The war in Afghanistan has been waged since October 7, 2001, with the first contingents of regular Canadian soldiers arriving in January and February of the following year. Earlier, forty operators from Canada’s Joint Task Force Two had been sent to Afghanistan in December 2001 to work with the Americans in their effort to remove the Taliban.
The strategically important centres of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul fell in November 2001 and the Taliban retreated from the north of the country, paving the way for the installation of the newly formed Karzai administration. Hamid Karzai has been the President and leader since December 20, 2001, and the current parliament was elected in 2005.
In other words, the current state of Afghanistan is not a new one, but rather it is, at least, five years old and by some measurements closer to nine years old.
My point here is that at some point that country—including its leaders and its government—will have to be left to stand on its own two feet. There has been plenty of time and billions of dollars available for Afghanistan to recruit and train a national force sufficient to take on the Taliban without outsiders having to do their fighting for them.
At the start of the Second World War in September 1939, Canada, Great Britain and the United States had very little in the way of standing armies, navies or air forces. Nor did they really have the industrial infrastructure to equip them. Despite this, those countries were able to lead, and provide most of the forces for, the invasion of Europe at Normandy on June 6, 1944, a scant three and a half years later.
Canada, Great Britain and the United States went from a near-zero base to combined armies, navies and air forces capably of taking on and defeating what was—until that time—the most powerful war machine ever in less than four years, while holding off the powerful Japanese at the same time.
Surely then Afghanistan could have built and trained its forces in five to nine years. After all, it doesn’t have to build a war industry to manufacture anything. All their equipment needs can be purchased.
Billions of dollars have been poured into Afghanistan, thousands of lives have been lost. Any obligation we felt we had to that country has been more than paid off. It’s now time to go, and we needn’t cast a glance over our shoulders as we leave that misbegotten place. No more Canadian treasure or lives need be wasted there.
We are committed to remain for under a year more, but not a day longer should we stay; not a cent more of treasure should we contribute. Enough is enough.
It’s time to leave.