model, which is not plausible. But not plausible doesn't mean not possible.

I was just researching the democracy of Athens for this kids' book I'm writing. That direct, though exclusive, democracy lasted just about 200 years. Interesting number.

RobfromAlberta said...

By the way, you might be surprised to know this, but in my Grade 10 Canadian Studies course, we studied a scenario involving a US invasion of Canada. A lot of Canadians take the threat of US military intervention in Canada seriously.

Lone Primate said...

The crowbar I've heard used plausibly is an inimcal break-up of Canada... typically, Quebec votes to leave, agreement on particulars can't be reached, and either Quebec or some of its radicals seize Canadian federal assets that are of strategic value to the US. And in a halfway excusable exercise, the US sends in troops to "normalize" the situation. This would be, I think, relatively peaceful... there's really no way Canada could oppose it, and a lot of people would welcome it. But it would also come with a price tag; that would be understood. No matter what the map looked like afterwards, it would really be the end of even the questionable independence we have today.

We share a border with the US... resources or not, there are all sorts of plausible reasons why the US could invade us legitimately out of its own interests (and I don't say lightly; we're too "white" a country for that). But it's almost certain such an undertake would lend itself to cynical exploitation, no matter how well-intentioned. How "free" was Western Europe for the first 50 years after WWII, really? They had moral bills to pay and lines to toe, and they did, not always that happily.

L-girl said...

Both your comments give me insight into what it means to share a border with a superpower. It's a very eye-opening perspective.

Lone Primate said...

I think what might be escaping your estimation, Laura, and I don’t mean to be patronizing, is the idea of compulsion. It’s not something Americans typically consider in foreign affairs, because it’s not something that happens to the United States. Parliament compelled the colonists to pay taxes, and there was a revolution. Ever since there, either distance or military power has made compulsion of the US essentially impossible. Hence, it’s not in the vocabulary of most Americans. The US has needs. Interests. Goals. It proposes, the world disposes. That’s how it works, and it seems natural to Americans. That’s how it’s “supposed” to be. Compulsion becomes invisible; it’s the highway on which US policy travels.

It’s very clear that this is how most Americans view the world. I have a friend in the southern US. He’s as liberal as they come; he verges on communist. Hates what the US stands for, and virulently. But even he sees the affairs of foreign nations as essentially reactionary to US policy. If Canada elects not to join the missile defense, he celebrates Canada’s decision to assert its independence... as though the issue were only that, not one where a moral choice about initializing a new destabilizing arms race was in question, regardless of who was proposing it. If Canada decriminalizes pot, or refuses to let US soldiers have asylum, or lets homosexuals marry, he sees these either as laudable triumphs over, or lamentable capitulations to, US policy. And while he means well, and would probably be horrified to realize how condescending he’s being, it’s rather galling to have the entire governance of one’s country seen as nothing more than instance after instance of measuring whether or not we want to stick it to Uncle Sam on a given issue, and not as domestic value judgements that may happen to reflect on ones in the US. But this seems to be how many Americans view the world beyond their borders; one, in fact, shared by many Canadians on the right.

L-girl said...

All I can tell you is that your friend's world view is not mine. If you think that describes me, you have not read this blog very well.

I'm not offended and you don't sound patronizing, but neither are you describing my world view and that of other progressive Americans.

RobfromAlberta said...

Americans view the world beyond their borders; one, in fact, shared by many Canadians on the right.

Considering that the very decisions you describe are often wrapped in anti-Americanism by the Canadian Left (i.e. missile defense and the "axis of idiots" comment from Carolyn Parrish), such a perception is hardly surprising.

Lone Primate said...

Considering that the very decisions you describe are often wrapped in anti-Americanism by the Canadian Left (i.e. missile defense and the "axis of idiots" comment from Carolyn Parrish), such a perception is hardly surprising.

If one were to equate the policies of the current US administration and the instance of its rhetorical conceits being lampooned in that statement as "America", one might construe the statement as "anti-American". This proves my point about the not uncommon perceptions of the right, of course; American, Canadian, and otherwise. Bush is America. America is Bush. To ridicule him is to defame the nation. Let's just deify Caesar and be done with it.

RobfromAlberta said...

Regardless of what you think of Bush, over 50 million Americans voted for him. If you call him an idiot, you are implying the same about those who support him. Now maybe that is what Parrish intended and maybe not, but that's how it sounds.

In any case, if, as you say, opposition to missile defense has absolutely nothing to do with US policy, then mention of the Bush administration should not enter the debate at all.

L-girl said...

As an aside to this discussion, I have no problem calling each and every person who voted for Bush an idiot. With the exception of the enormously wealthy, every single person who voted for Bush voted against their own interests and their country's future. They may have been misinformed, lied to and misled, but they are still idiots.

I say this in all seriousness.

RobfromAlberta said...

That's ok, you're an American. It's like when black people use the "n-word".

L-girl said...

LOL. I hear ya. I also have a habit of saying (totally jokingly) things like, how Jewish of him, or what do you expect from a Jew. I am truly only joking, but if a non-Jew said it, I would NOT be amused.

Lone Primate said...

In any case, if, as you say, opposition to missile defense has absolutely nothing to do with US policy, then mention of the Bush administration should not enter the debate at all.

This statement again equates opposition to policies of the current US administration with anti-Americanism. There is a difference, and it's not even a particularly subtle one. I mean, what's next? If one prefers Pepsi to Coke, he or she must be a bigot who hates all black people since Bill Cosby used to do adds for Coke?

All I can tell you is that your friend's world view is not mine. If you think that describes me, you have not read this blog very well.

I didn't mean to suggest this was your take on it, Laura. Obviously you think outside the box, or you wouldn't be considering such a radical move as making your home abroad. It's just that there are presumptions that come with the pre-eminence of any nation. The difference it can have on POV is manifest in the fact that you find the US invading Canada nearly inconceivable, whereas people like Rob and I can quite easily imagine circumstances that could bring such an eventuality about... the question is only how remote the possibilty is. It's not all that hard to credit when you consider that the United States found cause to invade itself for four years, after all.

I agree it's much more likely that Canada will deal with the US when Uncle Sam's angina really starts to kick in. But at the bottom of it all is the idea that we HAVE to deal; that the assumption on both the Canadian and American side is that there is no one, least of all Canada, who can finally say "no" to the United States, and no one the US fears to say "no" to. And that comes down to the basic fact that the US can cripple Canada economically, and failing that, overawe us militarily. Your confidence that we will settle is a reflection of that common perception. The side of the perception on which one stands is one of the real differences between being a Canadian and being an American.

L-girl said...

"The difference it can have on POV is manifest in the fact that you find the US invading Canada nearly inconceivable..."

I thought I made it clear that I don't find it inconceivable. I find it unlikely that we'd see it in our lifetimes, or that it would take the form of the invasion of Iraq. The scenario Rob laid out does not seem inconceivable.

Your characterization of your progressive "almost communist" friend just seems off the mark to me. Progressive Americans aren't generally so US-centric.

Lone Primate said...

I expect that a US invasion of Canada would be far, far more benign than the current invasion of Iraq, for so many reasons. First there's the natural affinity of the peoples. I there there's a natural inclination to be more humane to people you can freely talk to on the street... they're somehow not "foreigners" in the gut sense. Secondly... to be cynical for a moment (who, me?), it would have to land lightly because there are huge business stakes across the border. Can't interrupt business. :) So no, I agree, it's pretty hard to imagine a situation in which the US would land on Canada the way it has on Iraq. There'd probably be civil war within Canada if Canada attempted anything likely to provoke the US that way (like, say, bombing Buffalo or something).

There's an author in Canada (or was; he might have passed away by now) in the 70s and 80s named Richard Rohmer, a retired general whose forte was OTT little novels about Canada sticking it to the US and asserting itself. Great reading when you're a blood-and-guts teenager but eye-rolling once you're a taxpayer. But he wrote a pair of books called, I believe, Ultimatum and Exxoneration, that were basically about the US leaning on Canada for its petroleum. The first ended with the President simply declaring Canada annexed and welcoming us as his "fellow Americans", and the second dealt with the Soviets saving Canada by pressuring the US to back off (or else), and Canada attempting to buy up Exxon. Like I said, the stuff was really way out there, but the books sold really well. Probably unrealistic, but it's the mindspace Canadians live in, and no more unrealistic than the stuff Craig Thomas writes.

RobfromAlberta said...

I expect that a US invasion of Canada would be far, far more benign than the current invasion of Iraq, for so many reasons.

One more reason, we have nothing to fight with. Having virtually no military and an apathetic, disarmed populace, we're limited to expressing our outrage with harsh language and perhaps an angry letter to local newspaper.

Lone Primate said...

Well, it's nice to know we got guys like you who come out shootin', Tex, instead of just griping on the internet like your apathetic, disarmed countrymen. :D

Of course, if you actually are one of those guys who carries his granddad's Winchester as he prowls the cow fences that separate Alberta from Montana, ready at a moment's notice to repulse the United States Army, then I humbly apologize for suggesing you're being at least a bit ironic. ;)

L-girl said...

Don't knock the disarmed populace. I sure wish the US had one.

RobfromAlberta said...

The insane American gun culture is not the only model for an armed populace. The Swiss do it right. Nearly every adult gets some military training and gun ownership is common. They have been able to protect their sovereignty against large, aggressive neighbours for centuries without turning into a nation of gun nuts.

Lone Primate said...

Yeah, but elsewhere, Laura just said "baseball's not hockey". Canada's not Switzerland. We only have the one border, and if things go south with the US, it won't make a bit a difference if every Canadian can aim and shoot accurately with all four paws. Switzerland's defensive circumstances are a whole lot different from ours. Who are you expecting an invasion from? France? Germany? Italy? If anyone besides the US were to invade, they'd have to be doing so by means of a concerted naval and airborne assault. We can bankrupt ourselves preparing for it or we can work to see to it that we don't get into that kind of a jam in the first place and invest that money in making the country a better place to live. Call it a gamble, but I think we serve ourselves better doing what we're doing: keeping a small, professional core of an armed force upon which build in times of crisis and to keep the peace under normal circumstances, and using money we might be spending duplicating US military capacities instead to make Canada a better country.

I'm not really big on the idea of shoving a gun in everyone's hand and teaching them to use it, either. For what? In case China nukes us? Meanwhile, all you're doing is providing people with a better knowledge of how to more effectively kill one another when they get drunk and argue about something trivial. I don't see any advantage to it other than boasting we're ready for a 19-century style infantry invasion that will never come, but a do see the disadvantage of spreading toxic knowledge.

L-girl said...

I thought the model for responsbile gun ownership w/out gun-nut mentality was Canada. No? I thought gun ownership is largely legal there. Is that not true?

RobfromAlberta said...

I'm not expecting an invasion from anyone, but obviously the US is the only nation that could. After all, the US wouldn't allow an invasion of North America by anyone else. Now, obviously, a "Swiss-style" Canadian militia is not going to back the US army up at the border. But, if the US were to invade, a homegrown insurgency, like the one we see in Iraq, would be impossible in Canada because there is no capacity to arm the insurgents. The key to fighting a superpower is not to beat it militarily, you must defeat it politically by eroding its will to continue to fight.

Yes, Laura, it is legal to own hunting rifles and shotguns in Canada. Also, if certain criteria are met, even handgun ownership is possible (although extremely rare). However, the amount of bureacratic red-tape necessary to purchase and own a firearm is substantial and there is a social stigma to gun ownership, especially in big cities, so most gun owners are rural.

Lone Primate said...

I thought the model for responsbile gun ownership w/out gun-nut mentality was Canada. No? I thought gun ownership is largely legal there. Is that not true?

That's a nice way of putting it, and I think you're right. I've never been able to understand the difference. It's one of those really sharp contrasts that nearly defies explanation. There are guns in Canada; there's a fair amount of regulation involved... years ago, a friend of mine in the militia used to own a gorgeous handgun, but even I was amazed at the amount of paperwork involved. Permits to own it, to acquire ammo, to move it, to store it... he just about needed a piece of paper just to look at it. Eventually, he just sold it. I remember his family was happy about that, on the whole.

I don't know what there is across a largely artificial border that makes such a difference between, say, Detroit and Windsor. Whatever it is, I guess I'm glad it exists. Maybe it makes Canada a less interesting country to live in, but it also makes it one where your odds of continuing to live are better. A friend of mine is convinced it has to do with how the countries were established... the US in revolution and Canada in evolution, with no real, hard and fast break from Britain you can point to. Maybe being born in struggle leaves a permanent mark on a society. I've heard other people suggest that since the French established Canada in a necessary partnership with the natives that the British essentially assumed after 1763, we didn't have to fight our way across the continent... it just kind of opened up to us. Maybe it's all that stuff. It's sure one of the more interesting questions, though, when you look at the (relatively few) differences between US and Canadian society.

L-girl said...

However, the amount of bureacratic red-tape necessary to purchase and own a firearm is substantial and there is a social stigma to gun ownership, especially in big cities, so most gun owners are rural.

How incredibly sane. Would that it were true here.

Geez, am I ever going to get any work done today? See you guys later.

Lone Primate said...

But, if the US were to invade, a homegrown insurgency, like the one we see in Iraq, would be impossible in Canada because there is no capacity to arm the insurgents.

So let me see if I can boil this down to the basics. We should arm everyone and teach them how to be really good at murdering other human beings, a skill that is almost certain to be exercised domestically and raise the homicide rate in this country, all so that we can more ably engage in generations-long guerrilla campaigns against a nation of 300 million who are not an ocean away (as in the case of Iraq) but an inch away across the 2500 mile border we share with them, and who pose the only even halfway realistic invasion threat we face... and this, on the off chance they decide they'd rather kill us for our oil, water, wheat, and iron ore than buy us out. Yeah, okay, that's one perspective, I guess, but I don't share it.

RobfromAlberta said...

Whoa, nice spin! I think I have whiplash. I'll get back to you after I see my chiropracter.

Lone Primate said...

What spin? It's pretty much the same thing you just said, only phrased to highlight the futility of prospect while pointing out the practical downside of promulgating lethality in civil society. We should desensitize Canadians to the use to deadly force in case the United States invades? That's your reason? That's not very convincing. Maybe if this were still 1860, and stealth fighters, Abram tanks, and hydrogen bombs didn't exist, but that's not the case.

Talk it over with your chiropractor, Rob. He may know a good psychiatrist. :)

RobfromAlberta said...

The spin is that hoary old chestnut that if you own a gun, you must be a murderer. It doesn't matter to the anti-gun lobby that trained military personnel and police officers almost never shoot anyone, if you have a gun, you're a killer, end of story.

Lone Primate said...

Talk about putting a spin on it.

Okay, basic logic time here. Tell us the ratio, Rob, of the following:

People who don't own and don't know how to use guns shooting people dead : People who do own guns and do know how to use guns shooting people dead

Now I'm going to take a wild guess and suppose that second number's gonna be bigger than the first. Think we can agree on that much...

It seems to me that anything that raises that second criterion is going to broaden the range of that ratio. Wouldn't you agree? Okay, so what are we talking about? How many gun murders are there in Canada in a year? I found a figure of 149 for 2002. Supposedly, there are 3.3 million gun owners in Canada. So let's crank that up in accord with your idea. Now there are 32 million (okay, less the under-18 crowd... call it 25 million). 25 / 3.3 * 149 is 1129, give or take. Let's imagine, though, that those numbers aren't directly proportionate. Let's say only about half that many homicides result thanks to increased gun availablity and prowess... say, 500. So if we follow your advice, we'd be consigned hundreds of other Canadians, who otherwise only would have been yelled at, or punched, or perhaps stabbed (risky to the perp, cause you can't do that from across the room), to death... for what reason, again? Oh, yeah... so that Canadians will be ready to huddle in the Rockies and take potshots at soliders from 'the world's sole remaining superpower' someday.

Sorry, Rob; I just don't think the potential payoff warrants the almost certain expense in lives and human misery in the meantime.

RobfromAlberta said...

You fail to consider the really important group who contribute to the murder rate in this country, nbamely criminals. Some use guns, many more use knives, bludgeons or whatever is available. Importantly, many start out in difficult circumstances, broken homes, abusive parents, lack of supervision and structure in their home lives. If these people were placed in an environment which instilled discipline, self-respect and focus, I venture to guess the vast majority would turn out to be less destructive individuals. There has never been a better institution for instilling self-discipline than the military. It works for the Swiss.

Lone Primate said...

You fail to consider the really important group who contribute to the murder rate in this country, nbamely criminals.

Great, and thanks to you, they'll all have guns in the house and they'll know how to use them from the age of 18 onward. Hey, to heck with a knife, look what I got!

What you don't recognize is that the vast majority of homicides in Canada, as with most places, aren't about some guy jumping out of the bushes and icing you for the seventeen bucks in your wallet. Most of them are committed by people who know the victim... spouses, family, friends... the people they spend the most time with, who have the greatest power and opportunity to upset them, usually in places proximate to where weapons are (i.e., the home). You're talking about parking deadly force in every Canadian home, teaching people to use it, and then expecting that they will never, ever succumb to the temptation when someone comes home drunk, or is caught cheating, or loses their job, or won't let junior have the car... This is where most murders occur, and it's got nothing to do with logic. People become enraged, they don't think beyond the moment, and if the method is there... About twenty years ago, my cousin was cheating on her husband with his best friend. One day, her husband came home, grabbed a knife, and stabbed his buddy. The buddy survived. But if the husband had had a gun, it's far less likely he would have. People get angry and attack each other. What often makes the difference between assault and murder is the degree of lethality at the disposal of the attacker.

Being a gun owner does not mean you're more likely to attack someone. But it does mean you're likely to kill them if you do; more likely to successfully appeal to suicide during bouts of depression; more likely to have the weapon turned fatally on you by an attacker. I'm not a favour of upping those odds, not even for something as admittedly romantic as living out the Canadian version of Red Dawn someday.

There has never been a better institution for instilling self-discipline than the military. It works for the Swiss.

Yeah, and there's another country with a common military tradition where it doesn't work so well. It's called the United States; it has nearly 11,000 firearm-related homicides every year, and unlike Switzerland, it's the example we live next door to. You want to use Switzerland as your example, I suggest you move to France.

L-girl said...

"Being a gun owner does not mean you're more likely to attack someone. But it does mean you're likely to kill them if you do; more likely to successfully appeal to suicide during bouts of depression; more likely to have the weapon turned fatally on you by an attacker."

Plus with automatic weapons, you can take down more people at once. If those poor kids in Colorado had only had knives, they would have been subdued before they got to their 2nd victim.

If they had had to re-load, maybe when they got to their third.

A household with a gun is 150 times more likely to have an accidental shooting of a family member than to shoot an intruder. And of course, a household without a gun will never have an accidental shooting.

L-girl said...

But please, let's not tell each other to move to other countries. Let's please take a deep breath and play nice, k?

RobfromAlberta said...

A little perspective here, I'm talking Switzerland, not Iraq. They don't have an AK-47 in every bedroom. Military weapons are kept in the armouries until the militias are mustered to respond to national threats. A lot of Swiss own personal weapons, but they are hunting rifles or shotguns, the same sorts of weapons many Canadians already own.

Lone Primate said...

Oh, I'm not actually advocating Rob move to France (for one thing, he'd probably implode, and I'd hate to have that on my vast, guilty liberal conscience). Just that he's using his high powered binoculars to scope his examples while conveniently ignoring one much more obvious to Canadians; he must think we all have the attention span of butterflies or something. I've seen folks cherrypick their points before, but I mean, wow. :) Canada, ignore the US, look at Switzerland, looklooklook!!!

RobfromAlberta said...

I'm not ignoring the US, I simply think it's a terrible example. Americans have an unusual relationship to the gun that neither Europeans nor Canadians have. I really don't think you can extrapolate from the American example.

Lone Primate said...

I'm not ignoring the US, I simply think it's a terrible example.

Yeah, in this case, so do I.

Americans have an unusual relationship to the gun that neither Europeans nor Canadians have.

And let's keep it that way.

I really don't think you can extrapolate from the American example.

So you think it's illegitimate to glance 50 miles away at another English-speaking democracy like our own and see an object lesson, but it's just fine to look 15,000 miles away to a culture and geography markedly different than our own for a good, off-the-rack fit?

RobfromAlberta said...

So you think it's illegitimate to glance 50 miles away at another English-speaking democracy like our own and see an object lesson, but it's just fine to look 15,000 miles away to a culture and geography markedly different than our own for a good, off-the-rack fit?

Why not? Leftists in Canada often say we are far more similar to Europe in our views than we are to the US.

Lone Primate said...

Leftists in Canada often say we are far more similar to Europe in our views than we are to the US.

They're not advocating adopting a particular European policy; they're pointing out existing similarities. Like attitudes towards gun ownership, which help explain North American anomalies like the 548 murders in Canada in 2003 vs. 16,503 in the US that year -- thirty times the number despite having only nine or ten times the population.

I found some interesting statistics here: http://www.nap.edu/openbook/0309091241/html/55.html#p2000ba499960055001. Seems that Canada and Switzerland already have comparable firearms ownership rates. Homicide and firearms-related homicides are higher here, probably reflecting poorly on North American society in general (in other words, adding more guns to the mix here is contraindicated). But interestingly, suicides and gun-related suicides are much higher in Switzerland. Another interesting point is that you're slightly more likely to be murdered (generally, and by firearm) in Mexico and Brazil than the US... but far, far less likely to commit suicide! Those Latin types must be pretty big on themselves. :)

L-girl said...

16,503 in the US that year

That actually seems kind of low. The figure is usually around 25,000 a year.

Another interesting point is that you're slightly more likely to be murdered (generally, and by firearm) in Mexico and Brazil than the US... but far, far less likely to commit suicide!

I think a much greater social stigma/taboo against suicide. I've read that Latino people in the US are the least likely to commit suicide of any ethnic group. I can't tell you where I read that, but I know I've seen it.

RobfromAlberta said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
RobfromAlberta said...

Interesting numbers, and here's a little quick math. How many gun-related homicides occur as a function of gun owners? So 39% of US households have a gun, therefore 39,000 out of every 100,000 Americans lives in a household with a gun. There are 7.07 gun homicides per 100,000 people. So, dividing 7.07 by 39,000 and multiplying by 100,000, you get 18.1 homicides per 100,000 gun owners. This is, of course, a bit sloppy because it doesn't take into account illegal guns which presumably are not included in the percentage of gun-owning households, but for the sake of comparison, it's probably good enough.

So, now, if we do the same analysis for the Canadian and Swiss numbers, we get 3.1 and 2.1 respectively. In other words, there is an order of magnitude difference in gun violence between Canada and the US, but a very small difference between Canada and Switzerland. I would say the comparison between Canada and Switzerland is more accurate than Canada and the US.

Lone Primate said...

The obvious corollary is that if Canada's homicide rate is, as you say, so wonderfully European in scope, and we're in no military danger aside from a single country that we could not possibly hope to repel if and when it chose to invade us... then what do we need more guns or some compulsory militia scheme for?

RobfromAlberta said...

Don't be so defeatist. Remember Queenston Heights!

Lone Primate said...

It's not 1812 anymore, Rob.

RobfromAlberta said...

No, but we faced the same challenge then that we potentially face now. A vastly superior military power invading our territory, a poorly-equipped and untested militia charged with the defense of the nation, sure the tactics change, but many of the same military axioms in practice today remain unchanged from the time of Sun-Tzu.

Lone Primate said...

Rob, look, bottom line: the idea of enrolling everyone in a militia, arming them, and training them in the hopes of and invasion the only country in the world that realistically could invade us -- the United States, to whom we are allied in NATO and NORAD -- one that has the world's largest nuclear arsenal, navy, and air force, and nearly ten times our population to raise an army from is push came to shove, is silly. Sorry, but it is. We might as well train everyone to ride a horse and practice cavalry charges while we're at it. Admit it; it's an excuse to arm the country and play with guns because guns are cool and wicked and deadly and neat and stuff. Fine, join a gun club. You're worried about our health care system? Then see to it that money's spent on it, not handing out guns and playing cowboys and Marines.

RobfromAlberta said...

You are completely distorting my motivation. I'm not a gun nut. I don't even own a gun. I am more interested in reversing the apathy and lack of discipline of Canadian youth than anything else. Canadians, despite our self-righteousness, are among the laziest, most apathetic and most ignorant people on the planet. We pat ourselves on the back because the Yanks know less about us than we know about them, but ironically, they know more about themselves than we know about ourselves. We're too bored and uninspired to care. We'd rather sit on our behinds and watch American Idol than do anything constructive. We claim to be like the Europeans, but we emulate the Americans far more than the Europeans. Europeans know their history. They know that things can go bad in a hurry. They prepare for it. The Swiss are perhaps the most extreme example, but many European countries have some sort of compulsory military service and, in my opinion, they are better for it. They are more disciplined and more wordly.

L-girl said...

"Canadians, despite our self-righteousness, are among the laziest, most apathetic and most ignorant people on the planet."

I'm only half-following this discussion, but I do hear Canadians complain about apathy and complacency. G mentions it a lot, among others.

I'm not sure military training is a cure for that, but that's a different story.

Lone Primate said...

Yeah, first of all, Rob is just setting up straw men. He condemns the nation with subjective, unquantifiable malaises like laziness, apathy, and lack of discipline... just enough mushy doubt to make snake oil sound good... and then produces the bottle: put everyone in a uniform and teach 'em to march in step. It's important to the moral of Canada that you know how to kill human beings.

Yeah, great, fine. Switzerland. I don't imagine it would be that hard to dig up a list of much less savory regimes in history that had compulsory military service.

RobfromAlberta said...

I guess we gotten past the "debate" stage of this discussion. Just as well.