Editor, the Gauntlet,
When I read the headline "Should we stay, or should we go now?" [Christian Louden, Jan. 24 Gauntlet], I expected to hear a reasoned debate over the recommendations of the Manley report on the mission in Afghanistan. While I am aware that the article is an opinion, I was surprised to read a poorly-reasoned rant that suggested that Canadian soldiers were "pawns in an American occupation." While this choice of wording is in obvious poor taste to the soldiers who fought and died for their country, it is factually inaccurate as well.
In making the claim that Canadian soldiers are "pawns in an American occupation," the article conveniently ignores the fact that, unlike the invasion of Iraq, the mission in Afghanistan has a UN mandate. Canadian troops have not been under American command since 2002. Since 2002 we have been under the UN-authorized ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), not the United States. Since Canada's move to Khandahar in 2005 the UN has repeatedly authorized the mission along with the 26 other NATO member countries and 13 countries that are involved with the ISAF. In Afghanistan, the United States is our partner, not our master.
The Afghanistan mission, for some, is hard to accept because Canada is engaged in a combat mission rather than our traditional peacekeeping role. Canada's interest in winning this war goes far beyond simply appeasing the families of fallen soldiers. Whether you support the mission, hate the mission or simply want Canadian soldiers to take on a more passive role in Afghanistan's reconstruction, it is important to understand why Canada took on this mission and what we hope to achieve. I hope more Gauntlet readers will consider the facts and read the report before they make up their minds.