Sunday, September 20, 2009

'Je suis tanné,' said the soldier

On Thursday (Sept 17), Canadian soldier Jonathan Couturier was killed by an IED in Kandahar. The following day, the soldier's family in Quebec had caused a stir by revealing Couturier's lack of enthusiasm for the war in Afghanistan, to which the relatives added their own criticisms.

While the BQ's defense critic agreed with the relatives' position, Joe Comartin of the NDP, which has an official policy in opposition to the war, reportedly said he disagreed with the relatives and that Couturier did not die in vain. (An astute observer recently noted that the NDP has recently become more interested in Nova Scotia, where the military is a big deal, since the provincial NDP won the election there.)

From the Toronto Star:

Afghan mission futile, dead soldier told family

QUEBEC, Sep 18 (CP) – Heart-wrenching comments from relatives of a soldier killed in Afghanistan – saying his death was pointless – tossed the grieving family into the midst of a national debate on the war...

Such strident antiwar messages have been rare from grieving military families...

Liberal Sen. Colin Kenny prompted the flurry of discussion with an op-ed piece this week in which he compared the mission to a historic military quagmire, suggested Canada should scale back its role in Afghanistan, and warned Canada was "hurtling toward a Vietnam ending."

That harsh assessment provoked an angry denunciation from military brass and even the apolitical Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean waded into the issue, saying Canada's mission was indeed improving lives in Afghanistan...

In an interview Friday, Kenny brushed aside [Lewis] MacKenzie's characterization of the relatives' opinion. He said other military families have remained silent, and believes their opinions are just as divergent as the rest of the population...

"That war over there, he found it a bit useless – that they were wasting their time over there," [brother] Nicolas Couturier was quoted as saying in Le Soleil...

"He wouldn't talk about it, he stayed positive, but at some moments he said he was fed up" [said Nicolas' spouse, Valerie]...

It's not the first time a grieving family has critized the war.

Last year, the father of Capt. Jonathan Snyder, who died in a freak accident when he fell into a well, said: "War is stupid. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows that. Well, no they don't. The politicians don't know that."

The father, David Snyder, a former reservist himself, said he supported his son and the military, but not the Afghanistan mission... (link)
The Star does not offer the words of the killed soldier's stepfather (from Le Soleil, translation mine):
... Son beau père, Ghislain Lavoie... a assisté au départ de Jonathan ce printemps, et entretenait déjà un certaine colère : «J'ai regardé tout le monde, j'ai regardé les enfants qui étaient là, parce que ce sont tous des enfants [...] J'ai toujours déploré ça, on envoie nos enfants se faire tuer.»

[His stepfather, Ghislain Lavoie... witnessed Jonathan's departure this past spring, and already what he saw made him angry: "I watched everybody, I watched children there -- because they are all children... I have always deplored that, that we send our children to get killed. "] (link)

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