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Canada in Afghanistan

Afghanistan of today is divided into factions ruled by regional lords, the south is clearly hostile to Western presence, and violence nips at the boundaries the only region under direct government control: Kabul. The President’s personal bodyguards are foreign, Western, a number of cabinet ministers have their own personal armies, and violence and instability has spread across the border into Pakistan’s Balochestan province.

The mission in Afghanistan is no meek peacekeeping mission in support of a local military. For one, there isn’t much of a local national military, warlords have access to their own armies and these cannot be legitimized as guardians of a citizen population. The government doesn’t control the country nor does it represent all its people.

Afghanistan’s been invaded before, by the British and by the USSR: these were massive affairs with large numbers of ground troops. They failed to reshape the country to their desire. Canada and its allied countries think they can do better, and they believe they have hearts and minds that bear peace: not very different from the previous British and Russian led wars.

Below is an excerpt from a story in the Globe and Mail written by a Russian who fought in Afghanistan as a Soviet soldier, now living in Canada. He writes his thoughts after attending the funeral of a Canadian soldier that died in Afghanistan.

“I was born in Russia, drafted into the Soviet army at the age of eighteen and sent to Afghanistan in 1980s. Attending Andrew’s funeral, I stood with one foot in the present and one in the past. I remembered my Russian friends, living and dead. Friends like Andrei, who lost his legs in Kandahar near the road, on which Andrew would die two decades later. I also remembered the suffering we visited on the people of this country.”

Full story here: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=11846

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