Monday, August 20, 2007


Impolitical quite tactfully called it Inappropriate. Harper has a habit of going beyond the bounds of inapposite comment when trying to peddle Canadian involvement in Afghanistan and this is no different.
In his statement of condolences, Mr. Harper linked Pte. Longtin to the Canadian soldiers who landed on Aug. 19, 1942, at Dieppe.

“In marking the 65th anniversary of the Dieppe raid, we pay tribute to the soldiers of our past. The sacrifices of soldiers like Private Longtin carry on this legacy today, helping to bring stability and peace to parts of the world plagued by turmoil and upheaval,” the Prime Minister said.

Impolitical is being generous and Harper doesn't deserve it.

The linkage made by our over-protected little war-lover and military groupie was more than inappropriate. It was obscene.

The Dieppe raid shone a light on something we as a nation had to learn the hard way. Operation Jubilee, despite the attempt to portray it as a valuable pre-invasion exercise, saw 1554 Allied troops killed, 950 of them Canadian. 2340 Canadians were wounded or captured. All of this in an operation that had previously been cancelled but which was conducted anyway - without the approval of the WW2 Combined Chiefs of Staff, and without up-to-date information and intelligence.

The truth is, the disaster of the Dieppe Raid taught Canadian commanders and (back in Canada) political leaders to be very wary of our allies. While Canadian commanders leading the Canadian expeditionary force training in the UK were eager to get into "the fight", they accepted far too much on the word of Combined Operations chief Louis Mountbatten and were led to believe that Operation Jubilee was simply the aborted Operation Rutter, rescheduled and renamed. This despite the fact that Mountbatten staged the operation in secret, never had proper authority to carry it off, (thus, could not involve the proper intelligence authorities), changed the order of battle so significantly as to eliminate naval and air bombardment preceding the landing, and did not have the airborne assault, originally included in Rutter, to secure the flanks of the landing areas.

What we learned then, and should have always kept firmly at the front of our collective minds, is that when our allies, then and now, really find themselves in a stretch and really want Canada to commit militarily, they're pretty much prepared to lie to us.

That happened in August 1942 and it happened again when the Bush administration handed NATO the botched mess they had made of Afghanistan through lack of diligence and an otherwise distracting agenda of conquest elsewhere.

Harper's linkage of a soldier killed due to enemy action in Afghanistan and the disaster that was the Dieppe Raid demonstrates his poor grasp of history and his inability to get past the artificial "glory" associated with war.

Linkages to the mission in Afghanistan and the 2nd World War are completely bogus. The raison d'etre of the two are entirely different and, despite the subterfuge which led to the slaughter at Dieppe, the troops recognized a distinct need for their service, faced a clearly identifiable threat and were tasked with eliminating a regime which had already subjugated the free states of Europe. Afghanistan, aside from the initial invasion and plans to rebuild a failed and hijacked state, has already gone sideways thanks to one country's short attention span.

Harper would do well to learn why the soldiers we have committed to Afghanistan do what they do. They have a loyalty to their units and their comrades. They are testing themselves. But they would go wherever we, as a nation, would send them. It's their job.

And Harper needs to learn that linkages to the events of the 2nd World War and the events in Afghanistan demonstrate a callous lack of compassion for the families of those killed in both events. He also needs to learn, although I hold out no hope for this, that there is no "glory" in dying while in uniform.

He would do well to restrict his statements to offering simple and direct condolences to the families of those whose untimely death he is addressing. Say what is officially required of him as a prime minister and stop trying to embellish his words with the counterfeit garnish of past glory.

Not that I would ever expect Harper, who "missed that opportunity" in his life, to ever understand this, but Le Royal 22e Regiment might have preferred a reference, if one had to be made, to their own long regimental history. The 2nd Canadian Division landed at Dieppe. During WW2, Le R22eR were a part of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade in the 1st Canadian Division. The Van Doos landed in Sicily.

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