Thursday, May 15, 2008

Seriously? You're trying to demonize Romeo Dallaire? ... Seriously?

Full disclosure: I consider Dallaire a secular saint, which is to say I have a massive crush on him, and am in law school largely because of him and what happened to him in Rwanda, and I believe him to be an example of what makes Canada great.

So I'm am obviously put-off by the Conservative freak-out over his remarks that, by ignoring our obligations to Omar Khadr, we are sinking to the level of the terrorists we claim to be fighting.

Tory continues to attack Dallaire over Khadr (Toronto Star)

Dallaire says he didn't mean Canada is equal to al-Qaida (

Dallaire blasts Ottawa, U.S. over handling of Khadr case (Toronto Star)

'Child soldier' Khadr needs protection, Dallaire says (Globe and Mail)

BTC: My heavens, Romeo Dallaire said what? (Maclean's)

Okay, let's...once again...look at what was actually said, shall we? Except we don't know because we won't have access to transcripts for months and the minutes say let's piece it together from the media.


“The minute you start playing with human rights, with conventions, with civil liberties, in order to say that you're doing it to protect yourself and you are going against those rights and conventions, you are no better than the guy who doesn't believe in them at all.”


“Is it your testimony that al-Qaeda strapping up a 14-year-old girl with Down's Syndrome and sending her into a pet market to be remotely detonated is the moral equivalent to Canada's not making extraordinary political efforts for a transfer of Omar Khadr to this country?” he asked. “Is that your position?” (He's referring here to a report that this happened which was disproved...a while ago.)


“If you want a black and white, and I'm only too prepared to give it to you, Absolutely,” he said. “You're either with the law or not with the law. You're either guilty or you're not.”

"You are not allowed to go against (international) conventions and if you do, you're going down the same road as those who absolutely don't believe (in the law)."

Dallaire never said "Canada = al-Qaeda"! Kenney said it, and Dallaire said basically "In this context, yeah," and then qualified what he said.

And guess what, sportsfans. I concur wholeheartedly. Canada has totally lost the moral high ground on this one -- not just lost, but pursued a burnt-earth policy, and for no apparent reason, either. The UK, official second banana of the Coalition, was good enough to retrieve its citizens and (eventually) legally resident non-citizens from Guantanamo. Note how they weren't punished for daring to counter the US.

My (nauseated) suspicion is that we don't want Khadr home because he's "not nice"; he fails to live up to the Canadian ideal of warm fluffiness. Gosh, he very well may have hurt someone!

What's sickening is our ability, as a nation, to turn our backs on someone because he makes us uncomfortable, and yet to feel little or no cognitive dissonance with the fact that by doing so we're thumbing our noses at our supposed commitment to the rule of law, human rights, and oh yes, basic human decency.

Newsflash: Omar Khadr was raised by a pro-Bin Laden family, in and around al-Qaeda and its supporters. He was brainwashed from birth. Then at 14, right around the time humans begin latching on to anything that might give them a sense of identity, he was thrust into working for militant in Afghanistan by his own father. He may have thrown a grenade that killed an American soldier. He was seriously wounded, almost executed, and shot in the back. Various reports suggest he was denied medical treatment as punishment, and that he was interrogated using illegal techniques. He was, at this point, 15.

There is no ambiguity about the fact that Khadr was a child soldier and should have been treated as such, The fact that his "trial" is only proceeding now, when he is 21, is not his fault and I fail to see a single reason for the continued flaunting of international and domestic law that the US and Canada are indulging in here. Bottom line: Dallaire was right.


Fenris Badwulf said...

You are so right, SB.

The real terrorists are not the terrorists, but the people fighting the terrorists. If only we were more like the terrorists, then we would not have conflict.

Your post made me cry.

Sarah L Boyd said...

Well, I'm sorry it made you cry...

Your comment made me confused, if that helps at all. Are you saying Dallaire is a terrorist? Or that we can trample human rights in order to defeat terrorism?

Lawrence Gridin said...

Shake Hands with the Devil made me cry.

It was the only time in my life that the printed word was able to elicit such a reaction. I was amazed.

Of course, it could be that I just don't read enough books.

Anonymous said...

I believe as Dallaire that Khadr should be brought home asap. As for Romeo's performance in Rwanda as part of a US backed regime change Op - both he and Arbour are dirty:,91027,.shtml

good luck but don't believe everything they tell you at Osgoode.


Sarah L Boyd said...

Well SW, your first link is dead, so I can't comment on that...

The second one says not much, but I will say that one of the difficulties of the ICTR--about which I believe Arbour has been honest--is the difficuly position of trying to investigate the reigning government of Rwanda. Of course, the reports I've read were more along the lines of "she tried to investigate and realized it was a waste of resources".

I'll also point out that aid money often goes astray.

Marsden cites dozens of "sources", which is all very interesting but not authoritative. I would need a little hard evidence before believing that the same governments that allowed the genocide to happen were also "in league" with the Tutsi RPF from the start. I notice there's no mention of the governments (Israel and France, IIRC) who provided aid to the MRND just before and during the genocide.

Similarly, the truthout article only cites defense council, as far as direct attacks on Arbour.

I think, SW, that you miss the point about Dallaire. He knew that the operations in Rwanda were an over-politicized gong-show that lead to more deaths. That's what drove him to the edge of madness.

Thank you for the links, though. I will keep an eye on this...some of the conclusions and conspiracy theories seem baseless at the moment, but evidence may still come out.

And don't worry, I'm the last person to believe everything anyone tells me...