Saturday, October 24, 2009

Leo Strauss Be Damned. It's Time to Rethink Our Role In Afghanistan.

The speaker in the video is Linda McQuaig who has written extensively on Canada's role in Afghanistan. When Stephen Harper was first elected, he changed our 'mission' from one as Peacekeepers, to one of aggression under an American general. Since that time the death toll for Canadian soldiers has increased dramatically.

Ms. McQuaig wrote a book; 'Holding the Bully's Coat' and there are several videos available on YouTube, where she discusses the situation.

As a neo-conservative, Harper follows the teachings of the father of the movement, Leo Strauss, who counts as one of his three principles; unbridled patriotism through perpetual war; as a way of controlling the ignorant masses. Hence the yellow ribbon campaign.

But how much longer can we simply be an ignorant mass before we start once again becoming Canadians? This is not who we are and recent reports that verify, the Reform-Conservatives were well aware that Afghan prisoners were being horribly tortured, should give us pause.

Both Bush and Harper built their foreign policy around the demands of the so-called Religious Right, and Harper himself admitted in a speech to the Civitas Club that he could not just rely on the 'fiscal Conservatives' for votes (especially given his horrendous handling of our economy), but had to tap into the religious fervour (another Strauss principle) of the Theo-Cons, especially when it came to putting a little muscle into our foreign policy.

Of course to the Theo-Cons, this policy should be based on a biblical prophesy, that they are not content with allowing to happen naturally, but feel a calling to expediate.

It's time we took our country back and started really supporting our troops, by demanding some answers. Harper's handling of this war has been all about military contracts and has nothing at all to do with HIS 'unbridled patriotism'.

Hillier's fiercest foe was PM's office
Toronto Star
October 20, 2009

OTTAWA–Officials in the Prime Minister's Office ordered the military to hide the return to Canada of the first female soldier killed in combat because they didn't want her flag-draped coffin seen on the news, according to former chief of defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier.

In a new autobiography, the popular former top soldier recounts the battles he waged against all-controlling officials in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government. Meddling in the hero's welcome that the Canadian Forces had planned for the repatriation of Capt. Nichola Goddard was Hillier's "line in the sand."

"We ain't going to do that," Hillier recalls telling former defence minister Gordon O'Connor, himself a former army commander. "It's as simple as that."

Though the highly anticipated book, A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War, is not scheduled for release until next week, the Star purchased a copy from an Ottawa-area bookstore.

Goddard, 26, was the first Canadian woman killed in action since World War II and the first female combat soldier to die on the front lines in Afghanistan. Though the government officials did succeed in partially shielding her repatriation from Canadians, the policy was overturned for good days later.

The controversy over letting the media show the return of Goddard's body from the dusty district of Panjwaii, where she was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade on May 17, 2006, turned into a very public battle when her grieving father upbraided the Conservative government for censoring a politically painful event. But it was also the source of a private dispute between the head of the Canadian Forces and his political masters.

Hillier, who served as chief of defence staff from 2005 to 2008, was following a military policy of ensuring that every Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan would be honoured as a war hero. The rookie government had enacted a policy a month earlier of shielding the flag-draped coffins from public view by keeping journalists outside the fenced airfield at CFB Trenton.

Both were preparing for what they rightly anticipated would be the dramatic increase in Canadian casualties. That number now stands at 131 soldiers and one diplomat.

In the book, Hillier recalls attending graduation ceremonies at the Royal Military College in Kingston in May 2006 and being called into a backroom to take a call from the Prime Minister's Office. The unelected staffers gave the decorated soldier and the defence minister orders that they wanted a change in Goddard's repatriation ceremony – an emotional but fairly standard event where the coffin is unloaded from a military plane at CFB Trenton and driven to Toronto on Highway 401 in a sombre procession.

"Look, don't bring the Airbus in, or if you bring the plane in, turn it away from the cameras so that people can't see the bodies coming off, or do it after dark, or do it down behind the hangars, or just bar everybody from it," Hillier quotes the PMO staffers as saying. "They clearly didn't want that picture of the flag-draped coffin on the news."

Hillier refused to let political considerations upset his plans. To his credit, he writes, O'Connor felt the same way.

"We had set our mind to supporting the families, and to doing so much more effectively than we had ever done in the past," he writes.

So, while the media were barred when Goddard's plane landed at Trenton shortly before midnight on May 20, military photos were released publicly soon after. And, one week later at the funeral in Calgary, her father, Tim, put an end to the out-of-the blue privacy edict, which was first announced in April 2006.

"I find it troubling that the privacy decision means that we are keeping the press outside the wire," he said.

A grieving father was the one critic the Conservatives could not cut down and Harper quickly modified his controversial policy, which appeared modelled on the one then-president George W. Bush had put in place in the U.S. for soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Harper said he was "troubled" to hear the criticism and explained his instructions that families should first be asked whether they wanted the ceremony to be made public. "If all families were agreed on making that particular ceremony public, I thought our government should have no difficulty with that," he said. "I'm not sure what happened in this case."

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