Saturday, November 28, 2009
I Got Nothing...But He's Wrong
Christie Blatchford's piece in the Globe and Mail today made no bones about where she was going to come out on the Afghanistan issue. That doesn't, or shouldn't surprise anyone.
Blatchford makes no excuses for her devotion to the troops and her admiration for Gen. Rick Hillier. Certainly, she is entitled to her feelings and her perspective, but how that qualifies her to put out such a lengthy and faulty analysis, perplexes me. Well, no I guess it doesn't really. She's written an opinion piece, but it's presented with such a huge amount of ink, that one would be led to believe that she has the last and definitive word on the issue.
Look, credit where credit is due. Blatchford has courage that I don't possess. Her experience in Afghanistan is not one many of us would undertake and by all accounts, she presented her observations during that time honestly and from the perspective of the soldier. That was important work in my view.
Given that though, how she or anyone believes that she can objectively look at a diplomats duties and findings, is beyond me. Hillier, whom she adores, all but spat out the word diplomat this week at the committee meeting. The disdain the military feels for the civilian/political realm is neither new, nor surprising. In fact, I suppose it could be argued that a certain amount of animosity is necessary in order for each sector to do it's work.
I tend to think that Blatchford shares Gen. Hillier and Gen. Gautier's views on that score.
So, if as she says the Globe and Mail received the redacted documents, why did it fall to her to go through them? Just thinking out loud here, but it seems to me that someone who was far closer to the situation, as in Graeme Smith, who really broke much of this, would have been a better choice, no?
I raise that because I wonder if The Globe received the documents or if Christie herself did. Just putting that out there. I know that she would have to share/vet her information with her higher up's. Her analysis, at any rate is faulty.
Let's start with the last paragraph first, because it sets up how she approached the issue.
In condemning with the same brush highly professional Canadian soldiers, and to complain that they were complicit in breaches of the law of armed conflict and knowingly buried his reports, it is Mr. Colvin who has some explaining left to do.
No one, I repeat, NO ONE, has accused the Canadian soldiers. This is about their political masters. The 'attacking our brave sons and daughters' line is one that is being pushed by the government as a shiny object and Blatchford obligingly picked it up and ran with it.
Furthermore, the amount of redaction applied to these memos makes it impossible for her to refute their content, but she does. She goes on to portray Colvin's exposure as limited, but in doing so, she exposes her lack of understanding of his post.
You do recall that we tragically lost our first diplomat in Afghanistan Glyn Berry. In spite of that danger, Colvin stepped up and volunteered to take his place. She diminishes the man with her 'military point of view' impression of him.
A more thoughtful view can be found here.
And then we have this:
The Globe and Mail now has what appears to be the entire collection of the e-mails Mr. Colvin sent on the subject during the 17 months he spent in Afghanistan from April of 2006 to October of 2007. A couple are virtually completely blacked out; some are heavily redacted, others rattle on at such length they could have done with a little more redacting.
Do they have the entire collection? And apologies for being a nudge here, but why does the Globe have the doc's while parliamentarians are being left out of the loop?
In the end, the Globe facilitated getting the government argument out through another voice. There is nothing substantial in Blatchford's piece, but it's this kind of messaging that the government we live with at the moment depends on. Messaging is the order of the day and sadly I see too much compliance in that effort.
I read messages from Ottawa journo's on a daily basis that state they will not be given an opportunity to question the PM or a Minister, or, they will be allowed one question and only if they are deigned deserving. Can't quite figure out how they put up with that, but what are they to do?
In place of that of course, we have an excess of opinion, friendly local media spin, oh and that ever reliable source, talk radio. Canada, we have a problem.
That said, I sense there is a mood to seek the truth here. This issue isn't being dismissed and make of that what you will, I think it bodes well.
Additionally, I suspect that more and more real information will emerge. That is what is needed here. Colvin has nothing to gain by his coming forward.
Here's hoping, for the sake of our national reputation and the protection of our troops, that others find his courage.