Interview with a Former Soldier
BLUEPRINT: First of all can you briefly describe yourself and what you do?
SCOTT TAYLOR: I am a publisher of a magazine entitled Esprit De Corps, which focuses on the Canadian military. I was a former Canadian soldier now turned journalist. For the past 13 years I have covered the Middle East, covered the 1st gulf war, made 21 trips to Iraq (northern Iraq), Cambodia, and the Balkans.
BP: The theme of our impending issue is [loosely based on opposition], so with that in mind, in your opinion, how are Iraqis opposite from Canadians?
ST: When it comes down to it, Iraqis are not really opposite to Canadians, its all based on perceptions. With that said, they are a very diverse group, not homogeneous as the country is comprised of Kurds, Shias, Sunnis, devil worshipers, Marsh Arabs, and so forth. They are not cosmopolitan. The Western world has this inaccurate perception of how they follow their religion because as I came to know them, they drink candidly and the male/female devise is not the case.
BP: You delivered a lecture to one of my classes and I remember you telling the story of your kidnapping. Seeing that Iraq is quite opposite to Canada, can you tell me why you returned to the region even with the same risks involved?
ST: I returned to the region because Iraq to me is kind of like a 2nd home, I feel part of it. I am also gratified by the bond and friendship (they protect me) of fellow Iraqis. I am also irritated about the propaganda that takes place so I wanted to refute it. Also, my presence in Iraq allows for eyewitness accounts of the region, not academic. This I feel is more beneficial as I am keeping everyone up–to–date.
BP: I’m aware that you are very critical of Ottawa (Canadian military). Could you please elaborate on this?
ST: I want to expose the corruption that takes place in the Canadian military. Even though there is a complaint about funding, the funding is unreal. The department has to clean-up as people have to have value for their dollar. In addition, combat should be the main goal of the military. I say this because there is so much waste as far as money goes, especially with buying equipment we don’t need. The department has to also monitor spending habits. Also, many generals lobby for money but its all a myth that the military is underfunded. The real problem is that it’s all poorly managed so there needs to be massive reinvestment and the management team needs to be replaced. Lastly, decisions regarding military contracts take too long so the government needs to take a more active role here.
BP: What is your stance on humanitarian intervention, should Canada take part in it?
ST: Whenever genocides take place, the world should get involved. A lot of responses are after the fact such as the case in Iraq where the priority was weapons of mass destruction, now its about Saddam and democracy. Also, we need to be careful in distinguishing a real genocide because for example in Kosovo, no such genocide took place. In the end, its unfortunate because when we should act, we don’t and vice versa.