In the early days of this blog I once made fun of the French. Okay, it was twice. In Afghanistan I learned that I had been mistaken. I never held a low opinion of the Canadians, who Scott Kesterson spent some time with and videos of whom fighting hard were posted on YouTube. They look, act, and fight like Americans. They use the same types of weapons, wear similar uniforms, are aggressive, and sound like Guardsmen from Minnesota. I did something wrong back in November of '06; I engaged in making fun of an ally of which I had no real knowledge. I have learned my lesson, and I know of what I speak. Now it's time to use that knowledge to speak up against the same type of immature behavior that I engaged in myself once upon an ignorant time.
More after the jump
The Canadians did not have any buildings knocked down on 9/11. They did not lose thousands of lives that day; and yet they have stood by our side from the very start. The Canadians took the difficult and dangerous mission in Kandahar Province, one of the deadliest in Afghanistan, and with a contingent much smaller than the American contingent (their Army is much smaller) they have borne the brunt of some of the most vicious fighting in Afghanistan. They have sustained casualties and given lives for a threat that is much more nebulous to them than it is to even we short attention span theater Americans.
While some here in the States, very often for the purpose of political maneuvering, go on about our strained military (with a basis in reality, but not in any genuine sense of caring, to my perception,) the Canadians have literally worn themselves out in a cause that has never affected them to the extent that it has affected us. While we complain that our conventional capabilities are stressed and weakened by the exertions of the GWOT, the Canadians have worn out their equipment and Soldiers, have repatriated many dead, and have given a full measure of themselves on the battlefields of Afghanistan. The Canadians have acquitted themselves honorably in this effort. Their relatively tiny military has gone the extra mile and now heaves itself forward on sheer willpower, never giving up.
Now the Canadians have to take a breather. Like a marathoner who literally crawls across the finish line, they need to recuperate. A Canadian Lieutenant General states that it will take a year to refit the Canadian Army. Folks, a year is not a long time when it comes to all of the maintenance, retraining, and refitting that is required when a small army expends itself to the extent that the Canadians have.
What is their reward for their expenditures of blood and treasure in a fight that it could be argued they could sit out reasonably? This. Fox News, usually the more patriotic of the bunch, slams our brothers-in-arms to the north with what amounts to a juvenile comedy routine that is based not on facts but on asinine jokes about our very capable and scrappy allies.
I am not an advocate of basing our foreign policy on what the rest of the world thinks. Their agendas are their agendas, and they are welcome to them, but remember always that the rest of the world never has our best interests at heart; they have their own interests at heart. Like a friend who runs when you knock a ball through the neighbor's window, most of them will leave when it is in their own best interests. That doesn't mean that we can't be friends; it means that we have to take care of our own business. My disagreements with our foreign policy are not based on "My God, the Europeans just hate us!" It is based on whether or not I believe that we are going about our objectives properly. Character is not just what you do when no one is looking. Character is also doing what you believe is right when everyone is looking and opinion runs against you.
That is a weak spot in our national character. A huge segment of our population is far too concerned with what others think of us. If that makes me an exceptionalist, then so be it. Every other country in the world is exceptionalist to one extent or another. Look at the Germans, for instance. Do they care what we think of their rules of engagement in Afghanistan? No. They care what their national conscience tells them.
That being said, the last thing in the world that we should be doing is making fun of our allies for breaking themselves against the Sisyphean task of fighting an international insurgency in general and a national insurgency with external support halfway around the globe. We should be patting them on the butt and saying, "Good game, you played it well." We should be writing love letters to the Canadians for the heartbreak and sorrow they have incurred bringing home Canadian dead at their own version of Dover. They have done this plenty. On the day that Fox News let their weasels off the chain to run their comic mouths, four more Canadians had their all taken from them in a fight that is unarguably more ours than theirs. Their reward? A sharp poke in the eye from a major U.S. media outlet.
There is a difference between exceptionalism and arrogance, and that video clip shows what that difference is in childish crayon colors. That was a playground-style taunting of a good friend. It's stuff like that which spoils friendships, while an honest difference of opinion may strain it but not destroy it.
Fox, you should be ashamed of yourselves. You owe the Canadians an apology from each and every one of those jackholes who opened their yaps to spew forth giggling venom at our allies. You are usually one of the less jackassic of the outlets, but this time you're not. As a Soldier and a veteran, I demand an apology be made to the Canadians. Man up, Fox. You did something wrong and I will respect you more if you apologize.
Then there is the matter of this site, a British blog that posted an asinine video downgrading the French. I found this awhile ago, and I tried to post a comment, not too strongly worded, pointing out that they don't know what they are talking about and pointing them to a hilarious YouTube video done by a (large) group of British Soldiers in Iraq. The site author didn't have the balls to print my comment. Nothing like maintaining that you're right by not acknowledging dissent based on personal knowledge.
So, while we are not alone in our practice of jackassery, that doesn't make it right. None of the above referenced commentators have earned the right to poke fun at their targets. If you served with them in this war, then you may poke good-natured fun at them. If you haven't, either ruck up and see how much respect they actually deserve by suffering with them on the ground or have the sense that God gave a rabbit and knock it off.
While Fox has not commented, Greg Gutfield, host of Red Eye on Fox, has apologized... sort of. He claims that the "comedy" was misunderstood.