Thoughts on the Canadian involvement in Afghanistan have been swirling around in my head a bit today, though I don't pay nearly enough attention to the day to day details of the conflict there.
I suppose it is on my mind because I've had some conversations with some fellow leftwing Canadians that I find somewhat disturbing. I'm all for examining what we are doing wrong in Afghanistan and how we can actually better define our mission and our purpose in that country, but when it all comes down to dust I guess I support the mission...then again I tend to be a bit of a hawk, myself.
The rational is that the Taliban was, and is sick. They really do terrible things and they are not representative of the majority. Though, sadly due to stupid things like U.S bombings in Afghanistan, more and more of the people there are turning against Canada and turning toward the extremists. This is not our (Canada's) fault, but it is our problem. So, I think we need to better sort out who we want to stop, and just what means to achieve that goal are appropriate.
First of all, I think that the idea that Jack Layton had needs to be examined. I read somewhere that a British general had basically the same thought...and that is that we need to immediately sit down with whomever we can get to sit down and figure out if there is anyway to expand the group that has a stake in the governing of Afghanistan.
We have to realize that we might not like a lot of these groups on the fringes of what we call the Taliban, but some are less extreme than others. We need to get some of these groups on our side, and we need to get the people back on side. I'd really love to see some opinion polls on who Afghan people see our involvement.
Another good idea I've heard from Elizabeth May of the Green party of Canada. Her idea is to allow the opium producers to sell for pharmaceutical use. This would allow these poor farmers to continue selling the only thing they've got, while it would remove more opium from the drug supply line. We could give overly generous prices to encourage legal sales while building good will and helping the local economy.
So, I'd say that yes, we do need to make some changes but overall, what we are doing there is not for nothing. Our people are fighting for a free, democratic and united Afghanistan. They are fighting to protect schools, and the right of women to attend those schools. They are fighting for the right of people to live without fear and oppression.
I remember back when the Taliban first took over in much of Afghanistan. I remember how left wingers were pleading the case of the oppressed and asking for U.S intervention. Well, they got it. It doesn't look so pretty, but I think the goal is a noble one.