Commanders of Operation Enduring Freedom have asked coalition troops to lower their national flags and fly only the black-red-green of Afghanistan in an effort to put Afghan colours on forces bolstering the national government.
Canada has decided to comply with the request, citing "cultural sensitivity."
"This is not Canada, this is the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," said Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, head of the Canadian contingent and the multinational brigade in southern Afghanistan.
"We've got to respect their cultures and traditions and be respectful that they invited us here. I think it's only fitting we fly their flag."
Flag flying is not a zero-sum game. A few foreign flags on Afghan soil, at foreign military installations only, will not make the people any less free, nor the government any less legitimate.
"Cultural sensitivity" sounds too much like pressure from Islamist elements in the Afghani government. The Taliban may be gone, but less blatantly extreme Islamist elements still enjoy wide support in the country. To strike our colours is a sign of fear, and will not win respect from them. They know what lowering the flag means as well as anyone.
But if the Afghan government insists, we should take our flags down--and our soldiers with them.