I’ve always cared about Remembrance Day; never been to war, but I’ve lived close to a couple and seen what happens when the wrong people win one. But here in Canada, those memories are growing dim; my uncle Allen Scott died in the Netherlands in 1944, but the number of people with even that direct a connection to what we still call “The War” is growing smaller (and I just came back from a pleasant visit to Germany, hanging out with our former enemies). That was until this decade. Now, our young people are falling in war in Afghanistan; these ones, I mean. I’m touched to see that some of them are having their identities immortalized online; thanks to whoever’s doing that work. The bad guys in Afghanistan are really genuinely bad; I don’t think there are many of us who object to taking them on, or to trying to give the long-suffering Afghans a leg up. Lots of Canadians are worried whether what we we’re trying to do can be done; and it doesn’t help that our work in Afghanistan makes us a nominal ally of one side in the botched, duplicitous, brutal war next door. Whatever; Remembrance day is—or should be, anyhow—becoming more relevant, more vital, more central. But the troops that are important are the ones who are alive and working; if you’re a Canadian you can send ’em a message; I assume other countries have similar systems. [Update: What Rob said.]



Contributions

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From: David Megginson (Nov 11 2006, at 05:17)

We (Canada, the U.S., Western Europe, whatever) still go to war as if we were fighting a single, centrally-controlled enemy who could be defeated and then send a representative to sit down and sign surrender papers, as happened with Germany and Japan at the end of World War II.

As you know from your own background in Lebanon, that falls apart in countries without a long tradition of strong central government (who were the bad guys in the first Lebanese civil war? The Druze? The Maronites? The southern Shi'ites? Hezbollah? Israel? Syria? Iran? The United States? France?). My concern with the current Afghan mission is that we end up with a few dozen dead Canadians, a few hundred dead Taliban, thousands of dead Afghan civilians, and the status quo from before we went. It would take hundreds of thousands of foreign troops to truly stablize Afghanistan and smash the power of the local warlords (who are the real concern, rather than the Taliban), and no one is willing or able to commit to that.

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From: Daniel Haran (Nov 11 2006, at 09:04)

"I don’t think there are many of us who object to taking them on, or to trying to give the long-suffering Afghans a leg up."

Count me as one that thought it was a mistake, and still believes this will only hurt the Afghan people while creating more terrorists.

The US's new Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, wrote about the US offering aid to the Mujahadeen a full six months before the Russians invaded in 1979. Brzezinski has also been open about the "Afghan Trap". Once the US achieved its strategy against the Russians, it left Afghanistan in the hands of warlords, who were only tamed by the religious nuts.

In "realist" terms, the Taliban had a measure of legitimacy because they kept Afghanis safe from the warlords. Mullah Omar is still considered by many to be a living saint. I don't like them, but it doesn't mean that getting rid of them automatically makes the Afghan people better.

The ultimatum after 9/11 to surrender the terrorists put the Taliban leaders in a position where they would have lost face. We could have accepted a trial for Osama Bin Laden in an Islamic Court or whatever compromise could have been achieved.

Instead, we went in with the big guns, created resentment and more rejection of Western values, building up the mythologies of Omar and Bin Laden.

I feel horrible for all those who go fighting in Afghanistan, those who die and their families. They are not heroes but victims of a giant deception. They sacrificed for what they thought was right, and their deaths still have to be mourned.

Quelle connerie, la guerre.

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From: Bharath R (Nov 11 2006, at 21:05)

Agreed that the bad guys in Afghanistan are indeed very evil. But there's another reason why Bush attacked them so eagerly - the gas pipeline - http://www.zmag.org/tanteroil.htm. It was oil in Iraq & Kuwait, and the gas pipeline in this case. Its a pity that one man's greed is leading to the loss of so many lives and giving the evil guys more lame reasons to perpetrate their heinous acts.

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From: Andrew Phoenix (Nov 13 2006, at 12:12)

In response to other responses (as I'm more agreed with Mr. Bray's point of view):

In the long run, the world might become a better place or it might not, but one thing is certain; if we ever stop fighting for what is right, the world will be awful. I'm intensely proud of our soldiers and I think it's very difficult right now for them to fight their fight. Their country is divided and confused about what is being fought over and people are equating our military goals with those of the American military, which I think is wildly wrong.

I think our men and women in Afghanistan are doing the best job they can given the current world situation, and though war is heartbreaking and horrifying, not standing up and at least trying to protect the weak and oppressed is wrong. And if someone asks why it's our job to make sure that Afghans are getting fed and schooled and protected, I say this: if not us, then whom?

If you think it's about oil, or short term solutions that placate the general populace, then I think you're wrong. Despite my rampant cynicism, I think that this is one of those times where we've stood up and said, "This is wrong," and made every effort to make things right.

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From: sonic (Nov 13 2006, at 21:25)

lest we forget.

http://homepage.mac.com/sonicboy/blog/LEST-WE-FORGET.jpg

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