Thursday, March 26, 2009

Support the Troops!

There is nothing so simple, and so loaded, as the admonishment to support the brave men and women of our Canadian forces. While not as vocal as in the USA, we have a large contingent of patriots in this country for whom, it would seem, opposing the war in Afghanistan is tantamount to wishing harm on our citizen soldiers.

It’s everywhere: camo-themed yellow ribbon magnetic stickers on cars, the more traditional yellow ribbon around a tree, red t-shirts, and of course, Don Cherry. The spiritual leader of nationalist pride in its simplest terms, Cherry visits the troops, uses his Coaches Corner time to berate Alexander Ovechkin for being too fun and then, his voice heavy with emotion, pays tribute to the latest in an ever-growing list of casualties of the war for Afghan freedom. Do I doubt his sincerity? Not in the slightest. Do I resent and reject the apparent motivation in a catchy slogan like, “If you don’t stand behind the troops, feel free to stand in front of them”? Hell, yeah.

When I hear about four more soldiers slain in a cowardly IED attack, I get emotional. I shed tears of sadness, but that sadness almost immediately calcifies into more anger. I support the troops in the best way I know: I oppose the war in Afghanistan.

It’s been a while, but try to remember how we got there in the first place. On September 11, 2001, hijackers from a loose-knit organization called Al-Qaeda launch a relatively low-tech, but highly effective, attack on the US. I remember it well as I’m sure you do. The entire free world was ready to stand behind the US that day and in the months that followed. Canada was especially eager to come to their aid in whatever way we could -- perhaps due to the fact that we were erroneously fingered as the easily penetrated port through which the hijackers entered. Military intelligence determined in the days that followed that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan played host to the man most responsible: Osama Bin Laden. Despite the act that not a single hijacker was from Afghanistan, off we went to topple the Taliban and capture Bin Laden. Reasonable and justified, I believe, although the as facts have emerged in the following years, that belief has been shaken.

How distant those thoughts and feelings are now. What are we doing in Afghanistan now? Fighting a war to stabilize a country that has resisted stability for its entire history? Rooting out insurgents while simultaneously creating more with inevitable collateral damage? Nation building?

Think of all the places in the world that are a morass of corruption and violence. It’s enough to make one wonder if man in his natural state is capable of order and reason. After we fail in Afghanistan, let’s try fixing the Congo or Zimbabwe – at least they offer some intriguing possibilities as trade partners. Just make a list and we will get to them all eventually.

The men and women who choose a career in the military know they may be called on to place themselves in harm’s way. Some do so with gusto, bravado, and excellence. Some desperately seek an assignment at home. They all should expect to be deployed responsibly and with the tools they need to hope to succeed. Asking them to spend eight years writing a new future for the people of Afghanistan is wrong.

Every time another soldier dies or even gets badly wounded in Afghanistan, I feel sad for the loss to our country and his family. I also think, this mission is long over. Bring them home. It’s not right to sacrifice any more for this cause. Are they ensuring our freedom and keeping us safe by fighting over there? I don’t know if I can believe that. Anyways, I’ll feel just as safe having them back here. Am I willing to stand in front of the troops? No, but I am fully behind them pulling out of Afghanistan ASAP. It’s long overdue.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home