By Lauren Hughes
Canadians don’t understand the issues in Afghanistan, according to Scott Taylor.
“It’s not that we’re ignorant,” says Taylor. “But everyone’s pampered.”
Taylor spent years in the Canadian forces and now publishes the magazine Esprit de Corps. He gave a presentation Thursday night at the University of King’s College to share his findings from an investigative mission in Afghanistan.
The talk was accompanied by the screening of his documentary, Afghanistan: Outside the Wire.
The one-hour film includes Taylor’s interviews with politicians, war lords and an attempted suicide bomber.
By talking to Afghan people about their country’s problems, Taylor says he is able to give a voice to those who generally go unheard. The people in the film agree that “a war against corruption is more important than a war on terrorism.”
One man, who was interviewed in a darkened room for fear of being located by war lords, said the “Canadian Prime Minister and Obama need to change their policy.” He also said Western nations are supporting a corrupt government.
|Taylor: Esprit de Corps|
|Halifax Peace Coalition|
Heidi Verheul of the Halifax Peace Coalition says many Canadians don’t know what their government is paying for when it comes to military efforts, and too few citizens question the decisions made by Parliament.
Verheul wants to see more interest in military issue among Canadians: “They should be aware of the government’s intentions and actions.”
Jim Lowther, who was in the audience for Taylor’s talk, served with the Canadian Forces for 15 years and did two tours in Bosnia. “We did a lot of good over there. We built schools, we built clinics, we volunteered in the community over there,” he says.
“We also had to do a lot of really crappy things over there,” Lowther says. “There were a lot of deaths. We weren’t allowed to speak of the atrocities that we were finding over there. We weren’t allowed to because it was peacekeeping, right?”
Verheul says that the term “peacekeeping” doesn’t accurately portray what the Canadian government is doing in Afghanistan. “Humanitarian aid should be taken out of the hands of nations,” she says.
Taylor interviews a Turkish aid worker in his documentary, who explains how Turkish humanitarian efforts engage Afghan locals in rebuilding their country. The Turkish organizations are helping Afghan people develop their trade skills. He says this is better than the militaristic approach used by Canada.
For example, the Canadian government built a school in Afghanistan, and students were eager to attend, but all 62 teachers left to join the army because the job paid better.
According to Taylor’ documentary, the solution to war and poverty in Afghanistan is giving people opportunities and education so that they can develop their own sustainable society.
Taylor says the message Afghan people want to pass on to Westerners is simple: “You have the watches. We have the time.”
Taylor explains the benefits of the Turkish approach to humanitarian aid in Afghanistan.