Friday, July 15, 2005

"Break Our Society"?

Now, I've had some nice things to say about Canada's Chief of Defense Staff, Rick Hillier. And even most of what he said yesterday I was okay with. But I have two problems with his statements yesterday - one small, one large.

The small one is that I have a huge reservation about military figures advocating foreign policy. I don't think Hillier was doing that, quite. But his rather... emphatic defense of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan seems to be more at home in Washington than Ottawa, frankly.
Canada's top soldier doesn't believe the country's presence in Afghanistan makes it a target for attacks, but he warns Canadians should prepare for military casualties.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier says Canada would be a target whether its troops were in Afghanistan or not.

"These are detestable murderers and scumbags. I'll tell you that right up front," said Hillier....

"It doesn't matter whether we are in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world. They want to break our society. I actually believe that," he said.

If Canada is attacked, he says, it will be only because it is a free country.

"They detest our freedoms. They detest our society. They detest our liberties," he said.
Like I said, I don't think Hillier was advocating foreign policy, quite, but it's hard for me to read that and think that Hillier doesn't want, for example, a closer security relationship with the US. I'm obviously reading in to the text, so I'll freely admit I could be way of base. But based on what I've seen and heard previously, that's in character.

(Full disclosure: I've gone to school with Hillier's son, though I've never met the Chief himself.)

My larger objection to Hillier's comments yesterday is the last part - the whole "they hate our liberties" part. When, Lord, will we finally be able to give up that God-forsaken BS? Osama has never recruited a new AQ member - not a single one - by attacking Canada for it's lax broadcast standards. How has he done it? By pointing to Chechnya, and Palestine, and even disparate places like Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and said "Muslims aren't free." Osama doesn't give a damn about our freedoms - he cares about Mohammed bin whoever who used to live in Falluja, but now has to bury his wife and child. He cared about Mohammed before the American invasion, because he was living under a secular dictatorship, and he cares about the poor shmucks who live under the rule of the Sauds because of their corruption, but I promise you the only reason he cares about Angelina's tits is as a point of contrast between the "pure" and the "rest."

And as for Hillier's earlier point - "they want to break our society" - I have one simple question: Do they have the means to do so? Because, if they do, then Gen. Hillier should stop spreading plattitudes about "freedom" and do his job.

I probably shouldn't end on a sour note, because a) I actually agreed with Hillier's important points: i) Canadian forces are going to take casualties, and we forget that at our peril, and ii) this is still a job worth doing - and b) I still think Hillier is doing a good job, despite this recent outburst of chest-thumping.


Flocons said...

We, as Canadians, cannot rely on this sort of logic to protect us from terrorism. This is like a group of vegetarians feeling safe enough to stand near a raging bull because vegetarians don't eat meat.

What I'm saying is that we cannot have a false sense of immunity from terrorism just because we didn't join the invasion against Iraq. To rely on the logic and conscience of terrorists is a very foolish thing.

john said...

While I wrap my head around your metaphor, let me attempt to deal with a number of your statements:

Relying on the conscience of a killer: Stupid. Absolutely. No disagreement here.

Relying on the logic of a killer: Ditto.


Denying that a logic is there: Also stupid, in the long run.

No war in the long, sad, history of wars has been won by assuming that your enemies are crazy - even when they were. Hitler was certifiable, but we still needed to be able to predict his actions, and reactions.

So when I say that believing the terrorists "hate us for our freedoms" is stupid, I mean stupid in a self-defeating sort of way. This is like England deciding the Nazis were all crotchety because of warm beer.

We can't rely on their conscience, and I certainly abhor their logic - but the logic is actually there. And we need to understand it to win.

Flocons said...

I think the metaphor was something like "If vegetarians don't think they're going to get hurt by a charging bull because they don't eat beef, they're in for a surprise."

Anyway, you're right about that. Even psychopaths follow some version of logic, which is authorities find them. So here's my concern: Canada is not the most important target for terrorists, but are we one of the easiest targets?

john said...

That's another, more difficult question.

I have no idea.

(I think it breaks a blogger's code of ethics to admit ignorance.)