The libertarian case against the war in Afghanistan

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by David R. Henderson, Western Standard, November 20, 2008

Shortly after the U.S. government’s attack on Afghanistan in October 2001 (which, of course, followed the September 11 attacks on the United States), the Canadian government joined the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries in an occupying coalition in Afghanistan. The first major wave of Canadian troops arrived in Afghanistan in February 2002. The Canadian troops’ major mission was to keep order in the Afghan capital of Kabul. At various times through these almost-seven years, the Canadian government has stated that it would remove its troops at a time certain in the near future. Then as the target date got closer, the government kept the troops there past their previous-stated deadline. On April 15, 2004, for example, then Prime Minister Paul Martin stated that Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan would end in the summer of 2005. But in February 2005, the Liberal government announced that it would actually increase Canada’s commitment of troops by the summer of 2005 from 600 to 1,200. Indeed, the troops were moved that summer from Kabul to the much-more-dangerous region of Kandahar. In May 2006, the newly elected Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the new pull-out date would be early 2009. Then, in March 2008, as the 2009 deadline approached, Parliament voted to extend its mission to 2011.

The question arises, “Should Canada’s government remove its military presence from Afghanistan in 2011, remove it earlier, or keep it past 2011?” This question arises for other members of the occupying coalition besides Canada. To answer it, I propose that we step back and consider how good the case was for invading and occupying Afghanistan in the first place.

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