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Canada to withdraw troops fr Afghanistan. Photographer's Personal Journey thru War: 'hell on earth' 'waiting' 'strays' 'grave'

By WcP.Common.Sense - Posted on 07 November 2009

A helicopter medic waits in his ready hut in Baghdad for a call to action. His girlfriend had sent him the teddy bear for good luck. He had another one hanging next to his carbine on the chopper.

Hell on Earth. No matter what war may mean to the soldiers, civilians and politicians are caught up in its fury.


A Photographer's Personal Journey Through War
Like many of his contemporaries, American Peter van Agtmael felt compelled to cover the U.S. war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I wish these pictures could convey more of what I experienced," van Agtmael writes. "They are harsh, despite the fact that I have great affection for many of the soldiers that I met as an embedded photographer. There is much that is left out, but I see no reason to romanticize war any more than it has been and always will be. If I found any truth in war, I found that in the end everyone has their own truth."

bodies of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan head home

Hell on Earth. No matter what war may mean to the soldiers, civilians and politicians caught up in its fury, for photojournalists it has always offered an opportunity to make great pictures. Yet as soon as he began his work, van Agtmael discovered that "the labels that had heretofore defined my perceptions of the world became meaningless ... A lot of my ideas proved to be misconceived, and I began wondering why they had become beliefs at all — why there weren't more answers, or why there were so many.

At Patrol Base California, in the Pech Valley of Afghanistan, a number of stray dogs hang about, ‘waiting for food and company. Usually the soldiers welcomed them. But I was told that a few weeks earlier, when one of the dogs urinated on a soldier's cot, he and his buddies shot the dog to pieces.’

Canada plans Afghan withdrawal
Parliament has mandated that the military mission must end in 2011. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has said it will not extend Canada's military mission even if President Barack Obama asks. Canada has begun preparations to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 2011. Maj. Cindy Tessier said Friday that the chief of Defense staff, Gen. Walter Natynczyk, has ordered preparations to get under way that would see Canada's 2,800 troops removed from southern Afghanistan in the summer of 2011. Since 2002, 133 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have died. Canada first sent troops to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and increased its deployment after declining a U.S. request to dispatch troops to Iraq.

Grave Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery is reserved for casualties of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

German Limits on War Face Afghan Reality
For Germans, the realization that their soldiers are now engaged in ground offensives in an open-ended and escalating war requires a fundamental reconsideration of their principles. After World War II, German society rejected using military power for anything other than self-defense, and pacifism has been a rallying cry for generations, blocking allied requests for any military support beyond humanitarian assistance.


Photos courtesy of Peter van Agtmael / Magnum, and Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters

Original Source: Time, AP, and New York Times

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