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Old 25 September 2001, 01:42
King King is offline
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I figured I'd get more people in here if I put up a fancy message subject like "JTF2."
It's actually a good editorial, written by Mark Steyn of The National Post (who always writes good editorials) on the situation at hand. At any rate I've been so bombarded with idiots on the CBC and here on campus that I was actually having trouble thinking of coherent reasons for going after Osama. It was good to read something like this. I guess the subject isn't totally misleading, he does take quick shot at the JTF2.

Canada's war is already over
Manley's promise of ground troops is less manly than it sounds

Mark Steyn
National Post

Last Friday, while Canadians were demanding to know why they didn't rate a name-check in President Bush's speech, a unit of Britain's special forces, the SAS, came under enemy attack deep inside Afghanistan.

There's the answer.

If affronted Canucks would step back a moment, they'd see that the unusual feature of the Presidential address was that it was almost wholly free of the polite fictions of the foreign policy establishment. There was no mention of a "global coalition" or the United Nations, or, in military terms, of the French or Italians. In the Gulf War, the grand coalition's principal contribution was to tie one hand behind America's back. In Somalia, the Italians were giving nods and winks to the local warlord, General Aideed. In the Kosovo war, at least one French officer at NATO passed advance operational information on to the Serbs.

The difference is that, in those conflicts, the U.S. military was engaged in saving far distant Muslims -- Kuwaiti Muslims, Bosnian Muslims, Somali Muslims, Albanian Muslims (as should be obvious but sadly isn't, the U.S. armed forces are the world's pre-eminent defender of Muslims) -- and it was felt politic to observe the pretense that the ideal expeditionary force should look like a global affirmative-action program. This time, however, Boston and St. Louis, Miami and Denver are at stake, and the Bush administration sees no reason to mortgage their future to any country that thinks de-mothballing a rusting frigate entitles it to a set of keys to the command module.

The word from both countries is that this "coalition," on the battlefield, will be an Anglo-American affair: The U.S. is not interested in letting anybody else into the inner sanctums of joint command. The minimum entry qualifications are that a) you have a professional, modern military and b) you share America's war aims. The French meet the former but not the latter. The Mexicans the latter but not the former. The British meet both. The Canadians meet neither.

This is a simple truth, and we should be mature enough to acknowledge it. When Mr. Chrétien says that Canada will stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the Americans, he is, in fact, describing exactly where we won't be standing. "Shoulder to shoulder" is a military expression, for comrades in arms marching forward on the field of battle. The Prime Minister is happy to deploy the term metaphorically, but that's it. Just over a week ago, when I mentioned the pitiful state of our forces, I received a lot of indignant e-mails from Canadians insisting that they were ready to enlist. I don't doubt you. But, if you did enlist, they'd have no uniforms to give you, no weapons except for Papa Jean's spare set of clubs from Royal Montreal, and no means of getting you to the battlefield except a commandeered school bus. Of the 13 NATO air forces flying missions over Kosovo, ours were the only planes without anti-jam radios, forcing all the others to downgrade their communications to the Canadian level and use a jammable single frequency. Up against a far more ruthless foe than Slobo, U.S. Defence Secretary Don Rumsfeld is not going to increase the risk to his pilots for the privilege of having a couple of maple tail fins up there.

If Canada applied to participate in joint military operations, it would be turned down -- which is why John Manley's belated promise of ground troops is less manly than it sounds. He knows full well they won't be required. His generous offer is as laughable as me offering to play in the Wimbledon men's final. The reality is that what's left of Canada's forces is too poorly equipped to share a battlefield with the Americans, the British, the Australians or any reasonably funded army. Even New Zealand, which isn't exactly a famous military power, is in a position to make a more useful contribution through its SAS, the kind of elite special forces that will be especially prized in this most modern of wars. Canada's equivalent, the secrecy-shrouded JTF2, have no international reputation except as an ill-disciplined rabble. Intelligence? CSIS is underfunded and politically irrelevant: When they report that 50 global terrorist groups are actively operating in Canada, the Prime Minister files it in the bottom drawer under his golf club bill-of-sale napkins and, if anyone brings it up, flatly denies its conclusions. Canada is the only G7 country whose government is involved in covert sabotage of its own intelligence gathering.

Yet, confronted with an obvious truth, we persist in hunting for ludicrous alternatives. Is it that Bush personally dislikes Chrétien? You can't blame the guy. In his speeches, our Prime Minister has a half-dozen jokes about what a dummy Dubya is: "I explained to him that Alberta is in Canada," etc. In person, he's boorishly patronizing: Chrétien welcoming Bush to the Summit of the Americas in Quebec: "Bienvenue." Bush: "Thank you, sir." Chrétien: "That means welcome."

But, believe it or not, when you've got a mound of 10,000 corpses, getting in a dig at some irrelevant old coot is not what's on your mind. There's a reason why Tony Blair was the foreign leader in town for the day of the big speech, and not Chirac (who dropped by the day before) or Chrétien. Had Chrétien been sitting next to the First Lady and Bush had singled him out for the same lavish praise as Blair, it would have communicated not strength but weakness, not resolve but fundamental unseriousness, as though this was just another Clintonian marshmallow campaign.

It's not. That's why Canada's war is already over. It ended when all those diverted planes took off from Gander and Halifax and Calgary, and their stranded passengers bid farewell to the many kind and generous Canadians who'd helped make those involuntary layovers as comfortable as possible. In Washington today, President Bush, who is always polite, will thank Mr. Chrétien for Canada's assistance that terrible morning, and may even venture something Colin Powellish about the non-service of remembrance on Parliament Hill. But what else can he say? As Francie Ducros said, speaking for the Prime Minister, America's friendship with Canada is so deep it "goes without saying." In that case, Bush is happy to go on not saying it for a long time. A friend who dozes in a hammock on the front porch and gives a sympathetic wave as his neighbour's being mugged is of limited value.

One can regret this, but really, why bother? The 55% of the population who support the Liberal Party evidently believes it's more important for the state to invest in the Auberge Grand-Mère than in the defence of the realm. Those of us who disagree must respect the democratic will. Canada, after all, believes that it can best project itself as (in Lloyd Axworthy's exquisite banality) a "soft power." He may be right -- as long as Osama bin Laden's boys can tell the difference between Minneapolis and Edmonton.

But since September 11th it's hard power that's needed. This will be a long and difficult campaign, and, if Canada can't make a contribution, it could at least quit whining about why its non-contribution isn't getting enough respect. As of today, the British already have SAS units and MI6 agents inside Afghanistan, plus 20,000 troops in Oman, and a Royal Navy task force, including a nuclear sub, steaming through the Red Sea. On Thursday, the President, mourning the loss of thousands of his fellow citizens, gave a sober businesslike outline of his response to the massacre. If we can no longer fight, we could at least have the good taste not to go, "But enough about world war. Let's talk about me."
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Old 25 September 2001, 02:26
Enfield Enfield is offline
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I'll be at that the British Army website filling out applications if anyone's looking for me.
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Old 25 September 2001, 03:37
TonyM TonyM is offline
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What, no mention on how good we are at section attacks? Hmmph! And our combat intelligence is 100%. In fact on the last day of every exercise, we always find the enemy, sweep ferociously through his camp swatting away all oppostion, like flies off a camel's ass, and never take a single casualty. And when we remember to save enough ammo, the firepower display leaves you dumbstruck.

Just like real life. Fight like you train, hooah!

Ah, man. I kill myself. I've been reading a lot of these kind of editorials lately. If I know it, you know it, every friggin swingin' dick reporter knows it surely someone in the government (that I did not vote for) knows it!
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Old 25 September 2001, 12:19
Swifty Fin
Posts: n/a
Thumbs up

Ah yeah! That's what's great with being canadian: you can get a shot with Her Majesty's best! But if you'd ask me, it'd more likely be the Royal marines: "Per mare, per terram".

"Against terrorism, a scalpel is a thousand times more effective than a sledgehammer."

(BTW, frmr username:Lima_Bravo)
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Old 26 September 2001, 03:01
Reverend B Reverend B is offline
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Ammo Tony? When the fuck did you see ammo? I thought that stuff was in the hands of the "clothe the soldier" people.
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Old 26 September 2001, 10:49
FNG FNG is offline
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Thumbs down

I was wondering when we would start including militia rounds in a range declaration.
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Old 26 September 2001, 15:16
Infanteer Infanteer is offline
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...And you would get charged with ND for yelling out "BANG"!
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Old 27 September 2001, 02:28
TonyM TonyM is offline
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You know...(wink, wink).. the ammo.

This year I'm going to see if I can go the whole training year without saying "Bang! at all. In fact this year I'm going to go "Phhhht!" like I have a supressor installed.

[This message has been edited by TonyM (edited 09-27-2001).]
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Old 27 September 2001, 04:07
Reverend B Reverend B is offline
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ahhh....the ammo! (nudge nudge)Damn good idea Tony! As long as it doesn't rain, we could just paint a bunch of paper towel rolls black and tape them a ski mask?
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