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I wish I could pretend to be surprised that Stephen Harper is borrowing George W. Bush's rhetoric.

"The previous government took an important decision to help the people of Afghanistan and to support our troops in a very dangerous mission," Mr. Harper told reporters after a cabinet meeting. "It's not this government's intention to question this mission when our troops are in danger and a debate -- any lack of resolve by any Canadian party -- will weaken our troops and has the possibility of putting our troops in more danger."

In case you've forgotten, Mr. Prime Minister, this is a democracy. If the mission you're employing our sons, daughters, brothers and sisters for, risking their lives for, can't stand up under any scrutiny at all, then perhaps you should consider that a sign that the mission isn't a good one? If the CF is so uncertain in its mission that a few questions from us uninformed civilians will shatter their resolve, the fault does not lie with those of us exercising the rights they're defending, it lies with the people that assigned them in the mission in the first place.

As it happens, though, I think this mission can stand up under scrutiny. It's necessary for the industrial West to conduct nation building in Afghanistan - not out of some modern-day White Man's Burden, but simply out of pragmatic self-interest. Failed states used to be nobody's problem, and nation-building missions were done out of altruism - and often failed because while people are sometimes altruistic, states are never as much. Witness Somalia and Rwanda - when it came down to blood, gore, and boots on the ground, the West didn't care enough to actually do the job, and didn't have any self-interested cause to do the job. So they half-assed it and hundreds of thousands of people died, and those places are still monumentally fucked up.

Now, failed states can and often do serve as shelter and recruiting ground for terrorism. The smart way to fight the War on Terror is to clean up countries like Afghanistan, install governments that will do their jobs and maintain order, and give some evidence to their populations that there will be some reason to go on living instead of strapping on explosive diapers and rushing some embassy or other outpost of the Great Satan in hopes of a greater reward in heaven. This is why the Iraq War was a bad idea - Saddam Hussein was an asshole and I'm glad he's in prison instead of running a country, but Iraq was merely a rogue state, not a failed one, and since the Pentagon wasn't prepared to actually do the work to rebuild the nation, they're left propping up a powerless government and are likely to be forced to take sides in a three-sided civil war for no good reason, leaving Iraq as a failed state by anyone's definition, and creating the conditions they were trying to suppress. That is, until Iraq shatters into the three pieces it should have been partitioned into in the beginning, save for the shortsightedness of the decolonising British.

But I digress. I was ranting at my government.

Let's be blunt. Even if it comes down to a vote, both the Conservatives and the Liberals are onside. We're not leaving Afghanistan anytime soon. But don't insult us or our soldiers by trying to wrap us up in a patriotic security blanket and hide us from the truth, Mr. Harper. In case you've forgotten, you were elected (barely) as Prime Minister of Canada, not President of the United States.



( Walk among 2 shadows — Cast a shadow )
Mar. 10th, 2006 03:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's pretty much it. Well said. :)
Mar. 11th, 2006 05:54 am (UTC)
Problem as I see it is, we helped to destroy their government in the first place, so unfortunately we have to stick around to help the Afghans rebuild a functioning government.

Thing is though, most people in the western world have only one idea of "functioning government" (i.e. democracy), and there is a bit of a modern day white-man's burden thing going on because they think democracy is best for everyone. Nobody seems to understand that someone from another continent might see things differently.

What should we help put in place instead, then? I honestly don't know, but I wonder if anyone has tried asking the Afghan people? In Europe and North America, democracy is working because there is a cultural background for it. It's something that built up over time without much outside influence, or at least without the "nation building" kind of influence we're exercising today. In much of the Middle East, however, this hasn't happened. It may happen some day, it may not, but you can't easily force it on people. Odd as it seems to us, many simply don't understand it or feel they need it.
( Walk among 2 shadows — Cast a shadow )