July 11, 2002

GREAT DEBATE? Slate's old saw


Slate's old saw of the battling emailers has had some bores, and some real dogs over the years, but every now and again you still get an exchange that makes you go "Hmm." Like this one this week between Blogger favourites Robert Wright and Francis Fukayama.

Posted by BruceR at 12:40 PM



The public's reaction to the piece on Canadian snipers in Afghanistan linked to earlier is in, and it's not encouraging. From the Globe:

I'm incredulous that records are even kept on such things. Is this an attempt by the military to create a fan following for war?

I realize it is very hard to capture the attention of North Americans without resorting to statistics to provide a comparative guide of a soldier's worth. A human being was killed. Regardless of the nature of this alleged terrorist, a person's death should never be celebrated or used as the answer to a trivia question.

--Jonathan Dick, Richmond, B.C. (link)

From the Star:

This was a cold, unfeeling article that involved the loss of a man's life. By the way, in light of all that accidental killing of civilians, are you sure this man was a terrorist? He, according to the article, was only carrying a bag. What was in it, his lunch? I suggest that articles like these are left to magazines like Soldier of Fortune, where those who delight in this sort of thing can go read them.

--Dwight Rankine, Toronto

Recognizing that these things do go on in a war, there is still no reason to treat this tragedy in such a cavalier manner. Our soldiers have a proud record of peacekeeping that is tarnished by such sensational reporting. When all is said and done, these men have to live it. Let us hope the Armed Forces leadership will see fit to ensure they receive the appropriate counselling before they return home.

Of greater concern is that the Army's quest for publicity and approval would result in using specialized troops as pawns to attain its misguided objectives. The Army has not learned from the Vietnam experience, where we saw the action on the evening news; a situation that became the blackest moment in U. S. history.

--Garry Oman, Toronto

Meanwhile, the National Post has its own take on the same story, with some more interesting detail. By the way, I know for a fact this wasn't a story the army had anything to do with promoting or encouraging, other than allowing access to the soldiers involved to journalists including, apparently, a writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine. So much for the "quest for publicity" allegation.

Posted by BruceR at 10:19 AM