Sunday, August 05, 2007

Why the Hostility?

Hostility directed at war mother underscores shortcomings of Canada's anti-war movement

Those with a long enough memory surely remember the countroversy provoked by vicious bloglodyte Canadian Cynic when he recently addressed grieving war mother Wanda Watkins.

In the now-imfamous post, Cynic addressed Watkins and her call for Canadians to support the Afghanistan mission.

'We don't want any family to experience the terrible pain of losing their son or daughter, but if Canada and NATO abandon the Afghan people, the sacrifices Lane, our family and others have made will be for nothing, Watkins said Monday.'
In other words, there will be no discussion of whether this entire Afghani adventure was a mistake because, well, that would mean some people died for nothing and, Holy Mother of God, we can't have that, so the deaths will continue into the foreseeable future because admitting that this was a bad move would be, you know, kind of embarrassing for everyone involved, and better to keep killing Canadians than look sheepish, know what I mean?

And in a breathtaking display of callous unconcern for anyone else's family members, Watkins continues:

"They deserve your respect. In supporting them, you'll make our loss much easier to bear."
With all due respect, Wanda, fuck you and your grief. It's not the job of the rest of Canada to continue to let its soldiers die just so you can sleep better at night. At this point, I don't give a rat's ass about making you feel better for your loss now that I know that the price is other peoples' lives. Fuck you and the politically-motivated, neo-con propaganda train you rode in on."
Aside from the obvious implications of spouting such a vicious attack on a begrieved mother, the hostility that many Canadian opponents of the Afghanistan war feel towards those who support the mission (as exemplified by Cynic's post) is a revelation in and of itself.

It reveals that many of these opponents of the war have yet to conciliate their lack of support for the mission against their stated support for the troops.

Consider the following post, also courtesy of Canadian Cynic:

"Here's a suggestion to all those chickenhawk, fake patriot Canadian wankers who want to slap those politically-charged "Support the troops" stickers on everything in sight, as if that's going to reduce the death toll of Canadian soldiers or something.

Why don't you pool your pennies and whip up a whole bunch of "Support the mission" stickers? Then there won't be any doubt what you're talking about, and you can slap those babies on all your shit to your heart's content, and you can finally all piss off and leave the rest of us alone.

How does that sound? Does that work for you?

Cynic argues that the definition of "support the troops" offered by supporters of the war effort in Afghanistan represents a demand to support the mission. He argues that he can unquestionably support the troops without supporting the mission. Many of his ideological comrades would probably even try to emulate the argument raised by Jell-O Biafra when he insists "We support the troops the most because we say, bring them home!"

There are, however, two fundamental issues with such an argument. First off, Biafra raised his claim in response to "support the troops" demands made in relation to the Iraq war. Secondly, it seems to presume a lack of support for the war amongst the soldiers who are actually fighting it.

In the United States, a plausible argument in favour of this can be made against Iraq. This is because a case can be made that many of the soldiers fighting the Iraq war do not support it, as evidenced by the number of troops that have gone AWOL. This helps to reinforce the perception of soldiers callously being sent overseas, to die for nothing, by decision makers who really don't care.

However, in terms of Canada's commitment in Afghanistan, nothing could be further from the case. Canadian troops believe in the mission, and support it.

Consider the case of Canada's Royal 22nd Regiment, The Vandoos, who deployed to Afghanistan on 15 July.

Prior to their deployment, Quebec anti-war groups wrote letters to member of the Vandoos encouraging them to refuse their orders to deploy. The letters were noted to compare Canada's activities in Afghanistan to war crimes.

"I read the headlines and threw it in the trash," said Master Corporal Pierre Calve, who recieved one of the letters. "I believe in this mission. I have family here in Canada. This is a way to protect them, like our grandfathers did in the First and Second World Wars. It's not to go and kill people but to protect the peace."

Master Corporal Calve is a father of three.

The letter was also noted to claim the blood of Canadian soldiers was being uncaringly peddled by war-mongering politicians, "Canada's role in Afghanistan is a trap. It means on-the-ground Canadian soldiers become cannon fodder' for the illogical and unjust policies of generals and politicians."

The Van Doos would later hold a rally in support of the mission.

A day later, when the Vandoos held a march in support of the Afghanistan mission, anti-war groups turned out in protest rallies.

"We're not targeting the soldiers, we respect them as people," protest organizer Joseph Bergeron insisted. "But we are in total opposition with the Afghanistan mission and we want to show we represent the great part of the population that is opposed."

Yet Bergeron, as a spokesman for Guerre a la Guerre (War Against War) was part of the same organization that distributed the letters encouraging the Vandoos to desert. Guerre a la Guerre had even offered legal advice for members of the Vandoos who took up their invitation.

To sum up the story, Bergeron and his group wrote letters to the Vandoos encouraging them to AWOL to avoid service in Afghanistan. When they refused, Bergeron and his group protested at a rally organized in opposition to a march staged by the Vandoos to show their support for the mission.

This is hardly supporting the troops, considering that the troops support the mission.

Under these pretenses, the claims of the Afghanistan war opponents come to seem nothing short of outright arrogant. They argue that they can support the troops without supporting the mission that the troops support. Somewhere in this argument they must understand that they are suggesting they are better judges of what causes Canadian soldiers should be allowed to sacrifice their lives for than the people who will be doing the actual sacrifice.

When the troops, or their families, reject their arguments, the anti-war crowd has shown very few compunctions about targeting the troops themselves, both directly and indirectly.

This isn't to say that one must support the mission whole-heartedly in order to support the troops.

The public dislike of the mission is notable (70 percent in Quebec oppose the mission). Frankly, anyone in their right mind should dislike war.

However, we should also recognize that sometimes war is a necessary evil, and when our fighting men and women are willing to make the supreme sacrifice, we as Canadians do not really have the right to deny them the opportunity to participate in missions they support, particularly not when those missions are already underway.

The support of Canadian troops for Afghanistan has proven to be a serious stumbling block for the Canadian anti-war movement. Sometimes when they tumble over those hurdles, as was the case with Canadian Cynic, it's merely offensive and embarrassing.

Sometimes, however, as in the case of Guerre a la Guerre, it's criminal--an outright act of sedition.

In the end, however, the troops do support the mission, and one can't support the troops without at least respecting their right to support it. That is where the Canadian anti-war movement ultimately fails.


  1. Canada's own Cindy al-Sheehan?

  2. No. Sheehan's actually perfectly justified in her concerns regarding the Iraq conflict.

  3. "However, we should also recognize that sometimes war is a necessary evil, and when our fighting men and women are willing to make the supreme sacrifice, we as Canadians do not really have the right to deny them the opportunity to participate in missions they support, particularly not when those missions are already underway."

    Well sure, except all the wars Canada participates in have turned out to be rackets and get-richer-quicker schemes of the wealthy.

    I don't support the troops because they don't have the capacity --except in extreme rare cases-- to have their own opinions. They live in a propaganda environment, of course they support the war!

    The troops believe what they're told to believe, and if they're told that they're doing a humanitarian job by guarding poppy fields, shooting at anything that they think might be Taliban while they sit in the dark, and driving around waiting to get IED'd, then by God that is what they'll believe!

    The war was sold to us on false pretenses/LIES and the war on terror is nothing but a martyr machine. For both sides.

  4. I was a canadian serviceman,nobody told me what to think or beleive.This is common belief held by people who never wore a uniform other than the macdonalds or weny`s variety.

  5. Paleoanarchist:
    Since you never wore a uniform other than some with a paper hat;how could you possibly know anything about soldiers?
    You have given me good reason to believe that abortion should be retroactive.


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