Thursday, December 03, 2009

Spirit Of The West: Dragoons, Highlanders, Westies, Rangers, B.C. Regiment, Scottish . . .

KANDAHAR - With men and women in uniform from every corner of Canada, it's a rare thing to find a sub-unit platoon of soldiers who all hail from the same province, so while I was running between briefings I couldn't resist stopping to take a quick photo of these comrades: they come from different trades, corps and regiments, but they're all British Columbians. They're outriders, a force-protection crew with the National Security Element. They ride shotgun with convoys, making sure people and supplies get where they're supposed to go. I think I got all their names right, at least (if anyone notices a mistake, drop me a note and I'll fix it).

From left to right: Bombardier Stefan Conquist, Royal Canadian Artillery, Victoria; Dragoon Brett Hunt, Vernon; Master Cpl. John Scarisbrick, Canadian Scottish, Nanaimo; Cpl. Noel West, Canadian Scottish, Victoria; Cpl. Darcy Mackay, Royal Westminster, Delta; Cpl. Dax Berg, Royal Westminster, Maple Ridge; Cpl. Craig Day, Rocky Mountain Rangers, Kamloops; Cpl. Matt Hunt, Canadian Scottish, Nanaimo; Cpl. Terry Hague, B.C. Regiment, Vancouver; Sgt. Gordon Fisher, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Vancouver; Van McEwan, Seaforth Highlanders, Vancouver; Warrant Officer Bill Nicholson, B.C. Dragoons, Merritt; Cpl. Darren Berg, Royal Westminster Regiment, Vancouver.

I spoke by telephone with the CBC's Rex Murphy the other day about the vast gulf between the real world (which contains places like Afghanistan) and the surreal world Ottawa's politicians and press gallery typists appear to inhabit most of the time these days. Every time the word "Afghanistan" gets mumbled by someone up on the Hill, the distance between Ottawa and the real world seems to grow.

I've been filling my notebooks here. Much to report. Keep an eye on this place.


Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 12/02/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

8:07 AM  
Blogger ModernityBlog said...


How long will you be there?

11:05 AM  
Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

I'm turning green with envy, Terry. You couldn't be with a better bunch of Canadians: the company of soldiers is a tonic to the soul. Get the job done, tell their stories, and come home safe!

8:55 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Amazing work you're doing Terry. What's the take there on Obama's surge. Looks pretty good from here.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:55 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

The last comment looks all Chinese to me.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Christopher W said...


Have you seen this? Comments (if you have time)?

7:15 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...


I definitely and wholeheartedly agree with the general thrust of Walzer's essay. He's a bit dreary in places and a bit hyperbolic, perhaps, but in the main, he is quite correct.

I really wish we weren't always talking about "Obama's war," though, because if that's all it is, then it is an American fight, and if that's all it is, the rest of the world will just stand back and watch.


2:44 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Colvin said...

We can all agree that the Taliban are nasty pieces of work. That they represent the worst type of regressive Islamism, with its honour killing and school-bombing and acid-at-girl throwing. But is this really Canada's war? I know this sounds cold, but if any soldiers have to die in maintaining the liberty of the Afghan people, it would be hard to argue, given the history of American complicity in the genesis of Mujahid Islamism in general, and the Taliban in particular, that it should not be American soldiers.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...


That is my view entirely. It is also a critical, central point: The Americans are heavily burdened by a profound responsibility to shoulder far more of the work in healing Afghanistan than any other country in the world. And as it happens, they are, at long last.

But your question, "But is this Canada's war?" appears to betray a fatal misunderstanding of another, critical, central point: This is not a "war" in any conventional sense of the term; it is a liberation struggle, a counter-insurgency, a multilateral state-building exercise, and a conflict between clerical-fascist Islamism and civilization itself. It's not an east-west thing. Not even close.

This is a critical point.

ISAF consists of 42 countries with soldiers in Afghanistan, not all of which are NATO, not all of which are "western" by any means (i.e. Jordan, the UAE, Singapore, and so on). This is a UN project, and the Afghanistan Compact that sets the terms of the entire undertaking was co-authored and designed and sponsored by 66 countries, among which are Iran, Saudi Arabia, Finland, India, and so on.

Ask your question again, unencumbered by the conventional misunderstandings, and informed by the preceding facts, and it is no longer "But is this Canada's war?" It is instead "Should Canada not be assuming a leading role in this endeavour?"

The answer is self-evident.

At any rate, you and I should not be having public arguments. On this blog, if you click View My Profile, you will find my email address. Email me.

8:03 AM  

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