Raphael Alexander: The left's moral bankruptcy on Afghanistan
Stephen Harper has been in the media, indirectly undermining the mission in Afghanistan by doing something that few politicians dare to do: tell the truth. Prime Minister Harper was quoted as saying that “we’re not going to win this war just by staying”, and following that up with the assertion that we will never defeat the insurgency. This is all fairly consistent, of course, with the more recent government line on Afghanistan. Preparing us for our 2011 exit by using language that lets down the hawks gently without playing it up too much for the doves. While I’m a little irritated that some Conservatives were impugning the patriotism of Canadians for suggesting the exact same things years ago, we can finally all arrive on the same page.
Of course a western military presence in Afghanistan is never going to be the best solution. It is entirely logical to say that Canada and international troops need to prepare the Afghan Army and police to protect their own citizens with their own trained military forces. There are countless obstacles to this truly independent state, but this does not mean that the mission is a failure by any stretch of the imagination. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has opened the door to the ranks of the left, many of whom feel that Stephen Harper’s words vindicate their defeatist views all along:
The problem I have with the leftist position is that it is based upon the theory that western intervention is as bad or worse than Taliban rule. That is a preposterously unfounded argument. Not only is the defeat and eventual containment of the Taliban an essential part of the geopolitical prospective for western security, it is a moral imperative that we cannot afford to fail on. Pakistan is currently in the throes of succumbing to radical forces, and leaving an undefended Afghanistan behind to be controlled by radical Islamic forces and al-Qaeda is perhaps the most unconscionable position possible.
First of all, military history is important, but the dredging up of Russia and Britain could not be more irrelevant. These were imperial powers that invaded Afghanistan for reasons entirely separate from the modern, NATO and UN-approved mandates in this country. The western-backed mujahedeen, which succeeded in main part against the Russians because of American support, was more of a cold war intervention between superpowers than it was a one-one-one fight.
Second, the idea that NATO is in Afghanistan for purposes of regional control over resources and to threaten the borders of Russia and China is also unsound and unfounded. As Mark Collins points out, there was always a multi-party pipeline plan in the works long before any western intervention in Afghanistan. The history in summary:
The original project started in March 1995 when an inaugural memorandum of understanding between the governments of Turkmenistan and Pakistan for a pipeline project was signed. In August 1996, the Central Asia Gas Pipeline, Ltd. (CentGas) consortium for construction of a pipeline, led by Unocal was formed. On 27 October 1997, CentGas was incorporated in formal signing ceremonies in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan by several international oil companies along with the Government of Turkmenistan. In January 1998, the Taliban, selecting CentGas over Argentinian competitor Bridas Corporation, signed an agreement that allowed the proposed project to proceed.
How very western-imperialist of the Taliban.
The modern left’s abandonment of the moral humanitarian struggle against anti-democratic Islamic imperialism is, to say the least, bankrupt on a number of levels. Afghanistan was never going to be an “easy” conflict to win, and victory in absolute terms was never something that was promised by anyone of sound mind. The least that we can do for both global security and the lives of innocent Afghans is to train the Afghan military and police as well as we can, improve infrastructure and the free market, and encourage democratic reforms among the corrupt governmental bodies. Progress in Afghanistan has been made. Any humanitarian aid worker on the ground will tell you that western forces should not and can not leave now. Just one example is the more than 4.2 million school children who have return to studies after the fall of the Taliban, 35% of which are girls who were banned under the Islamists.
[url=http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2009/03/02/...National Post article[/url]
I was pleasantly surprised to see this article and a previous one on the NP about marijuana legalization by the same author. I don't fully agree with him, but he brings up some valid points which I'm interested in seeing the reaction here on bable.
Disclosure: I am not a troll, I'm generally progressive, but have differences of opinion with much of the left on afghanistan. I currently support the greens but I make no claim to represent their views on all issues. If you feel you have a need to use my views to attack the greens please check for higher than normal levels of reactionary behaviour, uncontrollable rage, self-righteousness, and general disgust, for you may be overdosing and it could lead to problems with your health.