I fear that we are in danger of losing our mission. I really think that at this point Canada could be in danger of completely losing popular support for its mission in Afghanistan.
It's not like the polls were looking stellar before this.
Last month, an Angus Reid poll found that almost half of Canadians would end our role in Afghanistan before 2011 (the scheduled pull-out date) if the choice were up to them. In the online survey, 48 per cent of respondents wanted the bulk of the troops currently deployed in Afghanistan to be withdrawn before 2011, 35 per cent would continue until the end of the mission in 2011, and only seven per cent believe Canadian soldiers should remain in Afghanistan after 2011.
Now, even I, in the die-hard 7% group apparently (which, by the way, I don't quite buy, I think the actual number of Canadians who would support Canada staying in Afghanistan after 2011 would be somewhat higher than that) have begun to question what, exactly, we think we are doing there.
The way I see it, we went to Afghanistan for both selfish and humanitarian reasons. To prevent the country from becoming another hot-bed for terrorists who threaten not just our way of life, but our very lives. And, equally as important, to help the Afghan people rebuild and gain control of their country. To help put them in a position to live a better life. To help improve the life of women who have lived for years in conditions that Canadian women can barely fathom.
Not to perpetuate a society where it would be illegal for women to refuse to have sex with their husbands. Not to perpetuate a society which requires women to get approval from a male relative in order to leave the house.
You've got to be kidding.
Yes, I understand there are "cultural and religious differences" between life in Canada and life in Afghanistan. I equally understand that "cultural and religious differences" can easily be used as a cover for other intents and purposes. Intents and purposes which Canada simply cannot, in good conscience, be part of.
Yes, it's complex. We said we would give them democracy. And shouldn't democracy include the right to make their own decisions, form their own laws? Maybe so, but it doesn't mean that we have to be a part of it.
If that is the choice their 'democratically elected' government makes, then we need to seriously consider our continued presence in Afghanistan and take a serious look at what options are open to us. I don't see how staying and supporting such a government can result in anything less than tainting our soldiers, our government, ourselves. Making us equally guilty.
Apparently, my fellow Canadians agree.
A survey by The Canadian Press/Harris-Decima suggests 40 per cent of Canadians support the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan. But should the family law code be enacted, the poll suggests opposition to the mission would rise to roughly 75 per cent.I am well aware that international outrage has forced the Afghan government to promise a review of the proposed law. A review that is expected to take two to three months, likely postponing the law's enactment until after the presidential election in August. And then?
Then, if such a law is still "on the table", so to speak, Canada must take a stand. I may not be entirely sure what the *right* thing to do is but I do know that we cannot simply keep doing what we are doing. Not in those circumstances.
Update: It's nice to see that it's not just us *foreigners* protesting the passage of this law. And that Afghan women are actually willing to speak truth to power.
Although I must say that taking the position that the legislation, which has already been approved by both houses of Parliament and signed by the President, is not yet law because it has yet to be published in the government’s official register is a bit of stretch, don't you think?
H/T to Neptunus Lex for the update