There was some delicious irony through the weekend as George W. Bush's Victory Lap, without a victory in two wars, was overshadowed by images of an Iraqi reporter's shoes flying at the head of the departing American President.
Here at home there is the usual sadness and a certain palpable degree of anger over the mounting toll of Canadian military casualties in the Afghanistan conflict. It is a sorry mess created for the political gratification of both of Canada's major national parties. The Liberals, under Jean Chretien and subsequently Paul Martin, for engaging the country into this futile effort in order to avoid committing to Mr. Bush's "Iraq Coalition of the Willing" back in 2003...and the hawkish Stephen Harper Conservatives for both accelerating and extending the commitment until February of 2011.
There are several ways to measure Canada's costs: All bad. None more demonstrative than the sad murder of 6 Canadian troop in just the past week. Three based at CFB Petawawa, and three at CFB Gagetown. In the process Canada has also lost, or abandoned, its historic, iconic and venerable role as the world's Peace Keeper. A sacred mission we cherished from the day Lester B. Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize for developing the notion of peace keeping more than 50 years ago. And, if Canada's government was brought to its knees in the past two weeks over plans to slash just $30-million from the coffers of our National political parties...Imagine the billions saved if we weren't fighting and losing an un-winnable war clear on the other side of the planet.
Last week when the current, and soon to transfer to the Obama Administration, American Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, invited NATO International Security Assistance Force members to remain long-term in Afghanistan: Refreshingly, The Prime Minister appeared steadfast in Canada's withdrawal by early 2011. Cynics might argue that the recent battle scars from the fallout of the October 14th Federal election are just too fresh for Mr. Harper to say otherwise...still it is "his" commitment. One of which he will surely frequently be reminded in the future by the families of Canada's Afghan victims, Canadians in general, and hopefully our elected politicians of all stripes.
Although the killing fields of Afghanistan are 12,000 miles away, and the political skirmishes of recent days in Ottawa have shone the spotlight away from this commitment of our military; clearly Canadians are battle weary and fatigued. The multiplying convoys of hearses along the "Highway of Heroes" in southeastern Ontario is a far too frequent poignant reminder of the price we have paid, and that we continue paying.
Because President Bush and his administration saw fit to engage in a quarrel over Iraq's massive oil reserves, and finish in 2003 the unfinished 1991 battle over Sadam Hussein's Baghdad; the resurgent war of terror from Muslim ideologues, demagogues, and extremists wages on in the barren Afghan mountains, valleys, and scorpion infested poppy fields and desserts. I think we've had enough...Mission accomplished!