To date Canada has lost almost 80 soldiersin Afghanistan, and over 250 have beenwounded. No telling how many willeventually be diagnosed with problemsrelating to exposure to depleted uraniumand other toxic substances, or how manywill suffer significant psychologicaldisorder. The U.S. has lost 480 killed overthe same period, but has more than tentimes the troops in the country than Canadadoes. If the Americans were losing troopsat the same per-capita rate as Canada theirlosses would be over 800.

This tells us that either the Canadians arenot as good at soldiering as the Americans,or that on average they are pulling muchtougher assignments and carrying moreweight. Having personal knowledge of bothmilitaries I can tell you that it is notthe former. If anything the Canadiansoldiers as a group are probably betterthan those in the U.S. Army.

The main point, however, is why are wethere in the first place? Besides wastingCanadian lives in a needless war we areblowing over one million dollars a day onthe fiasco. Money that could well be usedat home to deal with any number of domesticproblems that go unsolved for lack offunds. The answer is that we are there toappease the Americans and to provideopportunities for Canadian and othercompanies that make a profit off of war.Is that what Canadians really want, toserve as spear carriers for the Americansand fodder for arms dealers and militarysuppliers?

Not only are we carrying the can for theAmericans, they don’t even appreciate it.Just this past week the U.S. Secretary ofDefense, Robert Gates, said that the NATOforces in southern Afghanistan (readCanada, Britain and the Netherlands) wereill prepared for the fight while at thesame time praising American troops ineastern Afghanistan. The Dutch called theAmericans on the carpet for Gates’ remark,and the British complained, but not soCanada. Peter MacKay, Canada’s Minister ofDefense, apologized for Gates’ comment. Onewonders which country Mr. MacKay and hisgovernment really work for.

The fact of the matter is that thesituation in Afghanistan continues to getworse, not that should be a surprise toanyone with an elementary knowledge ofhistory. The Taliban are resurgent,averaging 500 attacks per month in 2007, anincrease from 400 per month in 2006. Thefault of this is not the ability of thetroops that are fighting in southernAfghanistan, but the fact that they arefighting a war that can’t be won and shouldnever have been started. All that theinsurgents need to win against NATO isdetermination and refusal to quit. Historyhas proven that when it comes to repellingforeign invaders the Afghans have both.

The Americans won’t accept this, at leastnot with the present government, forwhatever reason, and so scapegoat theirallies to shift the blame for theirmistake. In addition the Americans arecommitting more troops to the fight, a goodthing, said the Washington Post, implyingthat non-U.S. troops were not up to the task.A good thing for Canada for sure, since ifCanada’s government doesn’t roll overagain for the Americans and send moretroops at least it will be Americans payinga bigger price for American folly and notCanadians.

The Afghanistan NGO Security Office (ANSO)in Kabul recently reported that the so-called defeat of the Taliban in 2001 wasmore of a strategic retreat than a defeat,and that in the past year the Taliban haveagain seriously rejoined the fight. Itwent on to say that the consensus amonginformed individuals is that what we areseeing now is just the beginning of a war,not the end of one.

Despite the futility of the mission it isreported that John Manley, who was asked byPrime Minister Harper to chair a specialpanel on Afghanistan, will recommend thatCanada extend its commitment in Kandaharuntil 2011. Given the closeness of Harperand his government to that of George Bushand the Americans, such a recommendationwould be no surprise. It would also be adeath warrant for an untold number ofCanadian soldiers for no other purpose thanto suck up to the Americans. Canadiansshould be seriously asking themselves whythey are tolerating this. Their soldiersdeserve better.