On one hand we can say it's about rebuilding and helping or sorting out the Taliban and all that, and that works to a point at the individual or national cultural level. Canadians like that sort of rationale and being who we are, it fits with our big narratives of identity.
But these wholesome justifications cannot at the end of the day be easily seperated from the bigger picture rationales and issues, uncomfortable facts that they may be.
And that's the hard part.
If the Prime Minister is now saying the rationale for being there is some NATO committment, his bilious government needs to be taken to task over it and asked to explain why this means Canadians must be maimed and killed. "Honey, I'm missing my legs and my brain is fucked from blast concussion because the Prime Minister felt that we were obligated to NATO, and NATO was obligated to the US, and the US SecDef would be cross with him if we suggested otherwise," just doesn't cut it, does it?
The big hairy pachyderm in the room is this question of meaning. We're flailing about for clear rationales for what some of us witnessed and participated in, and many of us have supported.
For the eye witnesses, there will be life-long question marks and nightmares. Others will come to some sort of terms with it. The veterans and the Canadian Forces as an institution will take some serious time to process the past nine years. Many members have two or three combat tours over there and Afghanistan will dominate the culture and the discourse within the army especially for some time to come. These are the most affected and I sincerely hope that they may all come to peaceable terms with what they've witnessed.
The public, well, it is our duty to hold Harper and his House of horrors to account. Because they'll do it again if they get the chance. And again. And again. (Iran? Israel's next war?) They'll trot out the line about their political opposition hating the troops, but they've burnt that card, as we've seen this week.
Part of this generation's maturation as a society is to be able to acknowledge our faults and failings and learn from them. After World War One that generation tried and ultimately failed to put in place mechanisms that would avoid the political prick measuring that led to that muddy slaughter. After the Second, they tried very hard to strengthen international law and the venues for dialogue between states. It had plenty of faults, but we developed the institution of peacekeeping and managed to avoid nuking ourselves out of existence.
The generation of 11 September now has its marching orders. Here rests the meaning of Afghanistan.