Sunday, November 7, 2010

Words About Child Soldiers from Col. George Carsted

The Calgary Herald often proudly carried conservative points of view, and that is where I found this anti-Omar Khadr rant by Col. George Carsted.

He recounts how he was only 14 when he took up a gun against the Red Army as it approached his town. But although his action was similar to Omar Khadr, he feels no sympathy for him.

Here are some of his arguments, starting with the point that since he did not see himself as a child at 14, then neither was Omar Khadr a child at 14.

He says:

"I did not see myself as a "child." I may have been scared, but I knew what I was doing."

"He [Omar] did not fight for his country, but supported the aims of a fanatical segment of Islam, whose actions are abhorred by all having one ounce of decency -- regardless of religious affiliation"

"I deem it time for the introduction of a law that strips anyone, whether born in Canada or being a naturalized citizen, who commits an act of terrorism or takes up arms against Canadian troops or those of her allies, of that citizenship"

I would not call George a child "soldier" at 14, from the description he was not part of any military training, nor was he in an organized group. He was just a kid with a gun.

He says Al Quaeda is "abhorred by all having one ounce of decency", when the well known fact is that Al Quaeda was financed and armed by the US government to fight the Red Army in the nineteen eighties. Ironically, the same army he fought when he was 14.

But please, let's not introduce a law that blindly strips anyone of Canadian citizenship for taking up arms against Canadian Troops or those of her allies, because Col. George Carstead would be among those to lose his Canadian citizenship. He has publicly confessed (in writing this article) to taking up arms against the Red Army, which were our allies at that time, against the Nazis in WW2. Maybe if George had been a bit older, he would have known that to fight the Soviets in WW2 was to help the Nazis. But he was just a kid, and probably didn't know what he was doing, no matter what he thinks now.

It's not as easy as you think to write laws condemning someone for the very same thing you do yourself. Double standards are difficult to uphold in the Canadian legal system, and I like it that way.

Picture: Some more teenage soldiers, from the movie "Red Dawn", fighting the Red Army.

1 comment:

  1. Colonel Carsted's reasoning - essentially that a Canadian citizen, even if born in Canada, be stripped of their citizenship for acts of 'terrorism' - is flawed on so many levels.

    The first hurdle is the lack of a clear definition of 'terrorism.' Repeated international attempts to provide a clear legal definition have all floundered. 'Terrorism' is an emotive, pejorative term which, in the final analysis, can mean virtually anything politicians want it to mean.

    The second difficulty is whether enacting such a law would have any value whatsoever in terms of deterrence, or simply be a legitimized form of social vengeance. The jury is still out on the merits of retributive punishment (despite the fervent beliefs and convictions of the 'eye for an eye' crowd on the political right).

    Stripping someone of their citizenship in the country in which they were born is a violation of Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and most likely violates Article 8 of Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness to which Canada is a signatory.

    Taking Carsted's reasoning to it logical (illogical?) conclusion, Canada should also be stripping his brother-in-arms, Colonel Russell Williams, of his citizenship for what can arguably be considered an 'act of terrorism' and/or for 'taking up arms' against a member of the Canadian Forces in his murder of Corporal Marie-France Comeau.

    If Colonel Carsted's recounting of his experience at age 15 is intended to undermine the relevance of the issue of child soldiers, it lacks relevance and stumbles at the starting post.