Apr 29 2007
I attended a Thursday night debate in Vancouver’s Gastown over Canada’s role in Afghanistan. Author and panelist Terry Glavin has already summed up the event, and the larger debate, nicely on his own blog.
It is refreshing to see intelligent people able to really discuss the issues that need to be talked about (ie. what the role of Canada’s NATO allies ought to be, how we can conduct ourselves according to international law in a chaotic environment against a fanatical enemy, the opium trade, Pakistan, etc) rather than a watered-down sound-byte without any context (ie. should we stay or should we go). Most of the panel agreed that Canada and the world had to stay involved, since simply pulling out all foreign troops would result in a horrendous civil war.
But I couldn’t escape the feeling that the people who most needed to be there, the ones who believe that their own commitment to peace precludes the involvement of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, even if a pullout resulted in hundreds of thousands or millions of deaths in that country – did not attend.
It would be nice if we had reached a point in the national discussion where we could all at least agree with Terry Glavin and others on the following: The Taliban were and are as savage, cruel, misogynist, violent and cunning as any of the battalions the enemy has deployed, and the people of Afghanistan continue to suffer their depredations. Canada has been honoured with the privilege and the opportunity to be fighting this war on the side of the Afghan people, at the request of the Afghan people, shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan people.
But not everyone is quite there yet. That’s a shame.