Tuesday, April 14, 2009

'I'm at a loss for what it means to win'

Toronto Star: The sister of a prominent women's rights activist shot dead by suspected Taliban militants in Afghanistan said she has given up hope for her tortured homeland and other Canadians should too. 'The Canadian troops are dying the same way my sister sacrificed herself,' Mawena Maiwand, 55, said from her Markham home last night. 'They should come out of Afghanistan because all the good people who are trying to do something there are dying away.'

Mental toll on soldiers skyrockets
Toronto Star: More than one in five Canadian soldiers and police officers deployed to Afghanistan leave the force with post-traumatic stress or other psychiatric problems, and that figure is rapidly rising. By the end of last month, the number of soldiers and police officers discharged from the military and RCMP for psychological strain after tours in Afghanistan had reached 1,053, representing an increase of more than 50 per cent from 2008... None of the mental health staff on the tour was trained in addiction counselling -- a clear problem given that some troubled soldiers mask their problem with alcohol and drugs.

Irshad Manji, The Globe and Mail: I'm increasingly convinced that Afghanistan's problem lies deeper than a recalcitrant Taliban or a gutless government. It's a problem so profound that for the first time I have to ask: Should our troops just get out? Make no mistake, I'm a fighter to my fired-up core. Challenged about the West's presence in Afghanistan by numerous audiences, I've been crystal clear about why humanitarian intervention deserves support... But now I must ask: Exactly what are our soldiers falling for?... I've got a sinking feeling that our troops can't adequately help the good people of Afghanistan. Soldiers can restore stability, but when stability means cyclical violence, I'm at a loss for what it means to win.

Truthdig: Pentagon whistle-blower Karen Kwiatowski takes stock of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which she says are effectively 'a government jobs program for the military and military contractors.'
Image: 'Futility,' by Melanie Ray; source here.