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.


22 comments:

Renee said...

Damn straight.

Cherniak_WTF said...

No abuse in Afganistan?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagram_torture_and_prisoner_abuse

What's so hard to believe that it's not common.


All I see is the Conservatives refining their denial...

Jon said...

Exactly. Protecting the guilty is a slight against all soldiers.

Luna said...

What's so hard to believe is the utter lack of outrage. I've heard people saying, "It's not our problem, because it's not our troops doing the torture!" PUHLEEZE. And then there's the "Well... duh!" people. I've felt that way myself. But if we know it's going on and aren't SCREAMING for it to stop, aren't we complicit? I dunno. Pisses me off. All of it.

wereadwhatyouwrite said...

It seems that the standard approach to the issue is to lay it on Martin and claim the Harperites were cleaning up the mess. See the Iceman for details.

thebanana said...

Peter McKay is STILL lying through his teeth.

KEvron said...

o/t, but this. has to be shared.

KEvron

The Seer said...

So suppose you’re a Canadian trooper, and you’ve gotten past the urge to shoot them all, whether they’re trying to surrender or not. What are you going to do with them?

Give them to the Americans?

Open your own POW camp?

M@ said...

So suppose you’re a Canadian trooper, and you’ve gotten past the urge to shoot them all, whether they’re trying to surrender or not. What are you going to do with them?

Maybe that's a question that should've been asked before we agreed to take on a combat role there. Or at some point between taking on that role and whenever the prisoner transfers stopped -- if indeed they ever did really stop.

I don't necessarily agree that the entire Canadian Forces is responsible for this; these are policy decisions, standing orders, the kinds of things that are decided at a high level. Like the Minister of Defence, or the CDC.

When those guys are forced to answer for it, I'll be interested.

And remembering David "Slaphead" Collenette's performance on the stand during the Somalia hearings, I don't think I'm going to be very interested in the results of any of this.

CC said...

M@ writes:

"I don't necessarily agree that the entire Canadian Forces is responsible for this; these are policy decisions, standing orders, the kinds of things that are decided at a high level. Like the Minister of Defence, or the CDC."

But, M@, I've been assured that none of these people had any idea that this was happening. Stephen Harper told me so. And my thought processes are simply the logical conclusion of taking Harper at his word.

See how that works?

The Seer said...

Stephen Harper's policy is not to have a policy and to lay the blame as far down the chain of command as the traffic will bear. He's as supportive of the troops as CC. What is a "minority government" to do? When will someone put Canada out of its pain? Which in turn is the question the loyal opposition wants to avoid.

Ti-Guy said...

o/t, but this. has to be shared.

And just what do you want me to do with that Mr. KEvron? Start organising weekend safaris to Ohio for Toronto adventure tourists?

...y'know, that's not a bad idea.

bocanut said...

Shorter CC:
Finally, I can start telling everyone who's had an active Armed Forces family member killed in combat to go and "Fuck their grief"

The Seer said...

Dear Brother bocanut:

How do we get from trying to establish responsibility for "deliberately letting things run out of control" to "telling everyone who's had an active Armed Forces family member killed in combat to go and "Fuck their grief?"

You're as much help to Canada as Stephen Harper.

The Seer said...

Start organising weekend safaris to Ohio for Toronto adventure tourists?

See, if she was really interested in selling books, she'd take her tour to Calgary.

Ti-Guy said...

They don't have those kinds of wingnuts in Calgary. She'd be better off going to London, Ontario.

Ti-Guy said...

By the way, I'm seeing enormous naked breasts on the Space channel right now.

Go Canada!

liberal supporter said...

Dear The Seer:
The bocanut doesn't have good reading skills. Just ask anyone here. They keep saying "stop messaging me, you creep. I've told you I wasn't interested every one of the 20 times you messaged me. Now fuck off!!!".
But he doesn't seem to get it.

KEvron said...

"And just what do you want me to do with that Mr. KEvron?"

spill your drink laughing?

KEvron

bocanut said...

The Seer said...
"Dear Brother bocanut:

How do we get from trying to establish responsibility for "deliberately letting things run out of control" to "telling everyone who's had an active Armed Forces family member killed in combat to go and "Fuck their grief?"

You're as much help to Canada as Stephen Harper.

9:40 PM"

Do you really believe that someone who told the mother of a slain soldier to "go fuck her grief" could EVER have supported Canadian troops?

Ti-Guy said...

How's the matchmaking going, Boa? Gettin' any?

The Seer said...

That's cold.