I saw something the other day that really irked me. It was a poster for an anti-war rally this Saturday with a picture of a howitzer on it. The subtitle read: “Does this look like the weapon of a peace-keeper?”
I believe the answer to that would be “Yes”, followed by “Don’t be an idiot”.
Now, advocating to bring the troops home on the surface is an honorable thing. As a nation, we must do what it takes to ensure the safety of our people. However, if we are to have them out there in any capacity at all, they need carte blanche on the tools they need to do the job. A howitzer you say? That was probably the cheaper option for the military budget. They need things like body armor, GPS and GIS systems, and autonomous combat drones, but they’re not likely going to get these things if we carry on this attitude about what “peace-keepers” can and cannot have to protect their people.
I may not support American foreign policy vis a vis the War on Terror, but I support this mission to Afghanistan. Unlike the tenuous intelligence that led to the war in Iraq, the leadership in Afghanistan and in al Qaeda were basically determined to be one and the same. The country still isn’t completely stabilized, and an immediate pull-out would probably allow Al Qaeda to return. It’s also the work of an United Nations coalition, and our involvement underlines Canada’s solidarity against terrorism, just as our non-involvement in Iraq underlines our stance against unilateral military action.
A strong military is necessary for Canada to have diplomatic bargaining power on the world stage. It’s not just for blowing up mud huts in the desert. Think of the good will we generate when we use our military for disaster response, protecting foreign aid missions, or guarding fish stocks. Canada had boots on the ground in New Orleans within 72 hours of Hurricane Katrina. If we expanded our capability, we might be able to handle humanitarian disasters like Darfur and Rwanda. Furthermore, our military may become a large enough help to make a case against unilateral actions like the Iraq war. America may not be so quick to throw it’s weight around if losing our support suddenly became an issue.
The key to winning any war is to win without fighting. We may be a peace-loving nation, but that does not mean we need to be ineffective.