Monday, March 13, 2006

Is this the new face of peacekeeping?

If you're anything like me, you're still confused about Canada's newfound role in Afghanistan. I mean, Stephen Harper's stealth visit to Kandahar reeked of propaganda, and his refusal to explain to Canadians why we've sent troops there sounds awfully like George W. Bush's "either you're with us, or you support terrorism" mentality.

I am still muddling through this issue. I don't feel like I have enough information to fully assess the situation. I have a deep suspicion that the main reason Canada has increased its involvement in Afghanistan is as an act of solidarity with the U.S. And I know that this is not a UN-sponsored peacekeeping mission by any stretch of the imagination. Internal voices of dissent like the incredible Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan seem to have been silenced on this issue. Surely local people resent what amounts to another Western occupation.

But I also wouldn't want to sound like an apologist for the Taliban, or for the years of gender apartheid that women in Afghanistan were forced to contend with. When I read the history of Rwanda, it is devastating to imagine that if the international community had acted, we could have prevented the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people.

I know that war is never the answer. As Michael Franti says, "you can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace." But I need other, more informed people to explain to me why this mission is a problematic one, in a manner that expresses solidarity for the legitimate suffering of the Afghan people.

Here are a couple of places where I've started to unravel the situation:

1. Gerald Caplan's recent article in the Toronto Star, "War and peace are too important to leave to generals like Rick Hillier."

2. Rick Salutin's column, "Trust the public on Afghanistan."

3. Linda McQuaig, "Forces' leaders trying to stifle debate on mission."

4. Oh, and believe it or not, Margaret Wente has similar reservations.

Any other suggestions? Please help me out, and post references to other articles that might be of use to activists who are trying to get a handle on this issue. Thanks.

And thanks to all of the fabulous people who have been posting comments on this blog ... it's exciting to engage in a dialogue with all of you!


1 comment:

Sheryl Smolkin said...

Ariel, read Christy Blatchford in the G&M. She is currently "imbedded" in Afghanistan. Also, see the specials ection the Toronto Star did on Sunday. I too am confused, but there seems to be an incredible need for infrastructure which Canada can help with. Its really scary that village elders have told Canadian soldiers that they want schools but will not even let girls attend separate schools under any circumstances.