Friday, March 26, 2010

When injured soldiers become annual statistics

We are a small country, population-wise, and every military death in Afghanistan, whether battle-related or not, has been reported in local and national newspapers, accompanied by a solemn, usually young, face looking straight at the observer. With every report of a death, there has been the number of wounded, too, until recently.

That was why many people were surprised to hear of the death in an Edmonton hospital of Corporal Darren Fitzpatrick of severe injuries to his lower body by an IED outside Kandahar. He was treated first in Kandahar, then the U.S. hospital in Germany. He was stabilized and brought back to Canada at his family's request and died the next day. He spoke to them before he died, a small comfort, I suppose, in a world of hurt.

But if he had not died, we wouldn't have known. The Department of National Defense does not report the number or severity of injuries, only the number of casualties so Canadians in general are completely unaware of them.

But now the propaganda is coming out, even if the facts aren't.

Canada forbids reporting of battlefield wounded

"The Canadian military has quietly stopped reporting when soldiers are wounded on the battlefield and will instead deliver annual statistics to the public.

The stark policy shift is described as a deliberate attempt to keep the Taliban in the dark."

"The weekend death of Corporal Darren Fitzpatrick in an Edmonton trauma centre brought the directive to the forefront. The 21-year-old was mortally wounded in a previously unreported March 6 roadside bombing."

Apart from the deliberate attempt to keep the horrible consequences of an ill-conceived war from Canadian citizens, it was the cool determination to relegate them to annual statistics that bothered me the most.

First, how many years are we expecting to be reporting these statistics? I thought the "mission", whatever it is, is supposed to be finished in 2011, although that seems highly in doubt now.

And second, since when do military injuries become numbers to be reported like the annual per capita consumption of cheddar cheese or the vacation destinations of the traveling populace?

It's the second line of that quote that tells it all, though, that the withholding of injury statistics would keep the "Taliban in the dark".

One problem with that, though. The Taliban were there. They saw what happened and they send the information to their network. They don't send GPS-guided rockets or direct missile-laden drones from miles or continents or hemispheres away.

So, who exactly is being kept in the dark here, eh?

We have become a nation of mushrooms.


  1. This is a [secret] war. No one is suppose to know what is happening. They are doing the ir best to keep this off of people minds. The wars are rarely on the news.
    What does come out is filtered, and propaganda for our military endeavors.
    They pawned Marja off as a city of 80,000 people, and a stronghold of the Taliban. When in actuality it is a spread out farm community. The Taliban control 80% of Afghanistan. How many boots on the ground do they want to destroy, build, and hold.

    They are treating our soldiers like numbers. As if they are a commodity, that is traded on the stock market. Every human life is precious. Yet, they treat them as throwaways.
    As long as they do not report the truth. The longer they will keep this insanity going.

  2. Oh, yes, RZ. Propaganda is alive and well in the 21st century. Recently, the CBC has been putting on a documentary series called Love, Hate and Propaganda, mainly to do with WW2 but just as relevant today. Movies, cartoons, posters - all meant to convince people that war was really where they wanted to be.

    Love, Hate and Propaganda

    All the old arguments are there. If you didn't agree, you were a traitor or a coward. Yesterday's episode showed the spin on Dieppe, all of which was written beforehand. The version to be released depended on the outcome.
    They had everything - the embedded reporters, the unqualified success of the mission, and, when the real story came out, the tales of individual bravery.

    And people keep falling for it, over and over. After the disaster that is Iraq you'd think people wouldn't fall for the bomb-bomb-Iran thing, but it looks like they are.

    Off on a tangent - I used to like that Beach Boys song, but now all I can see is the sniggering McCain as he advocated killing millions.