11 November 2008

Support the Troops, but not the War? I'm just not sure...

So, today is Remembrance Day in Canada. And since my grandfather served in WWII (as a chaplain), I totally get the importance of honoring the sacrifice of those who have served. GeekDad, Baby A and I didn't attend any of the events today, but spent some time with our extended family.

What I've been thinking about today is, do I support veterens and current military personnel, without supporting the actions they are taking, i.e. the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? The war in Iraq seemed terribly ill-advised from the beginning, and poorly executed in the interim, and I'm glad that president-elect Obama has committed to ending it.

I'm more ambivalent about Afghanistan. As a country, Afghanistan has been a mess for a long time, and hasn't been helped by the interference of the Soviet Union, the United States, or any number of other countries. But I have really been hoping that the NATO troops that are stationed there now are doing some good, bringing some stability and peace to people who haven't seen either of those things for at least thirty years. Reports seem to indicate that things are going downhill and this makes me so sad. But I don't know that the answer is just to pull our troops out. It seems to me that if we have committed to really making things better, we need to be committed for the long haul. Leaving when things get difficult feels, well, irresponsible. I understand that there are larger issues involved. Are we there because Afghanis truly want us, or just because of all the 9/11 fallout? Are we pursuing vengence for 9/11 or promoting security and development in Afganistan? I just don't know. But simply leaving just feels wrong, like we are abandoning a committment we've made to a people who've had more promises broken than any people should. Anyway, all this ambivalence makes me wonder if I should be "celebrating" Remembrance Day. Can I celebrate the committment of troops past, without celebrating those who are currently serving? Or do I support the committment of current troops, without agreeing with their mission? I don't really know.

So instead, I mark the day by spending it with my family, and taking a moment to appreciate the freedom to drive to my in-laws without worrying about getting blown up, and the people like my grandfather who made that possible. Because that is something I can get behind, regardless of my feelings about current conflicts.

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