Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sigh and Grimace: 111

You can make a milestone out of anything, I suppose. It's only an accident of our numbering system that makes the year 2000 significant, the Unix time 1234567890 what it is, or the milestones of thousands or hundreds of deaths in war.

Warrant Officer Dennis Brown, Corporal Chad O'Quinn, and Corporal Dany-Olivier Fortin have the undeserved mark of bringing Canada's toll of blood to one hundred eleven. 111. If we were speaking in binary, it would only be seven.

War is a sad and stupid thing. If we can spend so much blood and money to bring people half way around the world to kill each other, why can't we spend a fraction of that to be at peace?

Even Stephen Harper, our intrepid Prime Minister, has admitted that we can't beat the Taliban by killing them. Not only are they entrenched and invisible amongst the populace, they also get recruits every time anyone from NATO kills the wrong guy. The level of precision required to kill more Taliban than are created is simply impossible.

But, in her grief, in her ardent desire to believe that the fighting, killing and dying - especially the dying - has not been in vain, the widow of one of the deceased wants us to go on. Even acknowledging that we can't beat the Taliban, she would have us go on anyway rather than give up.

I don't want to criticize a woman who has so recently been handed the news of a loved one's death. There's no need. It's what she says further on that gets to me.
Ms. Brown said she understands there are those who don't support the mission. “But you can support what they're doing. They're trying and they're working hard,” she told reporters in St. Catharines, Ont.

I know they're working hard. I've never been to war, never held a gun against someone come to kill me. But I know enough to know it isn't easy.

And no, as nasty as it sounds, I can't support what they're doing. They're following orders and I can hardly hold that against them. They've been told, and believe on reasonable grounds, that they're on a moral mission.

They've been misled, which I do not hold against them, but rather against two dishonest governments who have put them there, misleading both us and them.

Do I support the troops? Of course I do. I support them by demanding their withdrawal from a mission which is worth neither their noble service nor their blood. I support them by demanding that they be brought home.

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