Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Travesty Continues

Since Christmas another 6 young Canadians have been 'boxed' and repatriated in Canada's on-going effort to reconstruct Afghanistan. That they were all 'joyful warriors' who embraced their 'mission' with a smile on their lips and a good laugh in their hearts, is the stuff of the military lingua franca. One only has to imagine CinC General Ray going from post to post, fighting-off those who would want to deploy to Afghanistan and having to select by lot the volunteers who want to go 'outside the wire' to help the Afghans. But anybody 'laughing their way to Afghanistan' maybe shouldn't be going there.

The mission, we are told, continues to be one of providing the military security needed by the personnel who would get out there and really help the Afghans help themselves. All the little girls at school, and health clinics and fruitful (non-dope growing) farms are off in the future, for there's still some (a lot, do you think?) shooting and bombing going on. General Walt was before a Commons committee extolling in heart-stirring tones the young men and women of which he is so proud. That's a good quality in a CO, but I think he shares General Rick's vision of having every man jack of the combined forces getting a good look in the Afghan elephant's eye. These are the 'leaders of tomorrow's missions' and, dad gum it, Generals Walt and Rick knowing the pains of a peacetime army, realize there's nothing like the smell of cordite to grow a real military. Why else would our wars be lasting so long? We're still trying to pacify 'hostile' Kandahar, a 'city' physically the size of Oshawa, seven years after we got there - and there has been no battle for the city.

Suppose, and this is a difficult concept - Afghanistan somehow 'got on side' - became a land of fat, healthy war vets and mall-trotting mums, hockey-playing young 'uns and a bastion of the multi-party electoral system. Even  managed to build that pipeline that this war's not about. What then? Iran would cease to be a menace? AlQaeda would pack-up? Pakistan would want to become more democratic too? (Oh it already IS a democracy!) Israelis would lie down with Arabs? Iraq would slumber under a friendly American occupation? The Muslim world would accept the need for US business interests to change society to improve market share? A thousand other pustules of man's  malevolence, or indifference, would stop?  Tell me about Little Red Riding Hood Again.

 One thing that is 'gospel' is that you're never going to get a Canadian government to commit such massive amounts of money to international aid, or global warming, or Canadian social spending as they don't even hesitate to blow on a  thus-far spectacularly unsuccessful military operation. In fact, today's military spending will curtail all 'assistance' (now being poured into Afghanistan) for the next decade or two.

So while the mission wends its way to a questionable end in 2011, Canadians will continue to support our troops on highway overpasses on cold December days. And our 'army' will continue to produce such heroes in 'peaceful' but equally dangerous operations for a people who may tell a pollster they want us there, but shut their doors and get the kids off the street when the Vandoos or Princess Pats come patrolling. If it ends without accomplishing anything, will it have been worth it?

General Walt might have an answer for that   ...   about the nobility of 'doing what yer told'  n'all.  But, hey, a "failure" won't be the military's fault.

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