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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Thoughts on Military Intelligence: 

I’m not a fan of the military, and especially the culture of it. Phil Ochs had it right about the universal soldier. Every society takes its young, under-confident, and economically marginalized and throws them into the business of dying for the homeland. A careful look at the ins and outs of making soldiers, be it in George Orwell’s, oh I mean George Bush’s United States, or in Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand or even little Cuba, and you will always find that soldiers are generally more committed to the art of war than loyalty to any flavour of nationalism or particular state banner. They are professionals, so it is thought, and they do what they need to do to get the job done.

Hence when the U.S. sends its troops to Iraq to hunt down a-bombs that don’t exist, the troops don’t question it, they, just like Swiss Mercenaries, go to where the boss sends them. In the war on terror, which is about as close as we’re going to get to the war on everyone, the boss gave the green light for torture, preemptive attack and super-surveillance on one and all. Again, Guantanamo Bay rails against the Geneva Conventions, but the soldiers and functionaries that perform the interrogation and torture do not question it; they just get on with it.

So, considering all this, I was really alarmed to read in Canada’s Globe and Mail, an editorial that tried to dismiss the seriousness of recent charges that Canadian troops in Afghanistan are abusing prisoners. The word was leaked out to the public from within the military, and already the media is helping with spin control.

The Globe has been a big fan of the war in Afghanistan, and anyone who questions loyalty to the job and the purpose of Canadian troops on the ground is pretty well a terrorist himself, according to them. When rumours of prisoner abuse came out the Globe responded by saying that there are channels for identifying and disciplining military misconduct. Let’s let the army figure it out for itself.

They then it went on to remind the world that Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan “dress up like ordinary farmers” and “they don’t play by the rules of war.”

Oh fuck me dead. “Dress up like farmers?” What the hell do you think that these people are wearing when no one is looking? Any chance that the people Canada is killing in Afghanistan are nothing more than poorly educated, rural and isolated farmers who live a little too close to Halliburton’s pipeline development project of shipping oil from Turkmenistan to Pakistan?

I mean, if the Taliban can dress up as farmers, then certainly abusive hard-asses can dress up as Canadian soldiers. We do well in this country to poo poo the U.S. on how their soldiers behave. But let’s not forget that the culture of soldiery is a world-wide phenomenon, and if the U.S. troops are capable of prisoner abuse so too are Canadian.

In Canada we really do drop the ball when it comes to self-criticism on certain issues, and we’re certainly miles away from any real critical dialogue on, not just why our troops are really in Afghanistan, but what it is, exactly, that they are doing there.

I’ll give U.S. society two thumbs on this front, because they are at least entertaining and opening up critical dialogue as to what the real goals of the war on terror are. I only hope that Canadians, and others, can bring similar criticism to the forefront.


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