We're coming up to the sixth anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks of 11 September, 2001. Six years of near-constant war. There was the war in Afghanistan to topple the Taliban. There was the war to hunt down and exterminate al-Qaeda. The war to topple Saddam and bring democracy to Iraq. The war against the "dead enders", Saddam loyalists. The war against al-Qaeda in Iraq. The war against the Sunni insurgency. The war against the Shiite militias. The global war without end on terror.
Over the past six years the United States and NATO have dutifully followed America's "war president", the undisputed Leader of the Free World. So, how has that gone anyway?
The Taliban were sent packing, but they're back. Al-Qaeda and archvillain Osama bin Laden headed for the hills. Now they're resurgent. Afghanistan's notional democracy is wobbly, riddled with corruption and ineffective. The only thing booming in that country is it's record-setting opium production. Neighbouring Pakistan is destabilized and a breeding ground for Islamist radicals. The cops and security services prey on the Afghan people and drive them into the arms of the Taliban.
In Iraq, Saddam is dead and has been replaced by a fundamentalist Shia-dominated "democracy" of sorts. The country is falling apart. The Sunni insurgency and Shia militias are alive and well and killing their fellow Iraqis with a vengeance. Al-Qaeda has become established in Iraq and uses the place as a training ground for Islamist terrorism. The country can't provide gas to its fuel pumps even though it's awash in crude oil. Water and electricity are sporadic, even in Baghdad. The ultra-secure Green Zone now gets mortared almost daily. Civil wars, there are several, abound and now threaten the Kurdish north.
The Leader of the Free World cannot accept his failure in Iraq nor can he conceive of how to win even one of the several wars underway there. He has his army so depleted, exhausted and utterly tied down in Iraq that he's incapable of fielding a decent size force in Afghanistan.
Canadians need to see this debacle for what it truly is. We're part of the chorus line in Afghanistan in a miserable production that has no leading cast to be found. We can sit around and sing and dance but the plotline is going nowhere.
It would be great if America's Congress showed the courage, honesty and vision so lacking in their executive but that's not about to happen.
The rest of NATO knows the score. That's why they're not stepping up to take our place in Kandahar. They know we can't save America from its own government and, without that, we can't save Afghanistan either. Washington is leaving Ottawa with no option but to call down the curtain and go home.