The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Obligations to and by the military

I care not about recriminations.

At this point, we are where we are. How we got here, it might take extra-partisan historians to detangle: and even then only the loose outline of the path, odds and ends of minutes and letters and autobiographies and memos which suggest one direction or another but which can never, never confirm. For all intents and purposes, electronic data resources might as well have never existed: for all we entrust so much of our everyday realities to such inaccessible and fragile media. (We are living in a future Dark Age. Isolate our records from our current level of technology, and who will be able to read them?) Although some approximation of non-electronic documentation does occur at every level, even the behind-the-scenes quiet handshakes, the current sheer mass of available detail serves only to obfuscate the trail of true decision-making ... if, in fact, we do ever manage to identify key individuals and key decisions and don't end up ascribing the whole thing to an inertia of procedure within which any and all decisions are likely to remain forever individually irrelevant.

So, currently, we have several military actions occurring on the face of the earth, none of which have been wholly beneficial, many of which definitely seem to be escalating. At many times, it even seems the level of viciousness of which we, the human race, are capable of, has been seeking out ever-increasing extremes. At the same time, some powers seem to be contemplating even more interventions, or even to rip up altogether many of the treaties upon which we have based post-WW2 stability.

(Although the non-proliferation treaty has been dead for some years now. It just did not know it yet. After all, it had been on life-support since its inception.)

I speak not now of future interventions (for that is an entirely separate can of worms), but simply to address whether, having become involved, to withdraw or not to withdraw. Since I take as a given that the initial decision to intervene in the name of beneficence created some measure of responsibility for the region, I see only one relevant criterion:

Does a continued foreign military presence contribute to the medium- to long-term well-being of the native population; or does it detract from it? Specifically: at this point in time, are the foreign soldiers are helping to support anything that will actually grow in that native soil? however long the germination? and does the native population actually want what is being grown? If yes: there is an obligation to remain until the structure is sound; and to provide full domestic support for such remaining. If no: there is an obligation to leave.

All the rest, is commentary.

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