Oh, this morning's Globe is just a bottomless fount of amusing war-related developments. For starters, poor Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor is taking a beating, but not from whom you'd expect:
Minister under fire -- some of it friendly
... "I think [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper has clearly undermined him," Liberal defence critic Ujjal Dosanjh said yesterday. "Whether or not it was intentional, only Mr. Harper would know." ...
First came Mr. Harper's climbdown Friday over a controversial ban on media coverage of repatriation ceremonies for Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Mr. O'Connor was caught off guard not only by the reversal, sources say, but also by the manner in which Mr. Harper announced it -- saying he had left "fairly clear" instructions to leave decisions on media access up to soldiers' families.
For weeks, and with the Prime Minister's apparent backing, Mr. O'Connor had been saying the exact opposite.
Whoops. Poor Gord. Apparently, he hasn't quite figured out that, when it comes to party loyalty, Stephen Harper looks out for Stephen Harper. But the O'Connor embarrassment doesn't end there:
Most recently, in Question Period on Wednesday, Mr. O'Connor appeared to contradict a senior Canadian military commander's assertion that Taliban and al-Qaeda combatants are not accorded prisoner-of-war status under the Geneva Conventions.
"He's obviously not clear on what part of the Geneva Conventions applies to these prisoners that we take," Mr. Dosanjh said.
Mr. O'Connor's missteps are undermining his leadership of the Canadian military, which for the first time in decades is conducting combat operations and taking significant battlefield casualties, Mr. Dosanjh said.
Whether captives have full Geneva status "is not the first issue where he is not clear," Mr. Dosanjh said. "He has been less than clear on many things . . . on the lowering of the flag, on whether or not the families [of those killed in combat] were consulted with respect to the media ban."
Then there's O'Connor's just plain dumbass cluelessness on those quaint Geneva Conventions:
Canada's Defence Minister and the country's military high command are marching to different drummers on the rights of enemy detainees and the conflict needs to be resolved, Liberal defence critic Ujjal Dosanjh said yesterday.
Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor told the House of Commons on Wednesday that when the Canadian military "takes prisoners, it will always follow the rules of the Geneva Convention. There is no lower standard than that."
That appears to be at odds with a directive to Canadian soldiers fighting in Afghanistan that there is a different standard: treating detainees humanely but denying them full "prisoner of war" status under the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
"I don't believe he understands what he is saying," Mr. Dosanjh said. "I find it incredible that Mr. O'Connor would say what he's said in relation to the Geneva Conventions.
And the cross-border parallels continue. The United States has a senile, bewildered civilian head of its armed forces ... I don't really have to finish that thought, do I?