Canada's forces are spread thin. Right now we have as many troops as we can spare in Afghanistan... and contrary to popular belief, we do actually have Canadians in Iraq too... but they're enlisted as American soldiers.
America is so desperate for extra troops they are now recruiting Canadians to fight for them. When the Iraq War first started there was a small number of Canadians (including police and Canadian armed forces) who went south to the states to sign up and enlist. The Americans gladly welcomed them.
And thats not the only route to Iraq. The Canadian and British military have exchange programs in place so our troops can train and learn from one another. Canada's "exchange student soldiers" are also over in Iraq.
Our primary focus has been to keep our eye on the target: Osama bin Laden and his forces in Afghanistan. The problem is the question of whether we should be sending more troops over there in an effort to try and catch Osama?
Actually its a bit sad that this goal has been left to Canadians. The Americans are so preoccupied with Iraq (and now Iran too) that they've almost completely forgotten about old Osama.
IF Canada had more troops available, where should we be sending them? Iraq? Would they do any good there? Or should we send more troops to Afghanistan in an effort to catch Osama and cut off support for terrorism?
I don't think troop pull out is an option. We're going to need to keep troops there for another 10-20 years at least until the political climate stabilizes. There is also the possibility of building permanent Canadian forces bases in the country (we need the bases for training in desert conditions) and Afghanistan would be an important ally for the future as democracy grows.
Except when I ponder all the options of putting more troops on the ground I conclude its probably not a good idea... what we really need is a fence (with motion sensitive spotlights) between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Right now its nothing but mountains and hills. A natural border, but not a hazardous one as the Taliban crosses the border back and forth easily.
The solution? Guard towers along the border with snipers aiming both ways. NOBODY should be crossing those borders except at designated checkpoints and only during the daytime. Even if Pakistan doesn't agree to the towers we could simply build the towers on the Afghan side of the border. Lay out a series of 3 barbwire fences between the towers, and voila! Terrorists now have to crawl through 3 barbwire fences past sharpshooters packing rifles with scopes and spotlights.
Hiding in mountain caves may be a way to evade troops for awhile, but eventually they're going to need to smuggle food in past the fences and towers...
Which brings me to an important issue: Where is Osama getting his food? Is it trucked in to a secret location? Carried on donkey or camel?
Nope, I have a hunch Osama is nowhere near the fighting.
Afghanistan has a variety of warlords who squabble over land and territory. They live in nice safe estates/bunkers and basically avoid contact with the military except to shake hands and exchange pleasantries.
Like the warlord to the right shaking hands with Stephen Harper.
These warlords have several goals: Increase their power, their wealth and their land. Keep their little private armies under control and happy. Destroy their enemies and gain more power, wealth and land.
If just one of those warlords has made a secret deal with Osama bin Laden in exchange for hiding him and gaining terrorist support for operations that involve attacking their enemies...
Well then we have a serious problem. A rogue warlord who could hide Osama and his terrorists indefinitely... and be a constant thorn in our efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.
And we can't just get rid of the warlords. Kill one and another just takes his place. No, the only way to change these problems permanently is with economics.
If the common people see that working for themselves or for companies is better for them instead of joining up as a soldier for the local warlord then eventually the warlords will run out of troops and run out of power. (Unless of course the warlords start building their own companies and eventually international corporations, but thats a 007 scenario and a bit unrealistic.)
But how would Canadian soldiers improve Afghanistan's economy?
Short answer: It won't.
What Afghanistan needs next is a school of business which can teach young Afghanistan entrepreneurs how to make money.
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