January 20, 2003



It was a day for stupid UN news. And yet more stupid UN news. But also some signs of great hope. Once the deployment orders come through for the American divisions in Germany in a week or two, we'll be over the 250,000 decision point, and the conquest, or at least occupation, of Iraq is almost certain to happen.

The question now, of course, is is Canada going to do anything at all? Or is the paralytic indecision common to our foreign policy going to keep us entirely out of this one, just as it did in 1991, altogether? One paragraph in the Scotsman article linked above rings true:

Furious arguments have been raging between Downing Street and defence chiefs over the tank deployment announcement, with the military pressing for it to go ahead this week and the Prime Minister’s advisors wanting a deferment until the United Nations has clearly sanctioned any war.

Likewise here at home, as well. The difference is, the British military seemingly tends to win their versions of these arguments. And it's paying off for them. Would that our leaders could discern the cause-and-effect so clearly. Maybe the Falklands lessons Steyn refers to haven't quite disappeared from their collective consciousness. I'll be raising a glass to the Brits tonight.

Posted by BruceR at 06:06 PM



I am continually amazed by the amount of credibility given to the uncorroborated, unsubstantiated, after-the-fact, self-serving statements of the two American pilots accused of killing Canadians in Afghanistan and their lawyers. I really am trying to imagine any other accused criminal who is believed automatically on key questions... specifically questions relating to his state of mind at the time an alleged crime was committed.

Today's case in point, from the Star:

[Maj. Marshall] Woodson said that any time a pilot requests permission to deploy weapons, the air combat control demands co- ordinates for the target?s location, right "down to a decimal point." That information was never passed on, since Schmidt decided to release his bomb in self defence before the co- ordinates could be relayed.

In fact, we know from the transcripts that Maj. Schmidt never tried to relay those coordinates:

AWACS: (21:25:00) Coffee 51 [from AWACS] HOLD Fire, I need details on SAFIRE…(the rest of the sentence unconfirmed).
Schmidt: (21:25:04) Okay, I have got some men on the road and it looks like a piece of artillery firing at us. I am rolling in in SELF-DEFENSE.

Schmidt's decision to attack came immediately after he had been ordered to hold fire... it even sounds like he may have cut the AWACS off in mid sentence. Another, equally reasonable interpretation would be that the decision to deny his request to fire prompted the self-defense claim, or at least was a factor in the decision of a pilot determined to continue with the action. But the Star assumes, without any evidence other than Schmidt's say-so, that, if he hadn't felt deeply threatened, right in that split second while AWACS was talking, he would have gone on relaying coordinates. One hopes Schmidt faces a less pliable real jury in the end than we're seeing in the press gallery.

Posted by BruceR at 05:45 PM