It makes me proud as a Canadian to know our government is looking at a post-2011 role in Afghanistan. Maybe it is foolhardy to have that pride given the price of death and suffering we have already paid there juxtaposed with assorted reports about a lack of progress in enhancing life. However, I still believe we owe it to those Canadians who have made the ultimate sacrifice and to the people of Afghanistan, particularly the women and children who are now seeing changes for the better, to keep going a little longer - albeit in a different capacity.
Personally, as I have mentioned before, one of my dearest friends in there now near the end of a six-month tour. This guy is an inspiration. He took a leave from a fantastic private sector job to serve with members of his reserve unit in Afghanistan. He did so because he knows what he and his buddies are doing there is important. He knows Canada matters there and that what we do on the ground has impact around the world.
Every time there is an ominous combat report I think of my friend and his fellow soldiers. A tinge of anxiety sets in as we all wait for details. My discomfort is minor compared to his reality. But his choice is our choice and he made that call because he believes we are doing the right thing in Afghanistan.
A member of my family also serves Canada in Afghanistan. He is one of our senior diplomats in country. While responsible in his duty and discreet in his commentary, there is little doubt his job with his peers is made easier by Canada's service commitment there. Canada's stature in the world, particularly among our important allies, is still tied up in what we do or don't do with them in this vital corner of the world.
How we manage our remaining commitment to and time in Afghanistan will likely have more meaningful impact for us internationally than any Security Council seat at the UN. There are real consequences, human and otherwise, on the line. It is vital there be a healthy, responsible public discussion; we owe that to those who never came home. But picking up, waving goodbye and saying to hell with it isn't the way to go.
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