Don't lose sight of the goal

Peter
Peter Jackson
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"No time for indecision

We got to make a move

I hope that we're forgiven

For what we gotta do ..."

"No time for indecision

We got to make a move

I hope that we're forgiven

For what we gotta do ..."

- Neil Young, "Let's Roll"


In the past week, American and Canadian forces in Afghanistan have endured eight casualties (including a Canadian journalist). In that time, a British soldier was also killed on foot patrol, and seven CIA employees were killed in a bombing at a U.S. base there.

The mounting deaths, along with recent doubts expressed by military experts, are bound to intensify pressure to re-evaluate Canada's involvement in the conflict.

And yet, one has to wonder what the alternative is. Surely, it is not to simply withdraw and allow global jihadists to regain a foothold. Surely, it is not to give way to tyranny, oppression and instability.

To further cloud the dilemma, the attempted bombing of a passenger jet on Christmas Day suggests organized pan-terrorism is still alive and kicking.

Security breach aside, there is some encouragement to take from the incident aboard Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit - in which a Dutch citizen leapt into action and subdued the would-be bomber in mid-detonation.

Shift in attitude

While military strategy remains a head-scratcher, Flight 253 at least reinforced an important shift in the public's attitude towards terrorism - an attitude that can be summed up in one word: enough.

Enough with medieval assholes trying to blow up planes. Enough with brainwashed stooges killing innocents in the name of pseudo-religious fanaticism.

Education, communication and compassion all have their place in nudging oppressive theocracies and death cults into the 21st century. But sometimes, militants must be confronted head on. And that confrontation doesn't always happen on a conventional battlefield.

On Sept. 11, 2001, when Todd Beamer and his fellow passengers stormed the cockpit of United Flight 93, the tide had already turned. Terrorism cannot defeat a civilized people determined to defend their way of life. Londoners are a case in point. Whether it's the bombing of Harrods department store in 1983, or the transit bombings of 2005, journalists looking for hysterical witnesses usually encountered a stalwart citizenry maintaining stiff upper lips.

(One can imagine if Winston Churchill had followed the lead of current waffling in his June 1940 speech to British citizens: "We shall fight on the beaches - but not on endangered wetlands or wilderness preserves. We shall never surrender - unless opinion polls compel us to set a date for withdrawal.")

Todd Beamer and his latter-day counterpart, Flight 253's Jasper Schuringa, are only the more notably heroic among post-9/11 citizens who have stoically adapted to the new reality with renewed resolve.

Meanwhile, the mission in Afghanistan is important, and any decision to end it prematurely could come at a greater cost than the lives lost so far. There is a need to weigh the possibility of causing more harm and fomenting more hatred against the cost of burying our heads in the sand.

In the process, we can't lose sight of one fundamental tenet: people the world over have a right to live in peace and security.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram's commentary editor. He can be reached at pjackson@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: CIA, Harrods

Geographic location: Afghanistan, U.S., Canada Northwest Flight Amsterdam Detroit

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Recent comments

  • Taxpayer ll
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Wow Peter, you must be really riled up to use the ..A..word. Must be the first time in tele history. Who's running this rag anyway?

  • Walter J
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Way to go, Peter! Tell it, Man! I truly doubt that you are the first to use the A-word in tele history. We cannot continue to be politically correct and kow-tow & kiss the butts of these A-hole terrorists. Thank God for the Churchills, the Jasper Schuringas, the Todd Beamers, Tom Burnetts, Jeremy Glicks, Mark Binghams, Joe DeLucas & Linda Gronlunds (the last two were also passengers on United 93 that day and I know they'd have been in the move against the hijackers too). Keep telling it, Peter!

  • Taxpayer ll
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Wow Peter, you must be really riled up to use the ..A..word. Must be the first time in tele history. Who's running this rag anyway?

  • Walter J
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Way to go, Peter! Tell it, Man! I truly doubt that you are the first to use the A-word in tele history. We cannot continue to be politically correct and kow-tow & kiss the butts of these A-hole terrorists. Thank God for the Churchills, the Jasper Schuringas, the Todd Beamers, Tom Burnetts, Jeremy Glicks, Mark Binghams, Joe DeLucas & Linda Gronlunds (the last two were also passengers on United 93 that day and I know they'd have been in the move against the hijackers too). Keep telling it, Peter!