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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Mission Impossible?

Margaret Wente has a thought-provoking column in today's Globe and Mail. She points out the "unpleasant surprise" a lot of our troops are finding in Afghanistan. We're there ostensibly on a security and reconstruction mission... The only problem is, according to Wente, there's nothing to reconstruct. No infrastructure to deliver aid. No access to electricity. No sewer systems. And the Afghans are beginning to get restless...

She argues that Western governments (including, I presume, our own) are being "shockingly naïve" about the situation, trying to apply our value systems to a society not nearly ready for them. On top of that, our troops are getting tired and discouraged by the lack of results. A "mission fuzz" is taking over, she says.

Wente concludes by saying the Afghanistan mission is a noble cause, but that it's mission impossible. Now, I'm not a foreign policy expert by any means. I study numbers, debits and credits, marketing, organizations, financial ratios. I work in politics, planning events, doing research, writing memos, making canvass calls. But as someone with a family member in Kandahar, I do have a vested interest in seeing this mission succeed. I want our soldiers to be safe and successful. I want Canada to live up to its international reputation as a country dedicated to human rights everywhere. I'm glad young Afghan girls are going to school for the first time. I want to see more of that. As such, I hope to God Margaret Wente is wrong. But the more I think about it, the more I tend to agree with her. It's time to have a serious discussion about the merits of our current mission. Is this really our fight?