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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Great lines of the day 

Dave at Galloping Beaver writes a powerful post about war and Afghanistan -- You want support? Earn it
. . . I've got a chestful of useless gongs and some permanent shrapnel wounds to remind me of days which I would rather have missed in my life.
I've experienced the exhilaration of close-quarters battle and the years of remorse that follow because I had no choice but to kill the teenage soldiers in the fire-pit to my front.
I've been beside a good man, a highly competent marine, who suddenly dropped like a bag of shit while I got splattered with flesh and blood. The movies make it look so much more dramatic and heroic than it really is. The truth is just a bloody, fucking mess.
I've been on the right flank of a patrol when the man on point stepped on a landmine. And all we could do was watch as he lay there screaming, his viscera splayed over the ground, the lower half of his body gone. He lived for over five minutes while the medic did a drill on him - with morphine auto-injectors. It ended with a colour sergeant screaming, "FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!" because he had been unable to protect a good man.
I've watched kids die. It ends everything. Their personalities cease to be a part of the team; their humour stops; their dreams end; and, their death affects a hundred other people - permanently.
I've had to call fire down on my own position while I watched my men nod. They knew, as I did, that there was little chance we would get out of it alive, much less unscathed. It was necessary at the time and the cost of that act is paid for in year after year of nightmares.
I have a direct and long-service association with both British and Canadian militaries. I have an affinity for the people who serve in those militaries and I have an interest in how they are committed. My interest is in their welfare, how they're led and how safe they are. Whether anyone likes to admit it or not, they are kids on an adventure. They won't come home that way.
I'm not "anti-war". I am, however, highly skeptical whenever troops are committed to combat. I expect that the real reasons for going to war will be clearly enunciated by the politicians who continue to live in comfort and convenience while others suffer and die.
To provide unreserved support for the Afghanistan mission is not only stupid, it is irresponsible. And, it is not contingent upon me to provide alternatives to the decisions of the self-styled warrior class, those who are prepared to waste lives while not risking theirs, be they prime ministers, presidents or keyboard commandos.
I will question everything about the Afghanistan mission. My support comes only when I receive rational, truthful answers . . .
most Canadians, after reading of another soldier killed in Afghanistan, ponder whether to return their empty beer bottles or shine up the motorcycle. Almost no one considers that there are 27 Canadians who can never entertain such mundane thoughts because they were blown away in a mission that appears to lack long-term definition and has gone on longer than the US involvement in World War II.
Emphasis mine. And my agreement, too.

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