Canadian Values

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The Canadian prime minister stated the following during a surprise visit to troops in Afghanistan:

Reconstruction is reducing poverty; millions of people are now able to vote; women are enjoying greater rights and economic opportunities than could have been imagined under the Taliban regime; and of Afghan children who are now in school studying the same things Canadian kids are learning back home. . . standing up for these core Canadian values may not always be easy at times.

Should we be implementing Canadian values in Afghanistan?

23 thoughts on “Canadian Values

  1. Sure, why not?

    Everyone knows that our values are the best, right?

    Maybe we can do it like we did with the aboriginals. That all worked out well … oh. wait a minute.

    ;)

  2. Rick, I’m puzzled. On the one hand, you’re perfectly happy to impose your values on those who engage in polygamy, and quite enthusiastic in your condemnation of various values that you consider “outdated” or “bigoted.” But here you seem to be mocking the idea that any values can be universal. So if values such as education for children, voting rights for women, and economic freedom aren’t universal but merely “Canadian,” then why should your personal values, such as never dictating gender roles etc., have any application to societies of which you’re not a member?

  3. Yes, Rick, I know your comment was sarcastic. But you were using that sarcasm to make the point that Canada has no right to “impose its values” on Afghanistan. What I’m asking you is why you believe the values the PM described are more Canadian than Afghan. In other words, why don’t you believe they are universal values, things that should be enjoyed by all peoples everywhere?

  4. Maybe a better term would be cultural practices. We westerners have felt it our duty to impose what we think is right on indigenous cultures all over the world. Nature of the beast I think. But what makes us think we have the right to tell people what sort of lifestyle they should adopt?

    Oh yeah, right. Economics.

  5. Mary, do you think the right to vote, the opportunity to go to school, the opportunity to engage in business and a general reduction in poverty are nothing more than western cultural practices? Or are they universal goods that Afghans deserve just as much as Canadians?

  6. The real question to ask is,”Why do we think we are the people to be teaching these values to Afghans in the first place?”

    Physician, heal thyself.

  7. No, I am not referring to those particular “values”. There are some things that are good and wonderful and helpful. However, we westerners have had (for ages and ages) had a tendency to go in and say “You have to do what we way, you are inferior, you are barbaric, archaic, what have you” we have been oppressive. In the past we have destroyed beautiful things about many cultures.

    However, do you REALLY think that going in there and making all these changes is about creating a better lifestyle for these people? About improving their lives? No, it’s about economics pure and simple. Our governments can’t “trade” without society being organised properly, right?

    Not only that, let’s not forget it was the American government who put the Taliban in, in the first place. I am not being anti-American. I am just pointing out that it’s our western governments that are the ones who create the havoc initially, in more than one instance.

  8. Rick, I’m not sure Canada is “teaching” those values to Afghans. Rather, I think that Afghans already understand the basic goodness of these values and freedoms, and that Canada is aiding the people of Afghanistan in establishing them, and getting out from under an oppressive regime.

    It wasn’t illegitimate for the Allies to “impose their values” on Nazi Germany. It isn’t illegitimate for the Allies to help the Afghan people establish things that are basic, universal goods such as education and freedom.

    Mary, I think you should do further research on your assertion that “the American government put the Taliban in.”

  9. Well, let’s just say they supported the Taliban when they first went in.

    Don’t you realise though, that the main reason the big powers go into these mid-eastern countries is to protect Oil interests? And other economic reasons sometimes.

  10. Mary, the fact that there are economic reasons for Western powers to meddle in Middle Eastern affairs is not really relevant to the question of whether Afghans do or do not deserve to have less poverty, more schools, voting rights, and so forth. And it also doesn’t have much to do with whether such “values” are good for all people or are just “Canadian” values.

  11. “Well, let’s just say they supported the Taliban when they first went in.”

    No, let’s not.

    The US gave arms and money to some mujahideen groups during their struggle against the USSR, 1979-1989. That is quite different from saying the US helped or supported the Taliban in taking control of Afghanistan’s government in 1996.

  12. “do they like everything we are doing there?”

    Who are the “they” you’re referring to? The women who have basic rights again after years of Taliban oppression? The children who can go to school again? The citizens who can vote?

    My discussion is about whether these so-called “Canadian” values are just Canadian, or whether they are something far more important and universal than a mere western cultural practice. I think they are. I think Afghans are entitled to these as basic, natural rights.

  13. Afghanistan people.

    I am not saying all of them don’t. I am also not saying that everything that IS being done is not good. Obviously it is. Is everything positive though?

    I believe they are entitled to basic rights too. However, does that mean we take their entire culture away from them? Is everything about their past wrong/bad/evil? I am not saying that is happening now. Am I saying it has happened in the past? You bet.

    On your other note, I have heard differently. However, my 5 month old baby needs nursing, so I can’t prove it right now. Of course maybe I *am* wrong. But…hmmm, I don’t think so. At least not fully.

  14. Rick, I think Godwin’s law is undermined by much longer threads to be found on this site with no Nazi references. But I like the reference.

  15. Mary, the most direct answer to your question is, I don’t know. I thought you were equating the US support of the mujahideen against the Soviets with the US putting the Taliban in power, and I was arguing that those two aren’t the same thing. I don’t have enough knowledge of what the linked author discusses to say whether he’s right or wrong.

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