Old men die in their beds…

Brigadier General Jonathan Vance crosses the line into policy?

Is Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance hiding behind soldiers to avoid a debate about the war?

Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance criticized Senator Colin Kenny’s call for a retreat from Afghanistan because the Senator is lowering the morale of the soldiers.

From The Globe and Mail Sept 18, 2009:

“The thousands of young, clear, determined eyes that remain wide open here in Kandahar are working hard every day to protect and stabilize the population – not an impossible mission, as some might suggest.”

Soldiers like Pte. Lormand [who was killed by a roadside bomb last week] do “not need to be told his efforts are futile, for he could see positive results in the communities he was protecting,” the commander said.

But is General Vance really suggesting that we should continue to fight this war, simply to avoid hurting someone’s feelings?

One has to wonder if this is how he makes his own command decisions in Afghanistan, sending his troops into battle simply because they want to fight bravely on, no matter what the cost or their likelihood of success.

Senator Colin Kenny, who argued in a high-profile op-ed that the war is unwinnable and hurtling toward “a Viet Nam ending”, has taken a lot of criticism from the war boosters.

Senator Kenny concludes that politicians are too afraid of offending soldiers and their families by questioning Canada’s role in Afghanistan, but it’s important to have an honest debate about the mission.

General Vance’s comments, though, come from a serving member of the military, not a columnist or pundit. Military officers are not allowed to comment on government policy publicly (at least not without permission of the Chief of Defence Staff…).

But that rule has been broken regularly in recent years, and the politicians seem unwilling to challenge the military brass (another part of the Hillier legacy), as Senator Kenny points out.

The generals have been calling the shots long enough. It reminds one of the saying, “Old men die in their beds” while young men and women die in Afghanistan. Isn’t it time that Parliament step in and stop this war?

Tags: Afghanistan, Brigadier General Jonathan Vance, Defence lobby, Senator Colin Kenny