Saturday, December 27, 2008

God Damn It - Two More Dead In Afghanistan

Two more dead Canadian soldiers. Roadside bomb. Panjwai District where we supposedly crushed the Taliban not that long ago. Three others wounded. 106 dead to date, no idea how many hundreds maimed and ruined.

For what?

It's time Stephen Harper explained what we're going to accomplish in Afghanistan, something tangible to give these lost lives meaning. The rate we're losing soldiers is steadily picking up - as our professed objectives wane and blur.

Nobody, not even Harper, is talking about a democratic Afghanistan any more. That was never more than so much political bullshit from a guy whose greatest accomplishment is to deliver political bullshit by the bushel basket straight to your door.

It's 2008. We were supposed to be out of that goddamned mess next year. Now that's been stretched out to 2011 and, even then, there's no reliable assurance we'll have our people out as that deadline proves as irrelevant as those before it.

What exactly are we buying and for whom with all those lives and all the lives that we'll be sacrificing over the next three years plus? Marking time isn't enough.

It's the disease of Western military commands in the post-Soviet era. No clearly defined objectives, constantly shifting goal posts, no time lines - no targets to meet, no targets to miss.

This is classic guerrilla war. If we don't annihilate the enemy, the enemy wins. We have all the watches, they have all the time. Time is on their side, not ours.


It's time for clear, understandable commitments and clear, understandable timelines. We need metrics to define the mission. Without them, incompetent political and military leadership cannot be held to account. Without them we cannot separate victory from failure.

The insurgents know they can't defeat us. They know they don't have to defeat us. All they need to do is to survive long enough to make us realize we have failed. We'll reach the point of failure long before we come to accept it as fact. There's a very good chance we've already passed that point.

We're defending a house that's already been burned to its foundations. The house we're defending is the national government in Kabul. It has become barely more than a criminal enterprise despised by its people for its corruption and for preying on them.

Loathe as our politicians and generals are to admit it, we can't stay forever any more than we can stay the failed course of the past seven years.

Some will say that we cannot leave because that would render meaningless the lives already lost. It would mystically dishonour their ultimate sacrifice. Rubbish! It's not the leaving that will determine the worth of their sacrifice. Staying won't validate the next hundred or two hundred deaths, the next thousand maimed, either.


Gordie Canuk said...

I just blogged about this myself...we're there at the request of the US and have the legitimacy of a UN resolution, but that's not the end of the discussion...although for many it is. What's not being discussed is the bigger Geopolitical picture, but I'm not sure its a topic Canadians really want to discuss or be informed about:

Afghanistan’s Pipeline – Canada’s War (cut and paste URL to read)

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks Gord. You'll find several posts on the TAP venture on this blog. Yet it's still about so much more than just insurgents and pipelines. It touches on China, India, Iran and Russia and efforts by various parties to contain others. It goes into the Balochistan rebellion and the possibility of Pakistani and Iranian membership in the SCO. This miserable business is all over the map. An illustration of the greater complexities of the Afghan war is found in this post:

"Wake Up Canada"

The Mound of Sound said...

In this sort of asymmetrical warfare we lose sight of the fact that it's not about whether we'll be defeated. The government side is almost never militarily defeated. Our side merely "fails" instead. America never lost a battle during Viet Nam and it didn't lose the war. It merely failed to win it and finally left.

Anonymous said...

Soldiers died in the belief that they were serving their country and they were. But it's the country's leaders who should be making better decisions. The cost of the war isn't lessened by throwing more lives after those lost, or more money into their graves. I'm sure that those who died would rather than their comrades went home safely.

Raphael Alexander said...


Not sure if you've seen this interview yet, but you should: