Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Re-Shaping Military Might With Right

I was appalled this past week when I learned that the United States is spending approximately 8 billion dollars per month on military actions in Iraq. I am further frustrated about the futility of the American campaign in Iraq and the Coalition mission, of which my country are taking a role, in Afghanistan. I am not arguing against the need for change in these parts of the world, particularly in Afghanistan where the Taliban ruled with especially excessive harshness, but I am opposed to the particular approach to solving the issues that were and continue to be present.

To begin, military intervention needs to evolve to meet the needs of today’s conflict. Artillery barrages, smart bombs and infantry were appropriate for the conflicts in the past where armies waged wars with clearly etched trenches, targets and lines. The face of modern conflict does not identify itself with uniforms or mass military build-ups. Modern conflict is waged by insurgents, rebels or terrorists who operate within the fabric of a society; faceless and anonymous until they mobilise toward an objective. As we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, or this past year between Israel and Lebanon, you can not effectively make a house pest free buy destroying the house if you still plan on living there. Certainly Israel bombing southern Lebanon in 2006 to protest the kidnapping of one of its soldiers killed some of those responsible, but also carried with it a collateral damage through the destruction of property and loss of innocent life. The result simply created another generation to fill the ranks of those organisations who wish to destroy Israel.

Iraq has gone from a nation under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein to a probably the most dangerous place on earth, marred by civil war and an ever growing animosity toward those under the guise of “liberators”. Further to this, while those fighting America continue to exist in a clandestine manner, U.S. troops walk about dressed in their uniforms with a sense of force and authority represented on the one hand while placing a big target on their backs on the other. The obtuse naivety of any nation who seeks to win the hearts and minds of a people while blowing the hell out of their cities is truly beyond any sense of reason.

As Canadians, we are divided in half over whether or not we should have Canadian troops deployed in Afghanistan. Certainly, it is the combat element that leaves the politically correct squirming, while others see a benefit in bloodying our soldiers to make them effective (and the role of a military is to wage war, like it or not), and believe that military intervention is the way to go. Personally, my mind is made upon the ineffectiveness of combat intervention in Afghanistan. Peace can not be imposed unless you do so under some authoritarian guise (Tito in Yugoslavia is a prime example of this). Secondly, to impose our values and ethics upon another country only breeds resentment and is ineffective. Finally, as made clear earlier on in my missive, sending tanks, infantry, artillery and armoured vehicles is not the way to fight a modern war.

It is on this note that I would like my nation, Canada, to be progressive in its evolution and firstly, declare itself a neutral nation, much like Switzerland and Sweden. At the end of the day, the likeliness that Canada will have to defend itself from the onslaught of a foreign enemy or engage itself in a conflict such as the First or Second World War is extremely remote. Given the expense of war machines and their varying accoutrements, to continue spending on things like Navy destroyers or Leopard tanks makes little sense. Once we declared our neutrality, I would disband the Canadian Armed Forces as we know it and restructure and re-assign its personnel. This restructuring would be based upon or true needs here in the 21st Century. As I see it, the strategic needs of my nation are as follows: (1) Coastal Defense, (2) Internal Security and (3) Humanitarian/Disaster Response.

On the issue of Coastal Defence, I would like to see the Navy and Coast Guard combined (with the necessary air support) to protect our coast from smugglers (drug and human), assert our sovereignty in the Arctic, take care of Maritime rescue and to enforce environmental laws (i.e. poaching, unlawful fishing practises, dumping of waste). This would require several vessels, including support and supply ships, nuclear submarines, ice breakers and fast patrol and pursuit vessels.

Internal Security would be something of a national policing agency, combining groups like CSIS and the RCMP with JTF-2 special forces. This special forces component could also serve as an international intervention unit if the need was to arise, though I would justify such interventions only on the grounds that it related to a specific internal threat. Again, I don’t see the Russians marching over the Arctic or the U.S. invading across the 49th parallel any time soon, so a standing Army as it exists at present is not an effective use of resources. If Canada is to be attacked, it will be by way of a bomb planted or hijacked airplane. Thus, the need to train for such eventualities only seems logical. Certainly the British SAS in their campaign against the IRA in Northern Ireland is an example of how such a force could be utilised.

Lastly we have our Humanitarian/Disaster Response wing. This would be modeled largely on our present D.A.R.T. team with elements of the Red Cross about it. Essentially, this organisation would be sent in for disaster relief, much like the Army was used in the floods and ice storms that hit Canada a few years ago. Certainly if we are to believe the reports on climate change coming out these days (which we most certainly should!), the need for such a group in future will be great. Much like Cuba sends its doctors to other Latin American nations as a relief effort, so too could we use these “troops” to respond (as our DART force did in the Tsunami last year) to humanitarian disasters such as mud slides, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. This is a type of “bloodying” that abounds and is much more settling to the collective politically correct stomach of our nation.

If you listen to people in this country, believe strongly in the goodwill of our nation and a desire to help and preserve the rights and freedoms of other. Hence the public’s rocky relationship with the Armed Forces. For example, when a Somalian civilian was “unlawfully killed” by a member of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, the government responded by disbanding the whole outfit. That was a disgusting act by the Canadian Government, in that, lawful or not, you can not justify disbanding an elite unit who train to be soldiers over the death of one innocent in the middle of questionable circumstances with a conflict situation. That would be like us demanding that the U.S. disband its Air Force for killing Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan in a friendly fire incident!

Getting back on point, if our desire is to win hearts and minds while preserving freedom in the world, artillery is not the answer, nor is imposing our solutions/governments upon the wills of others. Honestly, would western democracy work in Iraq or Afghanistan given the Islamic and cultural values held by the inhabitants of these nations? You can’t force people to “get it”, any more than we appreciate others forcing their will upon us. It’s amazing to see how Gerry Adams, a former IRA commander and leader or the Irish Republican Sinn Fein party is now an ambassador of peace, attempting to open up dialogue between the PLO and Israel. The IRA were perhaps the best organised paramilitary organisation in the world but realised, after years of conflict against the English, that violence can never beget a wilful peace.

Nations are like people and grow up at different rates. Just as a person learns to be potty trained, undergoes the trials and tribulations of learning (or not) from their mistakes and dies a completely different individual from that which they were born, so too do nations evolve – not necessarily in a linear or positive manner. No country has an unblemished past. Equally, oppression sews the seeds of revolution once the propaganda of the oppressors is penetrated. This is why we must seek out truth as, more often than not, what is on your local news channel is most probably a display of events as certain powers wish you to see them (i.e. refer to the downing of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad upon that city’s liberation by U.S. Forces, or ask why the “official execution” of Saddam was shown without sound….). It is easy to be lead and such leadership is not as obvious, even in retrospect, as someone like Hitler espousing hatred. It is the more subtle, soft spoken Machiavellian creatures that we need to be wary of. For example, those who spend $8 billion per month on waging war and death while millions are dying of AIDS in Africa, there are homeless and starving people in every city in the world, healthcare is second rate or completely absent and education is either neglected or a tool of the state to indoctrinate.

As a teacher, my overcrowded classroom gets approximately $30,000 per year of funding, while, when working at a maximum security prison, the state paid an average of $120,000 a year per inmate! We need to be more proactive as a society, whether it be pertaining to preventative medicine or internal/external conflict. I believe that we should have a three strikes policy for incarceration and the death penalty for sex offenders and murderers (as they have violated ones right to peace), but equally believe we should invest in preventing people from ending up on such paths (enter education). Ultimately, I don’t see my country purchasing another tank to be a step in making our world a better place (even if it doesn’t see live action, they are not the most environmentally friendly vehicles with their fossil fuel consumption, erosion caused by treads and the blowing the shit out of the local landscape!).

Enough said.


  • At 12:30 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    notable no comments on anyone's site. mind-boggling amount of money bush league sucked out of taxpayer for profit to haliburton and other enterprises, for cheney, rumsfield retirement funds. bush family pay for their daighters' therapy fund, drug and alcohol abuse.. rats and cockroaches back into the wall, don't apply for passport, stay home and listen to tunes. leo kottke on l.p. is so soothing. what i listened to before i thought of being a guard...


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