Canada’s A/Stan death toll hits 124; Robert McNamara dies
More Canadian deaths today in Afghanistan, as well as the death of former US Secretary of Defence, Robert McNamara, aged 93.
Our recent dead, may they rest in peace:
Master Corporal Charles-Phillipe Michaud, 28, 2nd Battalian, Royal 22nd Regiment, CFB Valcartier (injured June 23, Panjwai District, SW Khandahar)
Master Corporal Pat Audet, 38, full details not yet known
Corporal Martin Joanelle, 25, full details not yet known
News reports also cite US troop deaths in relatively quiet eastern Afghanistan although the massive US led Operation Khanjar or “Strike of the Sword” is primarily in Helmand province. This Operation involves 4, 650 US Marine fighters and 50 aircraft, making it the largest Marine offensive airlift operation in Afghanistan since 2001. One website even compares Strike of the Sword to “largest Op since Vietnam.”
Again, questions raised on this blog remain –
- Why is Canada a part of this mission?
- Are we making things “over there” better or worse?
- Is our engagement worth the sacrifice?
One reason durably put forth by many Canadian commentators is the value of “nation-building,” in particular the improvement in the lives of Afghan women. According to a June, 2009 Australian interview, a spokeswoman for Afghanistan’s RAWA, its oldest women’s organization not affiliated with any political party, the reality is worsening for Afghan women: gang rape incidents and domestic violence are on the increase. She points out that the Taliban are in a few provinces in the west, and in provinces such as Helmand and Farah, not all over the country, where women battle both drug warlords and the Northern Alliance, members of which sit in the Afghan Parliament and many of whom support President Karzai (he faces an election August 20).
RAWA claims that that the US and NATO forces of which Canada is a part are using the Alliance and Karzai to protect NATO interests behind the “shield” of “women’s liberation.” This phenomenon is described by the Atlantic’s Robert Kaplan: “U.S. foreign policy must be robed in idealism…to garner public support.” Of course this “supremacy by stealth” doctrine was alive in McNamara’s Vietnam strategy of “winning hearts and minds” while mounting huge military operations.
Here’s US Brigadier General Larry Nicholson speaking recently of his Marines: “What makes Operation Khanjar different from those that have occurred before is the massive size of the force introduced, the speed at which it will insert.”
Is Canada being too easily led via NATO into this new U.S. surge? We’ll give the last word to Robert McNamara, may he too find peace with his maker: “There is no longer any such thing as strategy, only crisis management.”