Tuesday July 10, 2007
Let's get out of A-stan already
By BILL TIELEMAN
The basic problems facing the world today are not susceptible to a military solution.
Canadian troops are bravely dying for a hopeless cause in Afghanistan.
That sad truth can only be extremely painful for the families of all those soldiers killed on our country's behalf, for they fought believing their contribution would help Afghanistan.
But the reality is that six years after Canada's military began its mission Afghanistan is farther away from being a democracy, the Taliban are stronger than ever and the evil opium poppy trade that produces most of the world's heroin is bigger than ever.
Last week six more Canadian soldiers and an Afghani interpreter were killed in a giant roadside bombing, reminding us of our politicians' rash decision to commit troops that has cost 66 soldiers and one diplomat their lives.
And to what end?
Malalai Joya, Afghanistan's most popular female politician and certainly its bravest, was expelled in May from her elected parliamentary position by the many warlords and drug dealers who also hold seats.
Joya, 29, who has survived four assassination attempts, was removed for publicly criticizing the assembly as "worse than a stable".
In an interview with Reuters, Joya said she was expelled so she could no longer expose a "completely non-democratic parliament."
"Even inside of the parliament they threw water at me and they threatened me with death and one of them shouted: 'Take her and rape her'. They turned off my microphone," Joya said. And these are our allies.
Joya addressed the federal convention of the New Democratic Party September 2006. Her words sharply contrasted the jingoistic propaganda of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper that claims great progress is being made in Afghanistan.
"I must tell you that unfortunately there has been NO fundamental change in the plight of Afghan people," Joya said. "When the entire nation is living under the shadow of gun and warlordism, how can its women enjoy very basic freedoms?"
"Unlike the propaganda raised by certain Western media, Afghan women and men are not 'liberated' at all," Joya concluded.
And then there's a new UN report that Afghanistan accounted for 92 per cent of the world's opium production, up from 70 per cent in 2000 and 52 per cent in 1996.
Lastly, a rejoinder to 24 hours columnists Erin Airton and Ian King, who pilloried NDP leader Jack Layton last week for reiterating after the six solidiers died that Canadian troops should be withdrawn immediately.
If anything dishonours our brave soldiers, it is to ask an elected representative of the Canadian people not to tell the truth, a truth that can save Canadian lives.
What kind of democratic values are we trying to export if our politicians are told not to freely speak their minds?