There are at least 6 good reasons why Canada should get out of Afghanistan.
• The case for war in Afghanistan was never made, Canada simply morphed from peacekeeper to warrior with no real public discussion. As we are learning from another war, if the people aren’t committed and an objective isn’t clearly stated, there won’t be a lot of domestic commitment. Yes, headlines are shouting 50% of Canadians are in favour of the war, but they could just as easily announce that 50% are against it. Because this war has never been properly ‘sold,’ and because it has no clear objective, it has the potentially to be highly divisive — again, like another war.
• As a group NATO countries are not evenly committed to this war; UN troop levels are staying at 36,000 while insurgents grow stronger. If this is truly a NATO initiative it shouldn’t have an opt-in, opt-out look and feel to it, not just to the member nation’s commitment of troops, but even to where they will allow those troops to be send. Canadians, for instance, are in the volatile southern Kandahar region where other member countries refuse to go.
• According to a UK report, there is evidence that the Taliban and al Qaeda-linked insurgents are expanding their sphere of influence outwards from the Pakistan safe-haven of Helmand province. There now may well be a demand for greater troop strength at a time when NATO member countries increasingly equivocate about this war. That puts too much pressure on the Committed countries to pick up the slack.
• The inevitable reports from wars like this of the excessive killings of innocents weakens the perception of the West as a responsible agent for change in the region. Indeed, Afghanistan Prime Minister Karzai himself was moved to complain about these reckless killings. As in Iraq, the killing of innocents can result in a heightened call to action of the insurgents.
• Afghanistan continues to be a narco-state with heroine accounting for 30% of Afghanistan’s economy. In fact, poppy cultivation expanded from 104,000 hectares in 2005 to 165,000 hectares in 2006 as NATO fumbles about looking for a way to deal with it.
• But the single biggest reason for Canada to get out of Afghanistan is that it simply is not Canada’s fight, it is first and foremost a Muslim fight and requires long-term Muslim solutions; Canada and NATO countries should only help in the fight at the request of Muslim nations, not take it over.
Afghanistan is just one of many counties brutalized and corrupted by Islamic fanaticism. Before Canada and NATO ever get involved in what are essentially quasi-religious wars, there must be a convincing consensus within the broader Muslim world of the objectives of the so-called fight against the Muslim terrorists. And, as important, there must be full participation of all Muslim countries in these fights. Why should the west fight while the Saudis and Kuwaitis pump oil?
Muslim fanaticism is an enormous problem throughout the Muslim world. But it is a Muslim-first problem and it must find Muslim solutions. The West can and should help where it can but NATO isn’t the answer. Muslims, themselves, are the answer, in Afghanistan, as in Iraq.