Thursday, December 10, 2009

We don't need another hero

The Skipper has already chastized John Baird, who should never ever wear a turtleneck, for his objectionable conduct and general stupidity related to the Afghan prisoner denial-fest, but this part caught my eye too:

From Macleans:
"Mr. Baird was ready with a response. “Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear. Let us talk about the facts,” he boldly declared. “The then-Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walter Natynczyk, a decorated war hero, someone who has served our country in uniform for decades..."
(Baird then went on for a while in this vein before excusing himself )

Decorated war hero? In what war? Was Natynczyk at Vimy Ridge? Did he storm Juno Beach? Did he fight in Korea? Did he lead some heroic commando mission in Somalia or withstand the seige of Sarajevo or lead F-18 sorties over Kuwait in the first Iraq war? Has he been out battling the wily Pathan in the Afghan hills? Where was he decorated and for what?

A little checking revealed Gen. Walter Natynczyk does have some medals, some of them are even for serving in a war. In addition to being a Commander of the Order of Military Merit, which is awarded for "Outstanding meritorious service and demonstrated leadership in duties of great responsibility" (in other words longstanding excellence in military service in the same way the Order of Canada is doled out to politicians who manage to stay in office long enough to be considered "statesmen" without getting embroiled in a scandal), in 2006 Natynczyk was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross.

Governor General of Canada; Media release. Jan 24, 2006. "MGen Natynczyk is recognized for his outstanding leadership and professionalism while deployed as Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Corps during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. From January 2004 to January 2005, MGen Natynczyk led the Corps' 10 separate brigades, consisting of more than 35,000 soldiers stationed throughout the Iraq Theatre of Operations. He also oversaw planning and execution of all Corps level combat support and combat service support operations. His pivotal role in the development of numerous plans and operations resulted in a tremendous contribution by the Multi-National Corps to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and has brought great credit to the Canadian Forces and to Canada."

So Natynczyk was decorated for his wartime command of forces in a war that Canada was rather pointedly not taking part in. And the award was for his leadership and professionalism, not battlefield valour.

I don't wish to denigrate Gen. Natynczyk's service to this country or to discount the honor done to him and other recipients of these impressive decorations. Nor do I doubt his personal bravery--his record shows that he has served honorably on peacekeeping missions and elsewhere. But none of that makes him a "decorated war hero" to anyone except the kind of mindless uniform fetishists that seem to populate the Conservative benches and form the core of support for the ongoing military adventure in Afghanistan.

Wearing a uniform doesn't make you any more honorable or any smarter or any braver than anyone else and outranking an eyewitness doesn't make you more credible than they are. I think Natynczyk, like most sensible people, realizes this, even if Baird does not.

Baird is an braying brass-kissing ass who loves to wrap himself in the flag and use the Canadian Forces for his own political ends. But this is the Stephen Harper party of Canada and as much as Harper, Baird and Peter McKay love to be photographed playing soldier or sailor, and love to the military as a wedge issue--decrying any opposition to their policy or attempts to hold them responsible as hatred for the sacred troops--as soon as the political bullets start to get too close, somebody is going to be sent to draw fire and that somebody isn't going to one of their own.

Natynczyk seems to understand this and is now making it clear that he isn't going to be falling on his sword for them.

Why won't John Baird and the rest of the Conservative Party of Canada take the word of both our heroic troops in the field and our top soldier? Why won't they hold a full public inquiry?

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