UPDATE: A link to a local blogger’s attempt to record events at the protest in London. He was thwarted to some extent by some nutjob, but its a good account nonetheless. Enjoy.
This past weekend saw protests in major cities across the country against Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan. This is normal enough and of course it was supported by Jack ‘bobble-head’ Layton and major unions. Unfortunately, these clueless and mostly cowardly peaceniks claimed to protest to ‘support the troops’. Hmmm, they choose a strange way of showing support to my mind.
On TV we were subjected to images of people carrying signs and chanting slogans, but neither very well informed. For instance there was a huge banner proclaiming ‘No blood for oil’. I checked around in case I missed the news about Afghanistan’s huge oil industry, but according to this index the country had ZERO barrels of proved reserves in 2002. Odd, so I guess the banner is correct in that there is no blood being spilt for oil – but then what could the protestors point be? Perhaps they are confusing Afghanistan with Iraq/Kuwait??
In the National Post, an article on the protests quotes one protestor saying:
""What we are doing is wrong in Afghanistan destroying the country and promoting the U.S. imperialist agenda…"
Destroying the country? In 2001, Afghanistan ranked number 89 of 90 in the UN’s Human Development Index for developing countries. Only Niger ranked lower. So how exactly is the country being further destroyed by the presence of Canadian troops? This story in the San Francisco Chronicle from 2004 notes that:
"Despite the problems, Afghanistan has shown remarkable progress in the three years since the U.S.-led war in 2001, the report said. More than 54 percent of school-age children are enrolled in school, including 4 million high school students. The economy is making great strides, with growth of 16 percent in nondrug gross domestic product in 2003 and predicted growth of 10 to 12 percent annually for the next decade. "
So, another protestor has the facts wrong. So what is the point of the protestors exactly? I think perhaps these slogans tells it best:
"health care, day care, anything but warfare" and
"Drop Tuition Not Bombs"
In other words – we want our lives to be just fine thanks and never mind those Afghans – they can look after themselves.
This gets to the heart of the issue for understanding where these selfish and self-righteous nutjobs are coming from, they want more government programs to take care of them and to hell with everyone else. Canadian troops are doing good work in Afghanistan, they are helping a previously oppressed population that suffered under the Taliban to see a new hope. This new hope is aligned with all Canadian’s interests in that it has made life tougher for the Al-Quaeda thugs that used Afghanistan as a base of operations. This is a noble cause and I hope the troops understand that some Canadians appreciate their courage and sacrifice.
The Post notes that there were some souls willing to counter-protest, good for them, especially this fellow who is quoted:
"Canada’s best are out there, so we’ve got to send them the message that we support them here," said a man named Jay, who didn’t want to give his last name."
I’m sure Jay wasn’t popular out there on the streets, but he went anyway to make a point. Nice work sir.
Jay has the edge over the not too bright Montreal protestor who is quoted:
"The war isn’t about saving the Afghan people, not at all. It’s an economic war to take power."
Afghanistan has no economy worth a damn, yet. So who exactly is after what power here? Does this clueless soul think that Canada is making a play for the Opium harvest – Afghanistan’s only real valuable export? The country is a wreck – it was a wreck under the Taliban and its a wreck now, but less so and improving.
In the Post article:
"Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton, who marched in Toronto, said in a CTV interview that Canada’s goals in Afghanistan are not being achieved, and Ottawa is spending much more on the war effort than on reconstruction in the beleaguered south. "Much of the aid isn’t even getting there and we’re seeing increased civilian deaths…"
Jack doesn’t understand that you need to win the war before the aid and reconstruction can really advance. How much aid will do any good if it ends up feeding the remaining Taliban forces? Try this logic Jack – beat the enemy, free the people and rebuild the country – in that order. Not too many roads will be safe if you build them before the enemy is defeated. Not many families will be fed if the enemy is free to steal the aid supplies.
There is a good commentary in the Toronto Star that is more in line with my thinking here. Note this point in particular:
"…these protests do not support our troops. They are harmful and provide aid and comfort to the enemy. One of the new realities of war is that the enemy, be it Al Qaeda, the Taliban or myriad other terrorist groups need not defeat us militarily. They need only survive long enough to convince the intellectual and moral weaklings and professional protestors that it is the time to hit the streets with their placards and they win a big victory. This war will not be won in Afghanistan. It will be won or lost in our universities, on our streets, our television screens, in newspaper editorials and letters and in our election booths. The lives we have lost there will have been for naught."
If only the protestors could understand that what they do when taking to the streets is harmful and not helpful then perhaps the mission could be better accomplished. That is a fact they could learn.
Finally, from the Post article:
"In Halifax, Andria Hill-Lehr said: "Right now I am ashamed of wearing a Canadian flag on my back."
So Andria, do us all a favour and DON’T – you bring shame to the nation with your selfish ignorance, and that goes for all the protestors that put themselves and their squeamishness before the plight of others that did not have the privilige to be born into freedom and to whom our troops are bringing hope.