The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

September 14, 2008

THE POLITICAL WARS OVER THE REAL WARS

ACROSS CANADA ON SATURDAY, THERE WERE A SERIES OF DEMONSTRATIONS IN SUPPORT OF AMERICAN WAR RESISTERS WHO HAVE FLED THE U.S. FOR SANCTUARY NORTH OF THE BORDER.

National elections are looming in both countries and there's all the politically-charged rhetoric that would normally entail.

But heightening all that bullsh*t and the millions of dollars in campaign ads is that the Bush-led War on Terror has the Americans fighting a hopeless war in Iraq and Canadian troops fighting an even more hopeless war in Afghanistan.

Everything about the two wars and who's in power in both countries and the history of our two nations and Canada's more customary role as a peacekeeping nation rather than a fighting nation post-World War II is part of the idealogical landscape.

Even the words used to describe the Americans who have fled to Canada are partisanly packed with power -- much the way the crapola terms Pro-Life and Pro-Choice are used in the debate over abortion.

The U.S. and supporters of the war, of course, call these American Armed Forces personnel who are seeking refuge in Canada DESERTERS, implying a lack of allegiance to America the Beautiful and its values and its warring ways.

The more accurate and appropriate and nonjudgmental term is RESISTERS, which is what these American troops are doing. And I'm all for them. And I could find 10,000 pictures to show why, but here are a few:



We're way past the whole stupid argument of why and whether Bush, in the wake of 9-11, should have invaded Iraq.

We're way beyond debating all the non-reasons and that there were no WMD's there and that the U.S. had covertly supported Hussein all those years before.

He got his photo op on a U.S. aircraft carrier that made people forget about how stupid he looked when he was told about 9-11 while reading a book in an elementary school classroom, and how idiotic he appeared to be.

He got Hussein's head on a platter, his pound of flesh from an evil dictator the Americans had supported for years, as long as his terror benefited them.

He threw thousands of young Americans' lives away in a war no one can win.

It doesn't matter that the U.S. spent billions on supplying arms to the Taliban in the Afghanistan-USSR war before when it suited them.

Or that they supported the Shah of Iran before the Ayatollah came into power (remember the hostage crisis?)

And now Canada is basically throwing away its own young peoples' lives in Afghanistan, the heart and soul of a people who have been taunted and teased and victimized and used by America's government.

And who, naturally, have decided they're not going to take it. That's what 9-11 was all about. And that's what all of this continues to be about.

And so here we are, with federal elections in the U.S. and Canada on the horizon and all the billions of dollars being spent by all the interest groups and the political parties themselves saturing our airwaves.

And the demos, this weekend in Canada, calling on the Canadian government to change its laws so that these American troops can stay here and not be sent back to the U.S. to serve jail time for abandoning a war they don't believe in.

So let's look at the optics.

Let's go beyond the sound bytes, the 10-second clips that you might see on TV which mean absolutely nothing, and investigate the real motivations here and the dangers to political parties on the campaign trail.

You're Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper.

You have supported Bush and been his weenie lap-dog, sucking his political cock, supporting the war in Iraq and pushing to keep Canadian troops in Afghanistan fighting a war they cannot win.

Almost 100 Canadian soldiers dead now.

You're right-wing. Bush is right-wing. McCain is right-wing. Yep, the surge has worked and all that crap. Or it hasn't.

How can you possibly support the idea of harboring American Iraq war resisters, against America's wishes, when you have come out in support of the Iraq War and when you've sent thousands of troops to Afghanistan, at the U.S.'s behest?

Duh. Polls of Canadians have suggested they don't want Canadian troops doing what they're doing.

Do the feds care? No. You just count the body bags, you honour those troops coming home with state funerals, yada yada yada, send out press releases about how they were great, loyal servants of their country...

And such pap.

And they SHOULD be honoured for dying for their country.

I'm talking about the political pap of the politicians and the political machines back home that throw out these news releases about life and death as though it's the latest stats on inflation and interest rates.

And as far as Americans who come to seek asylum in Canada to avoid an Iraq war they couldn't believe in and don't want to die for? How can you give them asylum AND still be supportive of the U.S. military effort in Iraq?

You can't. So you don't. You come up with some lame excuse that you're not going to change the laws for allowing immigrants into Canada. So you boot those American soldiers out of the country so they can go back to the U.S.

And get thrown in jail. There you go. That'll solve that.

God forbid that soldiers actually have a conscience and a brain to -- hello -- actually wonder about what they're doing and where they're deployed to and who, on any particular day, they're supposed to kill or control, and why.

This is different from Vietnam, of course. Back then, the U.S. drafted people into the Armed Forces. There was MORE reason for Canada to take in so-called deserters then in a war America detested.

But there was no 9-11 to react to back then. And this time around, there's been no draft that forced Americans to enlist. Still, it's been a contentious war that some American soldiers don't want to be in.

And another difference is that we, as Canadians, haven't railed against the Americans and the Iraq War and the War on Terror as I believe we should have, if we had actually had the balls to do it.

Instead, we've more or less joined the Americans in it.

So we've made ourselves part of it now. And as far as I'm concerned, we need to unmake ourselves as part of it. We need to get out of Afghanistan. We need to tell the Americans we don't agree with their actions.

We need to be what we used to be, but no longer are -- a small mouse, if loud and persistent, a voice of reason, scurrying beneath the gigantic elephant's feet, trying to shout out -- if they can hear us -- how stupid they've been and how wrong they are.

And one of the tiny things we can do, in our historic role as a reasoned, peace-loving people of sobre second thought, fairness and sensibilities, is to allow these American war RESISTERS is to allow them to resist and to stay here.

That's what I think we're all about, not about being the United States2.

Snippets from one story on this:

--Anti-Harper sentiment coursed through those attending the rallies, which were initially scheduled to coincide with the 10-day countdown to Iraq war resister Jeremy Hinzman's deportation.

--"It's not just about the price of gas in this election," Lee Zaslofsky, who dodged the Vietnam draft in 1970, told a crowd of several hundred in Toronto. "It's about what this country is, and Stephen Harper thinks what this country is is disgusting and weepy and feminine and ... he's going to turn it around and make it just like the United States."

--"I'm thankful, it's good to see some solidarity with us," said the resigned looking 29-year-old Hinzman, whose wife and two children will return with him. He said he still hopes to get word he and his family can remain in Canada.
"But if we're not (permitted), I'll be proud to go to jail rather than kill people. Whatever happens, happens. We've tried to do everything we can."

--"(Deported soldiers) will be marked in the United States as traitors," said one 1968 draft dodger. "They're told a long story that turns out not to be true and sent to the front for what is essentially an assassination of poor civilians."

--At a United Church in Calgary, U.S. Navy officer Chuck Wiley spoke about his decision to flee to Canada after 17 years in the military. "It seemed to a lot of us that Canada had refused to enter the Iraq war on virtually the same basis that we didn't want to fight the war any longer."


--Some 12 former American soldiers are seeking refugee status in Canada. One former soldier was deported back to the U.S. in July.

28 comments:

  1. All this just reinforces my decision to not vote PC or Liberal in the upcoming election.

    I hate how Harper is trying to turn Canada into a mini USA. I hate that we have become a nation with a military force instead of a peacekeeping force. (And I come from an Air Force family, with relatives still in the Forces and grandfathers and uncles and a stepfather who all served.)

    I think everyone should have the option of withdrawing from the Armed Forces if they disagree with the reasons for fighting wars, on whatever front, and not be penalized for same.

    I'm with you 100% on this one.

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  2. Anonymous10:44 PM

    All of that may be true, but the American troops hiding in Canada are, in fact, deserters...

    They are not like the draft-dodgers during the Vietnam War who came up here b/c they received notices that they were being drafted into the military against their will - these are guys who deliberately joined the US military (some are very young, so they clearly joined AFTER the war in Iraq began) & now want out...

    I'm sure, like so many others, they were caught up in the post-9/11 outrage & joined w/ all their friends as a show of patriotism - once friends started being deployed, however, and not coming home alive or coming home maimed for life, reality set in & they changed their minds...they're allowed to do that (there is no draft), but they have to do it the honorable, legal way, even if that means a couple yrs in a military jail - and if they really felt that strongly about opposing the war in Iraq, they would be willing to do that time in jail to make their statement - they're not...what they're doing (hiding in Canada) is just wimping out & using opposition to the war as an excuse...

    Canada should stay out of it b/c it involves another country dealing w/ its own military recruits - and if you see what's happening to the American troops (some haven't been home in yrs - not enough troops, so they're forced to stay for multiple deployments) & the way the reservists & even National Guard members have had to deploy, you can't help but understand the outrage in the US over what these FEW Americans are doing...the vast majority of young people in the US have not joined the military - they are going to college, working, getting married, living normal lives - they are not in danger of being drafted & they are exercising their right to disagree w/ the war & refuse to join the military...

    The deserters (who chose to join the military when there was no pressure to do so) should be sent back to the US to take responsibility for their own choices within the confines of US law...they are in our country illegally, and like all other illegal "immigrants", should be deported...Canada is not a player in this all-US issue & we should stay out of it...

    As for the Cdn involvement in Afghanistan - as soldiers continue to die over there, more people than ever are joining the military...regardless what we civilians might think of Canada's decision to lead the mission, the fact remains that the troops on the ground believe strongly in what they're doing over there, so we need to support them...they say they should be allowed to stay & finish what they're doing, and we should trust that they know more about what's going on in Afghanistan than the little the media chooses to tell us & let them...

    AB Girl

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  3. I beat you to the socks.

    So there.

    Ha.

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  4. I saw one word...'elections'. And being that I have strong opinions regarding the North American United States voting process and the 'should be' leader of the 'free world' I will now munch on a rice krispie treat and keep my mouth shut.

    Yep.

    Miss you, WW!!! You should email me. :)

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  5. Our own political system is a total mess. India does not take a hardline for tereorism. No wonder we keep having bombings very frequently. Previously it was confined to Kashmir. Now it can be anywhere. After the serial blasts in Delhi on Saturday, which left more than 40 dead and 100 injured, all of us are bitter about our Govt's stand. It has gone on too long. 30 odd years is much too long. How long is it gonna take?
    However, we do not go out of our own country to fight wars for others for whatever reasons.
    Suppose I am deviating here.

    Another thing, if I had thought of a condition of "you visit" and then "I visit", I would have stopped visiting you long tme back. I never considered that ever. In your own words, fair or unfair, I can let off my steam once in a while, can't I? And I truly don't think I deserved to be ticked off by you.

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  6. I'm with AB Girl on this one. We would be opening Pandora's Box if we start accepting COs en masse...hey we sent our own COs to work camps during WW2.

    Canada is now in the unenviable position of being perveived by combatants as an American lapdog. We need to quickly reverse this.

    Our troops in Afghanistan are fighting to protect the schools that we're rebuilding..and allowing girls to attend HELLO! It is an almost impossible task because we don't have enough boots on the ground exterminate the Taliban.

    The onus for building a 21st Century Country falls on the shoulders of the inhabitants, but they have no f*cking idea how to do it because they live in constant fear of retaliation for taking measures to achieve that goal. It is a Catch 22 damned if you do scenario.

    Since the insurgents only understand Force we need to separate them from the public and methodically send in the Yankee 'wet-boys' to mop up the floors with them while we build, roads, wells, schools, hospitals, rec centres, bridges etc.

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  7. PG, AB girl, Donnnnnn:

    Fair enough, everybody has their own opinions, I value yours...

    MJ:

    WHAT SOCKS?

    AWA:

    Why keep your mouth shut? Let me have some of that Rice Crispie treat.

    Gautami:

    Sorry to have ticked you off.

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  8. The socks that Infomaniac reader Leah will knit you if you win her contest here.

    You seemed keen to win them last night!

    Or was that just the drink talking?

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  9. MJ:

    Oh, THOSE socks! Evidently, I'm not a very good transblog traveller. Just remember, I blogged about socks and sex long ago.

    And ha! You DID come over here to comment on my "war register" snoozer!

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  10. it's all shite - there's no easy answer. The Taliban were funded by the US to piss off the Ruskies so now it is inherent on them to clean up the mess. Perhaps they could throw $$$$$$ at them instead of kids.

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  11. Hey Mr. Bigshot, when are you going to come around and visit our Blogs EH?

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  12. Ziggi:

    No one wants to hear the ironic history of how the Taliban came to have the power and resolve they have.

    It's all about the here and now. Or should that be the beer and wow! That's what I'm doin'!

    Donnnnnnnn:

    OK, I surrender. I will dedicate all of my Tuesday night to visiting every single blog on the planet.

    Well, besides yours, that is.

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  13. Waaaa
    Waaaaaaaa
    Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
    ((burp))
    goo ggoo gaa gaa

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  14. Donnnnnnn:

    Anything's better than your stupid avatar with the cowboy hat on, Roy Rogers.

    This avatar is in honour of Anna and her impending arrivals, to put her into the right frame of mind.

    And because you so rudely teased me about my prison pic.

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  15. Well, I've certainly been told!
    Gotta go..PARANORMAL is on!

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  16. Donnnnnnn:

    Yeah, I remembered it was Monday...getting all worked up about wotshisname yet?

    The bespectacled gay psychic you got the woody over, as MJ somehow observed?

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  17. I for one, hope Canada grants asylum to these resisters. I always cringe when I hear idiots say that it's God's will that we go to war and pray for our victory...ummm, isn't that exactly what these terrorists think? That God told them to bomb us and he's on their side as well?

    Gov'ts aren't always right. Gov'ts aren't here to rule people. Gov'ts exist to serve the people, not the interests of a rich few. And people need to be educated and understand what the real issues are and take action. I can't stand people who complain but don't do anything. Don't complain if you don't vote. Don't be a parrot and mimic other people. You have a brain, so use it!

    It doesn't matter if you volunteer for military service. When you strongly believe that something is wrong and you cannot support it, then you must have the courage and common decency to resist.

    How many Nazi German soldiers used the excuse that "I was only following orders" to execute men, women, and children?

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  18. Eroswings:

    With all due respect to all the other commenters, some of whom I responded to and others not...

    You and I should form a new political party, we're so in synch ideologically!

    And then we could overthrow the American and Canadian governments in a military coup, then unite the two countries and call it AMERICANADA!

    The UN and all nations on earth would love us. We could rule the world!

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  19. Anonymous9:08 PM

    Everyone knows that when you join the military, you give up the right to pick & choose which battles you are willing to fight. What kind of military would you have if EVERYONE decided to do that??

    If you don't agree w/ a war your country is involved in, you:
    1. Refuse to join the military, or (if you're not smart enough to restrain yourself from joining)
    2. Withdraw from the military in accordance w/ the rules of the military under which you swore under oath you would serve, and accept the consequences of your own choices.

    You do NOT run to Canada to hide from the law, like so many other American criminals who are trying to hide from the law up here...you're no hero when you do that - just another coward...not to mention, illegal immigrant...

    AB Girl

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  20. Hey AB Girl:

    OK, can we agree that we disagree and that there’s a wide gap between us on this?

    But you’ll pardon me, if we’re going to debate this, for not just accepting as indisputable givens everything you're saying.

    At least not without some additional context and thought. I just don’t think it’s that simple.

    I guess if soldiers actually used their brains or could know in advance how they’d feel about being shot at or shooting others in a war that constantly changes both on the ground and back home in terms of support or not, there WOULDN’T be any military.

    And maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing. That’s when they bring about the draft. This war has gotten more and more unpopular, with good reason.

    I agree that, according to military rules and regulations, what you’re saying is almost certainly what the military would say. You joined, now you're mine, it's my rules, now live with it.

    But maybe that says something bad about what the military really IS that it has to be that rigid and make its soldiers automatons.

    It might sound wishy-washy or willy-nilly and besides the point, and I don’t have the recruitment or enlisting demographics to back it up, but it seems to me there are a number of reasons why people join the military…

    …Even in the face of war, even if they know they can die, even though they know the rigid rules and expectations that the military demands: don’t think, obey. Don’t have a conscience, just follow orders.

    --Enlisters are aimless and have nothing else to do or don’t know what they want to do. They’re NOT very smart, or at least haven't thought it all through -- which you kind of hinted at when you talked about them restraining themselves from joining.
    --Being in the army is honourable.
    --Being in the army can get them a free education or training.
    --They don’t understand what they’re getting into.
    --Their fathers and grandfathers were in the military.
    --America is all about allegiance and the beautiful and freedom and all that.
    --They like killing people and being powerful and having weapons in their hands.
    --The army’s big PR machine sells the military and whatever war it’s engaged in as some glorious pursuit to save the free world and to protect America’s interests. Bush shows up on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf and pounds his chest and proclaims victory. Woo hoo!
    --They want to kill those gooks or those commies or those carpet baggers or whatever terrible enemy is about to take over the planet while innocent America just stood by and had nothing to do with it all. Be a hero! Be G.I. Joe!

    Soldiers – all the people who are being killed – are just worker bees or ants. They’re not supposed to have a brain.

    And they’re certainly not supposed to think or develop a conscience once they actually start fighting and killing and maiming or see that happen all around them, and they start asking themselves, for what?

    So should they have joined in the first place, which kind of seems to be a main point with you? Probably not. But were they smart enough to know what they’d encounter to begin with? Maybe not.

    And once they see what’s going on – whether it’s because they’re afraid for their own lives or their natural intelligence and experience kicks in and they decide ‘Hey, I don’t want to be here and I don’t believe in this,’ they aren’t entitled to that?

    I think they should be entitled to that.

    And if and when they know they’ll be prosecuted in their own country for feeling what they feel and for thinking on their own two feet rather than just joining the masses to be brought back in body bags, then if they need to come to Canada to avoid that, my door would be open.

    That's just my door, mind you.

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  21. Boot camp can never, EVER prepare any soldier for the horrors of war. You may use live ammo, but you sure aren't allowed to practice killing real people.

    So even if they go into it thinking this is what they are willing to do, or want to do, once they get to the battlefield and have to start shooting people, blowing off heads and arms and legs, then reality kicks in and some of them just cannot handle it.

    They are the ones that have migrated north. It is a complex issue, one with many sides and of which there are many opinions. Who is right and who is wrong - or is there even a right and wrong?

    Maybe it is war that is wrong - the governments that send those soldiers to fight wars on the other side of the planet for some obscure reason, calling it patriotism or whatever. I don't know for sure, but I still say, let them stay.

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  22. Anonymous1:57 AM

    WW, I agree w/ most of what you said, right up to the last paragraph...they ARE allowed to change their minds...

    There is nothing wrong w/ changing their minds...it's the WAY they're trying to get out of the military that's the problem - I'm sure they realize now they would have had an easier time getting out of the military if they had never left the US & accepted dishonorable discharge - NOW they're classified as deserters and, yes, likely face prosecution of some kind...

    But they will not be prosecuted for having a different opinion, thinking for themselves, disagreeing w/ their gov't, or even just changing their minds - they will be prosecuted for leaving the country & hiding out in another country when they were still active members of the US military...

    I don't share your opinion of soldiers, at least not the generalization that they are just automatons who don't think b/c if they did, they couldn't serve in the military...I'm sure there are some who just want to "get in the hunt" & can't wait to grab a gun & go after someone, but that doesn't characterize most of them and, frankly, those generally don't last in the military - trigger-happy rebels don't make good soldiers & put their comrades at risk...most soldiers are there b/c they believe they are serving their country & are willing to put their lives on the line, and that includes all the people who are dedicated to saving lives (police, doctors, nurses, paramedics & firefighters) who have joined the military...

    AB Girl

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  23. I'm very much with AB girl on this one. When people join the military, they know what they're getting themselves into. These adults made very adult choices when they joined the military. Actions have consequences. Now they must accept the consequences of their choices/actions.

    By the way, cute baby pic - is that you?

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  24. People...

    OK, obviously this is a very contentious issue with people very polarized one way or the other.

    I'm tuckered out talking about it. We all believe what we believe, and it's all OK.

    Personally, I'm going to start writing about the decaying crumbs in my fridge again.

    Anna: Yes, that was my baby pic. I had it up there for a day or two in honour of your coming twins.

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  25. I'm sorry WW, but I'm wit AB on this one as well.

    You sign on for this. You know what you're getting into. It's a sad fact, but true.

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  26. Pamela:

    Hiya!

    Why would you EVER be sorry for expressing your opinion? I respect it totally, ESPECIALLY from an American (although no Canadian's opinion is any less worthy if they're informed and can think).

    Maybe I can learn something from this, something I don't know or get or understand.

    And that's the beauty of exchanging ideas.

    Thanks for visiting and gracing me (us) with your viewpoint -- although it doesn't change mine.

    :-)

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  27. Anonymous9:56 PM

    WW, I'm not sure we're arguing the same subject...I think the difference is in the angles from which we're looking at the subject - you're commenting on whether going to war is wrong, whether Canada should be participating in Afghanistan, etc...I'm commenting on whether Canada should send the AWOL American soldiers back to the US" - and to me, it's simple - they're here illegally, so deport them like all other illegals...

    Re: people following orders once they join the military: we ALL make choices every day & follow orders, many of which we don't agree with...are we all automatons for doing so? or just weighing every time we take a course of action the benefits of compliance vs the negative consequences of non-compliance?

    I choose to live in Canada, so I have to abide by Cdn laws, some of which I think are stupid; I choose to live in this town, so I have to abide by the town bylaws, some of which I think are stupid; I work in Calgary, so I have to abide by some of the REALLY stupid bylaws they're drafting these days (!) during the hrs I'm within city limits; I live in a condo, so I have to abide by the association bylaws, even though I don't agree w/ some of them; I work for a certain company, so I have to follow its policies (even the stupid ones) & report to a mgr w/ about 15 yrs less experience who orders me to do stupid things as a result - I can express my opinion & alert him to the consequences if I follow his direction, but in the end, the decision is his - I cannot simply choose to disobey or refuse to show up for work b/c I don't agree w/ him - the company put him in charge, so I have no choice...

    Actually, I do have a choice - I can comply, quit, or refuse to obey & face dismissal - the fact that I'm right & he's wrong will not be considered by the company in making the decision to fire me - it's more important to the "powers that be" to have an effective corporate organization where everyone observes their rank & follows the orders of their superiors - insubordination is considered the worst employee sin...do you think the CEO cares about a battle of wills at the peon level? No - he's the "big picture" guy...so a few dollars walk out the door b/c a mgr screwed up - that is NOT as important to him as a mgr being unable control his staff & the resulting disruption to productivity which could impact other departments - it's as simple as that...

    The military is merely a reflection of the society it represents...without people being willing to following orders, there would be no order...it doesn't mean we do so blindly - we do know when something doesn't make sense - we're just also aware that a decision has been made on our behalf & we don't have the authority to reverse it...it's the same for members of the military...

    As for whether the US should be in Iraq, or Canada in Afghanistan, I think the horses are sort of out of the barn - it doesn't matter anymore whether it was right or wrong, they're there and now have to follow thru w/ those decisions...it's not as simple as "bring the troops home" anymore b/c by making the decisions they made, the world changed, so there's no going back now - we can't rewrite history...the decisionmakers will be judged on the results of their decisions over time...we couldn't influence the decisions & can't change the consequences - all we can do is support the troops whose job it is to do their gov'ts bidding...who knows? they could actually meet their objectives, and the world will be a better place...

    AB Girl

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  28. AB Girl:

    I think we're arguing the EXACT same subject, but in different terms.

    You talked about your own work situation and what would happen to you if you were insubordinate.

    That kind of lends credence to my point about the Army. YOU won't go to jail for insubordination.

    They will.

    Isn't that a pretty significant difference for exercising your right to think and feel?

    And so if somebody faces a jail term and flees to Canada to escape that and the political beliefs that allowed that country to be in a war that soldier no longer believes in, then I support that.

    Of course there have to be laws and bylaws and all that. The military is a different beast.

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If you choose to use anonymous to comment, it is only fair that I reserve the right to obliterate your comment from my blog.