By Michael Nickerson
Go team! Pass the beer! Let’s have ourselves a tail-gate party! Forget about football. That’s for wimps. We’re talking a full bore coalition attack on that evil monster of a dictator, Bashar al-Assad. One bad hombre, don’t cha know; a murderous tyrant by all reports. Plays fast and loose with his chemistry set, he does. Damn easy guy to root against, if you ask me. Feel free to boo.
I refer of course to the recent U.S.-led air strike on Syria in response to alleged chemical weapons use by al-Assad forces in the Syrian town of Douma. Serious stuff, presented with all the spin and analysis one would expect of an internationally televised grudge match. Experts and retired generals provided no end of stats, details and interactive game boarding to keep the fans interested: 105 missiles, including 57 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 19 JASSM-ER missiles (first time in combat!) all hitting the field (literally!) and taking it to that Syrian scum. A military nerd would have passed out by half-time given all ordnance and aircraft in play. What a game!
Of course no gaming spectacle would be truly complete without cheerleaders, those fit, good-looking sideshow attractions that keep the mind from wandering when there’s a break in the action. And gosh darn, count on Justin Trudeau to step right up and lead the squad. Give me a T, give me an R, give me an UMP…go TRUMP!
Not that Justin was waving literal pompoms, because in this game, that would be a bit unseemly (leave that to FOX news). What’s called for is somber, stately support of a difficult job well done. “Unfortunate but necessary” was how Justin put it while in Peru at the Summit of the Americas, getting a thank you handshake from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence before heading off for more NAFTA trade discussions and a plate of cassava.
So what is this game exactly? Over 500,000 dead, ten times that number refugees, even more displaced within their own country and nothing more than a wink from the rest of the world. But forty people die from a chemical weapons attack, and now it’s time to drop bombs and wax eloquent about the horrors of the First World War and how it should never happen again. Bit confusing that, even if you’ve been supplied the conventional weapons rulebook.
Ironically, one Canadian has been trying to understand this very question, if tangentially, charged with doing so at the behest of Justin Trudeau as his special envoy to Myanmar. Name’s Bob Rae. Odds are you’ve heard of him; had a bit of a controversial political career. But recently he was sent on a mission to actually figure out the game, or at least Canada’s role in it, specifically with regards to the plight of 671,000 displaced Rohingya now trying to find shelter in Bangladesh.
Now Bob is a smart man, and he came up with some excellent ideas for easing the refugee crisis in the short term and engaging with the Myanmar government in both “principled and practical” ways, as he describes it, to foster a long-term resolution. His recommendations could reasonably be applied to any number of international crises, including the one that has existed in Syria for some seven years now. It’s a good read. You should look it up.
Problem is, Bob not only got the game wrong, he didn’t seem to know he was merely a pawn. Arguing his findings on CBC Radio he opined that “if Canada wants to play a role we gotta up our game a bit.” Cheerleaders don’t get on the field and “play a role,” be it in Myanmar, Syria, Mali, or any number of humanitarian crises that churn on year in and year out. And as Team Justin™ has demonstrated, they don’t even do it at home, our First Nations’ continued suffering being a prime example.
No, cheerleaders come up with slogans, chants, and supportive words to the players on the field. They don’t have to actually play the game, nor even try to understand it. And they certainly don’t factor in the outcome. Go team!