Apparently I'm not the only one who's noticed that lately every time someone sticks a microphone in Rick Hillier's face he does his best impression of George Bush. The Globe and Mail today has a piece that demonstrates how politicians and defence analysts are jumping at the opportunity to back Hillier up even while others are criticizing his blunt talk.
One of Hillier's statements that's up for discussion is this:
We are the Canadian Forces, and our job is to be able to kill people.
I don't quarrel with that as far as it goes. If you're going to have a military then it seems to me that expertise in the application of lethal force is a desirable quality for them to have. Perhaps it's not the only one but it's pretty high up on the list.
But I'm a bit more concerned with the way Hillier seems to regurgitate the Bush administration's black and white view of the world.
These are detestable murderers and scumbags, I'll tell you that right up front. They detest our freedoms, they detest our society, they detest our liberties.
Understanding your enemy should be a part of preparing to engage them. The more you understand them, the better you'll be able to analyze and anticipate their strategy and thwart their goals. Parroting the Bushies' "they hate our freedoms" blather doesn't look to me like understanding. It looks like "kill them all and let God sort them out".
It's true that Canadian forces are about to deploy to an area where they'll meet some nasty people. They're also deploying to an area where it can be tough to tell the difference between friend and foe. Innocent Afghanis have already been detained, imprisoned, abused and even murdered while in custody and the Bush administration has been content to shrug it all off, point to a few bad apples and insist "But we're at war dammit! They hate our freedoms!".
Considering recent events, and the fact that almost four years after 9/11 Osama Bin Laden still hasn't been smoked out of his hole, it's by no means a given that Bush's conduct of his War on Terror™ has done more good than harm. I'm assuming that with their new mission, Canadian soldiers are about to start taking casualties in Afghanistan to a greater degree than they have up until this point and that part of the reason for Hillier's public comments is to prepare us for that fact. I'd like to think that sacrifice will have a purpose, that it will accomplish something constructive rather than making a bad situation worse. Having the supreme commander of our military adopt the swagger and simplistic view of a faux cowboy president who has repeatedly demonstrated that his mendacity far outweighs any real commitment to ending terrorism doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in me.