September 28, 2008
A point to remember on an important anniversary...
By: Graham Sproule
“We had patience in our fighting with the Soviet Union with simple weapons for 10 years. We exhausted their economy, so they disappeared. We will not abandon our fight until the weapons run out.” - Osama bin Laden
It is difficult to believe that seven years ago to this day we almost all remember where we were when we heard the news that the twin towers were struck. Difficult to believe not only because of how clear the moment stands out in our minds, but in that even with that moment being so vivid in our minds, our vulnerability to Islamic terrorism has nonetheless seems to have receded far back into our collective memory.
If this were not true, I sincerely doubt that it would have been reported by news outlets today that Prime Minister Harper has unequivocally pledged to end Canada’s war efforts in 2011. Irrespective of whether or not Canada’s military officers believe a timeline helps or hinders the military mission, certainly the Prime Minister believes announcing our withdrawal date boosts his electoral fortunes. Otherwise, he would not have made such a prominent announcement during an election campaign. And now it comes to pass that after ten years of fighting this threat in Afghanistan that Canadians will too disappear from that country.
Shortly after 9/11, NATO invoked its mutual defense clause where all members are pledged to militarily support a member country that has been attacked. Consequently, a mission into Afghanistan was launched to root out the Al-Qaeda terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks and their Taliban hosts. Although NATO forces have killed many Al-Qaeda and Taliban combatants, they remain a persistant threat. Therefore, one must pose the question, do Canadians believe this threat is no longer a grave one or do they believe withdrawing from the Afghan theatre will lessen this threat?
The answer is probably that many Canadians believe both that the threat is no long as grave as it was seven years ago and that leaving Afghanistan will make us safer. There are likely two main reasons for this. One reason being quite natural and the other is perverted. The natural reason is that, along with the United States, we have become a victim of our own success. By aggressively engaging the enemy on their home turf, we have averted any major terrorist strikes on North American soil since 9/11. It is mere human nature to become complacent in the absence of any immediate dangers to our comfortable lives.
The perverted reason is based on a grossly distorted version of the historical facts a la Michael Moore. It is believed that there was no real threat of Islamic terrorism until the invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq inflamed the Islamic world with anger. It is no coincidence that proponents of this thinking inevitably rely on conspiracy theories usually involving the Jews, CIA, and Dick Cheney to make this claim. After all, if there was no hatred of America and the West in the Muslim world until these two invasions, how does one explain the terrorist attacks prior to the invasion of Afghanistan? Not only 9/11, but the attacks on the U.S. embassies in East Africa, the U.S.S Cole and so forth?
Now people who fit into that second category are quite beyond hope short of having some sort of exorcism performed on them. But those Canadians who naturally forget that there are fanatics determined to kill us should remember that these people were never really prompted by anything other than opportunity. In other words, had these Islamic terrorists the capability, they would have committed a terrorist act on the scale of 9/11 years or even decades sooner. Consider as to why these attacks occurred a mere two days after the Lion of Panjshir, Ahmad Shad Massoud, was assassinated in his base in Northern Afghanistan.
A lesson we should have learned by now is that no amount of security measures will stop a determined suicide-bomber. You have to hunt him down and kill him before he kills you. Although, the U.S. and Canada are in between two large oceans, these no longer offer us any protection in this age of globalization. It is probable that most Canadians cannot fathom a determined enemy whose hatred expends energy on trying to commit terrorist acts against us for decades to come. After all, at some point do these Islamic terrorists not want to build a better society for themselves and their families? Recent history in Afghanistan shows that they do not.
Prime Minister Harper much realize that the Americans are planning a surge in Afghanistan that will more than numerically replenish our 2011 departure from the NATO mission. However, Canadians would do well to remind their government that for every terrorist we kill over there excludes the possibility that he can attack our country at some future date. If Iraq has taught us anything, it’s that we need more well-trained soldiers on the ground to fight this kind of enemy and not less. Like their forefathers in both World Wars and Korea, Canadian soldiers have taken a lead role in the world safer by fighting tyrants and thugs. This is the lesson of 9/11 we need to remember, and one that Canadians cannot afford to forget.
Copyright 2008 - Graham Sproule