Regarding Bruce Wark's righteous indignation about Canada's military keeping journalists on a tight leash in Afghanistan:
How naive. Does Mr. Wark really believe that the military should let journalists run willy nilly around a war zone reporting whatever they damn well please? Has he never heard of the phrase "Loose lips sink ships"?
"That secrecy is part of a calculated campaign to filter what Canadians learn about our role in a bloody and fruitless war that we have now pledged to fight for at least another three-and-a-half years. The aim is to restrict coverage so that Canadians get a sanitized version of the fighting told from the military's point of view. It's propaganda that would make Pentagon spinmeisters glow with pride," opines Wark.
Is Wark implying that the military is interested in prolonging the war in Afghanistan? Does he believe military officials don't want people to know how crazy it is over there, that they don't mind sending Canadian soldiers home in caskets?
The military controls information flow not to dupe the public back home but to ensure combat situations don't get compromised. There's no such thing as transparency in military operations and there never will be. It's not an affront to the public's right to know or a make work program for solidiers. It's a tactic, one that has been used for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Let's bring this down to a more personal level. I'm a former journalist married to a sailor. I agree with the public's right to know, but I also want my spouse to come home. When I weigh the two, the latter wins every time. Trust me, in this era of email and satellite phones, it's impossible for the military to censor the flow of information going back home. There would be nothing to stop my husband from blathering on about what he's doing, nothing except survival. How many times did I receive an email from my husband during a post 9/11 Gulf deployment that gave his location as "somewhere in the Gulf" or "location unknown". How many times was I told he wouldn't be able to send messages for a few days because of something they were doing or a nasty location?
In these cases I wasn't angry that I didn't know what was happening. I was scared, and waited until I got the next email.
And let's get one last point clear -- no matter what anyone thinks about the role of Canada's military in Afghanistan or anywhere else, military brass don't have the power to make those decisions. It's the government that ultimately decides if there's a deployment or not.
If there's involvement in a bloody and senseless war, don't take the anger out on the poor slobs fighting in it.
By Linda Hulme Colin