12.29.2010 08:58 AM

Canada at war

…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?”

And:

“…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?


45 Comments

  1. Steve T says:

    I think the missing piece to this discussion, and the reason the pro-war groups get traction, is because no one has proposed a reasonable exit strategy that won’t cause Afghanistan to descend into chaos and anarchy.

    There were, ostensibly, two objectives of the war. First, to neuter the terrorists on their home territory. Second, to liberate the Afghan people from the tyrannical rule of the Taliban. Both objectives have been achieved, short-term, but they are precarious. The terrorists just moved elsewhere, and would easily slip back into the country in absence of strong military resistance. As for the liberation of the Afghans – while the Taliban may no longer rule the country, I’m not sure if the Karzai government is much better. However, it could get much worse without the local watchful eye of Canadians and other Western powers.

    I agree that other Western countries need to step up and take responsibility. However, if this appears to not be in the cards, can we in good conscience leave anyway? It sucks to be the stand-up guy, so to speak, but it’s the role we currently have. The only other country who is really pulling its weight is the U.S., and I’m not sure if they should be expected to do even more, if we were to leave.

    There are no easy answers to this, and every Canadian soldier who dies is another reminder of the Vietnam-esque situation we find ourselves in.

    • I thought we were in Afghanistan in order to get Osama bin
      Laden. According to WikiLeaks, most of the western countries are in
      Afghanistan to please the United States–not to help the Afghanis.
      Back in WWII, the western military allies advanced into Germany.
      The United States, Great Britain, and France ran a military
      administration over their sectors in Germany until they felt that
      the Germans would be able to run their own affairs. It was only
      then that West Germany was formed. The Soviets created East
      Germany. Forward to Afghanistan. The NATO military should have run
      Afghanistan until it felt that the Afghanis could run their own
      affairs. Instead, we created this illusion that we were supporting
      Afghani democracy through Karzai. The sooner Canada is out of
      Afghanistan, the better it will be for us. Ignatieff and Rae’s
      Liberal Party may pay a price by supporting Harper’s war efforts.
      Pro-war supporters will stick with Harper; anti-war supporters may
      support the NDP, Greens, and BQ.

  2. Christian G says:

    Who else feels as you do? Well me for starters – and I am also a Liberal Party supporter (although I’m increasingly questioning that support these days). I agree, propping up an increasingly corrupt dictatorship does no one any good. As for the “training”, I have an uneasy feeling that all we’re doing is creating a more effective army to be used by a future Taliban government to repress the people of Afghanistan. Is this what we want? I don’t think so.

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  4. Northern PoV says:

    All these voices saying ‘stay til 2014’ were the same voices saying ‘stay til 2011’ just a little while ago.
    After ten years of western intervention the situation is getting worse for both the troops that are attempting the impossible and the civilians who bear the most of the suffering.
    What can three more years accomplish that the last 10 have not?

    (Actually if you look at the western attempts to tame Afghanistan, the 10 year time frame is too short. The Brits got their asses kicked 170 years ago and the Russkies and Brits have both suffered defeats since then.)

    My Dad fought in Italy and Holland in WWII, btw.

  5. James Curran says:

    I’m pretty sure I feel as you do. Even with a cousin serving in Afghanistan, two grandfathers who served, two other cousins that served and one who paid the ultimate price in WWII. Supporting our military is one thing. Supporting a lost cause is another. We served and did our time. Ignatieff and Rae are offside with the members of their party and the citizens of this country as a whole. They can’t get past their own egos to see that.

    • MississaugaLibPeter says:

      James, unfortunately it is not their egos that are driving the direction of the Liberal Party on this issue.

      What is just as unfortunate, are the majority of Canadians who don’t give a damn.

    • Allison says:

      I tend to agree with you Warren. Ignatieff and Rae are completely out of tune with the members of the Liberal Party. When are they going to demand that these men step down? They, particularly Ignatieff, have been complete disasters.

  6. jStanton says:

    Its more useful, I think, to examine this issue in the context of Canadian foreign policy as a whole.

    Simply put, Canada has not done proactive foreign policy since the last years of Mr. Chretian’s term.

    Lloyd Axworthy may well have been Canada’s last active Foreign Minister, and that’s more than 10 years ago! Subsequent Chretian Foreign Ministers served briefly to hold the course already set, until the Martinite coup, during which time a lot was said and nothing was done.

    Hr. Harper’s strategy, upon taking office, was to staff all key positions, including the role of Foreign Minister, with obedient administrators, and, as such, Canadian foreign policy now reflects Mr. Harper’s personal opinions, rather than realpolitik generated by professionals within the department of Foreign Affairs. The senior diplomatic corp have been sidelined now for five years, with their former responsibility of managing Canada’s foreign relations being usurped by Mr. Harper and his coterie of functionaries, none of whom have a background that remotely qualifies them to have any understanding of Canada’s foreign policy needs.

    The war in Afghanistan is simply the most evident of Mr. Harper’s foreign policy catastrophes; most evident because the visible human toll of Mr. Harper’s hubris is so awful, and thus impossible to ignore, and also because it is Mr. Harper’s only active foreign policy file. His other foreign policy catastrophes can be described as such due to his inaction on virtually all other fronts, or his positions being based on an anti-science, anti intellectual world-view (not so different, and perhaps not so ironically, as many of the fundamentalist-led regimes in the world today, where civil rights barely exist, if at all).

    In the immediate post-911 environment, Mr. Chretian had very good reasons to deploy combat operations. Mr. Martin maintained these operations afterwards, despite Canada’s purpose in deploying having already been met, simply to counter the weak-kneed “Mr. Dithers” label he had earned. Since then, Mr. Harper has similarly exercised a cynicism, but more so, in that he has leveraged the war to serve his personal political needs, to the extent that this has now become primarily Mr. Harper’s war.

    Mr. Harper is obviously not the first leader with little else to offer, to use a war to prop himself up. The manipulation of powerful emotional issues has allowed demagogues to cling, undeservedly, to high office for millennia. Such manipulation as calling critics unpatriotic and unsupportive of individual military personnel and their families, for example, or suggesting that critics wish to abandon women and children to tyranny.

    The fact is that there is not a single metric that demonstrates this war serves Canada’s interests, or that the terrible cost is earning sustainable freedom for Afghanis. And nor is there a single credible military or foreign policy professional that sees a successful outcome emerging from the combined NATO efforts in Afghanistan.

    None of this, evidently, has been sufficient to dissuade Mr. Harper from his natural inclinations to squeeze everything he can get from this war. He gets to inject jingoism into the discourse whenever he likes, shifting media focus from governmental disasters to uplifting fairy tales about how us “good” Canadians are saving the world from the forces of darkness. He gets to sit at the same table as super-powers, as they decide where he will deploy the weapons systems they have been generous enough to sell him.

    Weapons systems like 4 Globemaster heavy lift aircraft at quarter-billion dollars each, (plus the same again for parts and maintenance),needed ostensibly to fly to Afghanistan the cold-war era tanks we bought from Germany (at a cost now approaching half-a-billion dollars), that were supposed to protect soldiers from IED’s , since the only CF transport available could barely stop small-arms fire, and our NATO allies refused to lend us helicopters, in case they got shot down. The tanks, it turned out, needed a complete refit, having sat in warehouses for many, many years. They have yet to be deployed. Nowadays the most significant task for the Globemasters is to ferry coffins back to Trenton.
    In an environment of scarcity, as the Ontario/Canadian manufacturing sector has, with Mr. Harper’s encouragement, dramatically shrunk, taxes paid by Canadian workers have been diverted from government programs to foreign weapons manufactures, and to the support of a corrupt Afghani regime that will fall the moment NATO forces look the other way.

    This is Mr. Harper’s legacy; the gutting of Canada’s foreign policy initiatives and foreign relations, many that were years in the making, and the cynical leveraging and unnecessary perpetuation of a costly war to serve his own, narrow political objectives.

  7. Bill says:

    Yes, let’s cut corporate taxes while we are at war.

  8. jon evan says:

    “Propping up Afghanistan’s dictatorship does us, and the world, no good.”

    I agree: we have done our bit.
    But, your above statement calling that gov’t “corrupt” is not fair criticism.
    Look, all gov’ts are corrupt in their own way and it’s all relative. It just speaks of human nature. It’s more sanitized here but normal there. Bribery or payola (call it corruption if you want) is the currency of doing business there and no different from any other place in that part of the world. It’s just normal ancient tribal politics!

    But, I think most would agree that what gov’t is there presently is better that what was. If that statement is true then it’s worth supporting.

    • Namesake says:

      Calling the Karzai gov?t ‘corrupt’ “is not fair criticism”?!

      Ye gods, do a little research before venturing an opinion like that. It’s not just condoning a little bribery for the under-paid officials to do their regular job, as in some countries: it’s vote rigging (the elections are a sham), it’s accepting ransoms to release war prisoners, it’s skimming huge amounts of international aid money, it’s his brother being a big player in the opium trade, and more.

      That’s why William Crosbie, “Canada’s ambassador to Afghanistan said corruption made his ‘blood boil’,” and why PM Harper himself backed Crosbie when that was wikileaked, and why he himself reportedly told Karza at the talks in Portugal last month that “the Afghan government doesn’t deserve a ‘dime’ of direct foreign aid money until it deals with its widespread corruption.” http://urlm.in/gmyu

      Just google “karzai government corrupt” and do some reading!

      • jon evan says:

        You prefer the Taliban then?
        Self righteous western sentiment goes no where in Afghanistan where the type of reality you describe has existed since time began! My point is that I prefer Karzai to the Taliban Mujahadeen. Sure bribe him with money with strings attached such as obvious infrastructure spending using local builders. Don’t give him money and you will reap what you will regret.

        • Namesake says:

          The “Taliban Mujahadeen”?! Um, it was the Mujahideen who were supposed to be the good guys that the USA was funding & arming to oust the Soviets; the Taliban were the next, more radicalized generations (the word means, the students) that opposed and succeeded them (kinda like the PC-Reform-Alliance-CPC, come to think of it). And the West was okay with — or at least washed its hands of — them, until the Al Queda, a different group, of mostly Saudis, was permitted to set up camps there & launched their attacks. And Karzai & the Taliban aren’t exactly mutually exclusive: as I mentioned, Karzai accepts money from them to release the high-level prisoners NATO’s been capturing; and Karzai’s threatened more than once to formally ally with them if NATO keeps certain attacks up; and his army has plenty of Taliban sympathizers in it; and, Hell, we’ve been unwittingly contracting with both Taliban and drug lords for “security” arrangements. It’s all a mess, trying to distinguish the players, but you don’t even have the principals right.

  9. Tim Alin says:

    I love you for this post.

  10. J. Coates says:

    Let me me… how many armies have been sent packing by Afghani villagers? I’m reminded of the the British army that was annihilated in 13 January 1842. 12,000 British soldiers, civilians and camp followers were perished during a disgraceful retreat from Kabul.
    The Taliban are no fools, time is on their side, they have the patience of sphinxes. They will follow the way of the guerrilla and send another army packing.

  11. moose says:

    Anyone who believes the US had any
    interest in the welfare of the people of
    that country has been duped by Bush and
    now Obama just as they probably were with his expressed interest in bringing
    democracy to Iraq.There actually are
    journalists who aren’t just the propoganda
    arm of the US government(and ours?)
    I can name a few: Robert Fisk of the
    “Independent”in London,Eric Margolis
    (formerly of the Sun”.John Pilger of
    English tv and of course Noam Chomsky.
    None of the critics of these men can
    refute their arguments or at least none
    that I have come across.

  12. allegra fortissima says:

    “… he [Karzai] is the only puppet they can control.”

    A puppet – that’s what the American Government wanted when they backed Hamid Karzai in 2002, instead of supporting the last King of Afghanistan, Mohammed Zahir Shah. They got what they wanted and so do we…

    The majority of the Afghan people wanted Mohammed Zahir Shah back then, but who cares what they want?

  13. Warren, I agree with you, up to a point. The military game is over yet Canada keeps playing. There won’t be a winner here. But what would happen if NATO just goes home? I agree with Steve T. that the pro-war side of this debate gets a lot of traction because there doesn’t yet appear to be an exit strategy that would allow all the western players to go home without the Taliban taking over. What I am missing here is a way for Canada and the west to intervene so as to build hope among the Afghanis. More diplomacy, more development, less bang-bang. I know it is impossible to build schools and clinics if the Taliban keep beheading the teachers and nurses. I am reminded of Edward de Bono’s Six Hats metaphor here. We have been wearing only our military hat in Afgh. for too long. Aren’t there smarter ways to do this? Scott Taylor’s article should be a must read in Ottawa. I wonder how Bob Rae would respond…

  14. smelter rat says:

    Gord regurgitates all the neocon talking points in one relatvely brief post. He also seems to think we get our oil from Afghanistan. Sharia law is prevalent in Europe? Got some proof?

  15. Namesake says:

    Interesting manifesto there, Dr. Strangeoil. But pretty divorced from the reality.

    It hasn’t been your unnamed comic book radical Muslim oil-producing black menace countries fuelling the Taliban: it’s been their own drug trade. http://urlm.in/gmzf

    So by your, er, logic, I guess it’s our patriotic duty to ramp up our own production of opium to try to glut the world market on heroin to deprive them of funds.

  16. John Mraz says:

    Ok. Let’s say we get out. Are we leaving NATO as well? Or just picking and choosing which actions we will support as part of that essential alliance? Are we forfeiting on our legal obligations to that alliance? And even assuming we get a pass from our partners in NATO, are we just assuming someone else will pick up our part of the fight? Does that not implicitly suggest we think that fight is worth fighting, but we’ve just done our part?

    Or maybe we think the fight is actually not worth fighting. Ok then. So we are OK with an Afghan government that historically has fallen to the Taliban’s clutches on a dime? That is already partially in their grasp now? Does that mean we’re ok with the Taliban having an entire country and its significant narco-economy as a base from which to launch its particular brand of tyranny? Does that mean we’re ok with its explicit, outspoken desire to subvert the government in Pakistan to its further expansion? Does that mean its ok for the Taliban to seek influence or control over Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal?

    I’m just asking, of course. There’s no question that no one has ever actually held, controlled or transformed Afghanistan in thousands of years. But what are the consequences of leaving the Taliban unchecked and unfettered? Do we all remember what they were last time? I do. Global opiate hegemony. The most misogynist middle ages culture in existence. No education for any. Training camps leased to jihadists for a song – some of whom transformed the world nine years ago. And a completely destabilized region replete with nuclear and chemical arsenals.

    Tough call.

    jm

  17. PETE says:

    There are multiple reasons to stay in Afghanistan that most people seem to miss. I too do not like that fact Canadian lives are being lost there but I believe there is a greater good being applied. Strategically, Afghanistan is between Pakistan and Iran. The west has bases in both Iraq and Afghanistan and thus has the expansion minded Iranians in a sort of vise. Pakistan is a Country boardering on full chaos itself and is nuclear armed. The Iranians see themselves as the dominent player in the whole middle east and could easily foment more trouble throughout the region with de facto control of the levers in Afghanistan.

    People seem to forget we have had troops in the Gaza strip for many many years under a UN umbrella so why not Afghanistan under similar repsonsibilities. That’s what we are good at.

  18. VH says:

    Scott Taylor should be commended for his stance.

    I don’t think any country should be sending people to die in order for fake tough guys to pretend to have machismo so that they can get elected.

    Many military men go to work for American defense contractors after they retire. The contractors systematically play on the cowardice of the fake tough guys to goad them into paying for more military expenditures. So there’s a whole industry dedicated to blasting anyone who’s “soft” on war. Fake tough guy conservatives work really hard at trying to seem macho so of course they join in on this as well.

    That the Liberal leadership wants to pile on, even though the current leader worked for something with the words “Human Rights” in its name, only makes this worse.

    The original fake tough guy in this episode, GW Bush, abused and took advantage of the genuine goodwill the rest of the world had towards America in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and so had NATO invoke Article 5 in October of 2011 in order to give him cover. This led inexorably to war in Iraq as well and the whole thing was a grave mistake by the leaders of the western democracies.

    War if we must, but never war just because some fake tough guy thinks it will help his election.

  19. David says:

    1. Scott Taylor is far from a “military expert” please tell me his qualification for such a title? Serving 3 yrs in the Army in the 80’s and being the editor of a military magazine of questionable merit does not seems to me to be worthy of such a title.

    2. All you people who qualify your comments on “My father, bother cousin, sister, dog etc” are serving or have served in the military are full of it! You have no idea what the mind set of the currently serving member of the CF are. Before you say it your right, I do not either and I am 20+ year member of the CF. We reflect the country we serve which is made of of a board spectrum of opinion.

    3. Steve T is correct. Those that oppose CF involvement either come up with some reasonable exit or be honest and just say we should get out because it is a lost cause beheaded teachers and acid in school girls faces be damned.

    4. Most of those who comment on this board, particularly those who supported Mr Axworthy and his responsibility to protect(RTP) are just anti-military. How can you protect anyone without the tools to do it? I would hate to see CIDA in Afghanistan without some form of protect which can only be given by a military force CF currently US post 2011.

    5. It is not, nor has it ever been about oil get your heads out of your *$##$@

    6. Finally believe me i know that the current government is not perfect by any measure so don’t just respond that “i am some neo-con hack ” because that seems to be a bit of a fall back position of those who have swallowed the kool-aid on RTP and the “we can help with only aid groups” set .

    • Warren says:

      Sorry, David, but we have a civilian-controlled military, at least for the time being. Civilians decide, military does.

      But you knew that already.

    • jStanton says:

      …the “anti-military” accusation is just more demagoguery. To define criticism of the current deployment to Afghanistan this way reflects either a lack of geopolitics and knowledge of constitutional democracy, a sociopathic cynicism, or simple laziness.

      Let me frame this in another way: Canadians don’t appreciate the fact that our troops are being put in harm’s way for no good reason. A good reason, for example, would be a threat to Canada or Canadians. Nor do we appreciate the incredible debt load Canadians will have to carry for at least a generation, that this government has spent to line the pockets of industrialists, thieves and carpetbaggers, but, unfortunately, not CF personnel or their families.

      As for the “beheaded teachers and acid in school girls faces” scenario that Canadians apparently are now responsible for guarding against, wherever that possibility may exist, I’m pretty sure its hyperbolic.

      Should we deploy to Baltimore, New Orleans and any of a dozen or more other US locations to protect the teachers and schoolgirls there, also? How about the Congo? Sudan? Indonesia? How about we take on the Chinese regime for their crimes against humanity?

      What some jarheads don’t get is that we love our military to bits, which is why we don’t want them to be used up in chickenshit campaigns that serve no purpose other than the self-aggrandizement of certain politicians, and the enrichment of foreign greedheads, killers and other scum bags. Our military deserves better, and so do we.

      This thing in Afghanistan went off the rails a long time ago. It’s time to get the hell out. Instead of giving our hard-earned money to arms dealers, drug lords and enemy combatants, we could have made a real difference in preventing genocide in the Sudan and Congo, or even simply providing decent homes for soldiers at military bases… or buying search and rescue helicopters. Or how about a maritime force that can actually patrol our northern border? You wouldn’t know we’re an Arctic nation, because, aside from the Rangers, north of 60, we couldn’t even protect ourselves from Viking marauders, let alone BP or Goldman-sachs.

      And why stop there? That national child care program we supposedly couldn’t afford, that could have equipped our kids to compete with the kids from other, wiser nations who actually spent the money? Well, we blow that budget every few months we are mired in Afghanistan. How about a national drug plan, to address the fact that we pay the highest rates for pharmaceuticals anywhere? Nope, can’t afford it. Gotta buy used drones at new prices, because it turns out that our Pakistani allies, that we pay so well, are actually selling us out to the guys behind the IEDs, and we’re just shit out of any new ideas, so let’s just throw more taxpayers’ salaries at it.

      I’m so tired of this crap. We need some adult supervision. But apparently, there’s no one to step up.

    • Jan says:

      David, given what you’ve just said, are you happy we are ending our combat role?

  20. Mr. Chamberlain says:

    Warren et al;

    An opinion piece you may want to read regarding the spin of the new fighter purchase:

    http://www.therecord.com/opinion/editorial/article/306568–f-35-jets-aren-t-a-good-buy

  21. Springer says:

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

    What is really sad about our participation in Afghanistan is the disgraceful lack of coverage of all the good that is being accomplished, particularly with regard to restoration of freedoms of women…women whom, if the likes of the Taliban had their way, would have less rights and respect than any of us in this country would afford a dog, pet or otherwise.

    What is most inspiring is the overwhelming support our men and women in uniform, those who have been there and done that in Afghanistan, have for this mission…more so because many keep going back so they can carry on helping. They see the children, and the difference that can be made in their lives by our mere presence and willingness to serve and protect.

    There’s no quick fix for lifetimes of the kind of s*** and abuse these people have endured.

    I’ve read considerable about the history of both war and tyranny. Tyrants despise weakness, and regard it as merely opportunity. We are dealing with raw, hate-filled, ideologically premised tyranny, period, the likes of which 99 in 100 Canadians cannot even begin to comprehend.

    So far Canada has been spared first experience of the kind of vicious, blood thirsty and absolutely remorseless terrorism of which these terrorist thugs are capable.

    It is naive in the extreme to think that we, just because we live in Canada, are somehow naturally exempt, or above it all…which, tragically, is just what so many of us believe.

    Anyone who professes to like war is a liar.

    But anyone who thinks surrendering to tyranny for the sake of “peace” is any kind of alternative is just a damned fool.

  22. fritz says:

    I don’t see any mention in all the comments here of the supposed reason we are actually in Afghanistan; that being the destruction of Al-qaida and the capture or death of osama bin laden and his cohorts.
    We were able to drive bin laden into Pakistan and close the camps that existed in Afghanistan but over the last ten years Al-qaida has spread to many other countries and diversified its membership so that now our main security concern is the growth of local Al-qaida cells and lone wolves here at home.
    Back in Afghanistan the war has evolved into a battle with local warlords mainly under the control of the Taliban and trying to support a corrupt ‘national’ government whose control barely extends outside of Kabul.
    There is no exit out of Afghanistan that doesn’t evolve into the eventual return of a feudal leadership with various warlords controlling parts of the country under the influence of various governments including Pakistan, India, China, Russia, Iran and the USA.
    It doesn’t matter if we left in 2002 or leave in 2011 or even 2020; Afghanistan will return to the system of government it has always returned to after these misguided foreign excursions.
    The only things accomplished by getting out now is we save the lives and prevent injuries to some of our own soldiers and devote hundreds of millions of or tax dollars to a better use.

  23. orval says:

    I suppose Canada could have said “we have done our bit” after Dieppe and Hong Kong but we didn’t because giving up is not the Canadian way. What our men and women are doing overseas makes me immensely proud of Canada and of being Canadian. I am proud of our Canadian Government which unambiguously stands up for Canada, stands with our Allies through good times and bad, and most of all stands behind our Forces who are second to none anywhere in the world.

    Mr Kinsella is right – “not bloody many” Canadians agree with him on this. And I am glad of this.

    • Namesake says:

      Your corn is popping, Orval. And your memory’s conveniently selective. Were you just as proud up until just a month or two when the Canadian government unambiguously maintained that it was going to withdraw all but a few soldiers to guard the embassy next year?

      • orval says:

        Actually yes. As part of the NATO ISAF force, Canada did proportionally more than its fair share by engaging in the hard fighting in Kandahar (which of course began under Paul Martin). Canada signaled early on that its combat contribution was not indefinite, and that another NATO ally would need to relieve the Canadians in due time. With the help of the Liberals, the Harper Government set the deadline twice, for 2009 and then for 2011.

        Then, when the NATO Alliance suggested that Canada continue its contribution in a non-combat training role outside of Kandahar, in tandem with NATO’s overall strategy in Afghanistan, the Government was able, with the help of the Liberals, to comply with this request to continue to stand by our allies. The reason the NATO allies want the Canadians to continue their contribution to ISAF, now in a non-combat role, is because, to the Alliance, the Canadians are worth having because they are so good at what they do.

        This would not have been possible without the active support of the Liberal party and Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae, who understand the stakes. Ignatieff and Rae put the country’s interests ahead of their party’s interests and for that I commend them.

  24. jbro says:

    1 – in my experience, soldiers never get offended by free speech type opinions.

    they love it, in a ‘use it or lose it’ kinda way.

    what civilian offends soldiers, anyways? these guys are tougher than nails, don’t have time to be touchy, and understand the difference between doing their job and every citizen’s contribution to the conversation about gov’t policy.

    2 – pro-war people drowning out/shaming anti-war people – the worse the war is goin, the louder it gets.

  25. hugger says:

    I don’t see this situation as WW4. That would be very difficult as I seemed to have missed WW3. What you choose to label as WW3 was another struggle of economic supremacy and influence. Not a new concept by any means.

    This is more like running engagements with Guerrillas, than World War. The only “Theatres” as you call them, are Iraq and Afghanistan, both started by those who controlled Bush. Your strategy above seems based on out drilling the middle east rather than pursuing alternatives, and given the extraordinary increases in fossil fuel usage the world is currently experiencing, that seems a strategy doomed to fail. Western countries are not the only ones competing for these resources, and as Iraq and Iran have proved economic sanctions by the West are not going to bring them down on their own. If something concrete were done about Speculators, that would have a real impact

    A major consideration you seem to fail to include in your rationale is the ever present disdain of Western corporations for any State owned and operated Oil concerns which endeavor to exclude them. That is the underlying cause for much of the demonizing of any country or leaders of those countries by the oligarchs of the Oil business who can and do exert extraordinary influence on Western Domestic and Foreign policies.

    Another thing, making comparisons to WW2 is largely irrelevant so on to more important issues such as how much it costs the West to wage it’s quasi conventional war in comparison to the cost to the opponents. Also, when the rag tag Taliban can fund it’s efforts largely through the opium trade, and manage to get that product to market through routes in Russia and then on to Europe, one has to acknowledge some cold hard realities in the sphere of foreign relations and economics.

    Reading your last few paras I couldn’t help but get a sense of anti muslim sentiments, but that’s your issue so I will just give a nod to your comment on living in an information black hole. If you talk with the majority of Canadians about politics and world affairs you realize that between disinterest and the oceans of misinformation foisted on everyone, they do live in an information void for the most part. Your focus on the Worldwide Muslim threat also appears to confirm that our real reason for being in Afghanistan would not be Nation building nor concern for the population, but in fact part of your global WW4 scenario.

    Back to the questions in my previous post. Feel free to offer a response.

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