…because we are at war. We’re a nation at war.
It’s easy to forget over the holidays, I suppose. And, because it is happening so far away, in a place where most of us will never go, it seems like something happening in a movie theatre. But for the Armed Forces, and for military families, it is much more realistic than that, I reckon.
Military expert Scott Taylor – who has forgotten more about this country’s military than I, or most of this web site’s readership, will ever know – writes about the war this morning in the The Chronicle Herald. I urge you to read all of it, because it isn’t just an important column – it’s a courageous column. It’s courageous because pro-war voices are pervasive, and utterly dominate the discourse in Canada, these days. They attack and malign whomever speaks up against them.
In particular, I wanted to draw to your attention the following:
“…Canada’s extended military contribution to this mission, with the provision of 1,000 military trainers until (at least) 2014, was loudly hailed by the pro-war tub-thumpers as an opportunity for Canadian soldiers to “finish the job.” This has become the universal catch phrase of the pro-war lobby in the wake of their realization that the word victory no longer makes any sense.
Even if we take that objective to its logical and limited conclusion and assume now that our soldiers’ job is to create a self-sufficient, effective Afghan security force, that still begs the question: How does that ultimately benefit the Afghan people?”
“…Given the death of [Cpl. Steve] Martin — and his 153 comrades who have also made the ultimate sacrifice — Canadians need to continue to educate themselves about the real challenges and to define through debate the real job we may want to finish in Afghanistan.
Training more Afghan youths to fire weapons in order to impose ruthless authority is not the answer.”
It’s unfortunate that – every time I voice an anti-war opinion – I feel obliged to state that my Dad was an officer in the Armed Forces, that we grew up around the military, and that I wanted to join the military myself. But such is the effectiveness of the military lobby, with their embedded journalists and wined-and-dined politicians: they make you feel a bit guilty about challenging the conventional “wisdom.”
But my view remains unchanged: I feel – and apparently Scott Taylor agrees with me – we have done our bit. After almost a decade, it is time for other nations to step up. Canada can apply her considerable expertise in many other parts of the world, where terror and tyranny also run unchecked. Propping up Afghanistan’s dictatorship does us, and the world, no good.
Who else feels as I do? Not bloody many, by my count. The Conservative government, naturally, equates the untendered acquistion of billions in unneeded fighter jets with patriotism. My party, meanwhile, isn’t much better: after opposing extending the war – and after repeatedly demanding that the government make good on its promise to withdraw in 2011 – the Liberal leadership now cheers it on, blithely giving the pro-war lobby the votes they needed to continue making billions. And to keep a corrupt dictator in power.
The New Democrats and the Bloc feel similarly, I think, but they will never be close enough to power to do anything about it. So, for years to come, we will continue to lose young lives. We will continue to receive returning soldiers at CFB Trenton, and watch the grim trek down the Highway of Heroes to Toronto.
And, eventually, we will ask ourselves: for what?