Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Does Canada need a Black Hawk Down to end the crap?

Maybe it's the numbers that don't make it look so bad compared to the carnage in Iraq, or perhaps there's something about Canadians being complacent as compared to citizens of other countries. But today's death toll of six in Afghanistan now brings the total to 67 (66 soldiers plus one diplomat) and there comes a point where even the most devoted supporter of military action must ask, to what end and what objectives are being carried out?

Nearly 3000 people, including 24 Canadians, were murdered on 9/11 which is why we fight. But I don't think we also agreed to a mission that would have the unintended consequence of starting another civil war, nor did we agree to a mode of encouraging economic development that included growing by magnitudes the opium crop.

I'm not quite yet ready to write off the mission. But it seems it's always a singular incident that puts an end to military missions, or at least causes a major rethink in planning. Think Dieppe, the Tet Offensive, the Beirut Baracks bombing -- or the incident in Mogadishu that has become known as "Black Hawk Down." When there's a massive one day toll, it makes people wake up and demand change. If 60 Americans were killed in a single bomb attack in Baghdad, that might be the trigger for even diehard elephants to tell Dubya, enough is enough, and pull the plug on funding. Yet that's the magnitude of what's happened today in Kandahar -- and since it's our fellow Canadians, they're seen as expendible in view of a greater mission.

That's unacceptable. We need to be planning for what will be the biggest anti-terrorist operation Canada has ever seen, the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Those troops -- our men and women -- need to be in the Lower Mainland, in the background of course but they need to be home. Stephen Harper needs to say we've pulled our weight more than enough -- and the March 2009 date is a date certain for either other NATO countries to pick up the slack or for Kabul to face the music and take care of Al Qaeda and the Taliban on its own. Perhaps it should be sooner.

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