Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Rae dogpile continues

It's not that a Liberal said something stupid about military affairs - Liberals have been doing that for years. It's that it was Bob Rae. You know, the guy who ran a surprisingly successful campaign to lead the Natural Governing Party, the guy Jack Granatstein questionably calls "knowledgeable" in an otherwise decent piece in today's Globe & Mail, the guy who had the international chops to be chosen as a constitutional adviser to the Iraqi parliament. A supposed heavy-hitter.

That's one of the reasons we've been so very critical of Rae's recent idiocy around here. Well, today one of the most well-respected military observers in the country, Douglas Bland, piles on:

In a comment published in the Toronto Star (Why U.S. war resisters deserve refuge in Canada, 11 July 2008), Bob Rae pleads for Canada to accept any member of the United States armed forces who decides to desert his comrades and country and seek sanctuary in Canada. He argues that because a solider might believe that the war in Iraq is unpopular he or she therefore “faces a conflict of values and loyalties” and thus has a right to desert. Further, Canadians ought to honour this assumed right without question. Mr. Rae puts the "all-volunteer army" in a whole new light — volunteer to enlist and volunteer to leave at any time and on any whim.

If this concept is sound enough for the US armed forces, is Mr. Rae recommending it for the Canadian Forces too?

It's a neat little problem for someone who would be expected to hold an important ministerial portfolio in any future Liberal government.

But I'm afraid liberals and Liberals of Mr. Rae's vintage might not put much store in consistency, principle, or logic on such an emotional issue for them. The stark, if unintentionally revealing honesty in this Toronto Star editorial seems to sum up the prevailing mindset among Rae's political crowd:

It is time to reverse this process and recapture the spirit of the 1960s, when we welcomed those fleeing from a previous unjust war. [Babbler's emphasis]

It looks like nostalgia trumps all other considerations here. What a shame that Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition is reduced to this - a shame for Canadians relying on them to hold our government to serious account on serious matters of national defence.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Bob was the NDP Premier of Ontario it took him just a few years to devastate the Provincial economy.

Now that he has swapped political home rooms, it is obvious he is at it again within the confines of the LPC.

Godspeed Bob, you go boy.

12:54 p.m., July 17, 2008  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

This is horrible fate that one American deserter faced on return to US:

"An American army deserter who took refuge in Canada before returning to the U.S. voluntarily was given a dishonourable discharge yesterday and sentenced to nine months in jail, a close supporter said..."

So, to prevent that, Bobbity would put our relations with the US under severe strain? I don't think Mr Obama approves of desertion either.


2:45 p.m., July 17, 2008  
Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

Just loved that Star article! /sarc

First, let's be clear what James Burmeister did. He deserted from the Army in time of war.

But the Star and some people see things otherwise: "It's quite a shock to everybody," said Rawert-Trainer from Louisville, Ky. "We all thought they were going to take it easy on him because he turned himself in, but it doesn't look that way."

Take it easy on him! He theoretically could have received the death penalty for desertion in wartime. However, deserters typically receive 4 to 5 years in prison, along with the Dishonorable Discharge. They did take it easy on him, apparently for the reason that he turned himself in.

The Star goes on: "...Yesterday's ruling will likely stand up as a felony conviction, meaning Burmeister won't be allowed back into Canada, and will likely lose his right to veterans' benefits, Zaslofsky told the Star last night.

"In that case, his post-traumatic stress disorder and some of the other problems that he has won't be dealt with properly," he noted. "I just hope this isn't an ill omen for some of the other (resisters)."

First, it's not likely but a certainty that Burmeister is now a convicted felon. He plead guilty in a court-martial, apparently as part of a plea bargain to avoid a harsher prison sentence, as noted above. US Military Courts-Martial are legally considered Federal Courts, so Burmeister was convicted of a military felony in a Federal Court. That will be on his record for life.

And, no, Burmeister is permanently ineligible to receive any Veteran's Benefits. Those are reserved for those who have served honorably, receiving an Honorable Discharge, or at least the next level of discharge, "General under Honorable Conditions". (Going downwards, the next is "Undesirable Discharge", "Bad Conduct Discharge" and "Dishonorable Discharge", which may be only given on conviction in a Court-Martial.)

If Burmeister wanted access to Veteran's Benefits, he should have served honorably and earned them. As a USAF veteran of the Vietnam era, I use the Veteran's Hospitals for my medical care. (Generally excellent, BTW). It'd really **ss me off to see a Dishonorably Discharged "veteran" in a VA hospital receiving any kind of medical treatment. That benefit is reserved for men and women who served their Country honorably.

And contrary to "...I just hope this isn't an ill omen for some of the other (resisters)"("resistors", a PC euphemism for deserters in an Alternate Universe), it is an ill omen. The hopes of hard leftists are not taken into account under American military law, which is written by Congress, not by foreign hard leftist peacenik activists who give aid and comfort to US military deserters. That's called "reality", an "ill omen".

(End rant!)

2:17 p.m., July 18, 2008  
Blogger Louise said...

Great rant, Dave!!

8:03 p.m., July 18, 2008  

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