Queen's University

Zero for five in arguments?

James B. Whyte, MSc’85, Richmond, ON, questions the wisdom of some of teh criticism of the war in Afghanistan.

Re: A need for informed, contrary voice” and “Articles raise some interesting questions”, Issue #4-2010, PP. 3-4.

The letters from John Buttars and John Sproule both lend the grace of their opinion on the rights and wrongs of Afghanistan and of warfare generally. Their “from my perspectives” and “in my views” were as deafening as they were superficial.

Sproule, who would like us to believe he remembers the ‘60s, imagines the Americans “invaded another country” back then. The invading was done by North Vietnam, with the support, at various times, of the ­Soviet Union and mainland China. The Americans intervened on the side of South Vietnam, which had been invaded and was fighting back. (Sproule should find this locution familiar).

Equally impressive was his ability to channel the spirit of a departed Dean of Law, along with his mind-reading on the motivations for fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. He even gets in a trite swipe at the intelligence of soldiers: but then, he did graduate from a law school and has plenty of intellectual height [from which] to look down on the rest of us (the ones who don’t see Afghanistan as an irrelevancy in keeping Western civilization safe).

Buttars’s apologia for the pacifists has the virtue of presenting at least one hard statistic: the death of a hundred million “young men in uniform” over the last century. Whether it is a “severe judgment” on the morality of war, or instead on the morality of the last century’s ­warmongers – you know, the ones the democracies fought to defend themselves against – is something that Buttars should think about.

Sproule calls for “respect, tolerance and restraint,” but it might be more accurate to describe it as fear, acquiescence, and irresolution. Buttars would like “imagination and skill in peace-building,” better translated as delusion and appeasement. They go zero for five.

Queen's Alumni Review, 2011 Issue #2Queen's Alumni Review
2011 Issue #2
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