Thursday, February 22, 2007

Questions for Lewis Mackenzie

Now that Macleans has selected 50 Leading Voices to comment on their stories, we get to read what Lewis Mackenzie thinks about Afghanistan and our mission there:
"It's too bad we have to 'sell' helping 95% of a population that through no fault of its own has been brutalized for over three decades and is now on the slow road to recovery. Whatever happened to the majority of Canadians wanting to 'do the right thing'?"
Interesting, but Mackenzie doesn't understand the problem that many people have with this mission.

First of all, is it even possible to do anything that approaches "the right thing" in Afghanistan? This is a nation that is resistant to the aid of outsiders, and operates with a profoundly different social system than anything we'd recognize. There is a long history of tribal strife in Afghanistan. Moreover, the folks running the place now are hardly Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Is the current mission, described by Gen. Hillier as being one of killing "scumbags" the way to do the "right thing?" Why do we need Leopard tanks - designed to fight a Soviet tank assault on the plains of Europe - rolling around taking out one or two guys with a mortar or a band of young men with AK-47s?

Is this the right "right thing" for us to be doing? You know the rest of the world is not exactly hunky dory these days. Why not send troops to keep the peace in Lebanon or try to make a difference in Darfur? What about Haiti, in our own backyard, that place needs some help, maybe not soldiers, but something.

To portray those questioning the current Afghanistan mission as being disinterested in global good citizenship is intellectually dishonest.

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