Thursday, 21 June 2007

Afghanistan is Not Eden

Three Canadian soldiers were killed on Wednesday when their unarmored vehicle was blown up in Afghanistan by a bomb apparently placed by insurgents. Two days before Canada was told to beware of terrorist attacks in a widely-circulated video made by a Pakistani journalist of a Taliban training camp graduation ceremony. Canada Canada seems to be wading deeper into the Big Muddy with tragic consequences.

In 2003 massive demonstrations in Canada, particularly in Quebec, stiffened the resolve of then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien not to get involved in the American-led invasion of Iraq. That was a wise move, but since then things have changed. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have replaced a Liberal minority government with a far more bellicose, US-friendly regime. Harper also has a minority in the House of Commons, but he has acted as if he had a majority, moving Canada closer and closer to cooperation with US military ventures.

It is time for Canadians to protest loudly the foreign policy direction Harper has taken. On Friday 2,500 Quebec-based troops are supposed be honoured at a parade in Quebec city as they prepare to be deployed to Afghanistan. Demonstrators will be out in force. This should not be seen as an attack on the men and women in the Canadian Forces, but as an attempt to bring Canada’s foreign policy back to what it was—a force for peace and good judgment on the world stage. Beginning the 1950s Canada’s military first created and then refined the art of international Peacekeeping and Peacemaking. It is time to get out of this conflict, where our energies are bein wasted.

No, Afghanistan is far from being Eden. Do not forget, too, the irony that the Sumerians, who ruled what is now Iraq 5,000 years ago when Mesopotamia was the cradle of civilization, had a special word for "plain."

It was "edin."

How times have changed there too.

(For more about how the land between the Euphrates and the Tigris changed, see the chapter on Babylon in my book Green City: People, Nature and Urban Places

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