Second thoughts on Afghanistan

The upshot is that the Dutch appear to be having a lively national debate about this, which must be refreshing


1. Brian Stewart has just come back from Holland and he has a must-read column on the wavering Dutch commitment to leaving Afghanistan. The main issues seem to be a) self-respect, and a desire not to be seen to be bolting just as things are heating up, and b) concern about negative reaction within NATO. Most disturbing, I think, is this passage Brian quotes from a Dutch news story:

For example, Radio Netherlands Worldwide recently reported that Dutch troops, now preparing to pull out of Afghanistan, fear they will be shunned by their allies. “Feelings on the ground in Afghanistan regarding the Dutch pullout are running high among Americans,” the reporter claimed.

“As for solidarity among the NATO members, that’s non-existent. One person I know doubts whether the Netherlands will get any air-cover if it decides to move equipment by road to Kandahar during the pullout.”

The upshot is that the Dutch appear to be having a lively national debate about this, which must be refreshing.  At the same time, a political coalition seems to be building around the idea of saving face by providing the trainers the Americans say are desperately needed, along with a few hundred combat troops as protection: “and the Canadians will thus become the first to leave completely”.

2. The folks over at the CASC continue their cross-country tour, hosting debates on the question What Should Canada Do In Afghanistan Post-2011? Check out Terry Glavin’s blog for details on upcoming events Halifax, Montreal, Winnipeg, and Regina. I co-hosted one of the panels in Toronto — my report on it is here.

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Second thoughts on Afghanistan

  1. The way the Americans handle this NATO mission is even more reason for us to leave, not less. We don't need our military reputation tied up in a mission that the Americans seem committed to screwing up.

  2. George Bush abandoned Afganisnam to go steal oil in Iraq. That left Canada in particular holding the bag in Afganisnam. We went there under a UN flag in response to 9-11. That wasn't good enough for George; he changed the mission to a NATO mission the better to violate one or another international charters.
    We owe the USA not one G.D. thing.
    Get the hell out of hell, now.

    • So, if Bush was trying to steal Iraqi oil, how come most of the oil licenses went to Russian and Chinese companies? Kind of ruins your tidy little narrative….sorry.

      • Albert: Canada was hardly left "holding the bag" in southern Afstan (one of two areas with signigicant combat–the other is the east and the US has alway had significant forces there). In 2006 the Dutch also moved into the region with forces just somewhat smaller than ours (and they may not bug out completely after all, see comment below); so did the Brits, with forces now three times ours.

        Moreover the Danes have been fighting with the Brits since 2006, with more troops per capita than Canada (Denmark's population is some 5.5 million) and suffering deaths at about an equivalent rate. And they are not bugging out: http://toyoufromfailinghands.blogspot.com/2010/02http://toyoufromfailinghands.blogspot.com/2009/08


  3. From your linked post: "But over the past decade, our mission there has taken on a character that is in many ways far more about morality than enlightened self-interest." – is that supposed to be a selling point? The Liberals oppose morality and admit as much on national TV.

    But they do! Anyway, I object to the use of the word mission; it is an occupation, and we are widely suspected of propping up drug lords at best, and at worst launching a war against Islam and/or non-European peoples. That makes us – Canadians – hated around the world. The surge in Afghan opium production coinciding with the arrival of NATO troops is difficult to ignore.

    It is notable that the most ardent supporters of the Afghanistan occupation tend toward the left, to put it mildly, Terry Glavin and his "Solidarity" committee being a great example.

  4. Canada stayed of Vietnam and Iraq, both unpopular decisions with Americans, both wise decisions. We share a continent with Americans; we don't have to share delusions.

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