That Canadian soldiers were able to hold Kandahar is key to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. And it’s too bad that not enough Canadians know that.
Years down the road, there will be all sorts of clever people who will be happy to tell us that our soldiers should never have been sent to Afghanistan. That’s why it will always be handy to remember what it took a British House of Commons defence committee to point out, back in 2007:
“If Kandahar fell, and it was a reasonably close run last year, it did not matter how well the Dutch did in Uruzgan or how well the British did in Helmand. Their two provinces would also, as night followed day, have failed, because we would have lost the consent of the Pashtun people because of the totemic importance of Kandahar.”
Don’t remember? Don’t be hard on yourself. You sure didn’t hear it from any Canadian parliamentary committee.
If all Canadian soldiers ever did was win the Battle of Panjwaii in 2006, it would all have been worth it.
Panjwaii was Stalingrad. Between that summer and July 2011, fewer than 3,000 Canadian soldiers kept the Taliban at bay. U.S. President Barack Obama’s “surge” of 30,000 soldiers is still having a hard time matching Canada’s accomplishment.
And even now, sneers disfigure the faces of our country’s clever “troops-out pundits” whenever they’re reminded that millions of girls would have never gone to school had it not been for the gallant sacrifices of Canadian soldiers and their families.
Had Kandahar fallen, Afghanistan would have been lost to the Taliban, and you don’t want to think about what would have come next.
In the years to come, millions of Afghans will fondly recall that in their darkest hour, Canadian soldiers were watching their backs. Most Canadians still don’t seem to have a clue.
– Terry Glavin is the author of the newly published book Come From The Shadows: The Long And Lonely Struggle for Peace In Afghanistan. He has visited that country four times since 2008.