Friday, November 12, 2010

Can you support the troops and be against the mission?

There is much debate taking place in the MSM right now as to what form, if any, Canada's role in Afghanistan should be post July 2011 when the current mission is slated to end.

This is a bit of a political hot potato right now given waning support for the war in general, particularly in Quebec where Harper's hope for a majority government will likely live or die. Unfortunately there is more being said by political pundits than by our Prime Minister or other elected officials, including opposition members.

The central question is: Will Canadians abide by an extension of the current mission irrespective of what form it takes?

For members of the Canadian Forces, the mission is all that matters. Members don't define it or argue its merits, we carry it out. It doesn't matter if that mission is in Afghanistan or in Haiti. Where our forces get deployed is a decision for politicians to make, not for soldiers.

Sometimes I think Canadians forget that we live in a democracy, which means our government ultimately represents the collective will of the people. As as a soldier in the CF I don't see myself serving the government so much as serving the people of this nation.
Obviously it is possible to support the troops while perhaps disagreeing with a particular mission such as the one if Afghanistan. And if it is a high enough priority citizens have every right to push it up the political agenda by contacting their elected officials.

I am actually hopeful of getting the opportunity to be deployed to that volatile region, to see with my own eyes the situation and to understand it better. That may or may not happen depending on the decisions that are made by the powers that be.

But ultimately it should be the will of a majority of the electorate.
Supporting the troops is about more than putting a sticker on your car or observing a moment of silence on the 11th of November. True support means engaging in the political process and ensuring that when CF members are called upon to participate and complete a mission, that the mission itself reflects on the majority will of Canadian citizens.

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