Afghan troop withdrawal a ‘surprise’

Harper didn’t warn the Afghan ambassador of his announcement


Stephen Harper
According to Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave no warning to the Afghan government before announcing in early September that Canada would withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 2011.

Harper made the remarks during a campaign breakfast meeting with journalists in Toronto, likely in an attempt to neutralize Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan as an election issue in Quebec. He had previously said that Canada would withdraw from the violent province of Kandahar in 2011, but left open the possibility of redeploying Canadian troops elsewhere in the country.

“It was a surprise,” Omar Samad, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada, recently told Maclean’s about the announcement. Still, the ambassador was diplomatic about the revelation. “I’m a realist,” he said. “In Kabul, there is a common-sense view that there will be a need for NATO forces, whatever their nationalities, for a certain period of time. But eventually some NATO countries will start thinking of their exit strategy.”

The Afghan government, Samad said, was already preparing for this eventuality. The ultimate goal is to have the Afghan army and police take over the country’s security. But in the near term, U.S. forces will play a more prominent role. More than 32,000 American troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan, and both U.S. presidential candidates have pledged to send more if elected.

According to Samad, the countries fighting in Afghanistan should withdraw only under certain circumstances: “Not in defeat, not as part of an appeasement policy, but with honour and dignity and a sense of achievement.” But he added that Canada could meet those criteria by 2011. “Canada has done well. It can be proud of its contribution, military and civilian, to one of its most important missions since the Second World War.”


Afghan troop withdrawal a ‘surprise’

  1. Surprised? What, no one sent them a letter in March ’08 after the parliamentary resolution that said exactly that?

  2. Better yet, no one at the Afghan embassy in Ottawa gets the Citizen, Post, Globe or Macleans? The March 2008 discussion and debate was pretty big news. An ambassador expressing surprise that Canada will be out in 2011 is an incompetent ambassador.

  3. It seems to me after reading all the transcripts that the joke’s on you “madeyoulook” since you seem to be less informed that the afghan. The canadian decison in parliament was to leave KANDAHAR by 2011 (not Afghanistan) and left the possibility of staying on in another part of the country open. This was talked about extensively dude. Where were you?

    So time for you to catch up with reality and the news and dont make a fool of yourself by calling a professional who knows how to read between the lines as incompetent. Now we know who is the incompetent ass.

  4. Wait a minute. we were all arguing that harper left it open for months before the elections and that he is intent on staying or moving to another part of this afghanistan, and then he came out before elections to say we will be out altogether in 2011. So i dont get the logic of what MADEYOULOOK is saying??? do you know what you are saying or are you jyst trying to get your name on this site? the afghan ambassador is right and makes sense, but you don’t and that is embarrassing. It looks like you didn;t even read this article thoroughly to understand the clear message. Time to get some fresh air.

  5. Well, um, here’s a secret, Pam. Promise not to tell? Madeyoulook is not my real name.

    And I just re-read the Parliamentary resolution (39th Parliament, 2nd Session, Journal for March 13, 2008). The order has a lot to say about an extension to (and withdrawal from Kandahar by) July 2011, and even more to say about how even this was contingent on NATO supplying more troops, on Canada acquiring more useful equipment, on better attention to the rights of detainees, on better information-sharing with all Canadians, and on Afghans themselves acquiring capabalities to ensure their own security. Redeploying elsewhere in Afghanistan? Nada. Zip. Zilch. Go ahead and read it, we’ll wait.

  6. I love how MYL is reduced to making a meta-argument about the PM’s spontaneous volte-ass being based on the House resolution. Nothing about whether leaving is a good thing in itself or not. Such is blinkered partisanship. Hey, MYL, why don’t you bloody well support our troops for once.

  7. How this turns into a suggestion of lack of support for our troops is anyone’s guess, but it has too much to do with concluding a failure of logic in Jack’s head. I like you, Jack, so I will not work on that one too much.

  8. You’re right, MYL, that there’s not much logic to it, but it certainly is in keeping with the logic that the Right deployed successfully from 2001-2006. In those days, if one wasn’t dead-keen on Afghanistan and (vicariously) other military adventures, the instant right-wing chorus was, “So you don’t support our troops?” Now that Tory supporters are in favour of high-tailing it, you deserve a bit of the same mean-spirited illogic. But I’m a nice enough guy to walk you through it.

    Anyway, logic & payback aside, I should note that you still haven’t said why leaving Afghanistan — as per (perhaps) our House resolution — is a good or bad thing. The charge of meta stands!!

  9. I also haven’t commented on why my municipality wants to end its leaf-collection schedule while the leaves are still on the trees, because neither has anything to do with the Afghan ambassador’s alleged “surprise” as mentioned above.

    “I” deserve nothing, Jack. I am not a CPC supporter. I am all for limited government, and a federal government that sticks to its defined job. Defending the country, gasp, happens to be one of them. As of now, the Tories are the closest we’ve got to a sane management of the federal government. You may refrain in future from the “you” lumping, if youplease.

    As to the Right’s (not mine, but the Right’s) taunts of “you don’t support the troops!” sometimes they were justified (see just about anything spewing out of Cauchon’s mouth), sometimes not.

    But if you are desperate to hear my opinion, I will, flattered by your desire to know my opinion, cheerfully oblige.

    We have already chatted a few times within the confines of our gracious Blog Central host, about the Afghan mission. I believe our troops take a back seat to no one on what they have accomplished with what little our governments have provided them over the years in the way of material support. I am ashamed that we have been unable to learn more about the heroics of these men & women. The decision to send our soldiers on a mission, or to bring them home, MUST be a political decision, if we believe (and I do) that there is to be civilian control of a nation’s armed forces. The military brass advise the civilian masters on the likelihood of mission success and on the logistical needs to carry out the mission. The civilian leadership says go or no-go. Parliament spoke in March of 2008. If people don’t want to listen, that’s their problem.

    Whether anony-commenter MYL believes 2011 is the right time to bug out? Don’t know. I would be thrilled that we would be leaving because the mission is successfully completed, but I don’t see that taking shape. I would be happy to learn that we were rotating out in 2011 because the military leadership is advising that this is our limit to avoid complete exhaustion of our armed forces, and by extension complete lack of readiness to deal with any other (enemy, natural disaster, Arctic sovereignty) threats to Canada. Not happy that we’re exhausted, happy that we realize enough that the stand-down is essential for future readiness. This is not a solo Canadian mission. This is a NATO mission, we’ve pulled more than our weight, and we have probably gone on longer than public opinion in Canada has tolerated (see Harper’s pandering musings during the election campaign, and don’t get me — actually you — started again that Harper is telling all of NATO that it’s gotta up and leave because he wondered aloud in an election campaign in a reflection of the prevailing Canadian mood). If the civilian leadership extends beyond the population’s tolerance in its command of our armed forces, they do so at their electoral peril. Which is at it should be.

  10. WHy are you hiding behind “madeyoulook”? come out and join the communiyt of free mwnand women… this is not talibistan dear. You make little sense and your reading of the writing about he sequence of events, who said what and how it is interpreted is flawed. again, agfree that the government people make more sense that you do. You are just a bit emotional and less rational. I went back and read all the transcripts and the ambassador is right. There was no clear announcement to leave afghanistan altogeher (only Kandahar) until mr harper made the announcement to leave the country (not the province) by 2011, just when elections were being announced. So what don’t you get dude?

  11. Let’s just hope that the Afghans are a little more mature about things than this forum!

    Everyone knows that you can’t believe what you read in the papers…. Let alone form foreign policy based on it. Only Canadians (and I am one) would think the rest of the world should know what’s in their minds and in their newspapers… Oh, wait… Normally it’s the US that’s so egotistical…

    Samad seemed very reasonable? He has my support…


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