Being a Friend or being a citizen requires we think critically


Now that we have arrived in the United States I have to be careful. I am a guest here. Sometimes I want to criticize it. But America believes in free speech. They are in some respects fanatical about it. Yet they hate to be criticized. Sometimes that makes for a difficult dance.

I criticize the United States as a friend. I speak as a friend who is dismayed at how it has gone awry and strayed from the ideals of its constitution. Not that I worship that constitution. It is deeply flawed. For example, it tolerated slavery and discrimination against indigenous people. Yet it championed noble ideals too.

So I criticize the United States with love. I ask it to live up to its ideals enshrined in its own constitution. As I have said many times, I love the United States; I love Americans. But sometimes I have to be critical of it.

I am a Canadian, but like Canada is a friend of America, I am a friend of Americans. Canada has been a staunch supporter and ally of the United States. It has not followed it blindly. It accepted the American invitation given by George H.W. Bush in the first Iraq war to support the coalition led by the United States. That war made some sense. Saddam Hussein had blatantly invaded Kuwait.

The war in Afghanistan was a little different. It followed the attacks on 9/11. The US. had invoked the provision in the NATO treaty that an attack on one is an attack on all. As a result when it wanted to invade Afghanistan to attack the supporters of Al Qaeda Canada joined in.

However, when the United States, under George W Bush wanted to reinvade Iraq because of threats it felt from Saddam Hussein and his alleged weapons of mass destruction, Canada did not join in that time.  I think Canada was right to dissent. This was not a time to follow blindly. This was a time to warn a friend that it was embarking on a big mistake. I think, with hindsight, that Canada was right. That war was brutal, futile, and meaningless because it was based on faulty intelligence if not outright lies.

When a person or a country sees a friend making a misstep the person or the country will stand up and warn the friend.

As a result of being a supporter of the United States Canada has also earned criticism. As I have said before, Canada is just the United States on valium. USA Lite. Sometimes Canada is a mouse trying to be a rat. Canada cannot claim to be virtuous just because it has no claws.

So I will look at the United States critically, just as I look at Canada critically. As citizens we have that duty. We must not accept all our leaders tell us without thinking critically. That is an abdication of our duties as citizens. That is not being a good citizen or a good  friend.

With that introduction I will make some critical comments of this great country that is allowing me to visit here.

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