Monday, February 08, 2010

Bombshell! Forces Downplaying Canadian Afghan War Casualties

Whooee! Well, friends an' foes, there's an old saying that the first casualty of war is the truth. Sadly, that adage is proving to be accurate with regard to the Canadian Forces' release of information on casualties in the Afghanistan conflict. The Hill Times is reporting this morning that the number of returning troops on disability is up to ten times higher than what has been reported by the Canadian Forces.
More than 6,000 Canadian Forces members and discharged veterans who are receiving physical or psychiatric disability benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada have either served in Afghanistan or have a disability that has been related to their service in Afghanistan, the department says.
The Forces have been telling us that the number wounded in Afghanistan is 529. 529 wounded Canadians would be bad enough but when the real number is more than 6000, the figure quoted by the Canadian Forces is an all-out assault on the truth.

A few weeks ago, I posted up an audio blog where I sang a song by Tom Paxton that decried the psychological toll we exact upon our young people when we send them off to war. Today, when I read the Hill Times article, the poignancy of that song came back to haunt me again.

It's bad enough when we are forced into a war and must fight for our way of life and our very survival. In Afghanistan, we are fighting to support a fraudulently elected Hamid Karzai and his gang of warlords, opium merchants, bribe-takers and torturers. We've sacrificed the lives of 139 Canadians to an unworthy cause with unworthy allies.

Now, we find out that the wounded number far more than we were led to believe.

When I was a boy in the 1950's my WWII veteran dad would sometimes point out one of what he referred to as the "walking wounded". We'd see them on the street, often wearing a ragged military uniform and holding out a cup, begging for a handout from those for whom they sacrificed their sanity. My grandfather was a WWI Vimy vet. His name for the walking wounded was "shell shocked."

Today, we have a new name for the same problem. We call it "post traumatic stress disorder" or PTSD. When a loved one is killed in action it is a tragedy with a certain amount of closure, honour and solemn dignity. When a loved one sacrifices his or her sanity and mental well-being it is an ongoing, festering sore that rips apart families and continues to take physical, mental and financial tolls on the individuals, their families and society, in general.

The very least we should be able to expect is a truthful accounting of the numbers of troops who are suffering as a result of this misguided mission. We all bear the costs... and the shame.


(h/t to zippyFX on Twitter)


thwap said...

I guess the best we can hope for now is to win the peace.

Here in Canada.

Against the mentally-deficient militarists, sadists and lickspittles who brought us to this sorry state.

Because you know they're going to try to declare victory and go home don't you?

Just like there are freaks who believe bush II's invasion of Iraq was a success.

opit said...

If you were to branch out into the wild reportage of the likes of PakAlert you'd find stories that made even these revelations an understatement of casualties : but nobody much in mainstream press wants to come anywhere near dealing with the ugliness underpinning activities of our 'valiant troops'. The screaming horror of those who realize what they have signed up for is repeated time and again.

shavluk said...

Excellent topic Jimbobby

I am a military veteran although not during combat ...the mid 70's

I knew lots of american draft dodgers and even some Canadians who went to Vietnam

What you also do not realize is that they learned very well from Vietnam and invented something that reduces the body count to one ninth the previously expected death toll and yes they do things like that as remember Canadian military even said publicly we would have 150 dead in Afghanistan by the end in 2011 yes and that was years ago

What came into being was the "flack jacket"
And it served its purpose.....and it wasn't so much about saving lives as it was about death toll optics

But what is not seen now is the 9 times as many amputees
It is like the civil war in the 1800's all over again as so many that in Vietnam would have died are now here with just pieces missing
What people do not understand is that those pieces are merely the tip of the iceberg as to what is actually missing

Most Canadians also do not understand that in the first 5 years into Afghanistan before Martin turned into a cowboy we only lost 5 Canadians and get this 4 of those were if you remember killed by the Americans !!!!!!

If one of my sons was going over there to waste their lives possibly in a un-winnable civil war they would need more than a flack jacket to get by the old man

Thank you for posting this very important topic!

JimBobby said...

Thanks for the comments.

Thwap, if they want to declare victory and leave, at least they're leaving. Unfortunately, the "victory" lie will be bought by many who cannot bear to believe we sent our young people on a fool's mission. Like Iraq, there are plenty of Americans who think they won in Vietnam. Even their textbooks say they won in 1812.

Opit, thanks for bringing up the depleted uranium issue. I blogged on that one a few months ago and it elicited some pretty wacky responses. I do believe that our troops are valiant but the direction, orders and political motivation of those really calling the shots is anything but.

John, you're on the money regarding the body count thing. The near total reliance on air power by countries that can afford the technology is aimed at reducing the body count... at least for the high tech side. The incidences of friendly fire and the bombing of wedding parties and other legitimate gatherings is the obvious problem. It's a problem that is brushed aside time and again, even though it is responsible for losing hearts and minds and building up the resistance/"insurgency".

The denial of our PTSD affected veterans is a shameful legacy. It is a disgraceful slap in the face to those who risk their lives to carry out missions decided upon by our elected and unelected "leaders."

I am a dual US-Canadian citizen. My mother is Canadian and Dad was an American. I was drafted in 1970 for Vietnam duty and decided to embrace my Canadian heritage. While the charges against me were dropped by Jimmy Carter, I am still informally persona non grata in the country where I grew up. Real history has proven the illegitimacy of US involvement in Vietnam. Popular sentiment -- even among many Canadians -- has denounced my draft dodger ilk as cowards. I prefer to think of it as doing the honourable thing: refusing to kill people with whom I had no quarrel.

Today, I find myself hearing many of the same specious arguments for senseless war as were proffered in the 60's. One big difference for Canada is that 40 years ago, when I left the USA one step ahead of Nixon's henchmen, I was welcomed. To our great shame, we have deported US Iraq war resisters and jumped aboard the caissons in the ridiculous Afghan misadventure.

War resister and proud of it.

shavluk said...

And so you should be !
I agree and thank You Jimbobby
You touch on another very important topic
We as greens should be harboring american conscientious objectors !!!

We should demand this in Toronto this summer.

I have more respect for those who left the USA as draft dodgers as I do those for those who just died needlessly
It takes standing up to tyranny and ones principles to make a change
I of course mean no disrespect in those needless deaths and think so much still goes on that is disgusting...depleted uranium for one.

You should press this within the greens as you are by your past an expert with its players
I will help if need be.
Come check out the other green list and post there as well please


JimBobby said...

Thanks, John. I agree we Greens need to keep up the pressure for peaceful solutions and open people's eyes to Canada's complicity in reprehensible stuff like DU.

Here's a live link to the Green Feedcluster. I check it out most every day.

JimBobby said...

Oh, and here's another Green blog aggregator. This one put me on the list. I applied twice to the other one and got no response and wasn't listed. Probably due to me blogging pseudonymously.