Friday, August 17, 2007

More Firepower, Less Security

So we are "supporting the troops" in Kandahar some more, now with some Leopard 2's that we are, pathetically, leasing from Germany. This won't be a rant on how Canada isn't living up to its military potential, it will be one on how it is misusing what little it has.

Nobody is going to get up and say "Hey we hate troops. Gosh darn it, I want them to run face-first into machine gun fire, buck-naked!." Everybody is going to wave the flag, support our fine young men and women, and swear that our boys (and girls) deserve the best of the best of the best. Somebody, meanwhile, will make a lot of money on the contract, and the debate about why exactly we are sending them to the other side of the world to, paradoxically, defend ourselves, will be conveniently forgotten.

So we got them these new toys.

But according to the men on the ground, the new Leopard won't save many lives from roadside bombs - after all, there are only 20 of them, and they aren't busses. Canadians are still going to be riding around in lighter, less armoured transport vehicles, i.e. the kind that Afghan fighters usually ambush anyways.

On the other hand, according to a tank commander in Kandahar whose soundbyte has been airing ad nauseum on CBC radio and television, what the new weapon system will allow, is more firepower and better accuracy - a "show of force" as one Canadian Press article put it. According to the soldier, the tank's 122mm cannon can place a shell "to within centimetres of the enemy from kilometers away."

That's a 122mm cannon. It might come in handy in a tank battle . . . if the Afghans fighting us actually had tanks.

So what's the other use? As an artillery piece, of course - in WWII terms, 122mm is on the high-end of land-based artillery. So what are we going to be doing with this thing? Lobbing shells at "suspected Taliban positions," as the euphemism goes.

Suspected of being Taliban? Or suspected of being there?

Then, when the shell kills 20 members of a family near one of these "suspected Taliban" positions, GWB and his Canadian Konservative lackeys will wring their hands and say something like:

"Coalition forces operate within the tightest constraints to prevent loss of innocent life. The blame for this lies on the Taliban and their terrorist allies, who were using those people as human shields."

After all, firing high-explosive rounds from a distance into a populated area at an uncertain target in a country on the other side of the world takes a lot of courage. After all, these things are necessary when your enemy is so cowardly.

And when their family members get angry, get guns, and start shooting at the white men who, once again, have brought war to their country, what will we decide to call them?


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