In May of 2006, Rex Murphy; a former veteran journalist for the Globe and Mail, understood a great deal more than the average Canadian why Canadian troops are fighting in Afghanistan. In an attempt to help free the many Canadians of the frustration they felt with the government, Murphy published an essay entitled “What We Are Fighting For” that outlines the reasons Canadian troops are fighting in Afghanistan in an expository and informal way that Canadians will be able to understand. Murphy’s essay features an interesting mix of an informative but persuasive style of writing that attracts the reader to keep reading on and maybe even do some research on the issue of their own.
His essay circulates around the speculation that “Canada agreed that eliminating a government that had sheltered and nursed the terrorist organization that committed the atrocity of 9/11 was both right and in our own self-interest, that not pursuing the Taliban and al-Qaeda would only leave Afghanistan as a potential site of similar designs in the future”. This being his thesis briefly answers the underlying question of the essay and he later goes on to answer the question in more depth. The essay itself supports Murphy’s thesis with great strength because Murphy’s reasoning is sound and concrete, he has done his research to give his essay accuracy, and his methods and style of writing are effective.
September the 11th 2001 was a tremendously horrific day for not only the United States of America, but for the entire nation as a whole. People in different countries all over the world felt the pain of 9/11 and Canadians were no exception. Shortly after the attacks on 9/11, Canada became a big part of the UN approved mission that declared war on the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Murphy’s position on the issue is that he believes many Canadians are not very clear in their understanding of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan and the main point of his essay is to do a better job at explaining than the Canadian government has done. For more than half of this seven-paragraph essay, he continuously gives his readers reasons that they can not only understand more clearly, but can also relate to or feel for.
Murphy does a good job at presenting his arguments in a chronological order. This is important given the topic of the essay and the historical event that the essay is wrapped around. This is especially important to the reader because some of the reasons why Canada is part of the war in Afghanistan are results of specific instances or events surrounding 9/11. Murphy’s reasoning and arguments are sound and concrete because he positions his essay in just the right way, is straight to the point, and never shifts his focus away from his thesis. In other words, he doesn’t sugar coat Canada’s participation in Afghanistan and gives Canadians the real answers they are looking for.
Murphy doesn’t make exact reference as to where he collected the information he used to form his arguments, but after doing some research one can see that Murphy’s arguments throughout the essay are in fact accurate. The government of Canada website has recently dedicated a portion of their webpage to “Canada’s Engagement in Afghanistan”. In his essay, Murphy states that “our troops remained deployed to (a) guarantee a measure of security while Afghanistan citizens went about the first steps to democracy and the extension of basic rights, (b) assist in building the essential elements—schools, a justice system, infrastructure, roads—that any society must have, and (c) offer humanitarian assistance where possible”.
These specific points or arguments are in precise correlation with the information found and distributed on the government of Canada’s webpage. With this is mind, the reader can trust in what Murphy is explaining to them on a deeper level. One can see for themselves that the author didn’t come up with the ideas himself concerning why Canadians are fighting in Afghanistan. He is simply taking the facts and giving them to Canadians in a more understanding way. The level of accuracy in Murphy’s reasoning gives his essay and writing credibility and this allows the reader to trust in what they are reading.
Perhaps the best demonstration of strengths in Murphy’s essay can be seen through the confidence that shines through his methods and styles of writing. While reading the essay, one does not find themselves asking too many questions. This is partly due to Murphy’s pattern of expository writing. He attempts to present the reader with information and at the same time attempts to explain this information and he does a good job in doing so. The style of the writing is informal and descriptive.
It is informal in the sense that the style of writing is more like telling a story or an explanation of cause and effect rather than a formal piece of writing. The tone of Murphy’s writing is serious, but at times inspirational because of the way he explains what Canadians are fighting for. His choices in explanation make the reader feel inspired to want to help Canadian troops in Afghanistan and help give Afghan citizens humanitarian assistance as well. It is inspiring to read that Canadian troops are offering “humanitarian assistance where possible” and this take on the issue and choice of writing is persuasive because it has the power to change the readers point of view.
Appreciation and complete support of the war in Afghanistan from Canadian citizens may take much more, however Rex Murphy unarguably wrote a clear and concise essay outlining the reasons Canadians are fighting in Afghanistan.
Murphy, Rex. “What We Are Fighting For.” The Globe and Mail 23 May 2006, 1st ed.
Brundage, David, and Michael Lahey. Acting On Words: An Integrated Rhetoric, Research
Guide, Reader, and Handbook. Toronto: Pearson Canada Inc., 2012.
Afghanistan. Ed. Government of Canada. 24 August 2011. Government of Canada. 20 July 2012.
The Canadian Charger. Ed. Peter Elgin. 26 August 2009. The Canadian Charger. 20 July 2012.
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