The hypocritical comment about “I support the Soldiers but don’t support their mission” popped up again, coincindently this article came across my desk. The link leads to a “pay site” so I am reproducing the entire article.
ot really on a Canadian rant here, it just happens that this is a Canadian paper and author. Apply as required for involved country - USA, Australia, Canada, etc.
[quote]Love the soldiers? Love the soldiering
Toronto Globe and Mail
Monday, September 4, 2006
I covered Jack Layton during the last federal election. I like him. I know him not to be a stupid man, and he’s certainly fun. We exchanged iPods on the campaign plane one day. I used to joke and call myself his unofficial publicist, so shamelessly affectionate were the pieces I filed from my time on his tour.
I saw him on CBC Newsworld yesterday afternoon and if I could have, I would have reached into my television set and grabbed him by the throat – anything to shake some sense into him and knock off that pious expression of sorrow.
Mr. Layton had his sad face on. This is what our politicians wear when they talk about dead Canadian soldiers. Mr. Layton is not alone in this. And I don’t doubt that he also was genuinely sad, or that all of them are sad.
But of the major federal parties, only Mr. Layton and the New Democrats want to invite the killers of Canadian soldiers to the negotiating table.
He was on the tube because four young Canadians from the Royal Canadian Regiment were killed yesterday; it must be of some considerable comfort to their families that as part of the fallout, folks like Mr. Layton were invited on air to give their views.
It is not putting it too harshly to say that Mr. Layton would engage in the “comprehensive peace process” he envisions for Afghanistan with the killers of these young men.
Indeed, he said as much last week. “We believe that a comprehensive peace process has to bring all combatants to the table. You don’t accomplish peace if those who are fighting are not involved in the peace-based discussion,” he said. Asked if by this he meant the Taliban, Mr. Layton repeated, “A comprehensive peace process has to bring all the combatants to the table.” Since the combatants include on one side the soldiers of the North-Atlantic-Treaty-Organization-led coalition there at the request of the Afghan government, and on the other the Taliban and their ragtag collection of allies, it’s pretty clear what he meant.
I wonder how he might actually swing it, were he the PM and that process was starting today. Would he chide the “combatants” (“Bad Taliban!”) even as he welcomed them to the peace talks? Would he pull out the chairs for their representatives? Would he pour the tea for those who have killed 23 Canadian soldiers this year?
Mr. Layton, as he briefly reminded Newsworld viewers yesterday, doesn’t think this is the mission for Canada; there isn’t the “proper balance” between nation-building and combat; the soldiers ought to be brought home next February.
This is all part of the party’s effort to position itself as being supportive of the troops while also being opposed to the mission. Of course it is possible to do both things. Anyone with a shred of intelligence knows that Canadian soldiers go only where their government tells them to go, do only what their government asks them to do: The soldiers should always be supported, because they only do the bidding of their political masters. If the political masters get it wrong, soldiers ought not to carry the can.
But Mr. Layton and the NDP take this one step further. He and they want to be seen as soldier-loving.
This is a fraud, as even a cursory parsing of Mr. Layton’s statement last week illustrates. It’s pretty clear what New Democrats don’t like: They don’t like the “aggressive” nature of the mission; they don’t like that it’s a counterinsurgency; they don’t like the “combat” thrust of it.
But combat is what all soldiers are trained to do, and was even where there were actually places in the world for peacekeepers. Aggression is part of who soldiers are, as integral as boots and weapons, and was even when Canadians were posted in Cyprus. Aggression is not a bad thing or a character flaw; it is a prerequisite of those who wear what soldiers call the “green suit,” the uniform.
Now, it happens that Canadian soldiers are also good at the softer skills of their trade.
They can sit down with village elders, build a bridge physically or metaphorically and make friends with school children as well as and probably better than any other soldiers in the world. They are gentle when circumstances allow, and hard when they don’t, and they can switch gears in a New York minute.
But they are also terrific, courageous and dogged soldiers, and to be perfectly frank, for many of them, combat is considered the only real test of professionalism.
In the early days of the mission in Kandahar province, when the Canadians were just beginning to get the lay of the land and the Taliban was still getting the measure of them, our soldiers were holding two and three shuras a day and giving out toys to lovely Afghan children at every turn. Then, starting in February, their vehicles began to get blown up by roadside bombs and suiciders, and then the Taliban ambushes began, and then the rocket and mortar attacks on their patrol bases.
The time for peacemaking was over, and the war was on: The Canadians are there to provide security such that Afghanistan can rebuild. The former necessarily comes first. Reconstruction efforts and capacity-building for the new Afghan government haven’t ended, but for months now, they have taken a back seat to fighting.
One of the last interviews I had this July in Afghanistan was with a young captain who had just returned from weeks of combat. He described entering the smouldering ruin of an elementary school the Taliban had occupied and gutted, burning everything – children’s desks, little pictures of the students, drawings on the wall. As much as anything else, he was shaken by the raw evidence of nihilism.
That’s what the Taliban do – burn schools, threaten teachers, behead and target those who would build up, as opposed to reduce to ashes. Oh yes, they kill too.
They are wonderfully egalitarian about it, to be fair. The NDP would have to admire that spirit. The Taliban kill Canadians, Americans, Romanians and the British, too, and try to kill soldiers from the other countries (there are seven key ones, but a total of 26 NATO members contributing to the mission) that make up the coalition in Afghanistan, although mostly who they kill are Afghans, especially civilians who either get in the way of their roadside bombs and suicide bombers or don’t get out of the way (usually because the Taliban are occupying their homes and hiding behind them) when they decide it’s time to fight.
As Mr. Layton said in that speech now posted on the party website, New Democrats may “grieve with each family that loses a loved one in this and all conflicts, or sees a loved one injured in the line of duty,” but their grief is dishonest. You can’t position yourself as a soldier-lover when you loathe soldiering.
That statement ends with a pitch for donations and a call for signatures on a petition. “Support our troops,” it says.
In a pig’s ear.