Why We FightFor quite a while I've felt disinclined to return to the small podium or soap box that is this blog and speak my mind upon the happenings of the day. Why? School, sports, and the daily grind of life have played their part, and perhaps the presence of a Conservative government ensconed in office have at once both distracted me and convinced me that the effort was perhaps not needed. However, of late the calls for Canada to retreat from Afghanistan have stirred a visceral enough reaction within me to cause me to seek to write once more.
With the death of each soldier in Afghanistan some suposedly sagely, hand-wringing potificator will declare Afghanistan a quagmire and call for a withdrawl of Canadian forces from the country. The effete latte sippers of the world find it horrifying that are soldiers aren't playing a traditional "peace keeping role" but are actually engaging in an armed conflict. Amidst this Liberal leadership candidates squabble among themselves over whether they should adopt a rational outlook upon a conflict they took Canada into or join Jack Layton's "Peace in our time" crowd.
The basic facts of Afghanistan are that the Taliban regime embraced, aided and abeted Al Quiada. Al Quiada made a direct attack against Canada's ally the United States. The United States having been attacked by Al Quiada called upon its allies, NATO, to aid it in invading Afghanistan and seeking to destroy the Al Quiada and Tailaban forces present there. NATO efforts have been sanctioned by the United Nations as being appropriate.
One would think that an unprovoked attack on our ally leading to our mutual defense treaty obligations being called upon would suffice to justify our presence in Afghanistan. However, for those looking for further reasoning we also know that should the Taliban not be defeated Afghanistan will revert to its previous status as a failed state which harboured terrorists with an agenda of spreading terror among western nations. As a western nation our own security is threatened by the free operation of groups such as Al Quaida within a country such as Afghanistan. Furthermore, beyond the fact that the continued existance of a Taliban dominated country is determinal to our own security they were a morally repellent regime. All the virtues that your average pacifist embraces multiculturalism, education, women's rights, and gay rights were all crushed under the heel of the Taliban.
Canada fights the Taliban for a self interested reason, preventing terrorists from using it as a safe haven. However, it would be wrong headed not to consider bringing democracy to the country and ending what was in truth a barbaric regime that was a pestilence upon its own people can only be seen as a positive externality. People have a say in their own future, women have rights, children are going to school - these are all good things. Preserving our own security and spreading liberty to what had been one of the darker reaches of the world is a just and good undertaking.
What then motivates those who want to see only loss and futility in our endeavours in Afghanistan? For some perhaps there is no more complex an explaination in play than that Afghanistan is far away, nor do they see the very real threat of terrorism looming on the horizon. While the news of every casulty that the Canadian forces suffer is sensationalized by the media as those a detonated mine killing three Canadian soldiers were Augustus' lose of six legions beyond the Danube. Others have developed a rather chronic self-loathing towards Canada and western civilization as a whole. In our country this self-loathing is coupled with a virulent strain of anti-Americanism.
Terrorism is a very real threat foreign and domestically. Those who subscribe to radical Islam are by their own repeated declarations our enemy. They deem our culture decadent, label us all infidels and part and parcel of the evil they deem the west to be. Their hatred is not specific to the United States or Israel, its directed against all those who fall within western civilization. We deal with those inspired by hatred and zealotry. Those promoting neutrality, accomodation and negotiation with such groups as the Taliban embrace the most willful ignorance or cynicism in misleading the naive. The Taliban, Al Quaida and others of their ilk are our enemy. They have no want but our ultimate destruction and for an Islamic Caliphate to dominate the entire world. There is no accomodation that can be made with them, no manner in which our differences with them can be worked our or some sort of compromise establish. They are our enemy and they must be destroyed. Ignoring the barbarians massing on the frontiers of civilization as they are not yet at the city gates was a losing proposition for the Romans, and would prove no less so for Canada and the rest of the west.
As Harper rightly keeps our military on the field, the simply fact the war continues is trotted forward by many among the chattering classes as evidence that somehow "we're losing in Afghanistan". I dare say that if one consults any historical tome one might readily decipher that its not unusual for wars to be lengthy affairs that last a number of years. Nor would any reasonable assessment of a conflict be considered a losing effect where the Taliban have suffered thousands of casualties and find themselves forced to retreat. Evidently suffering a few dozen casualties and not having had this war wrapped up by the end of hockey season clearly indicates that we're engaged in a losing effort.
Some, most often those on the left, find the war noxious because in a conflict between nations that are primarily of European ethnicities and nominally Christian and a Muslim nation populated by those of a different ethnicity there is no question in their mind that the Western nation is somehow at fault. In their way of thinking the West is always at fault. Every war is some sort of imperialist and oppressive adventure that's preying upon some hapless and justified underdog fight off occuping forces. This simply ignores the facts that led to our current situation, the United States were attacked. They in concert with their allies responded and with more a more evenhanded and merciful approach than our enemies would ever adopt.
Western civilization and Canada in particular are worthy of defense. Both share uparreled freedom, culture and a high standard of living. Western Civilization has created the freest, most just, most affluent, most technologically advanced societies known to man. Our scientific, artistic, literary, scholarly and military accomplishments are unparralled. There has been no civilization greater than that of the West. Canada's own contributions to that legacy range from penicillian to the Group of 7, and from hockey to decentralized government to allow for coexistance between French and English. We value freedom, justice and knowledge.
The Taliban and others of their beliefs, reject democracy. Beyond that they reject such things as the freedom of speach, and freedom of religion. Democracy, free speach and religious freedom being the trefica of the west. They do not believe in our open society. They believe fervently in Allah, and that all non-believers are inhuman and lesser than they. Non-believers to the radical islamist are to be converted, subjucated or destroyed. Filmaker Theo Van Gough a scion of the famed artist was murdered in the streets of Amsterdam for having made a film critical of their religion. Expressing disagreement with a film through murder summarizes radical Islam's position on free speach. Their women are treated like chattels which exist to bear their children and nothing more, while their children themselves are simply filled with poisonous hate and propaganda.
In Afghanistan Canada fights an enemy repugnant to our entire way of life. We fight the good fight. We fight for our right to exist, and our freedoms against an enemy that wishes dearly to take them from us. There should be no doubt in the justice of our position, no wavering in our resolve. Somewhere in the soul of our nation lies the courage that took Juno Beach. On this day and all days forward we must call upon that courage, for too paraphrase the Roman orator Cato the Taliban Delenda Est.