We’re Veterans, Not Victims

The Problem

I’ve spent enough time ‘in theater’, and have a good enough memory to remember, who was and who wasn’t there with me. And I can tell you unequivocally that not one of the bureaucratic bastards who make decisions for our returning veterans ever stood by my side when the shit hit the fan. Every veteran out there is nodding his head right now, because every one of them knows it too. Those of us who fought and died together have a bond that only we can understand. I know that sounds like boilerplate bullshit, but it also happens to be true. We also know that bureaucratic bastards aren’t unique to government: there are plenty of them that make it through the recruiter’s office. Furthermore, plenty of them end up gracing the halls of academia and thus being commissioned into Her Majesty’s Canadian Armed Forces, where they will end up in key decision-making positions and can dick-dance away a 30-year career making life difficult for the rest of us. Even if you’re a commissioned officer, you know those of whom I speak.

The burden of bad management seems to fall most heavily on those who have released from the military and are now attempting to create civilian lives. This goes doubly for those with physical or psychological wounds, of which there are many. What I want more than anything right now is to speak to veterans, both retired and serving, to try and root out some intellectual rot that I’ve seen setting in across our ranks.

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Academic Caviar

Ok, this one is a bit heavy. It’s three pieces all dealing with the question of whether ISIS is (or is not) Islamic. The first piece is the Atlantic article that I put up last week, followed by a response by Mehdi Hasan who rebuts Wood’s thesis in the New Statesman. Finally, there’s Tom Holland’s New Statesman response to Hasan. Be warned that these are not for the casual reader, but if you really want to acquaint yourself with the arguments flying around out there, these are excellent sources. While I’m not terribly familiar with Holland and Wood, Hasan is a very well-known Islamic apologist. I tend not to agree with him, and his piece is by far the longest of the two. It is very well-written, though I fear that he has devoted about 10,000 words of excellent prose to a circular argument wherein ISIS isn’t Islamic because he and a number of Islamic scholars say so. In this respect, Holland’s response to Hasan is terrific. I’m really partial to the comparison between the Protestant Reformation and Radical Islam. I think it would be very difficult to rebut the comparison without insisting on some sort of Islamic exceptionalism (the bete noire of the post-modernist/post-colonialist crowd). For those brave souls who have an opinion on this, let me know what you think in the comments.

The Atlantic (Wood)

New Statesman (Hasan)

New Statesman (Holland)

Lastly, because I’ve spent the weekend indulging myself with ‘deep thoughts’ on Islam and the West, I thought I’d include a spectacular panel discussion from just a few weeks ago which includes both Douglas Murray and Maajid Nawaz.

[Panel Discussion]

Operation Protective Edge: Casualties and the Media

On July 8th, 2014, Israel launched an assault on the Gaza Strip in response to sustained rocket fire from Hamas into Israel. Dubbed Operation Protective Edge, it was to last until the 26th of August. As the Operation was merely the latest such incursion in a series of Gazan conflicts going back to the mid-2000s, there was little which was notable but for the massive disparity of casualties between the two sides, with the Palestinian population of Gaza suffering many times more casualties than their Israeli opponents. While the Israel Defense Force (IDF) is a premier fighting organization which has consistently acquitted itself well on the battlefield, the discrepancy between casualty numbers was great enough to capture worldwide attention. In order to capitalize on this attention, Hamas employed a standard formula by insisting that the majority (or even vast majority) of Gazan casualties were civilian non-combatants, a claim that was echoed uncritically by the United Nations, some Non-Governmental Organizations, and many media outlets. For its part, the IDF claimed that it had waged an extremely careful campaign with the express purpose of limiting civilian casualties while destroying Hamas infrastructure and hampering the organization’s ability to operate effectively. This essay examines some of the reasons behind the casualty imbalance, as well as looking at the post-conflict casualty figures to assess the truth of the Operation’s civilian deaths. It also examines the tactics used by both sides in order to exert influence over Gaza’s civilian population, and the manner in which the Operation was reported by Western media.

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