Sunday, July 21, 2013

Leaving Afghanistan

In a few days time, the last Danish troops will be leaving Afghanistan, concluding all Denmark's combat operations along side her allies. Counting the seven we lost in Iraq, Denmark has suffered fifty fatalities and many more wounded since 2001. The sight of young men in wheel chairs or with limbs missing is no longer a rare sight in Denmark and this visible sign of the cost of war, though it may seem insignificant beside that of the USA or UK, has begun to raise questions in Denmark. With our smaller population, fifty dead, and hundreds seriously wounded, even over so many years, leaves a mark. Some politicians have wondered if the war was worth the price, and one or two have come out openly against the methods used. Many Danes, especially amongst those whose political persuassion lean to the left, regard the entire war as evidence of American imperialism, and by extension, Danish culpability.

I also wonder if the war was worth it. I don't really know what the purpose of the war was, probably because it was never really a war, just ongoing combat operations against a group of people whose identity is almost impossible to define without violating politically imposed definitions. What was the connection between Iraq and Afghanistan? Iran? Islam? Nuclear proliferation in a region incapable of trustwrthy conduct?

Now these combat operations have come to an end, the question of whether we've accomplished anything at all seems pertinent. The debate will rage in Denmark for a long time to come I think, though I doubt any form of unified understanding will establish itself in my life time. We can't even agree on whether or not we can claim a victory. I suppose only time will tell as to whether or not the Taliban will reclaim Afghanistan.

For my part. Even though I am ignorant as to what the real political motivations of the war were. I appreciate the service, and the many, many sacrifices our soldiers have made on our behalf. I won't be voting for any politician whom I suspect of failing them. Either the living or the dead.

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