Thursday, July 10, 2008

Canadians to help construct the "Great Wall of Kandahar"

The Canadian Press reported yesterday that Canadian Forces have agreed to help with the construction of a wall that will surround Kandahar University, Afghanistan.

The wall will be “a three-kilometre perimeter of stone, brick and iron around the school campus”. Its main purpose, according to the article, will be to keep out thieves, make it safer for women to attend school and stop sheep herders from using the area around the university for sheep herding and grazing.

This endeavour will cost the Canadians approximately $500,000.

Hasn’t history demonstrated that building walls to keep out various threats instead of trying to develop proactive solutions is not a sustainable practice? Canadians would do well to challenge the use of our resources for this project.

However, if we think hard enough we might be able to imagine some bright sides to this new project: maybe the wall will help protect students from Canadian soldiers who will be building it. With at least 6500 people killed in Afghanistan in 2007, perhaps Afghans will actually appreciate the added security from NATO troops.

However, if the Canadian Armed Forces are representing Canadians overseas and doing it through taxpayers’ dollars, having troops build a fence around a university is yet another example of a band-aid solution that will not go very far in addressing the root problems of the conflict there.

Afghanistan is a nation that has faced occupation after occupation, where today, warlords still control many of its regions. The bottom line is that, with or without Canadian walls, Afghanistan will not find peace while it is occupied by foreign troops.

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