Thursday, September 07, 2006

Coffins, Bagpipes and the Afghanistan Debate

The repatriation ceremony at Trenton today seemed to go on forever. One after the other the coffins came rolling out of the flying hearse, like some ghastly assembly line of death. The piper played. The families wept. I didn't bother to take any pictures. Truthfully I even found it hard to watch. And it wasn't because I'm getting used to the sight of those coffins, as this BBC story suggests.

"It could be that Canadians are developing an immunity to the once-shocking sight of coffins draped in the maple leaf flag, and the mournful sound of those military bagpipes."

Maybe, but I doubt it. Not in my case anyway. I just want to try to keep emotion out of it. So I don't get carried away with feelings of pride or revenge. And can think more clearly about how we got into this bloody mess and how we're going to get out of it.

I think we all need to do that. We need to take a hard look at the mission. Come to terms with the fact that we might be winning some battles. But we're losing the war.

And put a lot more thought into what we're asking our troops to do, than we did when we sent them in.

Whatever the merits of the mission, the fact is that two Prime Ministers have committed us to a mission for all the wrong reasons, and without any proper idea of what our soldiers would be up against.

Paul Martin did it because he wanted to mollify the Americans for not sending Canadians troops to Iraq. And Stephen Harper did it because he wanted to suck up to them. And drive a wedge into the Liberals as well.

Neither of them apparently stopped to consider whether there would be enough boots on the ground, or enough equipment to do the job. And now our soldiers are paying for that with their lives.

That's why we need a Parliamentary debate.Whatever the Tories say. We need to face the facts. Recalibrate our anti-terrorist strategy. Listen to what our soldiers and other soldiers have to say.

If the British are having trouble holding it together with the troops they have there, imagine what trouble we're going to have with about a thousand troops less.

Maybe Jack Layton's proposal to bring the troops back early next year isn't realistic. But keeping them there for two more years or more could shred our army, like the Iraq war is doing to the American one. It will divide Canadians, damage our image as peacekeepers, and rather than making us safer at home will make us more of a terrorist target.

We've got to stop apologizing for being Canadians and wanting to do things our way. Instead of following the criminal Bush regime in its increasingly insane so-called war on terror. If Paul Martin hadn't felt the need to apologize for not sending troops to Iraq, when no apology was required, we wouldn't be where we are.

Whenever we do decide to pull our troops out, as we eventually will, the end result will be the same. A mission impossible is a mission impossible.

The only difference will be the number of Canadians who died.

Fighting a war that couldn't be won.

If that isn't worth debating in Parliament what is?

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