Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hoooorah for Rosie!

Rosie Dimanno, a columnist for “The Toronto Star,” has undergone seven news assignments in Afghanistan since 2001, a few tours as an embedded reporter with the Canadian Military. Fed up with the growing debate over Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan, she spoke out in her column today: AFGHANS NEED US.

She decries two “The Globe and Mail” columnists’ recent comments, opinions formed by the way from their cozy chairs in their home offices. (I could be accused of the same thing except I was once out there with the Canadian military in Rwanda and “eyes on the ground” change your whole perspective). Margaret Wenty claims that Canadian solders no longer risk their lives going “outside the wire.”

Unquote Wenty in her column: “Apart from the model village, our soldiers don't get out much. They no longer chase the Taliban. Mostly, they’re trapped behind the wire at the base in Kandahar, where IEDs won’t get them. There is no technical answer to the roadside bombs, which explode even on what are supposedly the safest roads. Whenever possible, personnel fly by helicopter. Development efforts are increasingly managed from inside the wire—Afghans go in to report, but Canadians don’t see for themselves. Outside the model village, they no longer have contact with Afghans.”

I agree with Rosie. Unless she has been embedded in the Canadian military and seen this for herself, she has NO right to make such outrageous and misleading statements. Two days ago, another soldier was killed and the 11 other troopers with him in their armored vehicle injured in an IED attack on patrol beyond the safe haven of the base. The Canadian military continues to carry out its mission in Afghanistan to protect and to develop despite the ignorance of those at home who spread such inappropriate rumors.

And then there’s good ole, thought-provoking Rick Salutin, the other “Globe” columnist Rosie targets. She scoffs at his suggestion the Taliban have a justice system that works, compared to Afghans’ miserable courts. Of course it works. The Taliban rule by fear. Rosie’s point: To the Taliban, jurisprudence is managed with summary executions.

Salutin makes his “get-out-of-Afghanistan” position by comparing Afghanistan to another Viet Nam defeat or to the British abandoning India. He says this to make his point that liberators such as the British and the United States never learn they can’t interfere with the local people’s civil riffs, customs, cultures and traditional attitudes without robbing the victims of their right to self-sufficiency.

Hello!! Has this not been the very reason why Canada has insisted that local development goes hand-in-hand with our military intervention on behalf of the UN?

Out of the 131 killed while serving in Afghanistan, only one family has spoken out against the mission. In troop rotations stretched beyond capacity, this is an amazing endorsement by the personnel on the ground. They better than anyone can judge how effective their mission has been.

Rosie states: “I am well aware of what is not working . . . but I’ve seen Afghans—the vast majority of them—alarmed about the West abandoning them again and withdrawing troops prematurely.”

Rosie has witnessed that Western intervention has been the only thing both to hinder the Talibans’ return and to permit effective reconstruction of the Afghans’ country. “For those who care to actually look, this has been a historic period of restoring institutions in a country that lost all of that over three decades of war.”

The Canadian military may not be able to stretch their limited fighting force past the 2011 pull-out date, but it is in favor of changing its role in Afghanistan to help expanding United States troops secure the country from persistent Taliban insurgencies by concentrating on Afghanistan’s redevelopment and independent training of security and police forces. If the Afghans are not prepared to give up, neither should we. We’ve sacrificed too many to make such a mockery of their achievements.

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