Sunday, October 15, 2006

My Head, My Heart, and the Afghanistan Abattoir

Another bloody weekend in Afghanistan. Two more dead Canadian soldiers. The war goes on and on. And so does the battle between my head and my heart. Just as it did when I watched Trooper Mark Andrew Wilson come home alone the other night.

It was raining hard when he arrived in Trenton. It was windy too as they carried his body from the plane to the hearse. It was quite the scene. The coffin bearers leaning into the wind. The family standing there so sad in the rain.

"....I know we're doing a good job, but it's so horrible, we don't know who our enemy is...'"

Now he'll never know.... and neither will his family ever know who killed their son, husband and dad. They invited the media out to Trenton. But none of the main tv news channels covered the story.

Serve him right for coming home in primetime.

Maybe some Canadians just want to tune this horror show out. But I can't. Although I still can't make up my mind about this bloody war. Like so many other Canadians I'm all over the fucking map. But this scribe kind of sums up my position:

"......are Canadian soldiers dying needlessly to support American imperialism? Or are we fighting the good fight? If Canadian soldiers are fighting a worthwhile fight, then they are prepared to die for that fight, but if it is not, we should bring them home..."

Except that my head also tells me that unless we get a lot more troops and a lot more development money we can't even hope to succeed. We're not going to get either. Our NATO allies are useless. We're not getting the real story. The war is turning into a human abattoir.

"The scene was like a human abattoir. We fought off the Taliban but were too late to save the French guys. All of us were shaking when we were flown back to base. One of the Afghan survivors said the French had been tied up, then gutted alive by the Taliban. It was one of the most shocking things I had ever heard."

And it's not just the Taliban who don't want us there.

"When we arrived in Sangin, the locals began throwing rocks and anything they could at us. This was not a friendly place. We pushed into the district centre and, during the last few hundred metres, we began receiving mortar fire."

So we should just get the hell out as soon as we can. Fighting a war you know you can't win might be heroic in a crazy way. As crazy as fighting a war in a field of opium poppies. Or a marijuana forest. But it's also criminally dum.

Then I think of the Afghan women, and the gays, and the poor little children who need schools and clinics, and the soldiers like Trooper Wilson, private Williamson and sgt. Tedford, and all the others who gave their lives thinking they were making a difference. Or at least hoping they were. And I can't trust my heart. One day I'm against the war. And the next day I'm not.

Which is why I guess I found the following beer ad so interesting.......Even though it's American. Just change the uniforms and pretend they're Canadians. And then ask yourself whether you would react any differently if you knew whether the soldiers are coming or going...

The ad never makes it clear. Are they coming home or shipping out? You see in it what you want to see.

All I know is that whatever happens, I'll always be proud of our troops. But the day my head and my heart will finally be at peace with each other. The day I'll really applaud and cheer and whoop it up and go crazy with happiness. Is the day the last Canadian soldier leaves that bloody land.

Walks off the plane instead of coming home in a box. Like Trooper Wilson did.

And thanks to Stephen Harper's reckless decision to sign us up for two more years of this hell. Just to please the criminal Bush regime.

So many other Canadians will soon die too. Or be horribly injured or mutilated or blinded for life.

For what I wonder. For what?


Anonymous said...

To Montreal Simon, First of all I want to say "thanks". Thanks for having taken the time to put your thoughts down. Thanks also for prompting me to try my hand at this blogging thing. Yep, this is a 1st for me and I just hope what I'm doing will allow you to know that you're not alone. I too am a proud Canadian living in la Belle Province. I too am having a tought time wrapping my mind around what's happening in Afghanistan. I do know one thing for certain and that I support our fellow Canadians who are fighting the good fight. I don't do politics. But I like to think I know right from wrong. And while our house needs a cleanup (e.g.: let's get rid of dual citizenship), it sure is better - warts and all - than what other "civilizations" have to offer. Proof's in the (immigration) pudding as they say. If I was 30 years younger, I'd trade my pencil-pushing knowledge economy desk job and try my best to dig a clean water well for the what's got to be the ultimate reward - a smile on a youngster's face that never had reason to smile till then. Je te salut mon vieux et j'espère que tu trouveras la paix.

Anonymous said...

"And thanks to Stephen Harper's reckless decision to sign us up for two more years of this hell. Just to please the criminal Bush regime."

Do you think that word "just" is really fair? Is it absolutely impossible that there was another motivation?

Anonymous said...

Hello Simon:

Thank you for the quote. You are a credit to the Canadian people that you are asking these tough questions. I have been asking myself the same questions, and I think I believe now that we should bring our men and women our the Canadian Forces home. I wrote another post where I stated that I think that the Canadian people should be proud of how our soldiers have performed, and I absolutely believe that, but it is time to bring them home.

Simon said...

Hi anonymous...thanks for that.Did I really inspire you to start blogging? That's awesome!! The more of our voices we can get out there the better...I mean it's only our little voices but it's better than just doing nothing, and just watch our world unravel...

Hi Walrus...OK fair point. He may have had other more altruistic motives as well. But I can't help feeling it was mostly done as a bone for the Americans,and I absolutely hated the way it was rammed through Parliament for cheap political reasons. Because so many warning signs were glowing red we should have had a longer and more considered debate...

And hi was a pleasure to link to you. You just said what I was thinking but did it better with far fewer words! I'm trying I'm trying.... but it's so hard :(
I also hope people took the time to read the Paul Workman story you linked to.It was a good one and you've got to love the part where the guy whose armoured car was hit by an IED and says "....I think I've been hit harder in hockey..." Isn't that a Canadian Classic? But if we really want to support our soldiers we owe them a really hard look at the reality of the situation. For example are we fighting a 21st Century war with 20th century tactics? Are we just taking sides in a civil war albeit one supplied and egged on by Pakistan. Is our presence there making us safer or are we just creating another terrorist breeding ground like Iraq? So many questions so few answers. But the main thing right now is to do like you do and keep asking them....