Friday, November 14, 2008

An acid test

Please excuse the gruesome pun. Michael Den Tandt asks in the Sun papers:
Do we still recognize a 'just' war?

Immoral, they say. I don't get that. I doubt the eight Kandahar schoolgirls who were sprayed with battery acid this week would get it either, if anyone bothered to ask for their opinion.

We are so comfortable, it seems, with relativity. To call the Taliban evil is terribly unfashionable. Better to persuade ourselves that there are no good guys and no bad guys, anywhere.

In 10 days, some 2,000 high school students from across Canada will gather in Ortona, Italy, to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Ortona, which took place in December of 1943. This battle has long been eclipsed in Canadian history by the Invasion of Normandy. There is an effort underway now to bring the heroism of Canada's Ortona veterans to light.

Lately I've been reading about this battle, in books such as And No Birds Sang, by Farley Mowat, and Ortona, by Mark Zuehlke. Here's what I take away from my reading: The experience of combat was no different then from now. If anything it was more horrifying then, because human life seems to have been cheaper 65 years ago.

The 1,375 Canadian men who were killed at Ortona, most in brutal close-quarters fighting, were generally in their late teen and early 20s. Even the senior officers tended to be quite young. The strategic objectives sought and achieved at Ortona by Gen. Bernard Montgomery, commander of the British 8th Army, were debatable even at the time.


Yet the mindset that emerges time and time again in first-hand accounts by men who fought at Ortona, is one of devotion to duty, to their fellow soldiers, and a grim determination to see it through...

Every party in Parliament now endorses the idea that Canada must leave Afghanistan in 2011, win, lose or draw.


Will our NATO allies still need us in 2011? Will the Afghans whom we've trained and supported still need us? Well, yes. No knowledgeable person thinks Afghanistan will be stable by 2011.

Former Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier famously predicted it would take 20 years, and he was right.

But that requires commitment, grit, patience, endurance and a willingness to suffer. All of which are laudable in retrospect, through the lens of history, in wars long ago.

But today, now, in our time? Immoral.

We'd rather leave, and turn Afghanistan back over to people who throw acid on schoolgirls, in the name of God. Go figure.
While Raphael Alexander deals with...

The Afghan Question

The Torch asks:

Do Canadians care about Afstan any more?

Yes, I still care about Afghanistan.

Every day we stand on guard between the foes of the innocent is a day Canadians have helped the Afghan people.

We must not allow these monsters to return to power.
St. Rick Salutin of the Globe and Mail certainly avoids even a suggestion of "relativity":
Silly me. I thought the "double standard" mentioned in a Globe and Mail editorial after the release of kidnapped CBC reporter Mellissa Fung might refer to all the security resources available to Western mainstream journalists, versus their absence among ordinary Afghans, such as schoolgirls blinded by acid in Kandahar...

...Barack Obama, meanwhile, will celebrate his inauguration by ratcheting up violence in Afghanistan. The U.S. commander there has requested 20,000 more troops, which will still leave them with far fewer than the Soviets had when they were chased out. But it should be enough to bomb some more weddings [emphasis added].

Mellissa Fung says she most regrets not finishing a story on refugees that she was doing when kidnapped. But that's a timeless tale that, at most, will spread sadness and despair among viewers without offering a clue about what caused it all or where to go now. The real story is exactly what happened to her: the dearth of security - which has only ever been aggravated by pouring more foreign troops into Afghanistan.
As Mr Den Tandt wrote, "go figure".


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