A decade in Afghanistan - Macleans.ca

A decade in Afghanistan


Murray Brewster summarizes the end of the military mission and considers the potential for peace. Stephanie Levitz looks at the aid effort. Dene Moore looks at those left wounded.

From our Michael Petrou, three stories: Standing firm in Afghanistan, Another civil war in Afghanistan? and Canada’s next mission.

The National Post prints stories from those on the front lines and the Walrus publishes portraits of the dead.

And thoughts from Campbell ClarkShaun FrancisOlivia WardHeidi KingstoneJL Granatstein and Brian Hutchinson.


A decade in Afghanistan

  1. Heidi Kingstone: 

    “There are some small glimmers of hope to be found: A select few major corporations are investing in the country’s mineral reserves, and new businesses are popping up all around Kabul. 

    But for too many leaders and ordinary people, both in Afghanistan and abroad, it is a country of what-ifs and disillusionment. Endless strategies are written, then buried amidst heaps of other forgotten visions for success. 

    Most are written by advisors who live cocooned in “poppy palace” isolation, so far removed from the day-to-day reality of life in Afghanistan that they could be writing their reports from almost anywhere.

    The mania to build up the Afghan security forces, the effort with which Canada is involved, has one fundamental flaw — there is no stable, central government, or even a coherent society, for this powerful military force to protect.”

    Orwell ~ On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good and not quite all the time

    Seems to be a theme recently, Wherry? Pols and society at loggerheads.

    Not that this will happen in my lifetime, but Anglo countries need to set up Colonial Office and get serious about turning failed States into good global neighbours. All these do-gooders we seem to produce in West now should channel their energies into helping third world poor. West should stay in Afghan for decades but let Afghans be in charge of their own development.

    West should provide stability, security, good government but let Afghans be in charge of their society. West should not impose our beliefs on Afghans, which is what I think we are doing, but should be there to help good Afghans take over from bad Afghans. 

    Also, we should get as much money as possible to women who show some gumption and start projects to fix their neighbourhood, province or country. Women are civilizing influence on society, males in particular, and Afghan society really needs more female involvement.

  2. Harvard Medical School found local spending on health fell when health-related aid was given in sub-Saharan Africa.

    This means we pay for schools and hospitals, enabling politicians to steal vast sums or fritter away revenues on arms and security (usually sold by the West, with bribes involved). They win elections through bribery or violence rather than improved public services, while innovation is stifled and local entrepreneurs are driven out of business by dumped goods and cheap money. 

    The result is that aid corrodes, rather than builds, civil society, as senior charity officials have admitted to me.This was the message from a conference I attended in Pakistan two months ago, where academics from across the political spectrum blamed aid for their nation’s mounting problems, with venal politicians ignoring citizens’ concerns and an over-powerful army grown fat on foreign funding.

    It’s thought nearly £2 billion has been spirited out of Afghanistan since 2007, some to Gulf tax havens, with the family and associates of President Hamid Karzai linked to a £90 million Dubai property empire. 

    Much of this cash is from aid donations, with £25 million  disappearing from one donation to a hospital alone. Despite this, last year Britain announced that aid was rising by 40 per cent to £178 million a year.


  3. A tragic stupid loss of lives and money and time…not to mention our reputation and honour.