By Chad Bowie, Opinions Contributor
As Canadians we enjoy a strong, stable democracy that provides each and every person with basic human rights and an underlying equality of opportunity. We enjoy the right to protest and the right to openly – and loudly – disagree with our legislators. We even have the chance to fire them every four years or so.
All in all, we’ve got it pretty good.
Unfortunately, there are far too many places in the world today where individuals do not enjoy these same luxuries. There are millions of people like us who do not enjoy security, safety and respect for basic human rights. What right do we have, as champions of liberty and democracy, to sit by passively and allow this to happen? The answer is we can’t.
People who find themselves living in places where they do not feel safe and are not permitted to air their dissenting voices in a proper democracy need someone to stand up for them. People that are subject to oppressive tyrannical regimes are worth fighting defending. Afghanistan is worth fighting for.
For years now there have been calls for Canada to end its role in Afghanistan. The people making these calls should reconsider their position. None of us, no matter how hard we pretend to, is capable of understanding the grave injustices that Afghans had to endear during the Taliban’s time in power.
While we’re worrying about when the next generation of the iPod Nano will hit the shelves soon our whether or favourite NHL team will be making it to the play offs, there are still young women to in parts of Afghanistan worried about whether or not they will be stoned to death for talking to a man openly on the street.
As Canadians, we need to remember where our freedom came from. In a nutshell, we asked for it and we got it. It really wasn’t all that hard. Afghans have never had it that easy. They have been forced to endure the brutal nature of theocracy, the heartless confines of communism and most recently the overbearing and iron-fisted rule of the Taliban. We can’t even pretend to be capable of comparing that to any of our national experiences.
If we truly are the great peacekeeping nation that we like to pretend we are, how can we justify allowing this to continue? And don’t think for a second that if we surrender now and call it a ‘victory’ that these crimes against humanity won’t continue. You don’t quit a job when it’s only halfway finished.
Former Deputy Prime Minister John Manley hit the nail in January 2008 when his report on Canada’s future in Afghanistan an immediate military withdrawal would “cause more harm than good.”
The Afghan democracy is still fragile. If the North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, including Canada, throw in the towel now the Afghan people will once again be subject to the despotic rule of a select few that have no legitimate authority.
Afghanistan will once again become a breeding ground for terrorism and the plight of the Afghan people will once again be forgotten by the West. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen.
We have a duty to continue fighting for freedom in Afghanistan. Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric that so many opponents of the mission will try and use to justify surrender. This mission is not solely about American military interests or Canada trying to prove something on the international stage. It is about the very future of democracy itself in a country where it is long overdue.