Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Done Our Part"

I get very tired of people who are completely uninformed as to what our troops are doing in Afghanistan and the good they are bringing to that troubled land.

Popular conception of the mission there is that our troops either sit around in our bases, waiting for mortar attacks launched from who knows where, or else they're driving in between bases and hitting the occasional improvised explosive device or IED, AKA a home-made bomb.

You want some education? Browse the Army's discussion forums. Look especially for the topic of Canadian politics. A thread on a poll from last year which asked Canadians about their feelings on the war displayed the following results:

1. Should a decision to send troops to Afghanistan require parliamentary approval?
Yes: 73%
No: 20%
Don't know: 7%

2. If you were an MP would you vote in favour of sending troops to Afghanistan?
Yes: 27%
No: 62%
Don't know: 11%

3. Would your position change if you knew it might lead to significant casualties?*
Yes: 31%
No: 64%
Don't know: 5%

4. Do Canadians think Canada should be participating in the war on terrorism?
Yes: 48%
No: 43%
Don't know: 9%

*This question asked only to those who voted yes to the previous question.
A commenter on the thread noted the inconsistency between items 2 and 4; most Canadians feel we should participate in the war on terror but don't think we should send troops in the effort. I'm not exactly sure how else a nation could participate in a war.

This thread is a year and a half old, but is still getting new comments. Newer polls cited indicate support for the Afghan mission is holding steady at around 50%.

But screw the polls - they can be worded to elicit any response desired. Besides, a government which forms policy based on polls is like a man walking backwards through a maze. He is ignoring the urgent need to plan ahead; he is also only finding his path after bumping into dead ends several times. Real leadership surges on through criticism and adversity, and it must be grounded in a conviction of what the truth is before it can weather that storm. Real leadership knows that if there's a wall in between you and your destination, it's sometimes necessary to go through it by whatever means necessary. But not everybody in our Parliament is capable of real leadership.

Take Liberal Party leader St├ęphane Dion - please. He thinks that Canada should pull its troops out of Afghanistan. "The fundamental point is that Canada needs to be clear about its commitments, and that after three years of difficult and dangerous combat missions, Canada will have done its part," he said to reporters last Thursday. “It’s not lacking honour to state that well, we’ve been there two years, there has been an effort deployed, and that another country should replace us.”

We've done our part and now it's somebody else's turn. I've heard that same sentiment recently... where was that... oh yeah! It was my 5-year old lamenting that her sisters weren't doing as much work as her. Is that how you're trying to sound St├ęphane? "Norway and Poland only picked up one toy, and I picked up two!" Give me a break. The room's a mess and somebody has to clean it up; if we don't, nobody will. That's how life, how responsibility, and how good old fashioned rural common sense work. We're done when we're done.

How do we translate that into the purpose for the Afghan mission? David Warren:

We misconceive our role, in Afghanistan, if we think it is to bring democracy. Instead, our job is the modest one, of helping the Afghans re-establish their own way of life, by killing as many of their Jihadis as possible. In this cause, we are truly the allies of the peoples of Afghanistan. In any other, we are foreign imperialists, playing into the hands of the enemy who flew aeroplanes into Washington and New York.

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