Monday, February 08, 2010

Six thousand

Hill Times:
More than 6,000 Canadian Forces members and discharged veterans who are receiving physical or psychiatric disability benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada have either served in Afghanistan or have a disability that has been related to their service in Afghanistan, the department says.

But the Veterans Affairs Department, in a series of email exchanges, told The Hill Times roughly 2,200 Canadian Forces "clients" are now receiving disability benefits related to their service in Afghanistan. The department said a further 4,100 veteran clients have Afghanistan service identified in their records "but their benefits are not necessarily related to the Afghanistan mission."

During a series of interviews with media relations officers from the Canadian Forces, The Hill Times learned the Canadian Forces does not disclose the nature and severity of wounds suffered during combat in Afghanistan or the nature of non-combat injuries. The veterans affairs department, for its part, said it could not link the number of specific disabilities, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, other psychiatric conditions or even limb amputations, with service in the Afghanistan war.


I have in storage a large tupperware box of newspaper clippings, photos and other paraphenalia relating to family members who served and in more than one case, were killed, in wars from South Africa to the Second World War. Many of the newspaper clippings come from major and local sources and contain details of local dead and wounded and often the circumstances leading to those outcomes. Figures and details (where possible) on wounded were made public during the largest war between the most sophisticated alliances the world has ever seen.

In this little fight in on the far side of the world, only the dead are acknowledged. Wounds are not discussed. Wounded are not voluntarily publicly counted. Enemy intelligence has nothing to do with this secrecy. Nazi and Imperial Japanese intelligence apparatus were monumentally far more sophisticated and reaching than anything the Taleban can muster and yet information was still released to the public.

The secrecy is about politics and a government bent keeping Canadians in the dark lest we get the wrong impression. Instead of solid information, we get stickers and T-shirts and other shiny objects. Those who ask the wrong sort of questions are then labelled by Conservative politicians and their frothing blog-minions as supporters of the enemy: a very serious charge used instead as a politically partisan joke.

You can theorise a law about this brief comparison if you hold WW2 to be a legitimate war:

The legitimacy of a war is positively correlated to the quality of information available to the public about that war.

Seems a given that a great deal of the secrecy around the Afghanistan exists to protect the war supporters' political and emotional capital investment in it. Six Thousand Canadian casualties to protect the fragile little sensibilities of a handful of wingnuts.

Thwap & Sir Francis, a n d Jimbobby have more.

No comments: