Tuesday, August 29, 2006

You want support? Earn it.

I don't normally pay attention to this kind of blather, but this particular post deserves some treatment considering certain portions are intentionally deceiving.

First, the title. The shrill beaver. Apparently the author doesn't accept that questioning those in power is reasonable.

Then this:

Can a beaver run with it’s tail between it’s legs?
A clear indication that the author thinks this post contains a suggestion that Canada withdraw its military forces from Afghanistan.

There is no such suggestion in that post. My suggestion is that Harper keeps touting "Canadian values" as the reason for being in Afghanistan and I'm not buying that line of bullshit.

The author is directed, in comments, to prior posts at TGB which point out that his basic premise is seriously flawed. He then goes on to suggest that he has difficulty reconciling any support I might have for the Afghanistan mission with what I've written.

He wants me to put in print something like this: "I, without reservation, support the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan."

Except that, I don't. My support comes with serious reservations, not the least of which is that I expect Harper to behave with a great deal more honesty. And, I have one other very good reason for questioning a committment of troops to combat.

I absolutely despise war.

I have a good reason for that too. Unlike the microchip militia, who cheerlead the use of military force without qualification, I've been exposed to war and combat - up close and personal - more than once. I've got a chestful of useless gongs and some permanent shrapnel wounds to remind me of days which I would rather have missed in my life.

I've experienced the exhilaration of close-quarters battle and the years of remorse that follow because I had no choice but to kill the teenage soldiers in the fire-pit to my front.

I've been beside a good man, a highly competent marine, who suddenly dropped like a bag of shit while I got splattered with flesh and blood. The movies make it look so much more dramatic and heroic than it really is. The truth is just a bloody, fucking mess.

I've been on the right flank of a patrol when the man on point stepped on a landmine. And all we could do was watch as he lay there screaming, his viscera splayed over the ground, the lower half of his body gone. He lived for over five minutes while the medic did a drill on him - with morphine auto-injectors. It ended with a colour sergeant screaming, "FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!" because he had been unable to protect a good man.

I've watched kids die. It ends everything. Their personalities cease to be a part of the team; their humour stops; their dreams end; and, their death affects a hundred other people - permanently.

I've had to call fire down on my own position while I watched my men nod. They knew, as I did, that there was little chance we would get out of it alive, much less unscathed. It was necessary at the time and the cost of that act is paid for in year after year of nightmares.

I have a direct and long-service association with both British and Canadian militaries. I have an affinity for the people who serve in those militaries and I have an interest in how they are committed. My interest is in their welfare, how they're led and how safe they are. Whether anyone likes to admit it or not, they are kids on an adventure. They won't come home that way.

I'm not "anti-war". I am, however, highly skeptical whenever troops are committed to combat. I expect that the real reasons for going to war will be clearly enunciated by the politicians who continue to live in comfort and convenience while others suffer and die.

To provide unreserved support for the Afghanistan mission is not only stupid, it is irresponsible. And, it is not contingent upon me to provide alternatives to the decisions of the self-styled warrior class, those who are prepared to waste lives while not risking theirs, be they prime ministers, presidents or keyboard commandos.

I will question everything about the Afghanistan mission. My support comes only when I receive rational, truthful answers. The canned rhetorical responses of the politicians serve only to cause my skepticism to increase. The fact that the initial assault on Afghanistan was a total cock-up and the US definition of "reconstruction" doesn't seem to carry with it any form of accountability only fuels my desire to question the whole thing.

And as for this:

It’s difficult to reconcile his support for the mission and his experience with his post(s). I’ll take your word for it
Please, don't waste your fucking time. Your opinion doesn't matter to me.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that most Canadians, after reading of another soldier killed in Afghanistan, ponder whether to return their empty beer bottles or shine up the motorcycle. Almost no one considers that there are 27 Canadians who can never entertain such mundane thoughts because they were blown away in a mission that appears to lack long-term definition and has gone on longer than the US involvement in World War II.

Shrill? If you say so, pencil-neck. Just think. You could have used churlish.

You're welcome to yomp a mile in my old combat boots. On second thought, make that 50 yards. There's little point in continuing once the laughter starts.

Update: I would point out that KevinG has apologized to his readers for the comment which precipitated this post. As one of his regular readers, I accept that apology without reservation.

One of our regular readers asked that I provide a link to the Military/Civilian Compact which I described back in June. Here it is.

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