Canada, Get Out of Afghanistan

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PARIS — Scattered across South Africa’s windswept veldt are the forgotten graves of 266 Canadian soldiers killed from 1899—1902 fighting to impose British Imperial rule on fiercely resisting Boer farmers.

A century later, Canadian troops have again been sent to fight as auxiliaries in another remote war — this time Afghanistan.

Since time immemorial, when great emperors went to war, they summoned contingents of their vassals and tributaries to their standards. So it was in Afghanistan, and then Iraq, when the U.S. decided to invade those nations and demand its allies join the so-called "war on terrorism."

Under irresistible pressure from Washington to aid its highly unpopular military expeditions in either Iraq or Afghanistan, America’s allies and NATO partners opted for the lesser evil, Afghanistan.

That is why 2,100 Canadian troops have ended up in a nation in which Canada has absolutely no strategic, commercial, cultural or emotional interests.

Now, as the number of Canadian military casualties rises, the dismayed public rightly asks, "What are we doing there? We thought it was another peacekeeping mission."

Thank Ottawa and Canada’s media for misinforming the public. There was no significant debate in Parliament. The media indulged in flag-waving instead of warning Canadians they were walking into a small, but real, war.

Canadians are not peacekeeping in Kandahar: There is no peace to keep. They are there to help impose U.S. rule over Afghanistan, and safeguard routes for planned oil pipelines.

Canadian soldiers are on a war-fighting mission, auxiliaries in the U.S.-led military occupation of Afghanistan. In the southern heartland of the nation’s largest tribe, the famously warlike and xenophobic Pashtun, U.S. forces and their allies are seen as foreign occupiers and enemies of Islam. Pashtun are slow to act but ferocious, and they never forget a wrong.

For some reason, Ottawa agreed to put its little garrison into Afghanistan’s most dangerous area, Kandahar, in the centre of Pashtun territory and the heartland of the Taliban. Afghans do not differentiate between Americans and Canadians.

Fierce tribes

Afghan tribes are taking up arms against their foreign occupiers. I saw this happen during the 1980s, when growing hatred of Soviet occupation forces ignited a national uprising.

Today, in the eyes of many Afghans, the U.S. has merely replaced the Soviets. All past occupiers, starting with Alexander the Great, were driven out by the fierce Afghan tribes.

Canucks are prime targets. They lack effective liaison with circling U.S. warplanes that normally bomb and rocket any attackers within 2—3 minutes of an assault. Such deadly instant response by U.S. air power forced the resistance to resort to roadside explosives and car bombs, as in Iraq.

National resistance is growing. The U.S.-installed Karzai regime in Kabul would not last a day without foreign bayonets.

The former Taliban regime almost totally suppressed the heroin trade. Today, Afghanistan is a narcostate. It supplies 90% of the world’s heroin — the economy runs on drug money. This is the "democratic" rgime Canadian troops are defending with their lives.

Parliament, media, and all Canadians have got to begin debating what their soldiers are doing in this war that lacks any foreseeable political resolution. Forget all the cheery propaganda fed to the gullible press: Afghanistan is a dangerous mess and Canadians are right in the middle of it.

When more body bags come home from Kandahar, as they likely will, Canada’s politicians are going to have to start explaining to the public what, exactly, its soldiers are dying for in Afghanistan.

Eric Margolis [send him mail], contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World. See his website.

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