Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Real and Lasting Victories
Sitting in our warm living rooms and offices, sleeping in bed at night, watching our children happily play in sunny back yards,carefree and happy, we tend to forget unless we have military family, that our country, Canada, is at war. We forget that this is not a peaceful time but that in fact we are engaged in the conflicts of a different country on the other side of the world.
I'm not going to pretend to understand the complexities of the situation in Afghanistan, hundreds of years of history and a determination by the Taliban to restore strict Sharia law to the area resulted in a government of repression and violence. For some strange reason, the excuse given by our government, the hiding of Al Qaeda terrorists by that country, induced out country to send our young men and women, to weed them out for attacking our neighbour country to the south. This evolved into eventually Canada taking a leading role in the advancement into that country.
On April 13 a twenty one year old woman was killed in Afghanistan. Trooper Karine Blais had been there two weeks on her first tour of duty. I saw this on my news feed Monday morning, a sad story to wake up to. My heart goes out to her loved ones who sacrificed her. My research shows the number of direct and indirect civilian casualties in Afghanistan at 10,960 - 30,557. It's a sad reflection of the chaotic nature of war that the numbers are so inexact.
And, have we gained anything? In 2011 our military will return from Afghanistan according to our Prime Minister. It's one of the few actions he's taken as our leader that I agree with. What did we accomplish? A lot of people died. A lot of innocent people died. Our army is weakened and tired leaving us vulnerable should a threat to our nation occur. Violence only angers, we've only just redirected the anger towards us and away from the Taliban.
I'm a pacifist. I do not believe in war under any circumstance, there are always options. I believe the best we can do as democratic countries is to provide support and care, a refuge for the citizens of war torn countries but I believe, unless our own national security is threatened and unless we are invited by a government to help out our troops should not be deployed in the wars in other countries. It cheapens us. We should be setting an example for the people of Afghanistan, we should be the ideal they strive for as they fight for their own freedoms, but we should not be a violent force amongst them. What happened to our peace-keeping reputation that we were so proud of?
Bring the soldiers home. Twenty one year old women should not be dying in foreign lands in another country's battle. Civilians of a foreign country should not be dying in their own land by our hand, under the guise of freeing them.
We've not advanced the goals of the people of Afghanistan, we've set them back many years with the devastation that war brings. Their country will have to be rebuilt and their people will now live in a land where the Taliban are outlaws and more stealth and deadly than ever.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said "The real and lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war". Bring peace to our soldiers, allow the people of foreign countries to forge their own peace, it will happen faster without our interference. Let us rise above the fray and be known as the country the rest of the world wants to emulate, not the one the world wants to hate.