Mark Evison, a Lieutenant in the British Army, died in May of this year in Afghanistan from a bullet wound to the shoulder. He commanded his men to safety before losing so much blood that he fell unconscious.
Unfortunately, he never woke up.
The reason I am writing about Mark is because of the recent announcement that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will soon announce his commitment to escalating the war in Afghanistan. Another 50,000 men will be sent to fight the Taliban in the coming months and the U.S and U.K seem in no mood to withdraw.
Mark and I went to school together. He wasn't a close friend of mine, but I knew him to be a nice and generous person who was well liked by everyone. His death brought home the realities of war more so than any documentary, film or news report I have seen in the 8 years we have been in Afghanistan. Mark was 26 when he died, leaving behind a loving family and caring friends. I can still see messages he left on friends facebook pages. He was a real person to me, not another face on a news show. He died far too young, and for too few reasons.
Most people do not really understand why we are in Afghanistan. They know it is vaguely related to the Taliban, Al Qaeda and 9/11, but few can answer the real reasons. And most likely it's because there aren't any.
Relatively few people know that Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11, and has never threatened the United States. There's no denying the Taliban are an evil bunch, but then so are the Saudi, Colombian and Egyptian governments, and we've left them alone. The logic for the war in Afghanistan seems to have evolved over time, and much like the war in Iraq, we are now there so 'they don't attack us over here.' It's a thin pretext for another imperial war in the energy rich region that so many empires have tried to conquer before.
It turns out, Mark seemed to see the conflict the same way. I ran across an article in the Telegraph that published his diary, and the following sentence, written days before his death, struck me:
I seem to
be the only one here who believes that war might not be the answer to this
particular problem. We must work on relationships with the Afghanis if we
are to build a future for them.
I would highly recommend reading his diary - it's a fascinating insight into the life of a highly intelligent and thoughtful young man thrust into a deadly war zone, and his struggle to comprehend what he was a part of.
Mark was very well respected in his unit, and was by all accounts, a first rate soldier. Why we would allow such a remarkable person to be sacrificed for a war no one seems to understand is a tragedy of epic proportions.
As the troop numbers escalate over the coming years, so will the death toll.
And we should not forget that those who sacrifice their lives could be our friends and family.