Who is the useful idiot?
According to National Post columnist John Ivison, I am. (“Useful idiots of the world unite – and they have, with ‘Free Meng’ event”) So are others who challenge the narrative that authoritarian China is such a danger to the US/Britain/Canada/Australia/New Zealand “Five Eyes” settler colonial states’ way of life that we must spend ever more billions on the military, put corporate executives under house arrest for Trumped up crimes and have our governments interfere in their supposedly sacred “free market” to ensure “our companies” dominate emerging communications technology. Afterall, we can’t take the chance that China might spy on us — that’s the job of our “intelligence services”.
But perhaps Ivison and his ilk should look in the mirror when searching for the “confused and misguided” who are duped into aiding another country’s agenda. They seem unable to see the forest of the US Empire for the Chinese trees.
According to experts, a country’s foreign policy is supposed to be all about defending its “self-interest” but what exactly is that?
Was it in ordinary Canadians’ self-interest to arrest a Huawei executive at the bidding of a Trump administration that reneged on an anti-nuclear agreement with Iran and reimposed sanctions against the wishes of Ottawa, Britain, France, Germany and most of the rest of the world? Wasn’t it obvious that our second largest trading partner would be angered and upset? It was certainly obvious to the other countries that refused Washington’s request to arrest Meng Wanzhou.
It seems a reasonable proposition to suggest that the arrest was in fact not in the self-interest of ordinary Canadians, but rather was undertaken to avoid the wrath of a narcissistic president and his Make America Great Again gang of extreme US nationalists.
Certainly, the ratcheting up of confrontation with China was not, and is not, in the self-interest of Canadian pork producers or farmers who grow canola and other crops that are sold to the 1.4 billion people of the world’s most populous country. Or to the tens of thousands of Canadians whose livelihoods are dependent on trade with what will soon be the world’s largest market.
US sanctions against and the banning of Huawei equipment from telecommunications networks are certainly not in the immediate self-interest of the thousands of Canadians who work in research labs owned by that company.
Most important, going along with the White nationalist tainted Trumpian demonization of China is not in the self-interest of the nearly two million Chinese Canadians who will face the brunt of the racism that is the inevitable result of rising tensions.
What would be in the self-interest of most Canadians would be a federal government that asserted our independence from Washington, that developed a foreign policy aimed at actually doing good in the world, rather than simply talking about it.
Also in the self-interest of Canadians (and most of the world) would be a government that treated people everywhere with respect and worked towards ensuring their dignity by supporting efforts to share the world’s finite resources fairly. Such a government might still make enemies, but they would be the rulers of countries and corporations who insist on taking more than their fair share, exploiting others and destroying our planet while proclaiming “greed is good, war is peace and there are no limits to growth”.
Does believing this make one a “useful idiot” or should the epithet be redirected to those who believe the best we can strive for is junior partner to those who brought us Donald Trump?