Thursday, July 20, 2006

The In T View: Bandit 36: Inside The Mind Of An American Officer In The Green Zone

Assyrian King - Photo Appear Courtesy of Christians of Iraq. com

(Update: Bandit's friend Ali, a member of the Iraqi Police and mentioned below, was recently killed.
Bandit has more. We offer our

In this In T View we bring forth the thoughts of an American Officer from inside Iraq's famous Green Zone.

Bandit.three.six is his name and he's a Military Blogger, who can be found at the very fine Bandit.three.six blog, where he discusses events in Iraq, provides you with the latest in B36 News and Video, and brings forth the positive contributions of American Soldiers in the country.

Bandit, 24 years-old, and originally from Alaska, serves as a Site Officer in Charge of Communications, and has a wife and newborn son waiting for him when he returns home. Take it away, Bandit...

MG: When you first received word that you were being deployed to Iraq, what thoughts were running through your mind?

Bandit: I was suprised at first, but not really concerned. I was under the impression that we commo folk didn't deploy much so when I heard that I was it caught me off guard. I knew that thousands of Soldiers had deployed and came home safely before me so I figured that the percentages were on my side.

MG: Once you set forth in Iraq, could you give us your initial impressions of the country?

Bandit: When I first landed in Baghdad I was suprised at how chilled out everything was. I had figured that it was a war zone and everyone would be running everywhere in kevlars and helmets while dodging mortars and rockets. The only reason I knew I was in Baghdad and not Georgia was because someone said, "Welcome to Baghdad."

MG: The Heat! Is Iraq really as hot as everyone makes it out to be?

Bandit: I may not be the best guy to answer this question as I grew up in Alaska (avg winter temp was -80F w/ windchill) so my personal thermometer is somewhat skewed, but the only time I really notice the heat is when I go from inside to outside. After a while outside you get used to the heat and it's no big thing.

MG: You are there in Iraq, away from your family, your home, in a distant land, a different culture - Is the Soldiers life a lonely one?

Bandit: It is, but it doesn't really affect me. I've always been something of a loner and with the internet I can still interact with my family and millions of other people so I'm not too isolated. Plus I'm around other Soldiers all the time so I often wish I could be by myself from time to time. Finding a quite place to be alone is critical over here.

MG: How hard is it to concentrate on your service in Iraq, with a wife and newborn son back in the States? Do you have to be all business when on duty and place personal concerns in the back of your mind?

Bandit: I do my best to keep my personal life seperated from my professional life. I'm lucky to be married to an amazing woman. We have an awesome relationship and she's increadibly emotionally strong. That makes it easier for me to focus on work when I need to which, in turn, allows me to focus on family when I get the opportunity. Also, as a commo guy I'm rarely out of touch so I can talk with her and get pictures of my son. On the rare occasion when I put on my body armor I say a quick prayer that they'll be safe and focus on the mission.

Baghdad mosque by The Poss - Flickr

MG: Most of the Iraqi bloggers, both inside and outside of Iraq, seem to feel the country is in the midst of a Civil War. Just from your perspective, are the Iraqis in a Civil War?

Bandit: I think Civil War is too strong a word for the fighting that's going on right now. PM Maliki kicked off Operation Together Forward to secure Baghdad and what a lot of people don't realize is that to secure an area you will probably have to fight the bad guys who are already there and don't want to move. Pile on to this the terrorists who are fanning the flame of sectarianism and I'd say that we're doing pretty good really. I think most Iraqis are looking for a unified Iraq and recognize that most of the sectarian killing is being perpetrated by outsiders and extremists. The fact that there are people at these markets to get blown up is indicative of that. The people here are remarkably resiliant and determined.

MG: Iraq receives such negative publicity: bombings, killings, unrest, kidnappings, civil strife...It's sort of portrayed as Hell on Earth by the Media. Serving in Iraq, what do you like about the country?

Bandit: The fact that in spite of what the media is portraying, that most Iraqi people continue to do their best to make their country safe. 12.5 million people voted in the last election. That's 75% of available voters. This in spite of the threat of various attacks. And I'm thrilled that I can be a part of helping them build their country!

MG: And conversely, what do you dislike about Iraq?

Bandit: Celebratory gun fire. It goes up, and then it comes back down. Keep your helmet on.


Bathouse Photo appears courtesy of Dave'

MG: One thing I'd like to hear about, is your most hair-raising moment in Iraq. What situation occurred that you said afterwards, "Thank God, I survived that!?"

Bandit: I went out to one of the Iraqi ministries a few months ago and while we were there I had to use the bathroom. It was my first time outside the (IZ) and I wasn't sure what was what so I did my best to follow the lead of the guys who did this kind of thing every day. I told my buddy who had already been there a few times that I had to go and he said, "There's a crapper behind the building, I'll wait here for ya." "Ok, cool, I'll be right back," I said as I got out of the truck to find the toilet figuring that finding it by myself was no big deal since he had been here before.

When I got to the gate of the ministry I asked the Iraqi guard where the bathroom was and he pointed behind the ministry building so I started walking back that way. Once I got behind the building I was having trouble finding the bathroom and some guy (no ID/uniform) started talking to me in Arabic. I coulnd't understand him but by his body language I could tell he was trying to figure out what I was looking for. I put my hands to my crotch and motioned like I was unzipping my fly and he realized what I was after. He yelled to a couple kids in Arabic and they motioned for me to follow up some stairs with open doors at every other level. Just to recap, I'm at an Iraqi secured compound, by myself, the first time I've ever been outside a US secured area, and some kid is leading me up some stairs. I had my rifle very close and my eyes wide open.

As I'm walking up the stairs in full gear I pass by some rather startled Iraqi guys and I can tell by the look on their face that they really weren't expecting to see an American at just that moment. I do my best to play it off like everything is cool saying "Salaam," with a smile while raising my right hand from my rifle just long enough to be polite. After a few flights the kids lead me inside and point at a door while pretending to pee signaling to me that this was the bathroom. I opened the door and found myself staring at a hole in the ground which had obviously been used shortly before my arrival.

When in Rome, I figured. I used one foot to keep the door open so I could look over my shoulder and one hand stayed on my rifle while I did my business. When I was done I buttoned up and stepped back out of the stall. The kids instantly presented me with several small hands palm-up while chanting, "money, money, money!?!" After paying the kids off I followed them back downstairs past some different, but no less startled, Iraqi men and made my way back to the trucks. After getting back in my buddy laughs and says, "Sh*t man, I didn't think you'd really go by yourself."

MG: From your own thoughts on the matter, do you feel the American Media is doing a good job of accurately portraying what is happening with you, the American Military in Iraq?

Bandit: No. The good news stories don't get nearly enough play in the media. This is why I've started putting out as much of the good news as I can on my blog. It's not nearly enought to counter the tidal wave of negative media, but it's the best I can do given my resources.

MG: You are in the IZ, aka the Green Zone, the protected enclave that serves as the center of Coalition Forces in the country. Could you give us an idea of what it's like to work in the Green Zone?

Bandit: The going joke is that "we went to war and a garrison broke out." Garrison is the term we use to refer to our home station where the daily focus is on maintenance, paprework and training. Except for the rockets and mortars it's a lot like working a 16 hour-a-day job in back in the States.

Flares Over Baghdad by Trinity TestSite - Flickr

MG: There are those who would argue that the Green Zone isn't the real Iraq, they'd even call it a walled fortress, shut off from the rest of the nation. Obviously, if you were stationed in Mosul or al Anbar, you would have a different perspective of the country and people. Do you ever feel that you're missing out on the real action and flavor of Iraq because you are located in the Green Zone?

Bandit: Yes, I often do feel like I'm not getting a good taste of Iraq. However, if I were in Mosul or somewhere in Anbar I wouldn't have the same visibility of the overall situation throughout Iraq as I do here. Since this is the headquarters area I get to hear about stories from all over, not just my area.

MG: How much interaction do you as an American soldier have with the Iraqis? Do you have a chance to visit them in their homes? Can you make friends with them?

Bandit: I've made friends with several Iraqi policemen and Soldiers. In fact, one of them, Ali, also just had a child. I'm hoping that we can keep in touch so that 15 or 20 years from now when I bring my family out here to show them where I lived for a year we can meet up and properly introduce our kids.

MG: The generousness of the Iraqi People: Iraqis, like many of the Mideast peoples are know for their hospitality. Can you give us an example of Iraqi generosity?

Bandit: When I go to visit Ali he always has a small pot of tea brewing and never fails to offer me some. Even if he's just run out he'll start brewing a new pot and we'll chat while we wait for it to finish.

Eye In The Sky - F16CG Fighting Falcon over Iraq by Echo9er - Flickr

MG: I know there's a camraderie, a fellowship, between members of the same unit, and when there is a loss, you are all affected. I'd like to know how hard does it hit you, when a member of your unit is injured or killed?

Bandit: My unit has been very lucky thus far, the only injury we've had has been someone at another site getting minor wounds from a mortar attack. By the time we found out about it it was already known that her injuries weren't life-threatening so it became just a cool story to tell.

MG: In the end, do you feel that Iraq has been worth your time and effort? And could you tell us why?

Bandit: Yes, without a doubt. I often wish that I could do more to make life better here. When I start getting frusterated and start wondering, "Why am I here?", I think about when my son will be old enough to start asking questions about the war. I can't wait for the day when he asks, "Dad, were you in the war?" That will be a great day for me. And the day my grandchildren ask the same question will be equally as great. The work we're doing over here is so historically significant and I'm right in the middle of it helping out. I've recently been feeling conflicted about going back home, knowing that I won't be here directly helping win the war. If it were possible for me to bring my family here, I would definately consider extending. However, as rewarding and fulfilling as it is to be here, my family is more important to me and since they can't come to me, I'll go to them.

Sundown (Iraq) by TrinityTestSite - Flickr

MG says: Thanks Very Much to Bandit for a very thoughtful In T View.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The In T View: American Soldiers: Was Iraq Worth Your Time And Effort?

Tank Silhouette

Tank Silhouette - Photo Appears Courtesy of Dave's Not Here


Happy Fourth of July - Today We Are All Americans.

The Iraqi Conflict.

The Media, in an Ideological Confrontation with the Bush administration, of whom, they don't regard as possessing the legitimacy to lead the nation, has framed the Iraqi Conflict as an unjust action, a dispirited cause, a quagmire of bombings and killings among the Iraqi citizenry, and an ever present collection of Grim Milestones of American Soldiers lives forfeited in Iraq: 500 gone; 1,000 killed; 1,500 lost; 2,000 dead; 2,500 extinguished, trumpeted throughout news headlines, in an unceasing meme of death and destruction.

But the American Servicemen and women, who are currently stationed in Iraq or whom have already served there, are not merely statistics to be bandied about by the Media, seeking to influence the American Public on their perceived unjustness of the conflict. No, these American Soldiers have their own opinions and ideas of the Iraqi War and aftermath, having first-hand experience of the conflict, unlike the majority of the Media.

In this In T View, we sought out American Soldiers perspectives of the Iraqi conflict, rather than the Media's biased and flawed portrayal of events in Iraq, asking the servicemen and women:

In the end, do you feel that Iraq was worth your time and effort? And could you tell us why?

And here are their responses...

Mister Ghost,
Thanks for the e-mail. I'm out of the sandbox now, and while security is always important, I have no problem with revealing my name, etc. now.

I'm 1st Lieutenant Lee Kelley, and I was in Ramadi for a year.

To answer your question:

In the end, do you feel that Iraq was worth your time and effort? And could you tell us why?

I do think Iraq was worth my time, for a lot of reasons. To put it simply, any way I can take part in the fight of my generatiuon, this global conflict against terrorists which is currently most predominant in thge Middle East, I am happy to help. I think it's important that we remember the truth of our history - that we had to carve America into what it is today, and that it came at no small price and no small amount of war or blood - and to keep in mind that the military is a necessary evil. And someone has to do it. I was more than happy to be one of them, and I'm proud of the work I did with my unit, and the work that all branches of the military continue to do.

I won't say it was easy. Often the work is thankless and sometimes quite shocking and frightening. Being separated from family for months, 12 of which were spent in Iraq, was the biggest mental challenge of all. I personally believe beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Army is shooting itself in the foot for deploying National Guard, citizen soldier units for so long. Recruiting and retention will not be able to keep up with the losses. I myself am considering an end to my military career in the next few years. I spent four years on active duty, and I fully expected to get deployed, just as the Actice Army does today, but I do believe in the concept of citizen soldier and I think 18 months is too long.

Iraq was worth my time and effort because of the humanitarian missions I was able to participate in. We're giving a country in need a chance at a type of freedom they may naver have had, and that's a truly humane thing to do. I could go on and on, but I'll just say Yes, I think the war in Iraq is necessary, and I'm glad I went.

I wrote about this subject at the following link:

Thanks for all you do, Lieutenant K

Lieutenant K blogs at the renown Wordsmith at War

Hi just thought I would answer your questions since they seem well worth the time to answer because this is a question that alot of people who have been over there get asked...

In the end, do you feel that Iraq was worth your time and effort?

In a way I do but for the most part I think that it was stupid.... this is my own opinion and as no reflect on the military at all.... I lost one of my best friends on April 22 2005 outside of Tal Afar and I was in the truck with him when it happened... so I do think that it was a waste look at all the families and soldiers that have lost loved ones over something that the government cant even prove. maybe it was Iraq that started 9-11 but how can you prove that they werent working for some other country... alot of the Iraqi people are happy that america is there and then you have the ones that arent. Same as Americans. I dont think it was worth it at all. it is a waste of time effort and human life being over there.

Iraq is such a beautiful country, it has loving people in it that love America and are wondering why we are destroying their lives. I once talked to an Iraqi soldier who asked me "Why is America doing this to our families?" He lost his wife and kids when a bomb fell on his house. see how sad is that.. we go over there blowing shit up and kill innocent civilians tring to get one man... who I think is not even in Iraq since we attacked. So yes it is a waste to be there..

But than again it is good we are there.. they know that we mean business when you decide to fuck with America on our soil.... we are showing them that they messed with the wrong people and that we are going to punish those who were in charge of fucking with us.

Name Witheld By Request

Mister Ghost,
Thanks for your email! Every generation has a war in their lives, something hthat either the public is for or against. I lost a friend on Sept 11th, who flew KC 130's with me in the Marines. To me, this Jihad stuff is personal and I will do everything in my power to help put an end to it. Would I do it again? Yes in a heartbeat!! Would I go over to stop a country like Iran if we had to? Yes, and twice on Sunday. Take care and thanks for writing.
Semper Fi,

Taco aka Tacobell is located at Sandgram, formerly al AnBar, Iraq.


Armour - Photo Appears Courtesy of Dave's Not Here

Iraq wasn't worth my time nor my effort because my talents were not used and I didn't even perform the job the Army trained me to do. I was called back from the IRR and extended beyond my terminal ETS date to do something that anybody with any MOS could have done. I don't feel I was used to help in any significant way. It bothers me because I know I could have done more.
Thanks, Bobby LaRon

Bobby LaRon is at
Gypsy Life

Mister Ghost,
Happy to oblige.

In the end, do you feel that Iraq was worth your time and effort? And could you tell us why?

I was a strong supporter of our efforts against Saddam Hussein specifically as a supporter of terror against the US, and in his defiance in the face of repeated injunctions by the UN Security Council. I knew he had weapons of mass destruction, and a proven willingness to use them against ethnic minorities and opponents. I never expected to be part of that effort in the National Guard, but I was proud to be called upon to serve in this way.

I think of my time in Iraq as service. I served my country, which I believe is the responsibility of all of our citizens. I also performed a service for the Iraqi people. This service involved sacrifices, on the part of me and my fellow soldiers, but also from our families, friends, and communities. It also has involved great sacrifice and expense from the Iraqi people themselves.

They were, are, and will be worth the sacrifice. They deserve the opportunity for freedom from brutality and oppression no less than any citizen of the world. They have shown remarkable courage in the face of grave dangers, and they have risen to all the challenges they've faced, from surviving one of the world's most brutal and corrupt regimes, to ignoring a largely ambivalent world audience, to forming the a new Democracy in the heart of the Middle East when few gave them any hope of doing so.

They will be great allies in the Middle East, against the many enemies we still have there, who's days are numbered in less quantity, thanks to the Iraqi People.

Personally, my time in Iraq was a time of tremendous spiritual growth for me and my family. I started to spend more time with the Bible, and shared thoughts and insights on Holy Scripture with friends and family and fellow believers back home. I found gifts I never knew I had. My wife grew in faith as well; not having me to lean on in a physical sense, while we were in regular contact, she found strength and ways to minister to others. My son also came to a better understanding of God's faithfulness and provision, and even the absence of his earthly father caused him to rely on our Heavenly Father in a way he had not known before.

We are a stronger, more knit together family, more focused on God's Will for our lives.

My job in Iraq was relatively safe, and we were blessed to serve 10 months in Iraq and bring the 200 soldiers in our unit home without injury or death. Some return with physical problems, most related to the hardships and stress, given that the average age of our (National Guard) unit was about 38, with a few Vietnam Veterans among us.

But I did complete about a dozen or so convoys. I remember those vividly, I wouldn't call them a "best" memory, just vivid. You take things like the pre-convoy brief very serious, you practice drills, how to respond to accidents or injuries, and of course improvised explosive devices (IED). You are never more alive as you sit in the seat, loaded down, locked and loaded, weapons ready, scanning every piece of trash, every person, every vehicle for potential threats. Then, getting where you're going, pealing off the layers, soaked in sweat, standing there alongside the clearing barrels or later over at the post exchange (PX, or military store), just breathing deep with "we made it" satisfaction.

That was part of God's provision, as well. I read and was reminded often of Psalm 91 in the Old Testament, where the Psalmist says, "I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust." (Psalm 91:2)

Beyond that, my time in Iraq was the impetus for me to start blogging. I posted an article about Why I MILBLOG. I explained that MILBLOGGERS like Greyhawk, Citizen Smash, and Blackfive had an excellent opportunity to comment on all things military from their blogs. Most importantly, their perspectives, insights and commentary stood in sharp contrast to what passes for "Journalism" on the part of mainstream (news) media (MSM).

In my view, the most important function of the MILBLOG is to provide information. On-the-ground reporting, and the perspective of those closest to and part of the action. Relatively few soldiers conduct direct combat operations, although more and more are subjected to potential conflict and violence. Still, everything that happens can potentially be a part of history. In many ways, we have only scratched the surface on capturing what it means to be a soldier, sailor, airman, marine.

Somewhere along the way, early on in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), I realized that I would have few opportunities to do the "shock and awe," real-time, heart pounding and heat of battle war correspondent kind of reporting. I could, however, pay attention to the many fine men and women around me in combat service support roles, serving their country with quiet honor, dedication, and a fair amount of good humor. Thus were Dadmanly Profiles born.

I believe it is times of sacrifice, of trials, of taking risks for purposes greater than our own comfort or physical well-being, in which God allows us to experience more fully His power.

So was my time in Iraq worth it? Absolutely, for in it and through it and out of it, flow blessings too numerous to count. My heart desires that God will bring the good Iraqi people through their long struggle and tribulation of these many decades, and bless them for their courage and faith with a brighter, free, more peaceful and prosperous future.


Dadmanly is the very fine blogger at

Do I think Iraq was/is worth it? Pardon my use of the language, but, FUCK NO. These kids are forced to say that shit when a camera is stuffed in their face, or when the media is speaking to some FOBBIT who never once left the damn compound. I was a DUSTOFF pilot who threw a 16 ½ year career away because of my beliefs. I officially left the military this month. So that should tell you how strong my conviction to this question is.

Robert R.

Blackhawk Cabin

Blackhawk Cabin - Photo Appears Courtesy of Dave's Not Here

In the end, do you feel that Iraq was worth your time and effort?


And could you tell us why?

There is no doubt in my mind that the Iraqi people appreciate what we have done for them. The people I talked to and encountered on the streets of Baghdad were fearful of us leaving prematurely.

Iraq when I left was a different country than when I arrived. The Iraqi Army had made substantial improvements... both in numbers and performance. The Iraqi people began siding with the Coalition Forces. Zarqawi's biggest mistake was to target the Iraqi populace. He only strengthened our relationship with the people of Iraq. I am extremely proud of what I did in Iraq and the progress we made there. Iraq is improving daily. I cannot believe we have accomplished as much as we have in only a few years. The people of Iraq will stay with me forever. Their perseverance in the face of adversity and their continuous resolve has changed the way I look at life.

Hope this helps.

-Mark Miner can be found at Boots In Baghdad.

I don't think I really know enough about what's going on in Iraq to know if my efforts were worth it, and I also think it's too soon to tell.

Akino L.

At the end and to this day I feel that my time in Iraq was absolutely worth the time and effort. I sacrificed a lot during that time but years from now when history shows how Iraq escaped and rose from the depths of tyrannical leadership I will have been a vital part of that.

It will take a great deal of sacrifice for this to work out, but in the end it will be a much better place for all involved.

Gordo C. can be found here .

Mister Ghost, Sure... here are my two-cents:

I was hoping you could answer the following brief questions, and I would post your response: In the end, do you feel that Iraq was worth your time and effort?

YES. I see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a truly representative government in the Middle East. It also is a chance for our two vastly different cultures to gain respect for each one's strengths, and learn from each one's weaknesses. For generations, we have allowed the entire region of the Middle East to continue on a corrosive path of self sustaining isolation, corruption, and oppression. Saddam Hussein's incalcitrance in over 12 years of UN violations to the 1991 Cease-fire agreement demanded a clear & response. The United States, which is often held responsible for providing World-Wide stability, made the decision to change the status-quo and take a risk at setting the conditions for a catalyst for political change in the greater Middle East.

Critics have enumerated their list of mistakes made during this venture. My own view is that many of these "mistakes", while not prepared for, were unavoidable. These mistakes only prove the difficulty of the challenge - the value of the mission and the benefits of a successful outcome remain clear. I do regret that more effort was not spent gaining support in the International Community. This lack of support for us has not only hampered the efforts to build a stable Iraq, but has also fomented the insanity of providing support (implicit & explicit) for continued instability in the region. This dynamic has encouraged some of the most heinous violent acts against Coalition & Iraqis simply because of a stubborn anger at the decision to remove Saddam.

This conflict has been agonizing, heartbreaking, exacerbating, and demoralizing. However, it has been so difficult because of the historic opportunity it represents.

The very articulate GI. John is at a secret location somewhere in the Euphrates Valley.


Yes - despite the blood shed on both sides of this conflict, it is very important that the US continue to remain in Iraq until such time that the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense are strong enough to take control of the major cities and fight the insurgency on their own without the need for US logistical and operational support. Currently, the Iraqi Army and police forces do not have the ability to effectively commit their own forces into major operations without US military and logistics support. Overall, they lack the logistics capability in transportation, communications, equipment, and command and control to effectively engage in battle and coordinate large scale operations among different units of the Iraqi security forces.. Small units are doing very well on an individual basis, but there is still a need for additional training, equipping and practice before the Iraqi security forces can effectively provide security without US intervention.

If the US departed now, many of the Iraqi security forces (both Police and military units) would rapidly deteriorate and fall apart due to the lack of support. There is still a problem with corruption in certain ranks, as well as individuals in the security forces who are sympathetic to the insurgency. This will take time to get control of and eliminate. The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq would increase, as well as seeing an increase in ethnic crimes (Sunni vs. Shiaa) between the 2 dominant religions in Iraq. None of the US Soldiers and Marines want to be in Iraq any longer than necessary, and all hope that the Iraqi forces continue to grow stronger daily, in hopes that we can eventually turn over the security efforts to them without worrying if the forces will be able to stand against the insurgents and terrorists killing the innocent Iraqi citizens, as well as coalition soldiers.

Until the new Iraqi government can provide security, the insurgency will continue to fight the coalition. Only time will tell if the insurgency will continue once the coalition withdraws and the insurgents have only the Iraqi security forces to attack. As it stands, the security forces cannot effectively stand up against these attacks on their own. We improve this situation slowly every day, but time and effort must still be expended to ensure the new Iraqi government meets with success in the future.

Name Witheld By Request


Biapterm 3 - Photo Appears Courtesy of Dave's Not Here

Happy to oblige... and probably giving you more than you've asked for...

Unequivocally yes, every moment I spend in Iraq is worth the time and effort and I will continuously volunteer to return.

Our forefathers and those who fought on their behalf secured our Blessings of Liberty. It's now our obligation to secure these same Blessings for our Posterity, whether that means our children, our neighbors, or our fellow man.

Perhaps those who don't care to return the favor to our fellow man ought to have to trade just one day of their pampered and free lives with those who weren't lucky enough to be born in the United States or anywhere else in the free world. Then, maybe then... they'll get the hint.

Armand T blogs at Un-common Sense, The Red Voice, and 1000 Words.

In the end, do you feel that Iraq was worth your time and effort?


And could you tell us why?

The United States can no longer pretend that failed states halfway across the world have no effect on our national security or world stability. 9/11 proved that. Saddam refused to partner with the free world against state-sponsored terror, and in many ways supported it himself. Thus, he left us with no choice but to remove him. The U.S. could have then packed up and left Iraq to it's own internal squabbles, but another tyrant would have just assumed power and put us and the Iraqi people right back where we started. We owed it to them to stay and try to win the next generation of Iraqis a future of self-determination. I will never regret fighting for the principles of freedom anywhere in the world, whether it be my own or someone I've never met. It's a shame that it has to come at such a high cost for everyone involved, but there's a reason why the National Mall in Washington D.C. has a granite inscription that says "Freedom isn't Free."

Buck Sargent examines the Politics of War and American Military History at American Citizen Soldier

In the end, do you feel that Iraq was worth your time and effort?

That's a great question... I've met numerous Iraqis, and I find them to be very hard working, intelligent, and friendly, for the most part. The media generally portrays the Iraqi people in the wrong light. Like many people, a few bad people give the rest of you a bad name. Same with the US effort in Iraq.

I feel that Iraq needed our help, and I still believe we've done many positive things here. There have been some bad decisions made, of course, and some people forget that we're here to help the Iraqi people. Overall, though, I'm glad to be here, and I try to do my part every day to be positive and friendly with the local population. I like to shake hands with Iraqis, talk to them, ask them about their hopes, dreams and futures.

The effort in Iraq has been hampered by setbacks, and is not going as well as we had hoped. The key to this effort lies within the Iraqi people themselves, and I love seeing progress there. For example, I heard of an Iraqi army unit conducting a very good counterattack on insurgents in the southern part of the country, using great tactics, and it was very fluid. This was different than my earlier impressions of the Iraqi army, and I like seeing them get better, and take a more active role in their country's security...

Name Witheld By Request

medivac chopper

Medivac Chopper - Photo Appears Courtesy of Dave's Not Here

Yes Iraq is worh my time and effort.

Why? Because this is what America wanted the military to do. The time to debate going to war passed us long ago. It is hardly my place to question what to do, now is the time to do my best. Iraq still needs help and that is what I will do while I am here.

Johnny Dolittle

Hey there sure I'll answer.

In the end, do you feel that Iraq was worth your time and effort? ----

Very much so. Unlike what the news reports I know that while we were over there the US military accomplishes alot for the populace. In my AO (near Buquba) we set in 2 new polling sites from the Refeorandum vote to the dec elections. Countless number of schools received devlopment work, re-fixed the bridge going across the river in Baquba and helped establish the 2-2 IA battalion. While I didn't enjoy being deployed, its my job and every soldier who has joined the Army since 9-11 has known this is thier job.

Randy P.

My thanks to all the Soldiers who responded and to
Dave's Not Here for use of his fine photos.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The In T View: What Does Canada Stand For?


Happy Canada or Dominion Day! Today we are all Canadians.

What does Canada Stand For?

It's a question that came to my mind after reading Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch comments about the recent arrest of the Canadian terrorist plotters. Spencer contended, "the miasma of Canadian anything-goes multiculturalism..." makes homegrown Jihadism in Canada possible now and in the future, because "Canada stands for nothing and can mount resistance to no ideology."

If you asked many Americans, What does Canada stand for, they would probably draw a blank for a moment, shrug their shoulders, and most likely reel off the well-known characteristics of the country. It's cold, they have great hockey players, the famous Canadian beers, pretty Canadian women, nice hunting, and so forth. To most Americans, Canada is just there to the north, quiet and peaceful, and that's the way they like it.

But, to the Canadians themselves, What Does Canada Stand For is a far more important question. It's a possible way of defining a National Identity or a Core Belief System. As an American, I tend to believe our national identity, our set of beliefs that define us as who we are, is much more readily apparent and stronger than those of Canadians. But, I could be wrong. So, I thought it was an interesting quesiton to query Canadian Bloggers and Writers on, to see what they had to say, learn how they felt, and present their responses.

Krista Boryskavich addressed the issue of What Does Canada Stand For? in her June 29 Winnipeg Sun column:

What does Canada stand for? It was a question raised to me in an e-mail from an American blogger, who wrote: "The reason I ask is I read ... comments about the recent arrest of the Canadian terrorist plotters (Robert Spencer at Spencer contends 'the miasma of Canadian anything-goes multiculturalism' makes homegrown jihadism in Canada possible now and in the future, because 'Canada stands for nothing and can mount resistance to no ideology.' "If you ask me as an American what the United States stands for, the word that comes to mind is opportunity. But for you as a Canadian, what does Canada stand for?" Ask many non-Canadians what they think of Canada and it's likely they'll list some of the better-known icons, events and personalities that have come to symbolize our nation -- Tim Hortons, hockey, Wayne Gretzky, the beaver, the moose, the maple leaf, the CBC, the CN Tower, Pamela Anderson, the seal hunt, the Calgary Stampede, Celine Dion, and a cold bottle of good old Labatt's Blue.
But the question of what Canada stands for goes much deeper than mere symbolism. It involves a set of shared values that all Canadians can embrace.
So if the United States stands for opportunity, as our American friend suggests, what is the one word that best describes what Canada stands for?
Tolerance? Compromise? Equality? Diversity? Multiculturalism? Bilingualism?
If you think we're a tolerant society, try sitting in a school playground for half an hour, or reading some of the e-mail I receive from readers. It might change your mind.
If you think we're an equal society, I'd suggest you reread my recent column on the different treatment accorded urban and rural folk when it comes to the provision of health-care services. {...}
Perhaps more importantly, is it even possible to narrow the values of a vast, diverse nation to a single word? With the threat of Quebec separation in recent decades, and increasing talk of western alienation in recent years, can we really say that Albertans share the same values as Ontarians, or that Quebecers share the same values as Manitobans?
When I asked readers of my blog ( what their Canada stood for, one anonymous poster responded with: "the right to do what you want -- as long as you don't bring harm to others." {...}
On the right side of the political spectrum, many Canadians value safety and security, prosperity, and individual choice.
And on the left side of the political spectrum, many Canadians value the environment, compassion for those less fortunate, and community.
Combine the best of both worlds, and we just might have a set of shared Canadian values -- perhaps the one word that best describes what Canada stands for is compromise after all.
In reality, though, it's not that simple to narrow the values of a nation into a single word.
Try though I might, I certainly can't do it.
Can you?
What does your Canada stand for?

Krista Boryskavich is a columnist for the Winnipeg Sun, a co-author of The Auto Pact: Investment, Labour and the Wto, and a blogger at
Krista Rants.

Hello Mr. G.,
What does Canada stand for?
The official answer is: peace, order and good government.
Not as dramatic, to be sure, as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or France's liberte, egalite, fraternite, but a recipe for a quiet and contented society.
If the U.S. in one word is "opportunity," Canada would be "equality."
Whoever the jerk Spencer is and thinks, we do not have anything-goes multiculturalism. But we've probably erred in the past on the "tolerance of differences" aspect. Suspect we'll start to see a Canada-first drive in the (very) near future.) We'll all have mixed feelings about that: good in principle -- but American-style jingoism would be counter to the Canadian nature.
Hopes this helps.
Lynda Hurst

As a columnist and feature writer for the Toronto Star, Lynda Hurst has written on everything from Sharia Law to Adolph Hitler to the Pentagon's use of insects for military purposes. Her subject material includes national and provincial issues, the War on Terror, history, politics, Islam, Iraq, the U.S. Military, and Canadian culture.

As with Americans, it depends on which Canadian you're asking.

Rachel Marsden is a Canadian Media Personality, a Political Pundit, and a Columnist who has appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, the Dennis Miller program, Fox News, and hosted her own radio show. She has written for the New York Post, the National Post, the Toronto Sun, Front Page Magazine, Newsmax , and many others. Her official site is here.

Good question, and one we ask ourselves constantly. You happen to have hit upon one of the few neo-cons in Canada, so be advised that I am obviously a bit cynical. I think Canada stands for anti-Americanism first and foremost. That is not what Canadians will say: They will say they stand for Progressivism, Tolerance, Multi-culturalism,Equality, Peacekeeping rather than War-fighting, and (drum roll please) Medicare!!! But what really binds us as a nation is that we are not America. What that means in practice is fighting tooth and nail against any presumption of religious groups having any say at all in a public discussion and a show of open contempt for Christianity in the public square, the sanctification of gays and people of colour and those who wear cover, a pathological distaste for military adventures (even though peacekeeping is a non-starter these days)and an inability to take open pride in our heroes, but tons of compassion goes to victims. We are a victim-obsessed society and reluctant to show open admiration for those of high accomplishment. We cut down tall poppies with relish.We have no first amendment and tend to shut down debate when it becomes "offensive". We have a child-like dependence on the government to run our lives. We like that. We are rather infantile politically, passive until things go so bad there is no other choice but to change the government, which recently happened, but it took a scandal of corruption so widespread it couldn't be ignored to do that. We had been drifting with a bad gov't for years, but the complacency level is so high, it is hard to make a dent in the public consciousness. We think we are safe because our country is so big. We have not yet gotten it about terrorism, even though a huge plot was just uncovered here. It will take a while to sink in though, because we can't bear the idea of profiling since it is so un-politically correct. That being said, I would rather live in Canada than in the US, much as I admire America. Canada is in the fortunate position of being able to cherry-pick the qualities and opportunities America offers and to ignore the stuff that is not so palatable - the obsessive consumerism, the obesity, the cultural ignorance of the masses, etc. Canada is still a safer place, in many ways a more civil place, and as for Medicare, it is not perfect and we need the competition of the private sphere (it already exists unofficially), but it brings security to all at a basic level and it means we needn't be obsessed with health insurance as Americans are. I could not feel right about having access to good medical care knowing there are so many poor people who get second class treatment. Hope this helps, Barbara

Barbara Kay is a well respected columnist for the National Post, serves as "the editor in chief of FIRSTFRUITS, an annual anthology of creative writing published by the Jewish Public Library," has written for Front Page magazine, is a longtime book reviewer, and taught "Literature and Composition at Concordia University, Mariannopolis College, Dawson College, and Vanier College for many years."

Mister Ghost, Canada has struggled with its own identity from even before it has been a nation, but if I had to compress what I thought Canada stood for into one word, it would be this: community. Canada throughout its history has been built up by groups of people who have come to this nation, supporting each other as they entered this rugged, somewhat hostile land. From the French Canadians who were largely left to themselves after immigrating to New France, to the United Empire Loyalists who fled American persecution in the wake of the revolution, to Chinese immigrants who built our national transcontinental railway, to the Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans who opened up our West, and to many other groups too numerous to count, our history has been a patchwork quilt of immigrant stories (not to forget the stories of the first nations who occupied the land before us), and by respecting each other's identity, I think we've built up a country wherein we mostly respect each other. It has not been a perfect arrangement. Groups have butted heads in the past and will likely do so again in the future. But we've helped each other; we've pulled together, at Vimy Ridge, on D-Day, in the Liberation of Holland, in Korea, in our peacekeeping efforts, and even in our close and longstanding friendship with the United States of America. I think we've built a beautiful country. I'm proud of my land and my Irish/English/Scottish/Chinese history that I can lay claim to. I strongly dispute Mr. Spencer's comments suggesting that Canadian multiculturalism "makes homegrown Jihadism... possible now and in the future." Isn't it interesting that, in the United Kingdom, which struggles with its influx of immigrants, can point to specific mosques and Imans responsible for the inciteful rhetoric that contributed to the London Underground bombings, and yet we can point to no mosque or Iman where similar rhetoric occurs here? I was not surprised to learn of the arrest of 17 individuals planning attacks on Canadian soil (two of whom went to the United States to purchase weapons for use in those attacks; one could ask who is threatening whom here ). I'd been expecting something like this to happen sooner rather than later because the sad fact is that it has always been possible for a few madmen to make things uncomfortable for the rest of us. But those 17 individuals do not, in any way, speak for the overwhelming majority of the 600,000 Muslim Canadians who are as decent and as law-abiding as I am. The RCMP is on the ball, and doesn't have to deal with the complicated FBI/CIA/DoHS bureaucracy in dealing with our terrorist threats. Americans should take comfort in the fact that we are as ready to handle this sort of attack as they are. But nobody -- American or Canadian -- should forget that these sick individuals remain an aberration rather than the norm. And if Mr. Spencer truly thinks that Canada's multiculturalism is the root of the problem, I simply point out that the United Kingdom and the United States faced down terrorist attacks first. Did the melting pot or assimilation protect them? Anyway, I hope you find this useful. Yours sincerely, James Bow

Renaissance man James Bow is the author of
The Unwritten Girl
and other fiction, a Transit Geek, an Urban Planner, a Doctor Who fan, head of the Alliance of Non Partisan Bloggers in Canada, and blogs at Bow. James Bow.

Thanks for writing. My first comment is about Robert Spencer's claim vis-a-vis Canadian multiculturalism. While our federal policy of multiculturalism, popular ideas about multiculturalism or a more pervasive "ideology of multiculturalism" might be called into question I fail to see what it has to do with jihadi religious or political beliefs or their propensity for violence. India, East Timor, Israel, Bali in Indonesia, the UK, Russia, mainland China and the United States are a diverse group of countries with little in common except for the fact they have all been and continue to be targeted by jihadis. Canada's particular political, social and economic make-up therefore seem dramatically less important to our own home-grown jihadis than the ideology they share with their fellow-travellers around the world.

That said, I would say Canada stands for diversity, reasonableness and compromise.



Nicholas Packwood is heralded in blogging circles and beyond for his captivating blog, Ghost of a flea, where he recieves "love and hugs"
from Kylie Minogue, functions as "Anthropologist to the Stars", and was voted the Best Culture Blog in Canada in 2005.

Hello, and thank you for your question.
What does Canada stand for? It’s not an easy question to answer. We too believe in opportunity, although I don’t think that opportunity is what Canadians would say characterizes them. In truth, as with any free society, it is impossible to point one’s finger on one or two beliefs that all or most Canadians identify with. I’m not trying to dodge the question – just asking in return if such a question is fair and really answerable.
Having written this, I think that you have raised some important issues regarding Canada’s overt policy of multiculturalism, although you may be surprised to learn that I do not agree with those who assert that such a policy leads to the balkanization of society. Quite the opposite, enforced multiculturalism has resulted in a great conformity of ideas, though not practices. I refer you to a speech I delivered at Simon Fraser University that touches on this subject

Regarding Moslem extremists living in and operating out of Canada, this has been a problem that I have been intimately involved in for several years. I think that Canadians are naïve and self-righteous when it comes to the war on terror which leads, inevitably, to lax security. I don’t sense that the recent arrests were of sufficient magnitude to really change the minds of the general public even if it did serve as a wake up call to some. In this, though, I’m not sure that Canada and Canadians are much different that other much of western society including in the United States. May I refer you to a few interesting op-ed pieces on this subject on our website:,
I don’t know if I’ve been of much help. Let me know if you want or need more...
Joseph C. Ben-Ami

Joseph C. Ben-Ami is the Executive Director of the Institute for Canadian Values, and a "Senior Fellow specializing in Religion, Law and Society as well as Human Rights and Democratic Development." Ben-Ami is "the former Director of Government Relations and Diplomatic Affairs for the Jewish human rights organization, B’nai Brith Canada." And also serves as a member of the Advisory Board of the Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation.

Uh ....... that's a difficult question. Canadians have identity issues.
1. We are a country of many distinct regions. Quebcers are not Albertans are not Newfoundlanders etc.
2. Then there's our multi-culti tradition. We are not so much a melting pot as an exotic stew with many different tastes and textures.
3. Because we are next to the giant, with many of the same values, a common language, and the spillover culture and media, many Canadians try to define themselves as not being Americans.
4. But basically most of us stand for socialized medicine and the notion, fantastic or not, that we are a kindler, gentler and just society.

Antonia Zerbisias
Media Columnist/Bloggerista
The Toronto Star

Born in Montreal, Antonia Zerbisias has had a long career as a Media Critic and Columnist for the Toronto Star, as well as serving as a TV host and reporter for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). In 1996, Antonia won the "National Newspaper Award for critical writing for her columns about magazines." Zerbisas currently blogs at Azerbic.

Canada is politically correct, inoffensive and apathetic to the point of offending anyone with half a brain and a healthy dose of conservatism.
Canada could be and should be a great nation - tolerant and fair without caving into the ridiculous, proud and dignified without being arrogant, moderate and gentle without being pussies.
-Lydia Lovric

Lydia Lovric has been a political firebrand from an early age, writing for the Calgary Herald, Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, and Globe and Mail. Currently, she is a columnist at the Winnipeg Sun, a contributor to the Vancouver Province, and is frequently heard and seen on such programs as the John Oakley Show (MOJO 640), Adler On Line (CJOB - Winnipeg), and the Michael Coren Show (CTS TV), as well as hosting her own show, the "Sunday Brunch" on AM 900 CHML. Her website is here.

Hi Mister Ghost:
I'd say Canada stands for Decency and Civility, two qualities becoming increasingly rare in our world. A lot of people might scorn at the idea of what Canada stands for, but I believe these are worthy qualities once were prized by gentlemen above all. Now what do gentlemen stand for these days? Regards,

Salim Mansur, BA, MA, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Western Ontario. A writer, his column appears at London Free Press alternate Wednesdays, and the Toronto Sun on Thursdays... Salim is a member of the Board of Directors for the Center for Islamic Pluralism based in Washington, D.C., a Senior Fellow with the Canadian Coalition for Democracies, and an academic-consultant with the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C...

...I'm almost sorry that you used the word "opportunity" to describe America as that is the word that I would have used to describe Canada. The difference is that Canada is a land of opportunity where diversity (at least for the time being) is not only tolerated, but accepted and celebrated, it is what makes us what we are.... the difference between the melting pot and multicultural concepts. We don't believe that everybody needs to conform to some ridgid national identity criteria in order to be "Canadian". Unfortunately, in light of recent developments, that concept may be in for a bit of a rough ride. Hopefully we will survive the calls of those who are afraid of whatever boogy-man they think is hiding in the closet and want people of other languages, cultures, or religions, to toe what they want to define as the "Canadian National Line". Hope this is what you were looking for Marcel

Marcel Mason, married to an Aboriginal Inuk woman, is a father of four, a network administrator for a Canadian National Aboriginal Administration, a member of the
Progressive Bloggers
, and can be found at Stageleft: Life on the left side.

Well that is a question Canadians have been trying to answer for hundreds of years. In the mid-twentieth century, “Canadian identity” became an obsession. Our writers and artists all debated it, esp. after Margaret Atwood’s famous book, Survival. She maintained that Canada had a “fortress” mentality, that we were haunted by the pioneer experience of Canada as cold, dark and frightening.

The areas of Canada are very distinct, just as the different regions of the USA are. But here in Toronto, the media and university elites as well as the politicians all hold to a very liberal, 1960s, 1970s view of Canada, mostly out of misplaced nostalgia. They believe everything Pierre Trudeau told them: that the French and English in Canada were equally important; that multiculturalism and socialism were the way of the future. If you dare challenge these views in public, your career in any of these fields, or even your chances of getting invited to a party, are greatly reduced...

More than anything else, Canadians define themselves in this way:

“We are not Americans.”

For all their pretend politeness and tolerance, most Canadians (except me and about 100 others!) hate Americans with a passion you cannot fathom. This predates George Bush — I was born in 1964 and heard it all my life. Americans are patriotic? Then we will look down on patriotism. Americans have a huge army; very well, we will reduce ours to a skeleton force. Americans don’t have “free” “health” “care” and we do, so we are superior (no matter than a Canadian has to wait almost two years for some routine operations that an American would get in a week). Imagine: Americans are proud of their inventions and their triumphs on the battlefield. We Canadians are most proud of a government entitlement that doesn’t even work anymore!

This smug bigotry is the only acceptable one in polite Canadian society. Americans are “fat, stupid, greedy, violent and evil.” My fellow Canadians consider this a sophisticated stance. Alas, they don’t realize how petty and jealous they appear. If America does indeed represent “opportunity” -- and I agree with you that it does — that is exactly what Canadians hate about it. They like their government run lives, no matter that our disposable income is 30% less than an American’s and our taxes are higher. Success is not something most Canadians admire. “Just keep your nose clean and one day you’ll win the lottery — or retire”. Very sad.

I would love to get out of here tomorrow, but alas, Green Cards are impossible to get :-)

Toronto's Kathy Shaidle is an award winning writer, author, and editor who has worked and written for Media and Corporate clients such as the Dallas Morning News, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the American Spectator, the Catholic Register (where she was a Contributing Editor), the Shopping Channel, the United Way, the Book Promoters Association of Canada, among others. In her blog, Relapsed Catholic, Kathy merges Pop Culture, religion, politics, life experiences, and conservatism in a grand syncretismic tour of her psyche.

Hi there,

This may be too late to respond to you, but I've been on vacation, so sorry about that.

Canada stands for "peace, order and good government" according to our constitution, which is in remarkable contrast to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". We're far more corporate that individualistic, and thus rely much more on the government to make our lives good than on individual effort.

Part of this, of course, is that we never had to fight for anything (the World Wars notwithstanding, when we were fighting for someone else, not ourselves). Even those who settled in Canada did so deliberately to avoid becoming American and cling to the British empire, or to actually flee the American Revolution. Tradition, peace, and order are a good part of our history.

We tend to frown on any ostentatious display of wealth, just as the British do, and we tend to view with suspicion anyone who has been too successful. The upper class in Canada is almost all Liberal. While Americans, too, tend to be liberal among the upper classes, it is not nearly as monolithic as in Canada.

To be Canadian is to believe in the Charter of Rights, the goodness of government, the evils of individualism, and the need to be protected from whatever may happen. It is to downplay one's own importance, to feel somehow not quite good enough, and at the same time to be angry about this.

Ironically, we do have much to be proud of. We subdued a huge nation. We fought valiantly in both World Wars. We had a navy and an air force that were amazing considering our small size.

Yet we forget these things and instead focus on Canada's perceived guilt in the world--our treatment of the aboriginals, the interment of the Japanese in World War II, the Chinese head tax. We feel guilty rather than proud. It's really quite sad.

That's about all I can say. Sorry if this is too late,

Sheila Wray Gregoire is a true Canadian Renaissance woman. She is the author of such books as, How Big Is Your Umbrella? To Love, Honor And Vacuum; Honey, I Dont Have A Headache Tonight, and Reality Check. She is also a Mom, a host of a radio show, Reality Check Radio, has her own Blog, is a Lay Minister, and writes a column, Reality Check for the Intelligencer and Southern Exposure newspapers.

Ha!! Mister Ghost. You have hit the nail on the head. We are a nation of the confused and muddled and we seem to like it that way.

It has to do with our geography. We are separated by geographic featues that make us very regional-centric. We also have huge disparities in population between the regions which makes for unequal representation in our parliament and a constitution that doesn't adequately address that disparity.

We've also got the French/English albatross keeping us embroiled in collective handwringing, fretting and finger pointing. Some of us identify ourselves by juxtapostion with the US, which expresses itself as: "The US is bad, therefore in order for us to be good, we have to bash everything American."

We're basically very worried about being swallowed up by the US, which causes us to do a lot of stupid things, like creating the CBC and the National Film Board which were originally intended to unite Canadians and foster a common culture, but they've become little more than propaganda tools for the left of centre view.

But when it comes right down to it, I think what defines us, or, to put it in your terms, what we stand for, what unites us, is our hatred of Toronto. HAhhahahaahahaha.

Seriously, we don't go into patriotism in a big way, but I do think we like to be proud of what we can do on the international stage, but we haven't done too well in that arena for quite a while. We also take great pride in being self-effacing. Maybe the second gets in the way of the first. I don't know.

Louise S. is a librarian in Western Canada, a frequent commenter on Iraqi Blogs, a strong proponent of a democratized Middle East, and a Blogger at the highly thought-of SEARCH, and Stubble Jumping Redneck.

I think it's a little too simplistic to boil it down to one word but I'll humour the question. :+)
I would say: Equality. True Equality (ie. not economic... but in treatment and respect).
That encompasses the truly Canadian values of multiculturalism, tolerance, and diplomacy.
Anyone who says "Canada stands for nothing and can mount resistance to no ideology" is ignoring the ultimate sacrifice made by thousands of Canadian soldiers in the First and Second World War.
I hope that helps you.

Green Blogger Chris A. takes the murky view on life with his blog of the same name, the Murky View concentrating on war, peace, family, politics, the UN, the environment, and the good life.

Hi again Mister Ghost,
I think if you had to summarize what people generally believe Canada stands for it would be Social Justice. This is reinforced mainly through socialist domestic policy that is reinforced through political correctness and underpinned by an ethos of multiculturalism, wherein no one culture is more important or morally superior to another and, consequently, nobody is driven to assimilate into another culture. It is the antithesis of the classical American "melting pot".
Now, many may call this ideal Equality, but it should not be mistaken as such, for any time socialism enters the fray what you really have is state-mandated wealth distribution from the rich to the poor; theft by proxy, as I call it. Canada does not treat everyone equally; our tax system (just one example) belies this truth. What is more, multiculturalism and political correctness hinge on a minority-as-victim philosophy and create an environment where it is practically impossible to level justifiable criticism against any minority -- perceived, visible or otherwise -- without being branded a racist, xenophobe and the like. In this sense, the majority culture within the "Canadian fabric" is also not treated as equal to minorities; it is treated as a victimizing oppressor, always.
I, as a conservative Canadian, deplore both socialism and multiculturalism and believe the former is crippling us economically while the latter is slowly eating away at the fabric of our nation, creating a nation with no real identity, hence no single rally point from which we can combat primitive ideologies like jihad. Unwritten codes of political correctness also severely hinder the possibility for rational public discourse on civilization-destroying ideologies like jihadism.
I would like nothing less than for Canada to abolish the pipe-dream Trudeupian socialist ideal, return to an assimilation model, impose flat tax rates and expose political correctness for the sham that it is... Hope that helps. Kind regards.

Mark Peters, originally from New Foundland, now living in Nova Scotia, is a married father of one, a member of the Blogging Tories, a strong proponent of the United States and Israel, and makes his opinions known at

You want one word? I would say “compromise”. “Pragmatism” would be a close second.
I say that because Canada has always been about balancing different forces. From the time that Britain took Quebec to the present, our domestic politics have been about balancing British and French North American cultures and traditions. Our Constitution was written calling for “peace, order and good government”. We were the middle link in the “North Atlantic Triangle” of the US and Britain through WWII. We were trusted peace keepers throughout the Cold War (including in Vietnam) even though we were decidedly on the democratic side. More recently we have been somewhat of a middle ground between the US and Europe.
To more directly address Spencer, I note that all the perpetrators of 911 were American. This is one Canadian plot that was stopped before it happened and, as far as I can tell, the only connection with the US is that the Canadian group was taught by Americans! How can one cell of terrorists in a country of over 30 million people be a sign that our society is broken? The very notion is laughable.
Even in the war on terror, we have been somewhat of an intermediary between the Western and Muslim societies. As one example, our Jewish Justice Minister organized a meeting of Israeli and Arab justice ministers before the Liberals lost the election. This would not have been possible if were not thought of positively throughout the Arab world. If there is going to be an end to Islamic terrorism without the clash of civilizations that people like Spencer hope for, the world will need to pay more attention to how Canada has been so successful by purposely avoiding ideology.

Jason Cherniak, who is a graduate of Dalhousie Law School and works for a major Toronto law firm, runs "the unofficial list of Canadian Liberal bloggers", and blogs at
Cherniak on Politics.

Good Evening Mr. Ghost,
I think this is the first time I have ever drafted a response to a question poised by a Ghost.
It should be an easy question to answer but as a nation we have been struggling for the last 30 years to answer it succinctly. I have written two Dominion/ Canada Day posts and you might care to visit them to get a feel for the national struggle. At one point, I was a member of the Red Ensign bloggers and hosted the bi-weekly carnival called the Standard. I think that it easier to quote what I wrote in that introduction:
It's tradition for the host of the Red Ensign Standard to write a personal introduction but since this is my second time up on deck I thought that I try to write more on a theme instead. I struggled for the last two weeks trying to define in my mind what a Canadian is in 2005 and still came up with naught. It should be easy, but really isn't. Since my teenage years, 30 years ago and the rise of Trudeaupia in the land, all discussions of Canadian nationalism begin with defining what we are not, which leaves very little room or inclination for what we are. We are probably the only nation in the world who does this. Can you imagine our American or Mexican neighbors beginning a discussion of American or Mexican nationalism and start by saying; "Well, we aren't Canadians." In 2005, we are still struggling with new Canada.

Fifty years ago, school children in Canada could have told you what it means to be a Canadian but the parameters have changed so radically that I fear we are in danger of losing not only our place in the world but our national will. Regionalism threatens all the ties that use to bind us. And sorry, I cannot rally around our healthcare system and do not see waiting patiently in line for years for a hip replacement or an MRI as a value that I want to pass onto my children.

We live in a land whose geography leaves its imprint upon our character early in life, and we were a nation forged and tempered by war; from the Plains of Abraham, to Vimy Ridge, to the beaches of Normandy. Freedom meant something beyond an existential definition which is all the value we place on freedom today. Here's the new Canada's truism; I am less free today by law than I was in 1985. In 2005, freedom is now measured by the quantity of law and by-laws that weighs down and restricts our daily existence.

The new Canada denies our warrior past and says we are a nation of peacekeepers with blue helmets. Frankly, I'll take Vimy Ridge and you can keep Rwanda and the helmets. For there will be no peace to keep if our leaders have lost the will to fight to keep the peace for freedom's sake.

We claim tolerance as a national virtue and yet we have Hate Speech laws. Tolerance in the New Canada seems to mean; think as I think, do as I do, speak as I speak, rather than allowing individuals the freedom to speak what they think or even reason - if that speech could potentially create division or dissonance in this new Canada. Our national tolerance seems a very shabby fragile thing.

We have embraced the virtues of multi-culturalism so wholeheartedly in this new Canada that when my children claim they are Canadian their teacher's teach them to call themselves Jamaican-Canadians, and yet, not one of them has ever left to find a home in Jamaica.

In discussions, I have often been told if I do not like this new Canada then I should leave my native land, and go to another where I might feel more comfortable and free, and I would, but the land ties me to it. What is bred in the bone comes out in the flesh and I will not give up this land or my children's place in it to live freely from sea to shining sea without a fight; against all odds and all comers - if need be. That is what defines and makes me a Canadian.
Do all Canadians feel as I do? Contrary to what is represented in Canadian MSM, we are not a few isolated souls. And here's the thing, if it came down to the wire, and Canadians were forced to bunker down to the barricades, I would be joined by my ex-Iranian and now Canadian neighbor who fled the rule of the mullahs to claim his place in the Great White North. He too is not prepared to give up this country to the jihadist theocrats without a fight. This is where he, and many others just like him will make his stand and we will stand for the land.
I would like to make one further point that often gets muddled by outsiders. It is an incredibly long and arduous process to legally immigrate to Canada but our official refugee process is one of the slackest in the Western world. Canada makes a very separate and distinct difference between those wishing to immigrate and those who are applying for refugee status. Basically, all one has to do to claim refugee status in Canada is show up at one of other borders and demand political asylum. At that point, all bets are off. A hearing will be scheduled to hear your claim and you will be free to go into the country to await your hearing. The whole process is long and it is not unheard of for refugee claims to go on beyond a ten year period. The Millennium Bomber is a prime example of slack refugee process.
Originally, our generous refugee policy was crafted in response to plight of the Vietnamese Boat People and let stand to provide entry to others in a similar plight, but as I have written before good intentions makes bad law, and the shame is that it has never been fully revisited or revised since that period.


Kateland or Kate Y. is a Canadian Conservative, a former ballet dancer, a mother, and a widow, who blogs at The Last Amazon.


in high school, they teach us canada stands for peace, order, and good government (id say the first two with conviction, and giggle at the last). america stands for life, liberty, and property. i think canada has worked out a bit better because our "we stand for X" is actually about governance, and not some kind of amorphous libertarian ideology that has never been implemented :)

i dont think robert spencer's summation of what canada stands for is fair at all. "multiculturalism" as an ideology in canada was not invented in the socialist 60s, as these people claim. compromise is part of our history. look up the manitoba schools question and also quebec language laws and ukranian language instruction in alberta - youll see that canada has a bit of a history of accomodating minorities. (except for aboriginals, who were assimilated in residential schools)

of course, that history is restricted to accomodating white minorities until the 80s rolls around and multiculturalism comes to mean being comfortable with immigrants retaining their culture (in theory - in practice, canadians are as racist as anyone else, but they dont act on these beliefs criminally). i dont think canadian multiculturalism had anything to do with the actions of those arrested in conjunction with bomb plots in toronto. france assimilates immigrants, and experiences riots. canada (though also very secular) doesnt require assimilation, and could have faced a brutal attack. this problem is bigger than any western government's multicultural policy. radical ideology and criminal intent arent really provoked by whether or not these people feel "canadian." i dont think any indoctrination on our part could alleviate the alienation that drove these people to become politically-motivated criminals.

this attack plot scares me way less than ontario's flirtation with implementing sharia law.

i dont know if this helps. i wasnt fed enough propaganda in school to be able to speak so convincingly on such an emotionally-charged question as "what does canada stand for?" see the charter of rights and freedoms for information on that in a legal sense!

-ainge lotusland

The UBC's and Vancouver's own Ainge is a girl blogger and political science aficioanado contained within Lotusland.

Hi Mr. Ghost,
I could tell you what I think Canada stands for, but you may find it more interesting to see what the government of Canada is telling immigrants about what Canada stands for. See this excerpt from the guide A Look at Canada:


Laurent Moss, hails from Quebec, where he blogs at Le blog de Polyscopique , a bilingual blog renown for its fine coverage of Quebec politics.

Hi Mister Ghost --Interesting question, but I'm not sure I know. Mostly I think Canada and Canadians want to be liked. We will avoid the truth if it means not offending people -- and I'm not talking about on a large scale like Islam and jihad, I'm talking about simple things like a popular national sports commentator having been taken to task and put on a seven second delay because he said something outrageously offensive: "It's the French guys and Europeans who wear the most visors" (Don Cherry was speaking about hockey and why players don't control their sticks the way they should. He was commenting that most of the high sticking comes from players who wear visors, and that French Canadians and Europeans tend to wear visors more than English Canadians and Americans) It turns out that he was right on both points, but our national broadcaster CBC nearly fired him over the incident. Never mind the truth -- so long as you don't offend anyone. Best as I can figure, that is our national identity. I know I'm constantly telling my kids 'don't say this outside the house'. because there are just some things you can't say. Hope this is what you're looking for. Best. Canadianna

Canadianna or Angela is a twenty-something
conservative, criminology and psych graduate, married with children, who blogs at
Cerebral Compost

I was hoping you could answer a question for me, for a post I'm working on about Canada:
What Does Canada Stand For?

I'm not sure that I'm a particularly good source for the canonical answer to that question. My family immigrated to Canada in 1967, and I've been active in Libertarian political happenings -- off and on -- since the late 1970's. I'm not particularly close to the Canadian mainstream (and never really have been).

The reason I ask, is I read Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch comments about the recent arrest of the Canadian terrorist plotters. Spencer contends, "the miasma of Canadian anything-goes multiculturalism..." makes homegrown Jihadism in Canada possible now and in the future, because "Canada stands for nothing and can mount resistance to no ideology."

That is true for a number of Canadians, especially in Toronto and Vancouver. They're not a majority of Canadians, but they _are_ a majority of the type of Canadians that Canadian journalists think of as "typical Canadians". They're the sort of people for whom "universal medicare" could stand in as a replacement for their core principles without a ripple.

We have our "Red States" and "Blue States" (although we reverse the colour coding), but they really do break down more as city versus non-city.

If you ask me as an American, what the United States stands for, the word that comes to mind is Opportunity.

Most of the Americans I know through online contact would certainly agree with that...

But for you as a Canadian, what does Canada stand for?

Canadians tend to illustrate what the country stands for in contrast to what they think America stands for (the two are closer in reality than in rhetoric). Take away the guns, and add a state-mismanaged healthcare system and Minnesota or Pennsylvania would be very comfortable as Canadian provinces.

Alberta, on the other hand, feels less and less like a part of Canada every year. Quebecers think of themselves as a separate nation within Canada (rather like Wales or Scotland within the United Kingdom). Ontarians never quite "get it" that the rest of Canada isn't happy under the control of the Ontario/Quebec axis.

Canada doesn't stand for a single idea or concept: from Confederation, we've been more concensus-driven than concept-driven. For too many Canadians, it's sufficient to point south and say "We're not like them!"

I realize this doesn't actually answer your question, but I suspect the question doesn't lend itself to an easy one-word or short-phrase answer. I'll be interested to read your round-up of the answers you've received to this question.


Nicholas R., an observer of Canadian political and sociological trends, does a very fine job at his
blog, and in his capacity as a wine connoisseur, surveys the Ontario Wine Scene for the Ontario Wine Blog.

In the end, what did I learn from the responses? Well, Canada and Canadians do seem to have a bit of an identity crisis, but yes, the country and the people as a whole, have welcoming and admirable qualities, our nice neighbor to the north.

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