On Tuesday, Canada officially ended its combat mission in Afghanistan. It should never have started.Read it here.
The war has been a dismal failure. . . .
For Canada, the lessons of Afghanistan should be sobering.
This ill-contrived adventure has cost the lives of 161 Canadians, including 157 soldiers.
As well, at least 615 Canadian soldiers have been wounded in battle, many seriously.
Politicians and media lavishly praise our troops for their bravery and professionalism. Yet, ironically, this has made it easier for the country to gloss over the fact that these sacrifices were largely pointless.
Had our military been made up of draftees rather than volunteers, there would be more public anger.
For taxpayers, the cost of the Afghan war so far is $11.3 billion and climbing. That figure excludes ongoing health and disability costs for soldiers wounded in the war.
Two main lessons should be drawn from this conflict.
The first has to do with NATO. . . .
But the point of the alliance has been lost. In the aftermath of the Afghanistan failure, Canada would be wise to redirect NATO to its original purpose of mutual defence.
If we can’t accomplish that, we should quit the alliance. We already have the NORAD defence treaty with the U.S. to protect North America from attack. We don’t need to be drawn into any more wars in Asia and North Africa.
The second lesson has to do with the treatment of war. It is not a game. Nor is it simply diplomacy by other means. It is a dangerous, murderous business with a habit of backfiring.
During the Afghan War, too many Canadian politicians forgot that. So did media that, for too long, were dominated by jingoes.
We talk about the nobility of sacrifice but our motives were not noble. We sent our soldiers to die in Kandahar mainly to impress our largest trading partner, the U.S., and ensure that the border stayed open for trade.
Canadians were killed to guarantee just-in-time delivery of auto parts. That is not sufficient reason.
walkom: we sent our soldiers to die to impress our largest trading partner
This is probably the strongest truth-telling about Canada's experience in Afghanistan - and the revolting response to it at home - that I have seen in the mainstream media. Thank you, Thomas Walkom!