On Becoming Aware Of Terror

A few events that shocked the world, touched off brief convulsions of hysteria when they happened, then faded as time and other happenings swallowed them.
In 1839 Britain engaged in what is called the First Afghan War. It ended in 1842 but the peace was not an easy one. In the 1870’s they were at it again in the Second Afghan war during which Britain suffered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, defeat its army had ever suffered in the nation’s long history. The Second Afghan war ended in 1880
In 1919 the fighting started again, but this time for only a few months from May to August with the signing of a peace treaty and the recognition of Afghanistan as an independent nation. Significantly before that treaty was formally signed the Afghan government signed another – a friendly treaty with Russia, newly minted by the Bolshevik revolution.
Russia and Afghan stayed friendly until Afghan Communists formed the national government and quickly became unpopular with the Muslim majority. In 1979 the Afghan communist government was facing rising Muslim militancy and Russia decided to aid its Afghan comrades.
Ten years later in February 1989 Russia pulled the last of its fighting troops off the battlefields and ran for home. It left behind arms and ammunition, tanks and trucks and fuel supplies and 15,000 dead.
Without the Russian prop the Afghan Communist regime fell quickly to Muslim factions and became “home” for al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations threatening world stability. Action switched briefly to Iraq and the Gulf War to unseat Saddam Hussein. Ended with an allied army claiming a victory over Hussein and having el-Qaeda on the run.
It was an oft repeated claim until September 2011 when in a matter of minute’s el-Qaeda destroyed the famous American symbols, the Twin Towers of New York, and in the process killed close to 3,000 people. In Afghanistan the Taliban was in power and the Taliban protected el-Qaeda. Western democracies moved quickly. Within a month of 9/11 Afghanistan was once again having its destiny shaped by foreign powers.
On October 25, 2014, seven years after Allied forces landed in Afghanistan, all but a handful of advisors had left the country satisfied their mission was over. Canadian soldiers had departed some weeks earlier. They had lost 158 personnel. The now departing British had lost 453 dead, the United States 2,349.
Just a few days’ earlier two self-proclaimed Jihadist sympathizers had killed two Canadian soldiers in their home country. National emotions overflowed with outraged cries of “how could it happen here?”, and laments that the world had changed, that Canada had awakened at last to face the reality of terrorism.
On June 23, 1985, 329 passengers and crew were killed when a bomb blew Air India, Flight 182, out of the sky and into the North Atlantic Ocean. Some 160 of the 329 were Canadians, 60 of them children under the age of 10. The bomb was made in Canada; the terrorists who made it and planted it were Canadians.
Their cause was religion and politics in the far away land of India – and it left us shaken but not awakened. Apparently it took just two crazy fanatics and two dead soldiers to do that.
A few hundred service personnel will now remain in Afghanistan to act as transitional advisers and instructors to help “stabilize” that always unstable country. British Rear Admiral Chris Parry said as two military camps – the British Camp Bastion and the USA’s Camp Leatherneck – lowered their respective flags prior to evacuation: “It’s been worth it. We’ve got rid of el-Qaeda and the bulk of the Taliban.”
I’ll leave my readers to be the judge.
(Several readers have asked for a personal contact number. My e-mail address is jhume@shaw.ca and I welcome and appreciate your views whether by “comment” on the blog or by e-mail.)

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