Yesterday, I had an op-ed advocating that Canada participate meaningfully in the new NATO persistent presence mission in Eastern Europe published in the Globe and Mail. Because I was stuck on hold for more than 75 minutes, I did what folks tell you not to do: I read the comments on the piece. Oh my.
There were some intelligent comments that led me to post some elaboration--that the op-ed was about Canadian participation and not about explaining why the NATO effort was a good idea.
Much of it was back and forth between fans of Russian irredentism (hey, what belonged to us in some point in history belongs to us now and Putin has not threatened the Baltics, yada, yada, yada) and more reasonable folks. But I was amused by the competition to be provide the laziest, least thoughtful comments.
One of the very first comments accused me of being a war monger. Which means they didn't read the piece or could not understand it since I am advocating for a deployment of military units to deter and prevent a war, not to cause one. The whole idea is to stop a war from happening. How does that make me a war monger?
Vying for lazy/knee-jerkiness were arguments related to the military-industrial complex--that this deployment is about maxing out the Canadian defence budget. Um, have you seen Canada's defence budget politics? More importantly, deploying two hundred or so troops to reside in Latvia is not going to help boost the size of the military or its budget nor benefit many defence contractors. It might help a few property owners and businesses in Latvia, but the scale of this thing is so small as to be irrelevant for those of us who are card carrying members of the military-industrial-academic complex. Arguing that this is being done for profit is just silly.
What can we learn from this exercise? That folks seem to have enough time on their hands to comment but not enough time to read? No idea, but I need to find something else to do when on hold for such long periods of time because reading the comments was not very educational.
Re: "Putin has not threatened the Baltics" -- really? Is that why as recently as two years ago, Russia was trying to prosecute someone who refused to serve in a Soviet military that no longer exists? http://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-seeks-investigation-of-lithuanian-red-army-deserter-1410191086 Yeah, no Russian grudges there ...
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