My blog: feel free to steal this button!

RSS Feed Subscription

Social Bookmarking Services


Archives

Featured

Past Blogs
Current Blog


My RSS 2.0 Newsfeed

My RSS 2.0 Newsfeed


My YouTube Channel

Twitter

Facebook

Flickr

LinkedIn

Tumblr


The Agenda with Steve Paikin

The Huffington Post

SoundCloud


Oxford University alumni

St Edmund Hall, Oxford alumni

United Nations University alumni


The Royal Society of Arts

The Royal Asiatic Society

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society


UNICEF Team Canada

Governor General's Horse Guards Cavalry Squadron

MGB Roadsters


United Nations Children's Fund

Amnesty International Canada


Creative Commons

PGP Public Key

Friend of a Friend Protocol


 

Truth, Casualties, and War
19 November 2010, 08h35 EST (GMT-5)
http://www.maharaj.org/blog/2010_11_19.shtml


My YouTube Video
Click image for the full video

My November 2010 television essay for The Agenda with Steve Paikin was broadcast by TVOntario yesterday evening. It is available via through my YouTube Channel and via podcast through iTunes, as well as directly above. My original text - which I edited during the broadcast - is below.

* * *

The Afghans have an expression, “You have the watches, but we have the time.”

It’s a phrase that reflects a long history of armies arriving in their land with vastly superior technology and resources, only to be worn down and worn out by remorseless resistance. The Afghans have rarely needed to outfight armies, just outlast them.

With the Canadian government now reconsidering its plans to withdraw from Afghanistan, we have a rare opportunity to rewrite history.

Unfortunately, our ability to successfully conclude the mission and effect an honourable departure is being prejudiced by an ignominious political retreat from the truth: the truth about why we went to Afghanistan in the first place and what we are actually trying to achieve there.

In the years since Canada deployed to Afghanistan, there has been a remarkable national amnesia about the genesis and the objectives of the mission, an amnesia that has been wilfully exploited by a spectrum of political parties, and abetted by a too-often credulous or indolent media.

This is a reassuring storyline that plays to our national self-perception as a beacon of civility in a cruel world – "Canada the Good" whose virtue on the international stage elevates us above the use sordid use of deadly force.

It is also complete and utter nonsense.

When the Taliban swept to power in 1996 on a wave of totalitarian fundamentalism, we did little other than issue statements.

When they imposed gender apartheid on the country and enforced it with public mutilations and executions, we used stronger language but still stayed put.

When they committed mass killings of Afghan civilians, we wrung our hands in impotent frustration.

We sent our armed forces to Afghanistan after, and only after, Al-Qaeda was given shelter by the Taliban to use the country as a base of operations for their assault on the World Trade Centre.

Let’s be clear: Canada went into Afghanistan to deny that country as a staging ground to those who had and would harm our allies and ourselves.

We went into Afghanistan to kill our enemies, before our enemies could kill more Canadians.

This is the ugly truth that comes with living in an often-ugly world, and we do ourselves no credit if we recoil into comforting fictions, as young Canadians barely out of adolescence return home in flag-draped coffins from a war we sent them to fight.

If we continue to allow the national debate over Afghanistan to be distorted by the blithe political myth that the Canadian Forces are there primarily as social workers rather than as warriors, then the mission will surely fail, because we will never come to a meaningful national consensus on whether we have achieved our objectives.

Successive governments have been reluctant to engage in an honest public debate about the mission. Why? Do Canadians prefer easy lies to hard truths? Do Canadians lack the courage to face difficult choices and come to principled decisions? I do not believe that Canadians are the fools or cowards that such politicians take us for.

Long after the Afghans coined their eastern expression, the west coined one of our own: “the first casualty of war is the truth”. If our mission in Afghanistan is to end as anything other than a bloody misadventure, we must recognise the truth as our ally and not our enemy, and govern ourselves accordingly.


 

Tweet this article at Twitter » To tweet this article through Twitter, please click here.

Post this article at Facebook » To post this article at Facebook, please click here.


Subscribe to this article » To subscribe to my blog, please click here.

My iTunes Podcast » To subscribe to my podcast, please click here.


My Blog » To return to my main blog page, please click here.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


















Privacy Policy
Akaash Maharaj - Breaking News

More Reading:

  • Light

  • Lighten

  • Like

  • Limb

  • Limit

  • Linen

  • Lipstick

  • Liquid

  • List

  • Living

  •  

    University of Guelph

     

    I will moderate the inaugural Equine Industry Symposium


    Television appearances

    TVO's The Agenda
     

    My television panel on corruption in the political classes


    Radio interviews

    United Nations
     

    My address in the UN General Assembly Chamber


    Published articles

    Montreal Gazette
     

    My article on sport doping and Olympic politics

       
     
    iTunes Podcast
     
    My YouTube Channel
     
    My Twitter Tweets
     
    My Facebook Profile
     
    My Flickr Photo Album
     
    My LinkedIn Profile
     
    My Tumblr Page
     
    My RSS 2.0 Newsfeed