Friday, August 22, 2008

Is it Time to Leave Afghanastan?

Canada lost 3 more soldiers in Afghanistan this week. The total number of soldiers now killed in this action is 93. 93 sons who won't be coming home. 93 families suffering the loss of a child who won't share birthdays, reunions, Christmas and other special family functions. I couldn't find how many of these warriors have left behind children and expectant wives. Somehow, 93 soldiers just seems like a lot of people and a great sacrifice for a nation. Justin Trudeau agrees. He says it's time for Canada to leave Afghanistan. The cost in terms of losses and casualties has simply become more than what we signed up for. It's not an uncommon sentiment.

Turn back the clock almost 65 years. Next June we will remember the 65th anniversary of D-Day or the beginning of the Invasion of Normandy. The day is historic for several reasons and Canadians are remembered for their heroic acts of bravery and tremendous sacrifices on the beaches of France. If you go to Juno beach, you'll find a memorial wall built to honor and remember the 961 young men who lost their lives on that early June morning. Total casualties among all the Allied Forces on that day alone, came to approximately 9000. Canadian losses through all of WW2 totalled over 37,000. The numbers are staggering and sobering to say the least.

Our national sacrifice and the sacrifice of young men and their families created a sense of national pride and identity. We discovered ourselves and our role in the world through the horribly dark days of WW2. We are peacemakers and peacekeepers. We don't believe in peace at any price, because that approach just creates another set of victims outside of those who do the bargaining. We believe in addressing tyranny and extremism. We are opposed to the oppression of people groups and men, women and children. There's something fundamentally wrong with denying girls the right to an education, women the freedom to choose their own destiny and killing people because of their faith or lack of religious zeal.

In addition to being peacemakers and peace keepers we are rebuilding a nation that extremists leading the nation destroyed through either lack of attention or through willful acts. In either case, today in Afghanistan, young girls can go to school and get an education, health care opportunities are available to those who need them and the atmosphere is changing to something more moderate and stable.

Sadly, there are lives that are lost when we choose to bring the same freedom and hope that we enjoy to other nations . I would prefer that we could fulfill this task without the loss of life, but that's not reality. At the same time, I'm extremely proud of every soldier who puts their life on the line to serve our nation. Most come home again.

We need to stay in Afghanistan until the mission of rebuilding a shattered nation is complete. The cost of staying is significant. The price of leaving the job unfinished is far more.

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