Canada's decision to re-commit to the insurance of a democratic Afghanistan is at once admirable and nerve wracking. Admirable in that certain characteristics seem common to the people of Canada and Afghanistan, nerve wracking in that one of the characteristics that we do not share with our Afghani brothers is perhaps the acceptance of death in battle. I say ‘perhaps’ because I do not truthfully know.
The history of conflict down the decades and centuries in Afghanistan is as tragic as it is heroic. Like so many countries in the mid-east it seems from this distant latte-filled latitude and languishing-longitude that there exists no hope at all for the warlords and their most humbled servants in states such as Afghanistan.
Is the decision to send our rag-tag troops to this country wise? The loud cry I heard from the Conservatives when campaigning was that Canada needed to beef up its military machine. Given the short time that we have had under a Conservative government it is hard to believe that Canada is already prepared for a role in Afghanistan. In addition, as a people, war is not in our nature. Nor should it be in anyone’s. Our meaning is no doubt Honourable, other than the political motivations of course, but can we achieve anything more than succour to the man in the street in Kabul?
The Liberals may have much to answer to in their financial shenanigans and total disdain for Canada in their arrogant behaviour, but declining the invitation to enjoin with the US in the Iraq fiasco was an act of true Canadesque. The Conservatives would have been well-advised to take at least this one leaf from the Liberal book when contemplating our country’s role in Afghanistan. Choosing not to do something can be quite as powerful an implement as choosing to engage. This is lost of course on our neighbour to south, but fortunately not lost on the majority of its peoples. Iraq will come eventually to a trundling halt as one of the biggest military mistakes ever. It is worrying therefore to see this newly-minted and largely inexperienced Conservative cabinet flirting, if ever so coyly, with a similar fate.
Stephen Harper, if the tales we hear in the press are even vaguely true, may already be displaying some of the autocratic dementia with which the United States has suffered these past two terms under bow-legged Bush. It is a fair bet -make that a sure bet- that Harper is way more intelligent than Bush. And if Harper can resist his natural tendencies for being a one-man show then as a side-bet it is probable that he will endure past the next US election and in all likelihood his new counterpart will be a Democrat; a woman perhaps. In the meantime Harper would be well-advised, even if it is he advising himself, to quit emulating George Bush behaviour patterns. It does not sit well with Canadians. And it does not sit well with the world.