Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Leading Horses to Water 2

I often hold a great many contrary ideas and beliefs than your mainstream run of the mill conservative. I am not sure why that is exactly except there seems to be a decidedly lemming quality to many conservative bloggers, and heaven preserve you, if you go against whatever is considered orthodoxy at the moment.

While the VRWC is often quick to accuse the LRWC of being intolerant to diversity in ideas; it has been my personal experience that the VRWC is just as intolerant. So a pox on both their houses is well deserved at this point.

Some ideas I only mention in private conversation. Other ideas I have to let run around inside what passes for my mind until I am entirely comfortable with any given point of view, and then, some ideas I eventually share in the fullness of time.

All of which brings me to Stephen Harper’s most recent statement on the war in Afghanistan, I believe he characterized it as ‘unwinnable’. Well, welcome to the conservative Coventry – mind you, he is rather late to the party. I took a great deal of flack for saying basically the same thing, and I quote.
There is no question that my favourite biblical tale is the Exodus. In the whole of Torah, I do not believe there is a stronger storyline with a more compelling message for any time or nation than is found in Exodus.

In the Exodus, we are told the narrative of a slave underclass, who are liberated from bondage after generations of enslavement and then are delivered to a place of safety far beyond the reach of their former oppressor. The ancient Hebrews existed with a societal clean slate - if you will. So what is the first thing these people do with their freedom but attempt to create a mirror image of the society which they left behind. This, despite the miracles they have witnessed with their own eyes.

Eventually, they are presented with a set of laws, and told that they must submit themselves to the authority of the law; if they are to continue to live in freedom as a free people. They must become not only a people of a book but a people of laws. There is no freedom without responsibility and there is no responsibility without law.

Okay, I am not too sure about the last sentence but it sounds good. Why bring up the Exodus? Well, because it is has been almost 7 years since the fall of the Taliban and think it is time to seriously re-examine what the Canadian role is in Afghanistan.

I supported the original invasion of Afghanistan and if another country (or even Afghanistan again) today were to give safe harbour to Al Qaeda or an Al Qaeda-like organization, who then uses that safe harbour as an operations planning base to attack another nation - it deserves to be invaded and see its government fall but…and there are buts and plenty of them.

I do not doubt for a minute our soldiers are doing a good job sticking their rhetorical fingers in the dikes of Afghanistan nor do I doubt for a minute that chaos will ensue the minute NATO forces were to pull out of Afghanistan, but you should also recognize, it has been seven long years of trying to drag this country ass over teakettle into the 21st century and I still sense a general and real Afghani reluctance to leave the Iron Age behind. There seems to be no Afghani Moses willing to articulate a collective vision to inspire the Afghani people to search for the borders of this promised land nor do I see an Afghani Joshua ready to lead the fight for this promised land. What I do see is a diverse group of warlords jockeying for positions of ultimate hegemony over the ordinary lives of Afghanis.

There is no question as long as there are western soldiers patrolling the streets of Afghani cities or the outlying districts the ordinary lives of men, women and children have improved a hundredfold but….if the Afghanistan people cannot make this collective leap and do for themselves; than no amount of Western combat soldiers in no amount of time will make a whit of difference. If anything, we risk turning our soldiers from liberators to occupiers or agents of a colonial force.

And if we are to be agents of a colonial force than the government of Canada (whether it be a Liberal or Conservative government) needs to come clean and say so to the Canadian people and let us decide for ourselves if this is where we wish to spend the treasure of our sons and daughters. And if we are to stand in the place of an Afghani Joshua; how long shall we labour reasonably in this endeavour?

One last point. I would like to suggest to conservative bloggers that prudence in all things should be a decidedly conservative characteristic.

1 comment:

Kez Creates said...

I've shaken my head over the past few days of reports showing past things that Harper said about Afghanistan and his recent remarks on it being unwinable. Why? Because I feel that at the start they really hoped they could make a difference. My mom's cousin was the first killed over there in this conflict (Robert Short) yet other cousins from our family still went over there, they believed in it. As time passed I'm sure they knew it was going to be a lot harder than they first imagined, even probably knew it was pretty much a lost cause for completely 'winning', but kept up hope. Now they are done, tired of it, and don't want to keep sending Canadians over there forever. I don't see what was so wrong about Harper being honest. If he had said years ago that it was unwinable, useless, etc, it could have undermined their attempts to work with the Afghans to at least try to repair their govt and make them stronger against the Taliban/insurgents. It would be like if I was helping a friend through a tough college course, and half way through I said "Well I'm still helping you even though I'm pretty sure you are going to fail the final exam". After saying that, my friend might lose respect for me and not bother with my help at all, or at least be half-hearted about it.

Now, after 7+ years, it's time to back away. We could end up over there again someday, but I believe Harper said something about not wanting to commit our soldiers to security over there for an undetermined amount of time (which could mean forever). Our military has already spent a great deal of time over there and away from their families. I respect his decision to start bringing them home, and I understand why the govt did not air their inner beliefs that it was actually a lost cause.