This is a great article and a book I want to read.
From the article:
“I have long been puzzled by accusations of being “anti-American,” in other words as though it’s an epithet.
I am anti- many things: Robert Mugabe, torture, the tedious triumvirate
of Roth, Bellow and DeLillo, lawn pesticides and, of course, Tony Blair.
The Canadian journalist Linda McQuaig approaches this matter in a fresh
way in her new book Holding the Bully’s Coat: Canada and the U.S.
Empire, casting new light as she always does. She writes, “I am not
anti-American. I like many aspects of American culture; I admire many
of its political traditions, its literature, its energy and its
creativity. But I am opposed â€” fiercely opposed, in fact â€” to American
She is referring to the increasingly shameless U.S. tendency to believe
it is above the rule of law, that it is exempted from the rules other
nations are expected to obey. It hasn’t ratified Kyoto, or the
Convention on Discrimination Against Women or even the Convention on
the Rights of the Child. John Bolton (remember that screaming
mustachioed U.S. ambassador to the UN?) even claimed that the ultimate
purpose of international law was to constrict the United States.
Alexis de Tocqueville came up with the phrase American exceptionalism
in 1831. I still marvel at the ability of this little oddity of a man,
a truly ramshackle person, to have described not just the America he
saw 200 years ago but the place it was to become.
Aiding the U.S.
McQuaig writes with shame and shock about how Canada has aided America
in its quest for destruction. Here’s the test. When America does
something, like invade Iraq without the permission of the UN or rampage
through Afghanistan, how would we assess that act if it had been done
by Syria or Libya? Dreadful, we would say. Action must be taken. We
would call on the UN to place sanctions on Syria, to starve its
citizens (as was done to Iraq), to bomb it back to the Stone Age, or
however non-thoughtful people phrase it.
But when America does it, any Canadian complaining about American
arrogance and bullying is vilified. I still don’t understand why Prime
Minister Stephen Harper would call NDP Leader Jack Layton “Taliban
Jack” for daring to raise questions about our quagmire in Afghanistan.
Layton despises the Taliban, as does any sane person, but he is devoted
to Canada and appalled by troops being sent to a pointless death in a
land that has repelled invaders throughout history. This is
name-calling worthy of The O’Reilly Factor, and I shudder to see it
sneak up into Canada like some kind of foul smell.
McQuaig makes the startling point that such comment is not so much
pro-American as it is anti-Canadian. For when a commentator defends
Canadian values, which swirl around the poles of universal health care
and peacekeeping, Canadian neo-conservatives sneer. Historian Jack
Granatstein has actually spoken of the “harmful effect” of Prime
Minister Lester Pearson’s Nobel Prize for peacekeeping after the Suez
Harper a boon to the military
The Harper government has been a boon to the military, although I wish
it would buy the equipment for peacekeeping and for fighting global
warming. How eerie to find that Harper is scaling down his praiseworthy
plan for icebreakers to patrol northern waters. The expectation is that
soon there will be no ice to break.
The military is happy now, because â€” as with any military â€” its purpose
is to fight. As Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier puts it, its role
“is to be able to kill people.” Soldiers love Hillier calling Afghan
insurgents “scumbags,” but it leaves a bad taste with citizenry. For
the world is full of scumbags, especially in Darfur. But the Americans
don’t want their obedient Canadian followers to help Darfur and its
black-skinned victims. Afghanistan is a war against Muslim extremists,
and there we fight under the NATO commander who previously ran Abu
The political right seems to regard Canadian values as “soft.” “No more
girlie-man peacekeeping,” as McQuaig puts it. And for some reason, the
journalistic mainstream has taken this up in the belief that their
Their readers do not agree. They are unhappy with Canada becoming less
like Europe and more like an American or British “plutonomy,” an
economy where growth is largely consumed by the wealthy few. Nations
with a huge gap between rich and poor are much more difficult to live
in, full of turmoil, violence and the kind of relentless unfairness
that makes Canadians recoil. I do wonder if this is why newspaper
readership is sliding. Are Canadians tired of being lectured about how
they should be less Canadian, and more American? The rest of the world
couldn’t disagree more. Even some Americans don’t think this way: OK,
28 per cent of them don’t. Hilariously, we’re being told this just as
the American empire begins its disastrous slide into economic failure
and more panicked military writhing-about.
Canada holds bully’s coat
McQuaig also magnificently makes the case â€” I cringe here â€” that Canada
has held the bully’s coat as it pummelled the weaker nations, while
being beaten up itself. Here we are, grovelling for a country that
screws us over â€” over softwood lumber, torture of our citizens,
agriculture, giveaways of our oil, gas and water and our belief in full
employment and health as a greater good.
I tremble for Chrysler workers in Canada. If Cerberus doesn’t care for American workers, it will care less for Canadians.
McQuaig’s point is that Canada, under Harper, is making a fool of
itself and wasting precious time, money and tools to toady to the most
hateful flank of the American right. What I most admire about her book
is that she writes this with such cool intelligence and intellectual
honesty, even pointing out facts that don’t support her side. She is a
model for Canadian journalists.
Personal bias declared: On the back of her book is a quote from me
praising McQauig’s It’s the Crude, Dude in the Globe and Mail. Yes, I
liked her last book too.”