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Purser: Reality Lessons

A tough-talking general brings our America-haters out of the woodwork.


September 28, 2007
By Richard Purser

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As Ken Pole notes in his Ottawa column, General Rick Hillier, now in
his seventh month as Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, has developed
a reputation for being bluntspoken “a refeshing rarity in today’s
politically correct world.”

Yes,
indeed – and isn’t it remarkable how the sin of outspokenness can draw
the worst out of the ‘politically correct,’ or small-minded, element in
a country? In this country, that small-mindedness often finds
expression in a strange kind of visceral anti-Americanism.

Let’s
go back to Hillier’s ‘original sin.’ On July 14, one week after the
terrorist bombings of London’s transportation system, he gave an Ottawa
briefing on Canada’s mission to hideously beset Afghanistan, a
landlocked south-central Asian nation about the size of Manitoba (but
with at least 25 times its population). The word ‘nation’ is used
loosely; an impoverished land of warlordism and tribalism, it suffered
10 years of Soviet occupation (1979-89). Following subsequent domestic
feuding among mujahidin factions, the fanatical religious-extremist
Taliban movement took over much of the country in 1996 and gave cover
to Osama bin Laden and his al- Qaeda international terrorist movement.

That
ended with the American-led allied invasion in support of the anti-
Taliban ‘Northern Alliance’ of warlords in late 2001 following
al-Qaeda’s September 11 attacks on the US. Since then, efforts to
create a real nation with a democratic government have met with
pro-Taliban terrorist opposition violently opposed to the very concept
of freedom.

These are not nice people, and they are the people that Canada’s new 2,000- troop deployment to Afghanistan will have to face.

“The
London attack actually tells us once more: We can’t let up,” Hillier
said on July 14. “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.”

He went on: “We are the
Canadian Forces, and our job is to be able to kill the enemy!” Horrors!
An army might actually kill people!

The letter-writers to the
‘national’ (i.e., published-in-Toronto) press went into full flight:
“Gen. Rick Hillier’s bellicose blustering is most unwelcome. He does
not speak for me or millions of other Canadians who want no part of
George W. Bush’s simplistic war on terror.”

“His aggressive
language will play well at the Pentagon. But it certainly won’t impress
the ‘detestable murderers and scumbags’ he hopes his troops will find
in Afghanistan, nor the growing army of impressionable people ready to
kill themselves and others to promote their cause.”

“I am
pleased to see that 2,000 Canadian troops will be deployed to target
the ‘detestable murderers and scumbags’ behind the rise in
international terrorism. How does Gen. Rick Hillier intend to sneak
these soldiers into Washington?”

“It’s time he slowed down, put a sock in it, and thought seriously in a Canadian not an American context.”

“It
is reprehensible that Canada’s top soldier chooses to use the
vocabulary of a street punk looking for a fight on Saturday night.”

“Dehumanizing
the enemy is a tool of political propaganda, not for a thinking
soldier, who cannot afford to underestimate a foe.”

And our
professional anti-Americans got into the act: “Are we seeing an
Americanization of the Canadian Forces?” (Steven Staples, Polaris
Institute) “I would love Canada to play a thoughtful, moderating
position in this.” (Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians)

And, of
course, MP Carolyn Parrish, who told the Globe and Mail that Hillier
was “dangerous,” a “testosterone-filled general” who needs someone to
“put a clamp on his mouth.”

Sure, there was lots of support
expressed for Hillier from many quarters – a gratifying amount of it.
But clearly, there are also nasties in our midst. They don’t all crawl
out of the alleys of Kandahar.


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