Friday, November 20, 2009

Shoes dropping

Colvin's testimony was alarming and the Conservative Party response, true to form, abysmal and disgusting. But there are shoes yet to drop regarding Afghan prisoners. So far the discussion seems to be around what happens to prisoners after Canada hands them to the ANP or ANA. The next shoe to drop will be when the stories come out about what Canadian soldiers have done to Afghan prisoners.

Right now the Canadian Forces are something of a boundary object. Left and right have taken pains avoid directly criticising or negatively commenting on the CF. True, the right confuses supporting the troops with supporting the war, and others do not, but I definitely sense a reluctance to directly criticise the military in reference to Afghanistan. All sides, no matter the stance on the war, seem to view the armed forces as something in need of support both in voice and action, it is only the mission that is questioned. Missing among the images of flag draped coffins, troops on patrol, troops in vehicles, yellow ribbon magnets and the like, and narratives about how hard it is in Afghansistan, are descriptions of what actually happens when a firefight turns deadly, or a suspicious local is picked up. Maybe this is partly the success of a propaganda machine, or maybe it is the public and political pendulum swinging the other way post-Somalia. Maybe something else. Whichever the case, it's only gonna get worse from here.

Most human beings, given enough time in a new place, adopt its norms of thinking and custom. It should therefore come as no surprise that one of the effects of deploying soldiers in a corrupt and poorly defined war, is that eventually the nature of the war will be reflected in the troops fighting it.

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