Cpl. Boneca was killed and two others wounded on the morning of Sunday 9 July, as Canadians were conducting a combat patrol near the village of Pashmol. Like many of the outlying rural towns and villages, Pashmol is a safe haven and supply centre for insurgent fighters. After a brief firefight, the troops called in air strikes and heavy artillery to demolish parts of the village. This relatively small incident is illustrative of the war as a whole. Heavy handed tactics of the intervention forces are only helping to entrench Afghani hatred towards the Canadian-led coalition and, as a result, deepening support for the Taliban in regions like Kandahar.

Said one correspondent, “The Soviets tried to take over and attack this village and failed. The Americans have been trying for months to rout the Taliban here, and they also failed. The Canadians were having a go at it, and it’s been a three-day long intensive battle.”

This statement depicts in microcosm what we already know about this war. The Taliban have been entrenched in areas like Kandahar and fighting foreign invaders for the better part of a century — first the British, then the Russians, and then the Americans. Now, it is Canada’s turn.

As this downward cycle becomes more and more pronounced, both soldiers’ morale and domestic support for the war are both declining with each passing day. Boneca himself had become increasingly disillusioned in the weeks before his death, even asking his regimental padre whether he could be discharged if he claimed to be suicidal. Boneca was not actually suicidal, but was very depressed with his mission.  Boneca’s uncle, William Babe, recalls that in one of his last phone calls home, the young soldier sounded despondent, saying, “It’s not like you see on TV and I would never do it again.”

Indeed, both the media and the government have been trying to portray a skewed version of events in Afghanistan to try and stem the tide of anti-war sentiment at home. Constantly trying to play off the mission as a humanitarian one, the mainstream news glazes over reports of wounded soldiers and combat action, preferring to tell stories of “reconstruction.” Of course, with Canadian troops having to use heavy air and artillery power to flush out a handful of gunmen, it is no wonder why so much reconstruction is necessary. Once again, reality is very hard to ignore. The Canadian causality count is now up to 17 and Taliban attacks have actually increased in recent weeks. The insurgency has increased in strength as more and more collateral damage is being sustained in the villages, a fact that is all too obvious to Canadian troops on the ground. On Sunday night at the Canadian base of operations, Taliban fighters hit the encampment with a 107-mm rocket that wounded another two Canadian soldiers while the wounded were being treated and friends of Boneca were grieving. That attack brought Canadian causalities over a two day period to 1 dead and 6 wounded (one seriously).

Once again, the mainstream media will attempt to fill their pages with admiration for the fallen, but keep the conditions and reasons for his death completely out of the limelight. This young man is just one of many fighting a war that can’t be won, and one that is not even deemed necessary for real debate. Anthony Boneca was a reservist from Thunder Bay, Ontario, and had intended to enrol in college after he returned. He was 21 years old.

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