Just for the record: there are lots of things that sicken and anger me about the Canadian government - from the environmental devestation of the tar sands, to the ideologically-driven lust to privatize everything that isn't nailed down or our two-faced stance on marijuana reform and our willingness to ship Canadian citizens off to serve jail time in the US for things that are completely tolerated here - but nothing sickens and angers me more, at present, than our government's gutless stance on Omar Khadr. Sorry, Marc - you don't even compare.
Omar Khadr was a child soldier, aged 15, when Afghanistan was invaded by the United States. Right from the bat, it should be patently obvious that to count ANYTHING he may have done as a "war crime" is absurd. He was a CHILD, for fucksake! His father was Al Qaeda, tight with bin Laden; Omar, at 15, was subject not only to his parents radical politics but their fanatic take on Islam, and hardly capable of making an informed, adult decision about ANYTHING when that invasion happened. In the heat of the US attack, he MAY have fought back - against a fucking INVADING ARMY, note; however righteous the US felt themselves to be, HIS COUNTRY WAS BEING INVADED BY FOREIGNERS, and allow me to say that if foreigners invade MY country, I will most likely fight them, too, regardless of how morally justified these foreigners imagine themselves to be. But did he throw a grenade that killed an American soldier who was attacking his family's compound? Maybe - but even if we stretch things and hold him to be a responsible, rational adult in doing so, and don't grant him the right to resist an invading force, couldn't that particular action be construed as an act of, uh, self-defense?
Not sure about that, actually, but I'll tell you what it sure as hell ain't - IT AIN'T A FUCKING WAR CRIME. George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq? THAT was a war crime. Waterboarding prisoners, attacking them with dogs, using sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, assaulting their religious beliefs, or flat out beating them to death in the course of Gitmo-ized interrogations? THOSE are war crimes. Rendering prisoners to countries where they will be waterboarded or otherwise subjected to these "enhanced interrogation" techniques - or whatever the fucking euphemism is? THAT's a war crime. Setting up a secret military prison off Cuba, bagging people from various nations, disappearing them, and holding them without due process for years at a time, probably torturing them periodically? THAT's a fucking war crime. Holding CHILDREN like Khadr in those facilities, without legal recourse, for YEARS - eight, now, innit? - while possibly subjecting them to torture, as Khadr says he has been - until they can be tried as adults in front of a kangaroo court which is almost certain to convict them? That seems suspiciously like a war crime; it sure as fuck is a miscarriage of justice. Barack Obama, despite campaign promises to close down Guantanamo Bay, continuing to play ball with that system - maintaining troops in Iraq, keeping Gitmo open - is also complicit in war crimes (to say nothing of his willingness to allow the war criminals from the previous administration to go unpunished; will Bush and Cheney and co NEVER see the inside of a prison? Or does Mr. Obama figure getting a couple of shoes thrown at you in public is punishment enough?). I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but in my conception of "war crimes," they are simply NEVER things done by 15 year olds to defend their family or country from violence, period; it's an insult to the concept of war crimes to accuse Omar Khadr of such a thing. The Canadian government's willingness to play along with the US through the process of Khadr's detention and now his pending trial is an embarrassment which can only serve to legitimize "the enemy's" hatred of liberal democracy and give the monsters behind 9-11 a reason to include Canada on their list of future targets. It's a list I'd rather not we not be on, thanks. Aside from that, it's simply morally wrong. Oh, and by the way - it also makes the Canadian government complicit in war crimes. Real ones. Serious ones.
Not that that seems to be anything to be afraid of, these days.
I hope young Mr. Khadr continues to resist cooperating with his trial. In a strange way, I'm kind of proud of the guy for having the sense and the guts to do so. I can't see what good cooperating would do, especially when the injustices against this kid are so fucking massive. I hope someone in the Canadian government will read this and take note. Omar Khadr, at the time of his arrest, was a child soldier who needed to be REHABILITATED, not incarcerated illegally, pending a patently unfair trial (because how could a trial predicated by so much blatant criminality and injustice in any way be fair?). Now, he's the victim of a lengthy serious of criminal actions by the Bush regime, and while he is perhaps beyond rehabilitation, he is also beyond reproach. If we really want to be HONEST about the situation, he has been the VICTIM of war crimes, which we have been COMPLICIT in; he is NOT a fucking war criminal, and never was.
If I might briefly beg the Canadian government to get it right, it would kind of be an important issue to do something about. History is watching, and will judge us. Can we please get on the right side of it - the side that values, say, human rights, due process and the rule of law?
Because for SOME Canadians, these are still important ideas...