Thursday, March 13, 2014

Leaving Afghanistan

Last Canadian commander hands flag to ambassador at leaving ceremony in Kabul

Twelve years ago I stood in Point Pleasant Park in Halifax and watched Canadian navy vessels make their way out of the harbor on their way to respond to the war in Afghanistan. I was with then 17-year-old daughter Jocelyn who wondered why we were sending the navy to a war in a land-locked nation. Good question.

Yesterday the Canadian flag came down in Kabul marking the end of our military presence in Afghanistan. More than 150 Canadians died there, and the casualty list of those who have died by suicide after their return swells that figure. Thousands more have suffered significant psychological damage. We spent billions of dollars to fight a war with an ambiguous goal, but our government is now penny-pinching when it comes to supporting our veterans. Canadians stood on highway overpasses to honour the bodies of the repatriated dead, but we don't know how to honour the living.

And Afghanistan? Corruption is rampant, the current government slags the foreign troops who fought there, and the Taliban is the wolf waiting at the door. All those programs for education and women? Will they actually endanger participants if religious extremists take over?

I am biased. I hate war. I hate that we laud our troops when it suits our purposes and toss them in the gutter when they return. War kills people, destroys souls and rarely achieves its objectives.

We should all pray for the returning contingent of military personnel. We should pray that our veterans find solace and practical support, and not forget their sacrifice. We should pray for the people of Afghanistan. We should pray that someday we will realize the futility of war and listen to the Prince of Peace.

What are your thoughts about the end of this mission? Should we be indignant about the treatment of our veterans?
The last Canadians involved in the NATO training mission in Afghanistan board a U.S. Chinook helicopter in Kabul


Laurie said...

This is one of your blogs that I could write pages, or talk all day about. The idea 12 years ago that anything would change by us sending our troops over was stupid. So many lives lost, destroyed and ruined. It is so sad, it makes me sad and angry. The way the Federal government is treating our vets is disgraceful. I don't think war solves many ideas and it causes many problems. I didn't like the way people lined the bridges, I dislike the idea of people calling the dead heros, (they were just doing their job),but the veterans of this country deserve our respect and deserve to be treated well.

roger said...

I agree with your blog, David. I was opposed to the war in Afghanistan too. I am glad we were not involved in Iraq, and we have Chretien to thank for that. He may have had his faults, but he stood up to the Americans and refused to get involved in that quagmire. I will never forget that Harper had written to the Wall Street Journal expressing his embarassment that Canada had not sent its soldiers to Iraq.

It truly is sad how Canada will send its soldiers in harms way, then treat them this way when they return.

Judy Mcknight said...

I agree with you David ... I have never been happy about sending our troops to Afghanistan - they come back saying they believe they "made a difference", but I can't help but wonder if they are just "spouting the party line" because they have to say that - or trying to justify, in their own minds, this senseless loss of Canadian lives. I doubt that much will be better once they are gone - the Taliban is too strong and the Afghans are too frightened of them to really fight back and make changes... I do hope all Canadians will get behind the veterans as they return and make sure our government looks after them well ... they deserve SO much more than they get !

David Mundy said...

Well, we seem to be on the same page with this one! I do pray that the federal government starts acting with compassion and support for our vets.