Friday, June 22, 2007

Support the Troop -- withdrawal

“Suspected Taliban militants attacked police posts in southern Afghanistan, triggering clashes and NATO air strikes that killed 25 civilians, a senior police officer said Friday (”


“‘It is not a combat mission; it is a reconstruction mission, but to make [reconstruction] possible, we have to fight. It is as simple as that. NATO has to fight.'—NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (”


“Anti-war activists are planning to protest Friday during a Quebec City parade being held to honour the Royal 22nd Regiment before they ship off to Afghanistan (Sympatico msn News June 22, 2007).”


The list of Canadian casualties of the war in Afghanistan complete with their photographs can be found at Be prepared to scroll down for quite a while.



he Royal 22nd Regiment is leaving for Afghanistan and the military is hosting a parade of the regiment today to try to boost flagging Quebec support for the war. Quebecois apparently have more difficulty accepting Canada’s role in Afghanistan than do the residents of other provinces. Where have we seen this before? Think back to WWI, WWII, Korean War, for starters.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Nato’s Secretary General, said in an interview that now was not the time to debate the whys and why-nots of the war; that it was a time to wish the troops well, etc., etc. That’s a bit like saying that when kissing your family goodbye at the airport, questions of the safety of the airplane would be inappropriate and should be put on hold for another time.

In 1987, I was at a meeting of Quaker, Mennonite and NATO personnel in Brussels and, believe me, NATO people see the world like that. They know all about military strategy, deterrence, mutually-assured destruction, etc., but their eyes glaze over whenever the ethical questions surrounding military conflict are raised. A bit like trying to talk to a professional hockey player about responsible, alternative life styles; if it has nothing to do with pucks and sticks, he probably has no vocabulary to discuss it and furthermore, he just doesn’t give a damn.

I heard one pundit say the other day that our role in Afghanistan was simply an extension of the USA’s decision after 911 to fight terrorism by invading the country that houses them. Was that a good decision? In my view, the attacks of 911 should have been treated as criminal acts, not acts of war. The attack on Afghanistan legitimized al Qaeda; from that moment on, they were a “legitimate” warring party in a conflict with the USA and its allies.

According to de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s role in Afghanistan is not military—it’s reconstructive. If anyone believes that, I would urge that person to avoid used-car lots. NATO is a military, not a reconstruction, organization. We are sending military equipment with our soldiers, not cranes and Bobcats. Our troops are trained in weaponry, not masonry.

One of the protesters at the sendoff for the Royal 22nd Regiment defined the war as a continuing attempt by Western powers to consolidate their control over Middle East petroleum wealth. I think it’s a creditable viewpoint. If the purpose were noble to the degree that de Hoop Scheffer tries to portray it, namely to bring democracy and a better life to Afghanis, why aren’t our soldiers also in Haiti, Kenya, Colombia, Somalia, Sudan or one or more of the dozens of countries around the world where the economic and political realities are a mess, many of them much worse than Afghanistan?

I would urge readers to contact their MP to voice their disapproval of the conflict in Afghanistan. A lasting peace there will only be achieved by the Afghanis themselves, and the sooner we leave, the sooner they may actually realize this. Furthermore, the old adage about a citizenry deserving the government it gets is applicable here. The Taliban will succeed in Afghanistan if the people there allow it; conversely, they will fail if the citizenry rejects them.

It’s not going to be neat, but as in Israel/Palestine, no amount of interference or wishful thinking on our part is going to have the least effect until Israelis and Palestinians start to make nice. So it is in Afghanistan.

Call me naïve. There are reports that some really good reconstruction has been happening. I’m prepared to withhold judgment on whether or not we have a role to play in giving aid and assisting in rebuilding. So far, I haven’t seen any good reports on the actual pick and shovel work Canadian forces have done. As long as we are there with NATO and the allies, however, it’s certain that some of our troops will come home in body bags. There’s no defeating sabotage and improvised chaos militarily, and the Taliban are very, very good at it.

To write to your MP, go to

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