An American helicopter touched down at a forward operating base in southern Afghanistan where Canadian soldiers had been fighting for six months. As the plane went skyward, a fatigued soldier looked down at the mud walled houses and raised his finger in disgust. It was a spontaneous gesture of frustration, anger, and disgust toward those whom he felt did not appreciate the work of these foreigners who theoretically had come to protect the people of Afghanistan against Taliban insurgents. The Canadian soldiers are exhausted, heartsick, and fed up with what they regard as a wasteland whose inhabitants really don’t care if these men have risked lives in defense of something–people, democracy, peace? Lt. Jeff Lloyd, mumbled to a reporter about his service in the area: “But, sometimes you ask yourself. For what?” did he serve and risk his life.
In the rural villages of Afghanistan which have witnessed countless armies and thousands of soldiers who come to fight and eventually depart, there is still a lack of enthusiasm for coalition forces. Foreign soldiers arrive filled with enthusiasm, risk their lives, but village life goes on, as before, and when they depart, village life goes on, as before. The Canadian soldiers never fully grasped anything about Afghan culture except what appeared to be indifference. Is this Afghanistan as it really is?