Dead Soldiers

<–[image borrowed from here]

For those not in Canada, or those not following the news, three more Canadian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. Why this qualifies as “news”, I’m not entirely sure, since one expects one’s soldiers to die when one sends them off to fight and kill in a war zone. In many ways, it’s an interesting commentary on modern warfare when a handful of deaths in the midst of actual warfare constitute “news”. Reminds me of something a commentator said once, within the context of the Balkan conflict of the 1990s: In modern warfare, the safest thing to be is a soldier.

Do not take that statement as disrespect for those Canadians recently killed. I wish they were alive. I wish they had never been sent over there to die in a questionable mission that most Canadians don’t fully understand. If they were friends or family of mine, I would be inconsolable.

I was examining my own personal killing machine –the Deonandan Fruit Fly Killer Mark 1.0— when I heard Jack Layton on the TV asking for Canada to reconsider its mission in Afghanistan. Seconds later I heard the Prime Minister say, “today is not the day to have a political debate on the future of the mission… Today is a day to express our condolences for these soldiers.”

I did a spit take and nearly choked on the irony.

This, after all, is the same man who insisted (correctly, in my opinion) that flags should not be flown at half mast when a soldier dies, because, among other reasons, the country needs to get used to the idea that our soldiers will be killed –essentially to normalize the idea of soldierly death. To now use the deaths of more soldiers to divert criticism of his policies by playing the “mourning card” is disingenuous creepiness in the worst.

The war mongers are fond of reminding us that this armed action is supposed to be in defense of Western democratic ideals. Well, prime among those ideals is the freedom of our leaders (and any citizen) to seriously discuss any topic whenever he chooses. Arbitrarily declaring a “day of mourning” for these three, when none of the other scores of dead soldiers warranted one, has some shades of Ari Fleischer, back in the fascist heydey of the immediate post-911 Bush days. Remember “all Americans [must remember] that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do“?

I for one will not tolerate any politician telling me what I can think or discuss, or when I can do so. Stephen Harper should be ashamed of his words, and no one who takes seriously the idea of living in a truly free Western liberal democracy should suffer such thoughtless politicization of our rights and ideals.