Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - war comes home

It's an on week for me at the newspaper, so I'm publishing column entries through Saturday. This piece is in direct response to the bombing in Afghanistan this weekend that killed four Canadian soldiers.

One of the victims was from the town of Wingham, which is a relatively short drive from where I live. As a result, a story with major national impact has had significant local impact as well. I could almost anticipate the knee-jerk responses to get our soldiers out of Afghanistan, so I thought I'd write something that at least tries to inject a bit more balance into the discussion.
Deaths offer no easy answer - or exit
Published Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The London Free Press

The deaths of Cpl. Matthew Dinning and three other Canadian soldiers in an Afghanistan roadside bomb attack makes it easy for Canadians to say now is the time to bring our soldiers home. If only it were so easy.

The 16 Canadians who have died in this mission to Afghanistan won't be the last. Expect more small towns to grieve their lost sons and daughters in a war whose boundaries remain unclear to those of us who don't serve.

Our soldiers are in Afghanistan to help rebuild the country and establish a foothold for democracy. That's easier said than done in a region wracked by generations of war, tribal conflict and poverty. Afghani drug-growers, warlords and terrorists thrive on this chaos, and won't easily be cowed.

Dinning died for a mission that he believed in. Turning tail and running would betray the dreams of those who have died. Yet sustaining open-ended losses won't realize that dream any sooner.

Canadians must begin discussing how to quantify our successes in the region, and how much we're willing to lose before we've decided enough is enough.

Your turn: Do we bring them home or do we keep them there? At what point does the global community of nations' obligation to help those in crisis cease? How do we define justified and unjustified sacrifice?


Anonymous said...

If we were to just walk away what will happen to us (the world) in the next 20 years? I've serious doubts we'll be left to our own devices.

Kara said...

I hate the fact that we are there, but I don't think walking away now would be a smart idea.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

This is such a difficult problem with no easy answers except...except, frankly, I think enough is enough. Get everyone out of there, now. It's all such a mess, isn't it? And yet after I say get everyone out of there it feels wrong. On the other hand it feels wrong to stay and stay and stay! I'm glad I don't have to be the one responsible for making that decision...except, (again, except...) When I know that all those retired Generals say 'let's get out' I think it's correct to leave. Oy Vey!

sage said...

I didn't have a problem with the invasion of Afghanistan (like I did with Iraq). The links between Afghanistan and world terrorism was well documented. And I think we need to continue to provide stability there. Now that we're in Iraq, I don't think we can just pull out quickly even though it may eventually come to that.

It's interesting to read your take on this as a Canadian. Thanks for posting.

The Gnat's Trumpet said...

I don't know how accurate the background in the story is, but I am reading The Kite Runner currently and he background about Afghanistan in the begining of the story, before the monarchy was overthrown and before the Soviets came to town paints a very different picture of that country than I expected. I know this comment is off point to your post, but I thought I would mention it because I always find it interesting to learn new points of view and new ways of looking at other societies and felt like sharing.

On point to your post though, I don't think it is possible to walk away now. If we did, I think things would quickly degenerate and the government in Afghanistan would return to the same as it was in the late nineties, only worse because it would be emboldened by its victory over the West. Every one of these deaths now are tragic, but if we stay and try to finish the job, at least there is a chance that they will have meaning.

Lisa said...

What a mess we have over there. I'm all for bringing everyone home, but NOT for leaving behind the mess that's been created. I can come up with no easy answer. I think you did a very fair job in your piece.