Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Peter Worthington in the Sun:
While one has sympathy for anyone in Taliban (or al-Qaida) hands, one also cannot escape the conclusion that it is largely the fault of captives that they are in such a precarious and frightening situation.
Yeah, I mean, when you dress like that you're just asking for it, right?
On the other hand, the fact that peaceful, decent people like the Korean Christians are captured and killed by such as the Taliban, is more evidence why Canadian and NATO troops are needed in that country -- not for the sake of hostages, but to help bring peace, security and a modicum of freedom to the Afghan people.
So: almost five years of war, and Afghanistan is still too dangerous and chaotic for civilian groups to do their work without fear of abduction and execution. So those civilian groups should all leave, and spare the military the need to rescue them -- but also, presumably, hurting or halting many promising development projects.

But -- and this is what's left me reeling and cranky this morning -- the fact that, after 5 years of this, we've still accomplished jack shit is a sign that we need to stay longer, accomplishing further jack shit but without having to worry about pesky civilians.

How many more years, exactly, of accomplishing jack shit are we supposed to sign up for again?


Technetium said...

If you think we have accomplished Jack Shit, perhaps you should read these articles:

Macleans (July 27th, 2007)
...So it has gone for Canada's mission in Afghanistan over the past few months, with worry about the rising toll of casualties all but drowning out any consideration of the very real progress being made...

Globe and Mail (July 28, 2007)
...Given the enormity of the task of establishing a civil society in a war-ravaged and impoverished land, progress in Kandahar has been swift and impressive since the long convoys of Canadian troops rolled south 1 1/2 years ago . Then, there was a grave threat that the Taliban would seize the city of Kandahar, creating a Islamic statelet that would undermine Afghanistan and re-emerge as a new haven for al-Qaeda.

That threat has gone. The Taliban, as a stand-and-fight force, stood and was defeated last fall in the Panjwai district west of Kandahar.

...Kandahar city is bustling. The fertile Panjwai has been mostly repopulated. It's no small measure of progress that small children shyly wave to passing Canadian armoured vehicles. “There are plenty of places where people still don't wave,” one soldier said.

Almost by definition, waging a successful counterinsurgency, especially for a foreign army, consists of barely perceptible progress that rarely warrants headlines back home interrupted with headline-making failures, defeats and mistakes...

...Efforts to enhance governance (does the mayor have a filing system or does the village know how to reach the police) and aid reconstruction (new irrigation ditches and a stunningly successful polio-eradication program) are the two other legs that, along with security, complete the Canadian effort in Afghanistan.

Or perhaps you think 40,000 less infant lives deaths per year is jack shit.

john said...

There are always tactical successes. And yet, the most basic measure of government success -- personal security -- still isn't there. Or ask the Koreans.

If these successes still stand in 12 months, you'll have my apology in the mail. (Provided you give me a meatspace address.)

Technetium said...

These are not tactical successes, tactical successes are not 2 years in the making. When those roads are being used, and the markets are full of merchants, and the city is bustling, these are normality indicators that signify strategic successes.

Our problem is exactly this:

"...barely perceptible progress that rarely warrants headlines back home interrupted with headline-making failures, defeats and mistakes"

We have failed because two dozen koreans were kidnapped? or we failed because it makes big headlines, and no one knows or cares that one of the worst countries in the world for polio, is now on the path to its eradication...

There is much more to personal security than prevention from harm at the hands of the Taliban. If you are measureing improvements in personal security, you must weight the 12 Koreans, 67 Canadians, and all other casualties of the war against the 40,000 children (in 2006 alone), and the yet unmeasured improvements to maternal mortality, and any other lives that have been saved from becoming casualties of one of the most impoverished nations in the world.

My thoughts, anyway =P

Technetium said...

Uhh.. 12 should be 23 *face goes red*