Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The First Casualty Of War

Since Canada first sent forces to Afghanistan in 2002, 32 soldiers have been killed, and not all of them in combat at enemy hands. But to hear the media go on about their deaths, one would think we've lost 32,000.

The media's obsessive focus on our casualty numbers, with little regard to be much higher number casualty numbers we've inflicted on the enemy and the objectives Allied forces have achieved as a result, is giving the Taliban and their sympathizers an incredible propaganda victory that they could not otherwise hope to achieve.

These military experts and historians put the numbers in perspective:

Analysts say two generations of peace have left many Canadians with no yardstick to measure combat deaths, which means each casualty in Afghanistan hits hard.

"What you have here is a population that has been so long distanced from war that it has really no internal frame of reference on how you go about dealing with the fact that in war people get killed," said Brian MacDonald, a retired artillery colonel.

"As a consequence, there is then a very powerful reaction on each individual death.

"The actual casualty rates that we have been suffering by historic perspectives are quite light, but people don't know that because they have no personal yardstick against which to measure it."


Losing five soldiers in less than 48 hours stands out for Canadians today, but even the Korean War, a small conflict by world standards, provided worse days.

In the battle of Kapyong on the night of April 24-25, 1951, 10 Canadians were killed and 23 injured.

Even peacekeeping produced high death tolls from time to time, but people discounted that because of the mystique of peacekeeping, said Jack Granatstein, a historian and author.

In August 1974, the Syrians shot down a Canadian plane near the Golan Heights, killing nine Canadian peacekeepers.

"There wasn't a peep in Canada,' said Granatstein. "We have persuaded ourselves that we're peacekeepers only and the idea that we're actually fighting in a war is almost alien to us."

Imagine if the media had gone on the same way about Hong Kong and Dieppe the same way they go on about successful Canadian missions.

And imagine how weak and cowardly Canada looks in the eyes of an enemy that sacrifices thousands of its own without the least regret.

People who say they don't understand the mission and why our men are fighting and dying in it do have a point, however: if they rely on our media to explain it, they'll never know of its successes.

Source: Edmonton Sun


Anonymous said...

"...the objectives Allied forces have achieved as a result, is giving the Taliban and their sympathizers an incredible propaganda victory that they could not otherwise hope to achieve."

If you really think the "Taliban" keeps track of the media wars, then I dare say you have absolutely NO understanding of the situation. UNDERSTAND, these people are tribal--they couldn't care for any piece of technology more sophisticated than the guns in their hands. These are not communists--they are ignorant tribal fanatics.

Be real.

Loyalist said...

The average Talibani may be an ignorant, illiterate tribal fanatic, but the Taliban leadership, and their backers in the Middle East, are relatively intelligent and educated men.

They know that the Western press is raising up public opinion, if not in their favour, at least against fighting them further. And they know that it is the best hope they have of ridding themselves of the Allied forces.

The Taliban leadership are not completely unfamiliar with Western ways and thinking, and it would be foolish to assume otherwise.

Steve said...

Our media have actually inverted the original meaning of the first casualty of war (in a book, I believe, by Philip Knightly). While truth was always the victim in war, considerations of patriotism once encouraged the media to play along with their governments.

Today it is different. Rather than give their governments the benefit of the doubt, the media seem to delight in putting their motives and actions in the worst light. Truth is still the first casualty, but to what end? In another time it would be called treason.

As to the previous commenter, the Taliban may not be as sophisticated in their "public relations" as Hezbollah and Osama bin Laden, but they are playing the same game. To have Canadians wringing their hands about our role in Afghanistan is to their benefit. Don't fool yourself.

TangoJuliette said...

Ah yes! The old 'Nam War Era Body-Count Game.


The US claimed casualties of Viet Cong dead and wounded proved to be no more than pipe-dream figures, over-inflated, counted two or three times implying that US victory was imminent. wrong.


Opposition parties and their various leaders and aspirants, in concert with much of Canadian Media, trumpet nothing but Canadian Casualties as their respective justifications for their calls to "bring our troops home!"

Are we all firing blanks? Layton, the NDP? The Liberals? All firing mental blanks? All painting our efforts in Afghanistan as being Canada's private version of Bush, The USA and Iraq.

Are our troops in Afghanistan stuck with Liberal-era acquired ammunition, nothing more than pretty casings with no gunpowder, no bullet?

Are we not killing ANY of those who destroy Afghani schools, kill teachers in front of classrooms of children, destroy the infrastructure Canada spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually, to establish?

If Canada, through it's military, cannot secure the terrain, then perhaps we SHOULD retreat, taking our hundreds of millions of dollars with us.

OR -- some of our partisan oriented media, journalists and politicians re-familiarize themselves with the WWII era concept of "loose lips sink ships" and figure out how it might apply today.

There is no comfort for our vision, nor for the personnel mandated to carry out this vision, if much of our national effort is directed at undercutting the Government, undermining support for our efforts in Development and maintaining a robust presence in Afghanistan, while providing moral affirmantion for the Taliban and the Talibanic minions.

Neo Conservative said...


If these figures are accurate, in this single engagement the Canadians scored a 50 to 1 kill ratio over the Taliban. More importantly, at this very moment the bloody, demoralised Talib survivors who limped away from this battle, are no doubt still trying to figure out why Allah let them be beaten like a stubborn, lippy fourth wife.

So for all you lefty crybabies out there, let me try to put this into perspective. At the battle of Vimy Ridge, arguably Canada's greatest military victory ever (which some people claim is what forged our country's national identity) if Canadian troops had tallied this same kill ratio... there would have been 175,000 German bodies to bury.