Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More Canadian dead

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The unpleasant latest: "The dangers of Afghanistan were driven further Wednesday night with news that two Canadian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter were killed and another soldier and two Radio-Canada television journalists were injured."

The Canadian death toll in Afghanistan since 2002 now stands at 68, including a diplomat. Yes, far fewer than the number of Afghans killed, and far few than the number of Americans killed in Iraq, but still deeply troubling for this country.

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I tend to support Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan, in some form or another, more than most other Canadians, but my support is wavering, uncertain.

Canadian troops -- who are doing a "fabulous job," said Bush at the recent summit in Quebec -- are scheduled to come home in February 2009. "Canada has performed brilliantly," echoed Harper.

They are both right, regardless of whether or not the troops should be there at all.

The troops make us proud, regardless of the mission.

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And should they be there? Let's see how 2008 goes. It is much easier to support a NATO-led action than a U.S.-led one, but my support would be more robust, I suspect, if the U.S. hadn't turned away from Afghanistan to wage irresponsible war in Iraq.

The Afghans need us, the Taliban is totalitarian, and the cause may be just.

But the mission must be clear.

And the cost? Every life lost hurts dearly.

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