Friday, August 31, 2007


This is a victory for the Taliban in so many ways.

1. They gain the legitimacy of having negotiated directly with a democratic government.

2. Tactics of kidnapping aid workers are incentivised. In case there was any doubt, the Taliban proclaim that "we will do the same thing with other allies in Afghanistan."

3. The South Korean government confirms that they will withdraw their Afghanistan troops by the end of the year; never mind that the kidnapping of aid workers is just about the strongest argument there could be for maintaining a military presence in order to secure development assistance.

4. The Taliban are rumoured to have received a $20 million ransom from the South Korean government. If true, that money will undoubtedly be used to fund future attacks against Canadians and NATO allies, but that's okay for Seoul because their people are getting out.

This is EXACTLY why we don't negotiate with terrorists.

Posted by Matthew @ 9:54 a.m. :: (0) comments

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


So says Professor Margaret MacMillan in today's Globe, and yet that's precisely how how our Second World War veterans want the Canadian War Museum to be treated.

The battle's not over yet. But under pressure from Bomber Command veterans' groups and sympathetic politicians, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa will adjust the wording on a panel dealing with the 1945 firebombing of Dresden.
And yet...
With his back to the wall and no hope of matching German military strength, Winston Churchill was delighted to let Sir Arthur Harris win the war with bombers. Any scruples could be quelled by memories of the thirteen thousand British victims of the Luftwaffe.
The Bomber Offensive was pursued with a single-mindedness reminiscent of the frontal assults of the earlier war. Daylight raids over German cities and industrial targets led to intolerable casualties. Night bombing was a little less costly but hopelessly inaccurate. Allied propaganda insisted that bombers hit pin-point targets on military and industrial objectives. In fact, the incendiary and blockbuster bombs were aimed at civilian populations with much the same purpose of terror that had inspired the Luftwaffe. The Allied bomber attacks cost Germany 560,000 dead and 675,000 injured, most of them women and children, but German war production until the spring of 1945 was cut by as little as 1.2 per cent.
(Desmond Morton, A Military History of Canada, McClelland and Stewart, 4th ed., 1999 [1985], p.205).

I have been to the war museum and seen the exhibit in question. The veterans are acting as if this is the only exhibit in the entire building that people are going to read. It is impossible to view the Second World War exhibit and not immediately understand that defeating the Nazis was an imperative and that using all of the resources at the allies disposal was necessary. It is obviously difficult to confront the reality that thousands of Canadian and allied airmen lost their lives dropping bombs on civilians, but a museum should be a place where citizens can be informed of and assess their own history.

Posted by Matthew @ 9:30 a.m. :: (1) comments