Saturday, December 02, 2006

The first time as tragedy, the second time...still tragedy.

The best piece I've read about Afghanistan was published in the Globe and Mail on Thursday:

I was born in Russia, drafted into the Soviet army at 18 and sent to Afghanistan in the 1980s. Attending Andrew's funeral, I stood with one foot in the present and one in the past. I remembered my Russian friends, living and dead. Friends like Andrei, who lost his legs in Kandahar near the road on which Andrew would die two decades later. I also remembered the suffering we visited on the people of that country.

I identified with the Canadian soldiers at the funeral mourning the loss of their friend. Like them, I went to Afghanistan believing in "fighting terrorism" and "liberating Afghans." During my first mission, we were protecting refugees escaping an area that was under attack by the mujahedeen. I was deeply affected by their misery, and by the poverty and suffering of the Afghan people in general. In my mind, our presence was "helping Afghans," particularly with educating women and children. My combat unit participated in "humanitarian aid" -- accompanying doctors and delivering food, fuel, clothing, school and other supplies to Afghan villages.

It was only later that I began to wonder: Did that aid justify our aggression?

It's re-printed here if they decide to put it behind a pay wall.

No comments:

Popular Posts