Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where we should put our boots

This little gem by Murray Brewster was hidden on the bottom of p. 4 of the Globe and Mail on Monday.

U.S. probing ways to keep Canada in Afghanistan

Obama Democrats have quietly sounded out power brokers in Ottawa looking for advice on how to convince war-weary Canadians to keep military forces in Afghanistan after 2011.

Conscious of the deep political and public opposition to extending the mission further, American officials - political and military - are struggling to understand concerns and identify the right arguments to make to the Harper government to "keep Canadian boots on the ground," defence sources said.

Interesting assumption, that. Struggling to understand concerns? Hmmmm, that's a tough one. How about 120 dead soldiers. That's equivalent to 1200 or thereabouts when scaled up to the population of the U.S. How about spiraling costs of war, double the initial estimate. How about the fact that it's not about the "right argument", since there's no right way to fight a wrong war.

Or maybe we're just too dim up here to really understand it all properly, or maybe we understand it all too well.

I know where we should be putting our Canadian "boots", and it ain't on the ground in Afghanistan.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


More from Jeff Huber at Pen and Sword. A low-down on the new ubercommander Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan.


The Toronto Star is doing a series on the mental turmoil of soldiers returning from Afghanistan - the warrant officer who beats up his wife or tries to strangle her in his sleep, the young man who has been charged with assault since his return, the guy who self-medicates just to keep going.

A conventional assessment says that 25% of returning soldiers have mental illnesses that require treatment. One problem. Here, like everywhere else, there aren't enought doctors, nurses and others to help them. Medication is not helping much. Some are just told to "suck it up" by their commanding officers, as the mother of one young man who committed suicide said.

Support the troops, indeed.


The flight path of the planes carrying the bodies of the dead soldiers goes over here quite often. The ground shakes when they rumble over, the air vibrates and sometimes the old limestone that characterises this area rings with the sound. You know that there are relatives waiting, turned to stone by their grief, hoping up until the last minute that maybe it was all a mistake. The last one was only twenty years old.

This is madness.