June 03, 2002



Fascinating summary of the U.S. air force decoration system, from Sgt. Stryker.

Since we're on the topic, here's the Canadian Forces decoration system:

1) Victoria Cross (last given WW2);
2) Star and Medal of Military Valour (created 1993; never given);
3) Cross of Valour (around 20 ever given, including civilians);
4) Meritorious Service Cross and Medal (Military) (c. 60 ever given);
5) Star of Courage (c. 400, civilians included);
6) Medal of Bravery (around 1200, civilians included; works out to about 50 a year);
7) Order of Military Merit (maximum 100 annually, divided between 3 levels);

Needless to say, you don't see many of those, except the last one, which still far less than 1 per cent of soldiers ever get.

After that you have the service ribbons (only six months of UN and NATO service abroad counts); then the Canadian Forces Decoration (or CD, denoting 12 years service). That's basically it. The vast majority of soldiers, right up to colonels, end their careers with a CD and if they're lucky a tour ribbon or two.

The exception is in Royal Celebration years, where approximately 5% of soldiers, allegedly judged on merit, receive a commemorative gong. There have been three of these in living memory: 1967 (Centennial), 1977 (25th Jubilee), and 1992 (125th Anniversary of Confederation). The fourth (Queen's 50th Jubilee) is going out this year, 2002, leading to a lot of jostling and shoving in the ranks these days: for a lot of soldiers without the prospect of a tour, it could only be the second medal they ever receive. But given a choice between that system and the Air Force one the sergeant outlines, I'll keep ours, thanks... less sewing and polishing.

Posted by BruceR at 05:13 PM

THAT'S TWO The Palestinian "courts"


The Palestinian "courts" have acquitted the second of the Ramallah Six... the terrorists being held in Jericho under Anglo-American wardens as the main precondition of ending the siege of Arafats' headquarters last month. Arafat paymaster Fuad Shabaki, behind the Karine A arms shipments, was cleared of all charges in May. Now Ahmed Saadat, ringleader of four of the six accused of assassinating an Israeli cabinet minister has also been let off. The others should follow shortly.

Posted by BruceR at 04:23 PM



Tim Blair has raised concerns over a piece in the Ithaca Journal claiming war crimes by the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan. The source itself is not credible, but not for the reason you're thinking.

As a former editor of a small newspaper in a part-military town, I'm the last person to say the Ithaca Journal itself deserves to be discredited. After all, the Somalia crimes Canadian soldiers committed were uncovered by one of the rival papers in my area (not at the time I was editor), the Pembroke Observer... about the smallest viable daily paper in Eastern Canada. Good military reporting can be done at small papers, by conscientious journalists. It helps if you have familiarity with the subject matter, of course... at one time both the lead local politics writer for another rival tabloid and I were in the same reserve air defence troop, as sergeant and officer... I'm not sure we said as much as we could have about the army at the time, but what we said was undeniably accurate. But I digress...

I still don't believe Ithaca Journal writer Kandea Mosley. And that's got less to do with my knowledge of journalists than my knowledge of Google. For Ms. Mosley... the first journalist to quote an actual U.S. soldier saying war crimes were committed... is simply not credible.

To save you the googlification: Kandea Mosley graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1993, making her, I'd guess, about 27 now. She then went to UCLA, where she became the chairwoman of the African Student Union in 1996-7, and then ran for student president as the Students First! candidate, which opposed Nike on campus and the ending of affirmative action in California (Proposition 209), and won. The protests in her year as president took various forms: she was quoted as saying:

Our opposition to Prop. 209 ... is not a result of a skewed perception of affirmative action as a cure-all for all of our communities and the racist, classist violence perpetuated on our people daily. Rather, the reasons behind raising a political struggle in this university is created out of our understanding that organized struggle ... is necessary on every level.

At the inauguration of the new UCLA chancellor that spring, a web report notes:

Inside USA president Kandea Mosley delivered a speech decrying the end of affirmative action and then sat down on the stage for several minutes, her fist raised in protest.

Graduating in 1998, Mosley then returned to New York, covering the Green Party for the Village Voice (!!) during the 2000 elections. And now for the last few months, she's been upstate, working as a beat reporter at the Ithaca Journal. I'm sorry, but I just can't believe someone with those credentials is going to come to the question of U.S. actions in Afghanistan capable of clear-headed judgment. So I don't believe her story.

Update: Nick Marsala has been researching the other half of the cabal, Pte. Matt Guckenheimer.

Posted by BruceR at 02:55 PM



The PM fired his right-hand man yesterday, finance minister Paul Martin, allegedly because he was campaigning to replace him in secret. (Again, as a courtesy to our American readers, the closest possible political analogy in the American system: if Clinton had fired Gore for conniving to replace him after one term). The Canadian papers are full of the story, of course, as Parliament Hill turns more obviously into the travelling road show of Macbeth it always was. It does show a couple things: our national leader's increasingly shaky grip on reality (the Diefenbaker parallels are unmistakable), and the degree to which the Chretien years were due to Martin. There isn't a single Canadian who believes Chretien would have balanced the budget and cut taxes if anyone but Martin had been finance minister for the last nine years.

The question no one I'm reading is answering, however, is why now? Why, that is, did Martin court the PM's wrath this week? The guy's been not-so-secretly campaigning for NINE years... but something actually happened this week that knocked over the equilibrium they'd established. They had no substantial differences on policy: Martin wanted fiscal responsibility, and Chretien wanted votes and popularity... not mutually exclusive by any means. Certainly they've never quarreled in public over policy.

Given that we've seen a week or more of patronage-based scandals, however, it warrants a guess. Martin or his supporters must have been taking a much harder line behind closed doors on the Chretien favourites who so far have been shielded from repercussions by the PM (Coderre, et al.). I believe Martin wanted the Liberals to be seen to be cleaning house more vigorously (and knock off a few Chretien loyalists while he was at it). Using allies in the press corps, his subordinates started a small internal anti-corruption campaign. The PM had to react to preserve his unquestioned authority after the grumbling got too loud.

Posted by BruceR at 09:17 AM