What are we doing in Afghanistan? That is aquestion that many Canadians don’t have a goodanswer for. Recent polls have shown that thecountry is almost evenly divided on the questionof whether or not we should have troops in Afghanistan. The government, of course, thinks that weshould, and is resisting any attempt by Members ofParliament to have a debate on our Afghanistan policy.What are they afraid of? Youwould think in a democracy debate on importantissues would be a good thing.
Some people say that we are in Afghanistan as partof our commitment to the so called war on terror,others say it is to appease the Americans forducking out on the Iraq war. If you listen tosome of our military leaders we are there to kill“scumbags,” and we will be there for 20 years.
For whatever reason we are there it is costing usbig bucks, not to mention the lives of oursoldiers, and we must be asking ourselves if theadventure is worth the price, particularly when wehave many problems at home that could better usethe resources we are pouring down the drain insupport of the world’s leading producer of opium.
In recent news articles military leaders haveindicated that troops returning from Afghanistanwill be used for public relations stunts toconvince the public of the importance of themission. Their rhetoric sounds more appropriatefor a pep rally prior to a sporting event than forsomething as important as war. They don’t wantthe mission debated because they say it will bebad for the troops. Such statements are an insultto people of a democracy.
And, what is worse forthe troops, society debating whether a policy isworth pursuing or not, or society just docilelystanding by as they are led off into what maywell be a quagmire?
One wonders if our leaders ever bother to studyhistory. Afghanistan has been a meat grinder forforeign meddlers for centuries. The British losttwo out of three wars there during the time ofEmpire, and the Russians spent about ten yearsthere before they tired of bleeding and pulled out.
To date the Americans and their subordinates havespent almost five years in the country, stilldying with the annual death rate increasing, andwe are told to expect 20 years more. Twenty yearsfor what is a question that needs to be seriouslydebated. How much should the Canadian people beexpected to sacrifice, and what are the reasons?These are answers that we should have and agreeupon before this commitment is continued.
It is simple to look on the adventure inAfghanistan as merely a response to the terroristattacks of 9/11, or a noble mission to rid thecountry of religious radicals, but nothing is everthat simple in reality. Today’s villains inAfghanistan are yesterday’s heroes, at least forthe United States. And, yesterday’s villains,whose demise was financed by the U.S., weremodernizing the country and expanding human rights,something that we now list as a reason for beinginvolved there.
Perhaps if the Americans had notopposed the Russians who were helping the pre-Taliban government fight off the religiousfruitcakes and warlords we would not have such amess there now. Unfortunately human rights isonly an issue of convenience for countries likethe U.S., to use when it fits their bigger purpose,or to ignore when it does not.
Afghanistan today is certainly no shining exampleof human rights. To claim protecting human rightsas a policy of the occupation of Afghanistan iscertainly a joke. Sources report that for womenoutside of Kabul things may be worse now thanunder the Taliban. Religious laws still receiveofficial sanction in some areas, and blasphemy isstill a crime.
Add to this the fact that the U.S.has been accused of torturing prisoners, accusedeven by its own troops, and maintains secretconcentration camps. It is no wonder that the U.S.refuses to join the international community in itsstand against war crimes and war criminals bysigning onto the International Criminal Court.Another question that should be debated is how canCanada in good conscience, as a signatory to thecourt, cooperate with a rogue state like the U.S.which is not a signatory.
Nations pursue foreign policies for wealth andpower, either to get more of it or to protect itfrom somebody else who is trying to take it. Thebottom line in Afghanistan, as in Iraq and anyother place that armies clash, is all about whogets what. To find the answers as to whycountries do things, follow the money. Theinvasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are aboutcontrol of resources on one hand, and about thebusiness of war on the other.
Militaryexpenditures and even foreign aid are tools totransfer money from a country’s citizens to theinternational providers of arms and services likeHalliburton and others. It would be interesting tocompare the supporters of the adventure inAfghanistan with those who stand to profit fromit, and the politicians that they bankroll. Thatis certainly a comparison that should be examinedpublicly by Parliament, but don’t hold yourbreath.