Monday, November 23, 2009
Support the troops? I don't think so.
For quite some time, numerous progressives have made the argument that, even if you don't support Canada's mission in Afghanistan, you can still support the troops themselves. There was -- quite correctly -- a careful distinction made between supporting Canada's military men and women, versus supporting the idiotic and ill-defined clusterfuck that is Afghanistan. And I was one of those people. I'm now here to tell you that I no longer support Canada's military. No, wait, hear me out.
At this point, it is beyond question that some members of Canada's military are guilty of war crimes. The testimony of one Richard Colvin, increasingly corroborated by many others, is simply irrefutable. Some members of the Canadian military -- in handing over Afghani detainees that they suspected full well were going to be tortured -- are undeniably guilty of war crimes. There's simply no question anymore, and it's pointless denying it.
But are all of Canada's military guilty of those same war crimes? Of course not, don't be silly, what a ridiculous thing to say. Unfortunately, here's the sticking point.
Canada's military has now had its reputation smeared in a particularly ugly way, and the only way to restore it is with a fair and thorough investigation, to ferret out the criminals who are responsible. That sounds simple enough -- find and punish the culprits and, in the process, clear everyone else who didn't have anything to do with it. Ah, but there's the rub.
Because the Stephen Harper Party of Canada has no interest in an investigation. Or a public inquiry. And in refusing to figure who is responsible, Canada's Conservatives have implicitly condemned everyone in uniform to being a war criminal.
Is that fair? Probably not. But there are lots of occasions where guilt has to be a collective thing. If you can't punish the actual lawbreaker, sadly, everyone's going to pay the price. And if the Harperistas insist on covering for the crooks and refusing to hold anyone accountable, then everyone is going down with that particular ship.
Again, is that fair? No, not really. But it's the only option left to us. Either we learn who's really responsible for obvious war crimes and punish them, or the entire military takes it on the chin. And it's painfully clear that Stephen Harper, rather than try to get to the bottom of this, is more than happy to hang Canada's entire military out to dry.
So, not to put to fine a point on it, but if no one's interested in identifying the specific people who broke the laws we're discussing here, then Canada's entire military can piss off. I have no illusions about what effect my public disapproval will have. Precisely none, of course. It's not as if anyone in a position of power gives a crap about what I think, and I'm fairly sure my loss of confidence will increase the danger to our soldiers overseas in no measurable way whatsoever. But unless someone is held accountable, I have no choice but to hold everyone accountable. Because that's the only choice Stephen Harper has left me with.
The right-wing, idiot outrage based on this post will, of course, be swift and savage, coming from precisely those people who have vowed to defend "free speech" to the death, but where does that CC get off saying stuff like that? ("free speech" being generally reserved for their opinions but no one else's). But I don't see any option here. Either the rot in Canada's military is located and removed, or it's all rot. There is no door number three.
And given how moderately pissed I am at the moment, we'll give A. Whitney Brown the last word. Just because.