Prime Minister Stephen Harper's extremely frank claim that the Taliban cannot be defeated is being dissected as I type. Is he being practical or simply defeatist?
It is true that the Taliban terrorists (not insurgents as a true insurgents rise up to revolt; the Taliban have had their iron grip over Afghanistan since the late 1990's) cannot be defeated by the mere presence of foreign forces. As long as the Taliban operates either within Afghanistan or Pakistan, there will always be fresh forces being provided with fresh arms to kill or maim international troops (it is interesting to note that the Taliban was aided against the Soviet invasion by Jimmy Carter, who now fancies him an engineer of peace). Humanitarian works such as bridges, medical clinics and schools for girls (who were not allowed to be educated under the Taliban) might sway the populace into a more politically or socially moderate mindset.
That can all be undone, however, if the Taliban is allowed to regain a foothold or if those who are currently running the Afghan government do not operate under a system of checks and balances. Canada, of course, cannot- and should not- be the permanent policeman in Afghanistan but while it is there, it must be vigilant and work for a more stable country. One hundred and seven soldiers died for that cause. Mr. Harper's words (on CNN, the lackey network, no less) must point in the direction of victory and hope.