BTC: My heavens, Romeo Dallaire said what? - Macleans.ca

BTC: My heavens, Romeo Dallaire said what?

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“More broadly, successful counterterrorism depends in part on convincing the world that there is no moral equivalency between the terrorists and the government they oppose.  When the United States muddies these waters, this distinction begins to blur. This is particularly problematic for U.S. attempts to woo fence-sitters in the Muslim world—the very hearts and minds that the United States most needs.”

That’s Daniel L. Byman testifying before the U.S. Senate foreign relations committee in July 2007. Some soft liberal like Romeo Dallaire? Not quite.

“If it isn’t stopped, torture will destroy your nation’s important strategy to develop democracy in the Middle East. And if you cynically outsource torture to contractors and foreign agents, how can you possibly be surprised if an 18-year-old in the Middle East casts a jaundiced eye toward your reform efforts there?”

That’s Vladimir Bukovsky, writing in the Washington Post. Quite unlike Jason Kenney, he spent 12 years in Soviet prisons, labor camps and psychiatric hospitals for “nonviolent human rights activities.”

I don’t have a transcript of Mr. Dallaire’s comments today at committee (here’s what our Kady saw). But what from I’ve heard, his argument seemed to be a simple one: the only thing that separates man from beast is the rule of law. And when we surrender that distinction we lower ourselves to their level.

“Canada’s stance on the Khadr case unquestionably violates the spirit of the UN protocol on child soldiers and makes a mockery of our championing this and similar human rights causes,” he wrote in the National Post some months ago. “While the bravery and professionalism of our soldiers in Afghanistan have indeed enhanced our standing as an emerging middle power, the government’s handling of other files clearly detracts from our credibility.”

The Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity asked the Senator if he was equating the treatment of Omar Khadr with terrorists in Iraq strapping bombs to the disabled. The Senator stuck to his original assertion. The Secretary of State was displeased.

“I was shocked and disturbed by those sorts of extreme and ridiculous comments coming from a Canadian senator,” he told reporters after QP. “It’s the sort of thing I might expect to hear from a mob of wacky protestors, not from a Canadian senator.”

Messrs. Byman and Bukovsky would probably resent the comparison to a mob of wacky protestors, but let’s not quibble over details.

The point is this: the ways in which the Western world has sought to combat terrorism in the seven years since 9/11 have been the subject of some discussion in most of the serious nations on earth. 

And, in that sense, the most shocking realization of the day may only be that just now has Canada decided to join the debate.

(On a side note, the Down Syndrome story, as repeated by Mr. Kenney, is somewhat less than accurate.)