When two of our soldiers were assassinated recently on home soil, there was an outpouring of grief and bewilderment. Why would a fellow Canadian want to do harm to one of our own? So far, there are no satisfactory answers. Were the two perpetrators simply deranged, misguided crazies or was there something else going on in their belligerent minds? We may never know. Meanwhile, support for our armed forces was palpable judging by the attendance at cenotaph ceremonies around the country on Remembrance Day in November of 2014.
Showing support for our men and women in the Canadian Forces is absolutely critical for the troops and for our own sense of self. What I object to is the brutal disregard for their purpose and wellbeing while serving and post service. The current government’s disdain for the welfare of our veterans has been well recorded and is appalling. Perhaps the only solution for that is a change in government. What I primarily have a problem with is the direction and management of our military that appears to be built around a 19th century model. I’m not talking about traditions within the services that add to the esprit de corps of the units and the men and women who serve. I’m really upset about the lack of purpose and sense of mission that our Department of National Defense can’t seem to articulate.
Procurement has turned into a huge boondoggle partly because of incompetence among the planning staff and their political overseers, but also because the long range mission and vision for the Forces does not seem to exist. Too often Canadian Forces are made to appear as some kind of unpaid mercenary team ready to jump to the command of our mighty and continuously at war neighbour to the south. Our token RCAF team flying sorties into Iraq has had negligible impact on the ISIL incursion there. However, we appear to be prepared to spend unlimited resources in a token gesture that serves no other purpose than to show we are a US satellite state.
Canadians join the Army, Navy or Air Force to defend our country and train in the warrior mode. The problem is, most warrior type military operations result in enormous levels of “collateral” damage. In other words, attacking strategic objectives generally results in wide scale deaths of women, children and other civilians as a result of direct bombardment and destruction of infrastructure depriving the non-combatants of water and electricity.
Does no one question the futility of bombing raids into territory that has no specific land targets when more success might be achieved by choking off the resources that sustain the ISIL militants? Why do we let our so-called NATO partner Turkey continue to buy and distribute oil from the captured oil fields in Iraq? Who is buying this oil and who is supplying arms that flow through Turkish channels? Is President Erdogan in the process of turning Turkey from a secular state into an Islamist one? Has the US turned itself into a one solution fits all situations country because of the military/industrial/corporatist stranglehold on the political process? Here is a most apt example of the Maslow dictum that if your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
If we must send our troops off to fight in foreign climes, why don’t we send them to Brazil to stop the deforestation that is destroying the rain forest? Now that would be a real contribution to the struggle against climate change. Or we might think about how we close down the tailing ponds from the tar sands that are spewing 5 times the toxins claimed by the oil companies.
Have you asked your MP what he or she thinks about this mess? Have you thought about what you want your MP to do about this misalignment of resources? Or, do you even care?