Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Neverending War

And what is this bill? 
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations
Major-General Smedley Butler
US Marine Corps
"War is a Racket" 

November 11, Remembrance Day, 2013

James Wilfred Elliott
Regimental Number 908082
195th Battalion
Canadian Expeditionary Force

Dear Uncle Wilfred,

Well, it's over 98 years since you were in the Battle for Hill 70, got seriously wounded, and received the Military Medal as a result.  And it's 4 years since I wrote you last so I thought I should bring you up to date.

A lot has happened, and not much has happened. The International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan is leaving in confusion, and leaving chaos in its wake.  I don't think it's what anybody had in mind. On the first page of the UN Security Council Resolution 1386 of December 20, 2001, the goal was stated to be "root out terrorism."

As a goal, it seemed preposterous, nobody defined it.  The definition of "terrorism" has remained fuzzy all this time, even though people are dying trying to root it out.  This goal was originally defined by NATO as a "collective act of self-defence" and therefore qualifying the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan as legal.  I'd like to know what they would have thought of that  at Nuremberg.

Anyway, and after about 12 years, almost all the troops are back in Canada. Nobody can define the purpose of all that dying and wounding and civilian casualties, or even had the honesty to define what "winning" would have looked like.  They had the same problem in Vietnam.

To be fair, there were a lot of statements about Afghanistan becoming a peaceful society in the modern world, having elections and everything, but even if - despite the lack of plan - Afghanistan had miraculously been transmogrified into such a society, it would have still been surrounded by nations who still view things differently, which means the whole region would have had to go through a miraculous evolution to the same type of society that would have - miraculously - come to exist in Afghanistan. Nobody asked the Afghans if that's what they wanted.

However, the cost of not knowing what your goals are getting in, and therefore not having a clue how to get out, is horrendous and apparently neverending, as you would know.