When Paul Martin decided to send Canadian troops to Afghanistan I was very uneasy, but I didn't oppose it. The US had just bombed out the previous corrupt government and the country needed help maintaining stability while a new government took over. Ours was essentially a peacekeeping role, albeit with more fighting than peacekeeping usually entails.
Now it's - what, five years later, and the Afghan war has changed substantially. There are two major factors that make me feel that we need to get our troops out:
1. The war has widened beyond peacekeeping, and the agenda of the US in reshaping it is suspect. The US is now using the Afghan occupation to attack targets in Pakistan; it could be turning the new Afghan president Asif Ali Zardari into a puppet; it could be prolonging the military occupation of Afghanistan in order to set pipeline and other policy. All of this is creating the potential for greater instability and less democracy, when our only justification for having a force there is to increase stability and democracy.
2. We're not achieving our goals. The war goes on and on, and, put in the harshest possible terms, there is insufficient progress to justify the deaths of our soldiers and Afghan civilians. At this point we're an occupying force, not liberators. We're killing civilians, not Taliban. We're losing, and victory is not in sight.
Harper recently said he'll bring our troops home in three years. I don't believe him, but even if he's being honest, that's too long. This election campaign is an opportunity for us to speed up the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Now is the time to write letters to newspapers and MPs, organize protests, put up signs, write blog posts, make sure the issue is front and center in the leader debates.