Friday, December 11, 2009

On Retribution

Retribution – even violent retribution - has long been part of our way of life. The extent to which retribution is accepted, or at least understood, is very much dependent on the context of the antecedent offending actions. In our beloved sport of ice hockey, for instance, when a player takes a “cheap shot” against another, we condone or expect a swift violent reaction ranging from a counter slash of the stick to the immediate dropping of the gloves. In such instances thousands stand round cheering on the beating of the instigator (if he’s on “our team” that is).

Moving up the scale of retribution we see instances of violence done to others out of jealousy (a less accepted form) where one partner will cause harm to another caught in the act of cheating. We see that it is wrong but we are not surprised or shocked that it has happened. Then there are instances of vigilantism or emotional defense. I cannot imagine the prospect of my young child being molested or intentionally harmed by another, but I have no doubt that if I caught the perpetrator I would do severe violence to them. I imagine that society in general, while acknowleging the theoretical wrong of commiting violence to another, would sympathize with or at least understand my offending behavior.

War is an altogether different matter. History is replete with examples of one side exacting horrific revenge on the other side. The Russians retaking the Eastern front from the Nazis gave rise to thousands of instances of unspeakable acts of atrocity. Not much has been written about it, as history has appeared to recognize the scope of the antecedent instigation, noting that all is fair in love and war. In the Serbian conflict, under the watchful eye of UN observers, countless acts of barbarity ensued, much justified as revenge. We cannot condone savage revenge done to, say, a colonel in charge of rounding up villagers and having them shot because they had the misfortune of being Croatians in a Serbian region, but if that Colonel is later captured, hung upside down and stabbed a thousand times by the villagers (as happened to Mussolini), we understand.

Which brings us to the Taliban. A more barbaric group would be difficult to find. The savagery they inflicted on the populace while they were in control rivals anything mankind has done in a millenia. Women being stoned, gays hung, “impure” actions met with torture and death, an entire class of young women essentially banned from public life. Since being driven to the caves and mountains their barbarity has continued, with the routine targeting of innocents, including bombing groups of poor children seeking candy from UN soldiers.

It is in this context that we find our Canadian MSM reporting of allegations of mistreatment of Taliban prisoners.

Not by us, mind you. By those who’ve been suffering unimaginable acts of horror at the hands of the Taliban.

In a sane media complex, free of partisanship, and absent a base desire to oust a government they consider unworthy of leading due to its unacceptable political stripes, the real story behind the Taliban’s captors would be their incredible restraint.

Yet, in a society which cheers the violent pummelling of a defenceman for the grave infraction of a trip from behind, we suddenly find ourselves being asked by the left leaning media to ignore the context (which ignoring is aided by them not even pretending to report on the occasional Taliban barbarity as a semblence of “balance”) and rally as a country in outrage for the “mistreatment” of the Taliban.


  1. You raise a very good point although the MSM will not "get" it. All the hype about the "Geneva Convention" misses the point that the convention was written to govern the conduct of "soldiers in uniform". And when soldiers step out of uniform - either civilian dress or into the faux-uniform of their enemy (to impersonate) - the Geneva Convention doesn't apply.

    The Somalia Affair was unfortunate because it tarnished Canadians image of their military - now that specter is invoked at the drop of a hat.

    Would the Liberals have handled this any better than the Conservatives? Not on your life.

    Seasons greetings.

    michael st.paul's

  2. I frankly have no use whatsoever for the Taliban or their ilk. (do they have ilk in Afghan?)

    If we do not believe they have anything worthwhile telling us, they should be shot on site.

    Once squeezed for all they know, they should be fed pork for a year while guarded by dogs, then wrapped in a raw pigskin and set in the sun until it drys.

    If we started announcing that this is the way these scum would be treated, and started importing pigs to the region for this purpose, I expect the number of incidents requiring such action would drop dramatically.

  3. The "context" that you speak so much of includes the Geneva Conventions. And with respect to the Fourth Convention, this:

    "And when soldiers step out of uniform - either civilian dress or into the faux-uniform of their enemy (to impersonate) - the Geneva Convention doesn't apply."

    is flatly wrong. The convention includes discussion of civilians and protected persons.

    So you hate the Taliban. Fine and good. But one of the things that makes us better than them is that we do not stoop to their level. Especially to the sort of trigger-happy criminal barbarity suggested by Wayne.

  4. ..."The convention includes discussion of civilians and protected persons...."

    What does the Convention say about using civilians for "cover", Mr. Shill?

  5. That would be a very serious charge, and I highly doubt that any NATO soldier in Afghanistan - let alone a Canadian one - has done such a thing.