Today a Canadian soldier was killed in Afghanistan. That makes 11 since 2002.
For the record, I opposed Canada's involvement in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. I didn't question the brutality of the Taliban regime, nor that they provided a haven for Al Qaeda. But I wasn't convinced at the time that invading the country was the best way to improve matters. The events that ensued haven't altered my opinion. Did the invasion improve life for Afghanis? Did it stabilize the region? Did it stop al-Qaeda?
What is clear is that a lot of innocent Afghanis were maimed or killed, Osama bin Laden is still at large, and the Taliban remain a force to be reckoned with. Hundreds of "enemy combatants" were shipped off to Guantánamo Bay where, according to Amnesty International, many
"... remain held in a legal black hole ... many without access to any court, legal counsel or family visits. Denied their rights under international law and held in conditions which may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the detainees face severe psychological distress. There have been numerous suicide attempts."A recent Globe and Mail story quotes NDP defence spokesman Bill Blaikie as saying "Canada's silence on Guantanamo is related to the fact that we are complicit in the whole process".
Many Canadians cherish our role as peacekeepers, but it's quite evident that "peacekeeping" doesn't really describe the Canadian military role in Afghanistan. What should our role be? I'd say that's a question for the Afghani people to answer. In the mean time, we can do more good by providing financial, technical, and moral support.
Cursed by its strategic location, Afghanistan has been repeatedly invaded over the years. Foreigners seem intent on butting in. Could it be that we're the problem?