This month, the Canadian Forces withdraws from the combat mission in Afghanistan after nearly 10 years with NATO, trying to bring some form of better governance and stability to that region — and perhaps even curtailing terrorist activity that was tolerated under the former regime.
There will be plenty of questions surrounding Canada’s presence there, not the least of which will be: was the whole enterprise worth it?
As combat troops from NATO slowly withdraw from Afghanistan, it is expected that country could very well fall back into chaos. That is, unless those who fought there do not abandon the people and maintain a presence — if not militarily, then through aid, training programs and more.
Should the worst occur — as has happened throughout Afghanistan’s history — then yes, Canada’s efforts there will be deemed futile and the region will be as stable at is was before NATO arrived.
But what would Canada be if it didn’t at least try to make a positive difference in the lives of others? As a society, we’ve agreed to have a military and to use it in as best a manner as possible. And then follow their lead with support to ensure chaos does not return. As always, these are best-laid plans.
Afghanistan proved Canadian soldiers are some of the best in the world. It’s a testament to this that Canada did not lose more than the 158 soldiers over that 10-year mission. The sacrifice of those soldiers is a price Canada was willing to pay — and that will not be forgotten.
Nor should Afghanistan be forgotten. The end of missions and even economic realities might see soldiers leave there, but to abandon Afghanistan completely would be a mistake.