Saturday, September 02, 2006

Kennedy on Afghanistan

Still catching up on the leadership news. I read Linda Diebel's article on Kennedy's speech on Afghanistan. First impression: it's bold. I'm still kind of on the fence on this issue (a rarity for me) but I like that Kennedy is doing more than talking in platitudes. As we approach the fifth anniversary of September 11th and subsequently the invasion of Afghanistan, I think it is reasonable to re-evaluate our mission in the country. Here are some facts:

-27 Canadian soldiers are dead
- There has been some improvement in quality of life in Afghanistan
- There is still a very strong Taliban-led insurgency
- The occupation does serve to bolster anti-Western feeling in the Muslim world
- There is no end game
- Afghanistan deserves better than what it has had in the past 30 years

As I said I'm still kind of on the fence but the preponderence of evidence is increasingly on the side of withdrawl. One of the main reasons I think I agree with Kennedy that it is time to leave is that I can't accept the Bush/Ignatieff (not a slur, they're in the same boat on this one) justification for staying. Ignatieff argued in Empire Lite that the presence of overwhelming military force sets the groundwork for open communication and peace. This is true when dealing with rival warlords. This does not hold true when dealing with the Taliban. The crux of Iggy's argument is that an omnipotent neutral party can provide peace, but the Taliban do not view the coalition as neutral. They do not respect international mandates or their own national government, they cannot be brought to the table no matter how large the force. Thus we should remind ourselves of the history behind the phrase Pyrrhic victory. King Pyrrhus of Epirus tried to defeat the Roman military in Italy. He had an overwhelming military advantage (elephants) but in spite of many victories in battle he could not secure the Italian penninsula. He eventually was forced to retreat with his tail between his legs. The Romans won because they had homefield advantage. They knew the terrain and they were more dedicated to the mission. The Taliban has the advantages the Romans had, that the American revolutionaries had, that the Viet Cong had. History is not on our side. Still I'm not entirely convinced. But good on Kennedy for opening the debate.

No comments:

All views expressed in this blog are those of the author and the author alone. They do not represent the views of any organization, regardless of the author's involvement in any organizations.

All comments are the views of the individual writer. The administrator reserves the right to remove commentary which is offensive.

The author is not responsible for nor does he support any of the advertisements displayed on the page