Monday, March 5, 2012

Bright Shiny Line, continued

The Ottawa Citizen has the latest on the spat in Canadian civ-mil relations I discussed last month.  But the latest is really just the usual actors following their pre-determined scripts.  Lieutenant General Deschamps defends the Canadian Forces, says it did nothing wrong.  Retired military officers criticize the current military and DND.  My sparring partner, Phil Lagasse, and I repeat our arguments and criticize the other's.  So, I am confused why Groundhog Day seems to be on March.

I cannot get into this at length as I am behind in my various tasks for today and I have a big trip starting tomorrow.  But my big response to all of this is: if this incident is typical of civil-military relations here, then yuck. 

What this really shows is that civil-military dynamics are always fraught with challenges, that there is no one simple set of institutions that leads to perfect civilian control of the military.  It requires both halves of the relationship to act responsibly and with restraint.  In this case, the civilians acted poorly, the military acted entirely too enthusiastically to help out, and both end up looking bad.  If both sides had thought for just a few minutes instead of reacting and pushing panic buttons, the Minister would have looked so foolish and the military would have not been sucked into politics.

One last thought on this: the military can say it responds to all information requests quickly and fairly, but that is a crock of poop.  Just ask any journalist who covers the Canadian military or any other Canadian agency or American agency, etc.

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