Theatre is an apt word for it, from our perspective. This is something we watch, we are an audience for these things. We turn the war on in the evenings when we switch on our tvs. We listen to it on the radio and read it on the internet, unfolding with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Inverted checkmark; the build up, the climax, the denouement. And even if the war doesn’t have these parts the media will create them for us.
The last time we did this, we were very involved. Twelve years ago we were devoting money and people and emotion to the American conquest. But it was clearer then, or it felt clearer. An invasion, our economic interests, atrocities. The murder of the Kurds, a modern-day Hilter. Ethnic purging. This time everything is different for us. We’re not commited to this war, we’re not sending people, we’re not giving them any money. The symbolic response of the Canadian government impresses me, to be honest. Jean Chretien is at home with his wife. He’s not answering questions, there is no press secretary up on a podium answering questions. There is no one on parliment hill; just a few reporters standing around idly. The Prime Minister is refusing to make this a big deal. He will sit at home and deal with whatever fallout he has to in the morning, at a reasonable time.
For a moment I thought, “but shouldn’t he address us, at least? The people, the population of Canada?” And then I realized, no. No, he doesn’t need to. This isn’t our war. This isn’t our conflict. There’s nothing that needs to be said, really. We’re not going in, we just need to hunker down and then maybe offer to help clean up the mess afterward.
But who knows. Who knows what our non-participation will mean for our relationship with the US and the UK. It’s a theatre of war, after all. All we can do is sit still and watch.