I was lucky, almost sixty-thousand of us died there during the ten year period from 1962-1972. Thousands more went home scarred and mangled, some carrying problems like Agent Orange that would not be noticeable for years. Today the US Veteran's hospitals are filled with men of my generation still suffering the effects of that war.
About half of all Canadians do not support Canada's involvement in this war. This lack of support poses a problem for the Canadian government which could lose the next election over it and the propaganda mill has been churning out various messages ranging from "its about reconstruction" to the evils of the Taliban and the usual war on terror spook stories. History, of course, tells us a different story.
In an article written for the web edition of the Globe & Mail on July 6, James Appathurai, a spokesperson for NATO, makes the argument for staying the course and drags out the Taliban boogeyman. What he fails to mention is that the same Taliban that have been assigned the role of villain now were heroes twenty years ago when they were fighting for the Americans against the Russians. The Russians of course were in Afghanistan to help with development and facilitate a stable Afghan government. Sound familiar? One must ask that if development and a stable government are the goal in Afghanistan, why did the US and others spend so much effort blowing up and destabilizing the country when the Russians were there to do what the allies say they are doing now? Far fewer people would have been killed or displaced had the world left the Russians and the Afghans alone.
Mr. Appathurai, like many others, repeats the bad Taliban mantra, pointing out the harshness of life in Afghanistan under their rule. Granted the Taliban were not nice people, but what is not said is that before them and after the Russian backed government, things were worse. One reason that the Taliban achieved power is because they brought law and order to a country rife with chaos and civil war. In the wake of the current invasion and occupation of the country, conflict again rips apart the country. It is not for nothing that many Afghans have said that as much as they disliked the Taliban, things are worse now.
Last week the Chief of Defense Staff, Gen. Hillier, said that if the Afghan mission were better explained to Canadians that seventy-five percent would support it. This sounds a lot like the US administration's wishful thinking on Iraq as they pour more and more bodies into a nightmare that many of their generals even say can not be won. It might be that if the mission were more truthfully explained to Canadians very few would support it, aside from those who can turn it into a profit making opportunity.
A young captain in the Vandoos, now being deployed to Afghanistan, said that they were going to Afghanistan to give the Afghan people a society like ours. I wonder if he ever thought whether or not they might want a society like ours, even if it were true that that was the reason for going there? More likely they will keep their own society and ours will suffer the waste of more soldier's lives, and the squandering of truck loads of money that could have gone into healthcare and other more worthwhile efforts.