Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Spinning on The World Stage (tm): the reviews are coming in

A bullet-riddled map of Afghanistan, painted on a wall of an abandoned Canadian-built school in Zharay district of Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, on June 9, 2012. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov, via The Atlantic.

Brian Stewart has a piece up suggesting Canada's Kandahar mission was advocated and addled by yes-men and looking-glass heroes.
While most Canadians may have mentally turned the page on the Afghan war, happy to forget our military's long and frustrating struggle in Kandahar province, some of our allies have not.
Increasingly, foreign military and diplomatic assessments of the war are appearing in print, and what is surfacing is not a comforting picture as far as Canada is concerned.
At the very least, one finds little support in these assessments for Ottawa's boast that the Kandahar campaign won Canada much-needed new military prestige throughout NATO, especially with key allies such as Britain and the U.S.
Rather, the impression given is of a Canadian military mission that was deeply out of its depth and politically too hesitant to ask for significant outside help.
If this is even half-way true, it means the people responsible for Canada's participation in the war - politicians, civil servants, and generals - utterly failed in their duty to speak and act in unvarnished truth.

Yesterday was Pachino Day. On that day in 1943 the better men of this land stepped off ships and landing-craft to set foot on a sun-baked Mediterranean island and began to end of the horror that was Nazi-occupied Europe and Fascist Italy.  


Edstock said...

"Rather, the impression given is of a Canadian military mission that was deeply out of its depth" . . . hmmm . . . same as it ever was. Soldiers in every generation have to learn.

Dieppe. D-day and the learning experience of the Bocage, and running up against the Kraut "A" Team, their Varsity, people like Michael Wittmann, the Schumi of tank warfare.

Canada could have saved a lot of lives in this learning curve, but unfortunately, the paper-pushers did nothing:

But we did learn, and 5 years later in Korea . . .

Gloria said...

Actually, our Canadian boys during WW11, were excellent fighting men. It was Canada who won the fight with Italy. However, the U.S. took all the glory, and rode into Rome as hero's. Same as in Holland. It was Canada who liberated Holland. Canada didn't even get an invite to the ceremony, of Hollands liberation. This angered the Dutch people, very, very much. Six members of my family, were in that war. Canadians usually got the dirty jobs, to boot.

Stupid men start wars, young men die fighting them. The war with Afghanistan, is a hopeless war. Those people are our soldiers friends by day and kill them by night.

Same as Vietnam, they couldn't tell foes from friends.

Canada's best role, is that of a peacekeeping Nation. Canada used to help the people, of war torn country's. Now we bomb them, and shoot them to death. More innocent people die in these wars, than soldiers do.

geoff said...

Hard to know what to say about Stewart's after the fact assessment of our championed buffoonery. One thing I always take with a massive lump of salt others - non-Canadians - evaluation of our "ordinaries" contributions to anything military. In this regard I'm thinking of some Brits military histories in effect calling Canadians cowards at the Battle of Hong Kong. I haven't bothered to spend any time tracing what he may have written about our Afghan fiasco during the time the actual fubar exercise was on going so my wondering what to think attitude maybe misplaced.

However I do remember writing about the snafu at the time it was occurring and it always seemed to me a glorified clusterfuck championed mainly by fools looking for some past imagined glory - similar likely to those vaguely trying to remember the significance of 1812. The main beneficiaries of this maybe one of the country's stupidest international involvements have been careerist public servants, PR loving Generals, and of course politicians of most any strip. I still get a big kick out of Ontario's Premier naming part of the 401 the highway of hero's [that part of the 401 the hearse drive down to TO so dead from dust haven can be autopsied]. Opportunism anyone? And, of course, the sainted Jack Layton championing withdrawal.

I remember a CBC local radio report when the first guys & gals were flying out of YOW to the place and a reporter interviewed one of the officer types. I was struck by how ignorant the man was about the place he was going and thought at the time that all supposed leaders, at least, should be forced to read Kathy Gannon's book "I is for Infidel" before they were flown to the place. Least publicly they would seem so gd childish.

So what, eh. I know it doesn't really matter but then again it really does to those linked to killed for no reason. I've found a link, I had provided a hook to back in 2006 but which when dead, to a story in the The TOStar which I think helps place a nice frame for considering why we even went to the place all senior military chickenshit aside:

The Road to Kandahar

At the time I link to the original TOStar article I wrote:

"If the report in the Star is accurate, then the decision to involve Canada in what could become a real mess was based on:

1- no intelligence about the actual situation in Afghanistan;
2 - military bravado: "soldiers [want] to prove themselves in combat" ...."commanders [want] to finally show their skill in managing real battlefields;
3 - paying dues for membership in the G-8;
4 - paying for having missed the Bush/Blair party in Iraq; and
5 - for some vague impression by Martin that he owed Chr├ętien something."

Boris said...

Geoff, back in the day I remember the internal mythology (voiced ad nauseum at times) in the CF was somethign to the effect that it managed to perform at par or better than NATO allies despite deficiencies in kit and budget, as the 'quality' of the Canadian soldier made him or her worth 10 Brits/Danes/USians/Dutch/etc. I half wonder if that thinking went to certain heads and the self-aggrandising myth-making became a force multiplier in the minds of some generals and politicians.

It's all so much egotistical bullshit. And proves that Canadians are just as naive, perhaps in some ways even more so, than some of our friends and allies. Yes, the sections, platoons, companies, etc all performed well at the tactical level (what would we expect of a warfighting institution born in WW2 with 50 years of NATO to perfect its art?) but larger plot-line was full of holes.