|The problem with Afghanistan|
by Sasha Robertson
Should we stay or should we go?
I have often marveled at the attitude of modern people towards war and its casualties.
With 32 soldiers lost in Afghanistan while fighting support- ers of the former Taliban govern- ment, people are asking the question of whether or not we should abandon the camaigne.
It is strange to think that two generations ago, thousands of people died every day during the Second World War, many of whose bodies never returned home. Back then there were many less questions as to why we were there.
Before war in Afghanistan, it had been well documented that it was a monstrous tyranny that imposed a draconian system of justice.
Do you remember hearing stories of videotapes of women being beheaded in former soccer stadiums after being found guilty of adultery? To hear those stories, the religious repression imposed by the govern- ment pales in comparison.
This sort of activity makes any- one with a conscience shudder. There are deaths in Afghanistan right now, but they are not being caused by a monster of a government. Rather they are caused by the elements that put that government into place.
Knowing this, why is there the question of leaving the country, of surrendering the innocents in that country to more years of bloodthirsty rule?
The answer is not easy. There are legitimate reasons for wishing to cut and run.
The government that was installed by peacekeeping forces has recently reopened the Ministry of Vice and Virtue. The Ministry under the Taliban government was respon- sible for acts such as the one I men- tioned earlier. This is only a worry- ing development for those in the cities, as opium lords rule the coun- tryside. It is a fair question to ask whether or not we should be fighting rabidly fundamentalist rebels in order to protect a new fundamentalist government and the drug lords whose business is booming.
There us another reason which few people care to acknowledge. It is the subconscious western view that life is cheap if you don't live in a developed country. It's easy to see this when a subway bombing in London that kills a dozen people is on the front page for days, while a mudslide in Peru that kills two hun- dred barely makes the six o'clock news.
It is a common view in the west that death is a fact of living in under- developed nations, and so we value their lives less than those whose positions we can more fully appreci- ate.
It's fair enough to say that the effort in Afghanistan is currently fail- ing.
The answer to that is not to turn our backs on the people, huddling in the cozy blanket of isolationism, but rather to better understand the peo- ples and cultures that we attempt to liberate.
As a socialist it's my belief that, though the means may vary, those who have must help those who have not. Canada has much to give and we need only our compassion as motive.