In that ‘better’ place?

It makes you wonder if the families who lost loved ones in Canada’s Afghan forays would agree that it was worth it to leave Kandahar a ‘better’ place? Maybe Canada’s defence minister Harjit Sajjan looks at it differently.

Sajjan was asked to comment recently on the American conclusion that the war in Afghanistan can never be won. Maybe it is just the confidence of the Americans that might is right that they thought the war could have a conclusion. A special inspector general report on the American mistakes in Afghanistan was obtained by the Washington Post recently, under ‘access to information,’ after the paper fought its way through the U.S. courts. The report is devastating in that it points out the lack of strategy through many attempts at stabilizing the situation in the country.

And yet, Sajjan tells us that the Canadian troops on the ground in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province were fully aware of the challenges they faced. He says, we left Kandahar a better(?) place.He served three tours in Afghanistan in an intelligence role as well as serving as an advisor to the Americans after they replaced the Canadians.

Maybe the fact that Sajjan grew up in a warrior sect such as Sikhism that he would not answer the question as to whether the war was winnable or not. For a warrior, war in itself is an objective. The honour is in serving in it.

Sajjan has been asked repeatedly about the prospects in that country and he is adamant that the situation is very, very complex. Maybe, he means that as a warrior, he can understand it but it is beyond the grasp of civilians.

But it is history that will continue to have the last word. Since the time in the 19th Century when the Brits marched boldly up the Khyber Pass, many have tried to tame the territory. And the opium poppy growing Pashtuns of Afghanistan have lived off the rations of the red coats and the armies that followed, ever since.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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