Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Three Months to Go

Wow. Okay, I figured we weren't getting the real dope in our news, but this article from the CBC is downright traumatizing if you've been following the Afghan mission at all. Nothing held back here:

"Anyone expecting to see the emergence in Afghanistan within the next several decades of a recognizable modern democracy capable of delivering justice and amenities to its people is dreaming in Technicolor."


Remember how I posted nine months ago about how I'd be checking back in on Forward Operating Base Martello and the confident predictions that we'd be handing it over to the Afghans in a year? Well, maybe we will be, but I don't think that's good news.

So what's the solution now? Pull out and abandon the Afghani people to the tender mercies of the Taliban? Surely we can't accept that. Even selfishly, doesn't that just make things even WORSE for us? It was bad enough before, when at least we could say, "Well, sure those Taliban talk a tough talk, but if we wanted to, we could stamp them out any old time." But now we're, what's the word? What word describes our situation if we pull out and they roll back in?

Oh yeah, "FUCKED".

Because now not only have we failed to stamp them out effortlessly, we've actually given them room to say that we've been DEFEATED by them. That they are stronger than us. That's exactly what it's going to look like to your average Afghani -- that the Taliban are badder, tougher, stronger, and therefore more likely to be RIGHT than those funny Canadians who don't say much but keep complaining about missing that "Hawkinaitin Canada" every week.

I remember reading Jerry Pournelle AGES ago and him talking about how history makes it pretty damn clear that soldiers make crappy policemen. We've certainly seen a lot of evidence to support that notion in the last four or five years.

Hopefully our government will be able to commit resources to support our troops and give them the additional folks and tools they need to help the Afghani people. I don't want to leave them to the Taliban. It would shame me as a Canadian.

I don't know what the solution is. And I know that without more support from our allies, it's a ginormous task. But my heart breaks for what Afghanistan used to be, and could be again. I remember reading about Alexander the Great in Grade One and wanting to see the Khyber Pass one day. Reading about the struggle against the Soviet intervention and admiring the courage and stubborn will of these people. I don't believe for a second that the solution is to kill people. Provide security, yes, but killing people in that mission is a side-effect, not an objective. The news reports are only about how many "Taliban" were killed in the last action, with no context, no understanding of what that actually means. Are there numbers growing or shrinking? Their influence? Their resources? Who are they?

The reporting has been a disaster, and I suspect that mess reflects a deeper mess on the ground. Nobody in the Canadian government or military seems able to deliver a coherent description of what we're doing out there. Until we know what we're doing, how are we going to succeed?

Happy Valentine's Day.