Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state, speaks at Calgary fundraiser

Why we fight dirty, filthy wars Posted by Dave Nagy - Red Deer Advocate - May 16, 2008 9:09AM It was the voice of an aging Canadian veteran, speaking to a newly formed group of former soldiers from a not yet forgotten war. “They had no choice, they had to go there and fight a dirty, filthy war.” Dirty, filthy war. Is there any other kind? The war that the member of the Canadian Legion was referring to was the Vietnam war. The men he was speaking to fought in that war. There they were, joining together into what their spokesman said at the time was the first ever official group of Vietnam veterans. . . anywhere. Why would they do this in Canada? Maybe they felt welcome here. There was a reason for the timing of this event. This group of veterans, men in the late 30s to early 40s, was trying to achieve come kind of acceptance so they could at least march with other veterans in the coming Remembrance Day ceremonies. In part they succeeded; they were allowed to march in the annual Nov. 11 parade, not as a separate group, but included with other people . . . not members of military units . . . who wished to march . . . and pay their respects at the local cenotaph . . . for the first time. These fellows were ill at ease at having to give their real names and most of them didn’t. Their ‘leader’ went by the moniker of Dave Crockett. I’m no expert at recognizing the effects of ‘unseen injuries,’ which have became known as post traumatic stress. In recent years, this nation’s soldiers are seeing their share of the phenomenon. It was obvious from my brief encounters with those people that most of them had been severely traumatized by their experiences. And the Vietnam veterans in this story weren’t all Americans — some of them were Canadians, either young men who were living south of the 49th at that terrible time or, in some cases, volunteers. But that’s another story. I could see from watching those warriors march alongside former brothers-in-arms that the experience was for them the first steps towards the healing they so deserved. Was Vietnam Canada’s war, too? In a way it was. Is the current conflict in Afghanistan going to become Canada’s Vietnam? I’ll leave that one open. As for Afghanistan being the place of a dirty, filthy war, ask the soldiers who hunt for IEDs, the hidden devices that have wreaked havoc, destruction and death among our solders over there. Ask the ones whose job is to hunt down the enemy, the Taliban. Or think about it the next time the media carries stories, photos and video of soldiers’ repatriations. Think about the families of solders who are serving . . . I know I did . . . of one mother who fretted about her son’s tour to Afghanistan. He returned a few months ago, stepping off the plane — at midnight — on Sept. 11, home safely. Think about your fellow Canadians fighting far away in a foreign land the next time you’ve gone of a trip, having to show your passport three times before boarding an aircraft to fly away and enjoy the freedoms we’ve always cherished. So why do we fight? It’s a comment you most likely hear around Remembrance Day, when the thousands who have served this country in the name of freedom are commemorated. And this time, let all our soldiers march home proudly as defenders of our freedo

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice

CALGARY — Former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice publicly thanked Canadians for their friendship and for their sacrifices in Afghanistan as she spoke at a gala in Calgary on Wednesday night.

Rice was invited to help open the new School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary and gave a 30-minute speech in which she discussed international relations between Canada and the U.S. as well as the ongoing problem in Pakistan.

“I just want to say one thing to you as people of Canada … thank you, thank you, thank you for what you’ve done in Afghanistan,” she said to loud applause.

“I know how hard it has been to see men and women cut down in the prime of their lives because every life is a mother, a daughter, or a son or a father. But we all know that nothing of value is ever achieved without sacrifice.”

There have been 118 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat who have died in Afghanistan since the conflict began in the war-torn country.

Rice also touched on the current battles between the Taliban and security forces of the government of Pakistan which she says “is troubled to say the least.”

She said one thing in Pakistan’s favour is it finally has a legitimate civilian government which needs international support including Canada and the United States.

“You’ve got to help the Pakistani army train to fight the fight that they are actually in. Right now they are very much trained to fight India but they need to be trained in counter-insurgency to fight the Taliban,” she stressed.

“We should all hold our breath and say a little prayer that they make it through this latest set of encounters with the Taliban because when the Taliban starts 16 kilometres from Islamabad, you’ve got a big problem.”

Rice’s visit was a far cry from that of former U.S. president George W. Bush to Calgary two months ago.

Bush was greeted by angry protesters but the arrival of Rice drew only about two dozen protesters in front of the Hyatt Regency, where about 1,100 people paid $500 per plate for dinner Wednesday night.

“Condi Rice, not very nice,” chanted the small crowd.

“For me it is a nationalist kind of situation,” said Rick Collier, holding a sign that said: “Yankee Going Home.”

“I opposed George Bush coming here and I oppose Condoleezza Rice coming here because they leave behind them a whole fleet of ideas that will put an imprint of their own economy and their own ideas in this country.”

Rice, who was presented with a Calgary Flames jersey with the number nine and her name on it by Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier, met privately earlier in the day with Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach.

The Alberta premier said they discussed the environment and hockey, as well as foreign policy and how his government should deal with U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration on climate change.

“She suggested we follow through on meeting with governors who are important in energy-producing states and also working with the Obama administration similar to what we’re doing,” Stelmach told reporters.

“She was impressed with what we’ve done on the environment and said we’ve got to get the message out. She did extend an invitation to me personally to visit her at Stanford University.

“And also we should share the fact that affordable energy is key to both the United States and Canada in building our economy.”

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