Monday, November 15, 2010

Afghanistan: We Need To Stay

Old polls suggest you probably thought going into Afghanistan was a good idea and though, current polls suggest that your opinion has probably changed, our responsibility hasn't. Our responsibility is not to ourselves, but to our actions, to the Afghans whose country we've destabilized.

A majority of Canadians may now see that going into Afghanistan was a mistake and that we should therefore leave, but if they agree our decision was wrong, should we not try to right it? If they agree that invading one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere was wrong, that causing thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths was wrong, should we not try to right those wrongs? Is that not the moral thing, the right thing to do?

Looking at polling after 2001 a majority of Canadians wanted to invade Afghanistan, looking at polling today a majority of Canadians want us to leave; and though we may have changed our opinions, we have not changed our past actions. We may apologize for invading Afghanistan, but that does not void us of our responsibility of helping the people we've wronged.

Today, to us, Canada is different from the nation that committed us to war ten years ago, so many Canadians have died and so many years have passed. Time and experience has allowed us to distance us from our earlier actions, as if suggesting we are now a different person, who isn't accountable for what he did. And though we'd like to believe that, to forget that we caused this war, and just to bring our soldiers home, there are people in this world who won't forget, who can't forget, who live, eat, and sleep in the consequences of our past decisions, the Afghans.

It was our country's actions, strengthened by our citizens support, who destabilized Afghanistan, and as such it is our responsibility to provide those Afghan people with the safety and stability we took from them.

We must not continue with the failures of combat, but with the successes of development. The training of the Afghan army and police has been prosperous, every year the country's own security forces have increased significantly. With a thousand Canadian soldiers remaining to further grow and develop those forces, in 2014 Canada, can possibly, not just leave honourably, but morally.

We invaded Afghanistan, we destabilized it, and we've spent ten years attempting to rebuild it. And though we probably won't secure every inch, we have to try, we have to make the effort, because this is not something you can distance yourself from and blame the government for, this is our country, this is our Canada. We may think it has changed over the years, that it is different, but to the millions of Afghans, indeed to our own higher consciences, we are the same country that invaded, and as such it is our responsibility to help restore safety and stability to the beleaguered nation that is Afghanistan.

8 comments:

Koby said...

Not once do you mention the chances of success.

You did not argue how spending billions more benifits Canada.

You did not argue how out would would hurt Canada.

Instead you said this.

40 Canadian special forces guys with the help of 10s of thousands of American troops invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and destablized it. (The US invaded in October 2001, but the first Canadian troops only arrived in December 2001. 3 Canadians saw action at Tora Bora, but it was not until April 2002 that Canadian troops took part in any number. As part of operation Harpoon, the Canadians helped kill, ready for this, 3 Taliban. In other words the notion that "we" invaded and overthrew the Taliban is absurd.)

Of course, we have played a much bigger rule trying to build up Afghanistan. "Rebuild" is the wrong word. At the height of its modernizing zeal in the 1970s Afghanistan had an infant morality rate than Bangladesh's infant morality rate. Afghanistan was never built.

That said, you loose site of the fact that what we doing there is part of much larger effort and that "we" are totally relient on the US for logistics, air cover and other means of support.

"the" koby

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Hopefully I deciphered your spelling mistakes correctly.

I did address your first point. The chance of successfully training Afghan forces is remarkably good. Every year their army and police have grown larger.

I did not need to address your second point. I didn't need to argue how spending money would benefit Canada. It's taking responsibility for our actions. We are responsible, we've done a lot, but we haven't restored Afghanistan to a level it can stabilize itself, so we should help.

As for your third point, I would guess you mean how leaving would hurt Canada, and as I mentioned, it's not about hurting or benefitting Canada, it's about doing what is morally right. If we participated in the destabilization of a country then we are responsible to help stabilize it.

We waged war in Afghanistan, you can argue semantics, but at the very least Canada DID participate in that very short time you label as the invasion. I would suggest the whole effort of destabilizing Afghanistan lasted longer than your short time span of a few months.

Canada also condoned the invasion and voted for it within the UN. Your suggestion my claim is absurd is telling of your logical comprehension. Canada did participate in the invasion, that is a fact.

As for your last paragraph, it has ability to diminish our responsibility to help Afghanistan.

Koby said...

"I did address your first point. The chance of successfully training Afghan forces is remarkably good. Every year their army and police have grown larger."

The Afghan police is notoriously unreliable. The Afghan army is better equipped and trained. However, as with the Iraqi army the most reliable units are composed for ethnic minorities (e.g., Hazara troops in Kandahar) and these soldiers frequently use their position to settle scores. In other words, the Afghan army is potentially a destabilizing force.

All that being said, the notion that rag tag Afghan army could handle their own and replace NATO troops is patently absurd. NATO causalities have gone from 60 in 2004 to 131 in 2005, to 191 in 2006 to 232 in 2007 to 295 in 2008 to 521 in 2009 to 648 in 2010. One in four Afghan soldiers left in 2009 and the rate at which Afghan soldiers are leaving the force is increasing not decreasing.


"I did not need to address your second point. I didn't need to argue how spending money would benefit Canada.
It's taking responsibility for our actions."

Kandahar, the seat of the Taliban government and last major Afghan city in Taliban control, fell before Canada sent any troops. Implying that we helped overthrow the Taliban in any meaningful way is akin to saying that Argentina helped overthrow Nazis because it had declared war Germany on March 27th 1945. A formal declaration of war is pretty thin foundation upon which to build your argument.

The poverty of your moral argument is beside the point though, the notion that Canadian foreign policy should be based strictly on moral principles puts you on the fringes of any foreign policy debate.

By the way, I would remiss if I did not mention that 2 out of every 3 Afghans living in Kandahar province want NATO and Canada gone.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Koby your exagerations are quite remarkable and it is ironic that you have such an affinity with the word absurd.

Afghan soldiers are a potentially destabilizing force you say? Wow we're all pretty dumb not to see your insight. You should go to Afghanistan and warn the Canadian soldiers who are over there who don't realize they're just making things worse. Sure they would be able to see your claims first hand but you have a computer and an imagination, so of course you know better than they, professors, MPs, and the UN.

The death toll has increased but this is due to a range of factors including the increases in engagement and troop levels.

Afghan soldiers may be leaving but in total their numbers have always been increasing immensely. To suggest their numbers are dwindling is a factual lie.

Kandahar was the seat of the Taliban government? So I guess once we took that it was all over huh? Once we unseated them in Kandahar the Taliban just rolled over huh? Yeah I think you're right, you are a wise man. And the fact we had direct involvement in the initial days of the invasion can just be ignored by your solid reasoning.

As for building a foreign policy strictly on moral principes, I did no such thing. Again you exagerate and I lose respect for you. I included facts in my judgement.

Seeing as the government, the liberals, and the Manley report all cited moral obligation as a reason for staying I suggest I am not on the fringe but perhaps seeing your disregard for reason, you are.

Koby said...

"the" Scott Ross "Afghan soldiers are a potentially destabilizing force you say?

You do realize that Afghanistan was involved in a civil war before the US invaded. Of course, the composition of the Afghan army and police force are potential sources of trouble. The troubles of one Hazara police unit in Kandahar province our a good case in point. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/12/08/081208fa_fact_wood?currentPage=1

"The formation of police units like Khan’s gives the Hazaras greater authority outside their own territory than they’ve had in a century. It is also a classic counter-insurgency gambit. Tom Donnelly, a defense analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, who has undertaken a book-length study of NATO in Afghanistan, compares it to the American use of Shiite militias to fight Sunni insurgency in Iraq. “It’s a common tactic in irregular warfare situations to pit the rivalries of an ethnically diverse populace against each other,” he told me. The difficulty is finding a way to avoid unleashing a dispossessed minority on a rampage of revenge against the group it is asked to control.
Alessandro Monsutti, an anthropologist who has studied the Hazaras, fears that the short-term gain of the Hazara units’ efficacy may be outweighed by long-term harm. “They’re very efficient for narrow, military targets,” he told me. “But what about rebuilding the country?” Donnelly, too, acknowledges that the use of ethnic militias could lead to explosive retribution when NATO leaves Afghanistan."



"the" Scott Ross "The death toll has increased but this is due to a range of factors including the increases in engagement and troop levels."

Borrowing talking points from Donald Rumsfeld I see. The situation is better and the proof is they are killing so many more of us. I suppose you would also count the increase in civilian causalities in Afghanistan and increasing instability in the Pakistani tribal areas as proof positive.

"the" Scott Ross: "Afghan soldiers may be leaving but in total their numbers have always been increasing immensely. To suggest their numbers are dwindling is a factual lie."

I did not imply anything of sort. I said they Afghan soldiers were leaving in greater numbers. Low retention levels are generally regarded as a bad sign. It speaks to low moral and a high turn over rate compromises their fighting ability.

"the" Scott Ross: "Kandahar was the seat of the Taliban government? So I guess once we took that it was all over huh? Once we unseated them in Kandahar the Taliban just rolled over huh? Yeah I think you're right, you are a wise man. And the fact we had direct involvement in the initial days of the invasion can just be ignored by your solid reasoning."

"We" did not overthrow the Taliban government. The Bonn agreement was signed before any Canadian troops had arrived in theater. The fact that the Taliban has carried on a guerrilla campaign ever since is beside the point. By the time Canadian troops arrived the Taliban were no longer in power. Canadian troops went to Afghanistan to help the Afghan government not help overthrow it and replace it with a new one.


"the" Scott Ross: "As for building a foreign policy strictly on moral principles, I did no such thing. Again you exaggerate and I lose respect for you. I included facts in my judgement."

Ok scratch that. You believe that cost is "irrelevant" and what matters is "taking responsibility for our actions". That puts you on the fringes of any foreign policy debate.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

I'll let you have the last word, I'll leave anyone to read what you and I have wrote, just please do not delete your comments in a few days or when you've calmed down.

Koby said...

"I'll leave anyone to read what you and I have wrote, just please do not delete your comments in a few days or when you've calmed down."

ha ha

I would not delete a thing. I will treasure the following always. "we have to try, we have to make the effort, because this is not something you can distance yourself from and blame the government for, this is our country, this is our Canada."

"the" Koby

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Good one Koby.