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A quote and an invitation


 

The quote:

It would also have been unwise to shuffle Peter MacKay, the Minister of National Defence, to another cabinet post in the middle of a war. Doing so would have indicated to our enemies in Afghanistan that this government is having doubts about its war policy, which is not the case at all.

— Lorne Gunter, yesterday

The invitation:

In 200 words or less, explain our war policy!

Snarky answers are inevitable, but I’d really like to see commenters give an honest attempt at describing Stephen Harper’s Afghanistan policy. I ask because that table of diplomats I addressed on Thursday was kind of… astonished by what they heard from the Prime Minister during the election campaign. And they weren’t the only ones.

UPDATE: Some reading to set the context. “Unfortunately, the planned surge of three American brigades is not enough. The real, though unspoken, number of troops necessary is around three divisions.” Which is to say, triple the planned surge, or an injection of new forces that would roughly double ISAF’s current deployment.

UPDATER: From the same Brookings op-ed: “In fact, Mullah Omar recently stated that the only matter for negotiations is the terms of NATO withdrawal. But this Taliban central goal of all foreign troops out needs to remain unacceptable: to avoid further feeding the global salafist ego of running the infidels out and at minimum, to preserve the necessary means to disrupt the extremely dangerous al Qaeda safehavens in the region.”

Note that Mullah Omar’s key demand closely resembles the policy Stephen Harper announced during the election campaign. I am not being disingenuous when I say I’m certain that’s a coincidence. Nasty coincidence, though.


 

A quote and an invitation

  1. I think MacKay wasn’t punted because Harper no longer sees him as a threat.

    Our war policy right now is whatever the Bush admin’s policy is. After Nov 4, it will be “we’re out after 2011, and that’s it.”

  2. War is not necessary, if it is not necessarily war.

  3. Well, in 2006 here are a couple of quotes from Harper and the leader of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan:

    Canada and the international community are determined to take a failed state and create a “democratic, prosperous and modern country,” [said Harper]

    “Once we get rid of the bad people, we can carry on with full force in terms of the reconstruction and development,” [Lt. Col Doucet] said.

    I think, if pressed, that would be what the government would put forward as our war policy. But I guess that would be our war goal. or our war aims. The war now seems to me to be a lot like Diem Biem Phu.

  4. The policy:

    “We like wars, especially shooting wars”

  5. It used be based on some kind of vague tough talking principle. I’m not so sure these days. Sorry for the snarky answer… though it was honest one.

    “I tell people I couldn’t care less if the Opposition ultimately brings me down and defeats me in an election over this,”

    “I have to do what we believe is right for long-term security interests of this country, and right for the men and women who have put themselves on the line. Those are the interests I will defend regardless of what the polls are on this.”

    – Prime Minister Stephen Harper
    Dec. 20 2006
    CTV

  6. The policy, as I understand it, in 200 words:

    Canada must show global leadership. This means aligning ourselves closely with our NATO partners and following their lead. Therefore we must stay. But if we stay (past 2011), we are in effect giving our NATO partners a free ride; therefore we must leave. Otherwise we’re really letting the alliance down, and preventing people from letting the alliance down is the main motive for leaving. The longer we stay, in other words, the more we sabotage NATO; but the quicker we leave the more forceful our message to the Taliban will be that NATO will never compromise with them or allow them to oppress the women and children of Afghanistan. At least not while Canada is still around to leave.

  7. Our war policy?

    “What would John Howard do?”

    There it is in five words.

  8. Then again, maybe Stephen Harper is correct in the removal of Canadian troops by 2011 and we should worry about that warmonger down south… Barrack Obama.

    RAWA’s statement on the seventh anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan

    “RAWA strongly believes that there should be no expectation of either the US or any other country to present us with democracy, peace and prosperity. Our freedom is only achievable at the hands of our people. It is the duty of all the intellectuals, all the democratic forces and progressive and independence-seeking people to rise in a constant and decisive struggle for independence and democracy by taking the support of our wounded people as the independent force, against the presence of the US and its allies and the domination of Jehadi and Taliban criminals.”

  9. Asia-Pacific Journal, The Coming Change of Course in Afghanistan (21 October 2008):

    “America’s Afghanistan policy is falling into the hands of the realists, whose highest priority is maintaining a tractable and viable client in Kabul, keeping Afghanistan securely inside the US sphere of interest, holding onto a key chess piece in Central Asia’s “great game” of energy resources and pipeline infrastructure, and offering the Pentagon another basing option to bedevil Russia and Iran.

    Despite the absurdity of a multi-year, multi-billion dollar entanglement in Central Asia that will do little more than advance unilateral US security objectives, America’s allies…will probably heed an American call for a redoubled effort…”
    http://japanfocus.org/_China_Hand-The__Coming_Change_of_Course_in_Afghanistan

  10. I agree with Jack Mitchell.

    You know, much like high-finance, war is complex. And just because a child of eight could punch holes in that reasoning, it is because they don’t understand the nuances of the thing.

  11. Mullah Omar is obviously in the tank for the Liberals.

  12. Our war policy? Currently, it is to try and help NATO win an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, establish a democracy, and gain equal rights for women.

    Our current score? 0 for 3.

    Quagmire is not just a character on “family guy”.

    PS: It appears the Cray Supercomputers running Inkless central have not moved to DST.

  13. The Brookings Institute piece should be compared with the recent essay in Foreign Affairs by Rubin and Rashid, “From Great Game to Grand Bargain.”

    Though flawed in many ways, the FA article lays out some important elements of an approach that might realistically lead to increased security and development for the people of Afghanistan.

  14. War Policy:

    We support the war, in principle, anyway. Whether or not we actually support the war in a more tangible way (such as…keeping troops in Afghanistan) depends on what will keep Stephen Harper in power.

  15. As a proponent of the continued Canadian mission in Afghanistan, I have to say, cynically so, that the official policy of the Harper government on Afghanistan is whatever can be politically expedited into the centrist Canadian voter support for the Conservative Party. So that would be the hawkish “end of the Afghan Compact” in 2011, and the dovish “we’re out in 2011 no matter what”.

  16. I think I can beat the 200 word limit:

    NATO has a job to do, and Canada has more than pulled its weight from the start until the end already declared in Parliament. In the last election campaign, the winning party had a date for withdrawal in its (otherwise inconsequential) platform, reading the mood of the electorate. That’s the cool thing about an alliance; if it means anything, those who have coasted for years can now put up or shut up. We’ll “rotate out,” take our break, re-equip and modernize our military to continue to be useful in the early 21st century, and we will of course survey the world landscape to see how our men and women can continue to advance Canada’s foreign policy when military means are unfortunately essential for that purpose.

    I hope I have avoided your “inevitable snark” prediction, Paul.

  17. That’s an excellent summary of the Liberal position, madeyoulook. The Conservative position, as unilaterally and retroactively amended by Stephen Harper on Day 4 of the campaign, is precisely that “those who have coasted for years” should not put up or shut up, but that essentially all foreign troops should leave Afghanistan in 2011 and let that country’s army run the show. Here’s how he put it in the English debate:
    http://www.truveo.com/Election-2008-English-debate-CTV-News-Special/id/313681574

    I’m not picking on you, myl, nor am I surprised you got Harper’s position wrong, because he (a) pulled the position out of his back pocket and (b) isn’t making a lot of sense.

    That’s a problem. In a sane polity, we’d all be talking about it.

  18. In a sane polity, we’d be identifying the characteristics of psychopathy.

  19. Paul, I have offered my own sense of what Canada is telling the world, allies and adversaries, perhaps peppered with a smidgen of wishful thinking. I do not believe Harper’s message to Canadians (at some point the Afghan gov’t better stand on its own) has been consistent with the Canada’s message to the world. Besides, last I checked, Canada does not have the power to tell NATO to leave Afghanistan. Although NATO is doing a particularly good job of trying to lose (or at least never win) there, so who knows what NATO may decide between now and 2011…

    And the CPC’s (deservedly) mocked late-released platform did mention respecting the March 2008 will of Parliament (Canada out in 2011). Right there on page 30, top of the page.

    And, well, here comes the snark, Paul. I recall Dion articulating the Liberal policy on the military. We’re too weak to stand up to the USA or Russia, and we’re too nice to pick a fight with the Danes. Oh, and we have to scurry out of Afghanistan, managing to do that somehow “with honour.” Because we should focus more on building schools, and we shouldn’t bother protecting the people who build the schools or teach there. Or something like that.

  20. MYL, I fear that we’re the laughingstock of the world by now, thanks to our post-Chretien non-policy policy. What exactly do you think the world’s reaction is to Harper’s doublespeak? Or to our new Minister of Foreign Affairs? Nothing but guffaws all round. We are probably the most irrelevant country with a population over 10 million. Doesn’t it just make you feel proud?

  21. Doublespeak is a natural part of diplomacy. Canada owns no monopoly there.

    Jack, why don’t you ask certain 10,000,000-plus countries whose soldiers are actually IN Afghanistan but are expressly prohibited from doing anything useful there, like “killing terrorist scum.” And then ask the world what we all think of those countries’ foreign ministers (I am sure we know all their names, and how long they’ve been in office)…

  22. I’m really sorry. I have to play a lot of catch-up on this one.

    I can’t advance a discussion on what the Canadian policy on Afghanistan was once or what the policy is now.

    I’m still trying to put together a rationale for why we’re there in the first place.

  23. Sis, check out downtown New York City. The hole in the skyline is still there. A few Canadians were vaporized on some day many years ago, right about there. Can anyone help Sis and me out on the date? It was in all the papers.

  24. Although, really we first got into Afghanistan because Chretien was afraid to join the USA in Iraq, and tossed our allies a bone by opting for door number two, the road to Kabul.

  25. Bush used 9/11 to bomb and invade Afghanistan (after pipeline negotiations with the Taliban failed) and then conned NATO into the country to free up US troops for Iraq. He’s even on record gloating about that. Far as I can tell, Canada got into Afghanistan to appease the US for not joining OIF. Then Martin dithered until Kandahar was the only mission choice left, Hillier made the most of that, and Harper tricked Parliament into doubling down. PR research at the time indicated that Canadians would be better ‘sold’ on the ‘mission’ with stabilization and humanitarian covers. Closer to the old ‘peacekeeping’ self-image. Now we’re stuck in a murderous unwinnable war because we can’t find a way to get out and save face at the same time. Hence the doublespeak. IMHO.

  26. The policy is simple: Provide support as part of the NATO alliance; Provide support as part of a UN sanctioned mission. The ultimate goal: to reduce the likelihood Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

    Just think about what will happen if the West withdraws and the Karzai government falls b/c of Taliban attacks. This time Taliban will be certain they can do whatever they want with real impunity.

  27. Add boborden to the list of people who didn’t listen very closely to the PM during the campaign. Bob, he wants the “West” to withdraw when Canada does, in 2011. Or he did as of a month ago. I haven’t had a chance to check whether he’s weathervaned again.

  28. MYL: Jack, why don’t you ask certain 10,000,000-plus countries whose soldiers are actually IN Afghanistan but are expressly prohibited from doing anything useful there, like “killing terrorist scum.”

    At least their policy has been consistent! Therefore, if they can be convinced to come up to the front lines we can take their word they’ll do it. For ourselves, all we can do is hope that other countries appreciate that our PM’s public statements are meaningless – delightful situation.

  29. myl – far more Indian nationals were “vaporized” on 9/11 than Canadians. India has managed to restrain it’s thirst for revenge and national honour. As a matter of fact, I’m not aware – maybe you are – of any plans for Canada to invade India (or BC) to avenge Air India.

    As an interesting aside, one of the reasons the Pakistani intel service gives for its’ support of the Taliban is its’ fear of increased Indian influence in Afghanistan.

    Too complicated for simple folks like Canadians.

  30. Harper seems to like playing a PM on TV, but on Afghanistan he may be letting the cat out of the bag. UK generals have already spoken out to say that the ‘Taliban’ can’t be defeated militarily. (That word is an oversimplification of the tribal reality anyway, and most of the fighters only want to expel outsiders from their country.) Multiple voices are now starting to prepare the public for a negotiated settlement which, after all the propaganda and losses, will be for some a bitter dose. So Harper may have used closely-held information for his own selfish purposes. No surprise there.

  31. Oh dear, Sis, are you trying to suggest that the (democratically elected) “regime” governing India was harbouring and/or aiding-and-abetting the filth who blew up Air India? Seems to me those scum were (“allegedly!!”) right here among us in British Columbia. And Canada could not have done a worse job going after those vermin even if that had been specific government policy. Google CSIS, RCMP and Air India if you still don’t have a clue what I am talking about.

    Given the number of Canadians on the plane, Canada should have damn well done a better job “avenging” Air India right here at home. India (still!) has every right to be mighty pissed at Canada for dropping that ball. Canada has no business invading India to avenge Air India, friend.

    As to why India is (your words) restraining its thirst for revenge, your failure to connect the nuclear-neighbour-Pakistani dot even as you mention them (as an “aside”? Wtf?), combined with your bizarre comparison to the fallout of a Canadian terrorist incident in the 1980s, says all I need to know about your assessment of international relations.

    To Jack and Paul, what’s so hard about “respecting Parliament’s will” by staying till 2011 (to which I will cheerfully add “unless Parliament changes its mind before then”)? What’s so hard about recognizing international diplomacy often, not sometimes, often involves having one nuance for public consumption (during an election campaign, no less — the man was not on the floor of the House of Commons mister-speakering) and another for diplomatic channels? Are you both seriously suggesting that this is the first instance you’re aware of where such a thing has happened?

  32. MYL: “What’s so hard about recognizing international diplomacy often, not sometimes, often involves having one nuance for public consumption (during an election campaign, no less — the man was not on the floor of the House of Commons mister-speakering) and another for diplomatic channels?”

    Are you really going to go there, MYL? You really have faith that our good Foreign Service fellows (whom the PM despises, incidentally) are out there telling the world that the PM doesn’t mean what he says during an election? I was being sarcastic when I suggested that – perhaps I have missed some nuance in your argument – but you seriously think that’s how diplomacy works? “Trust us, you shouldn’t trust us on this one” – what is that, like, the last ditch of Harper defense? No no, what happens when you try that with Foreign Powers is not that they cease to trust you – they just cease to care whether they should trust you or not. The PM’s little election back-pocket volte-ass will take years of real – you know, reliable – diplomacy to repair.

  33. Jack, I’m saying the message isn’t as big of a difference as you’re making it out to be. It’ll have a slightly different tint depending on the audience. Go ahead and blush if this is the first time you’ve discovered such a thing.

    March 2008: Parliament resolves that Canadian soldiers will leave Kandahar in 2011.

    October 2008: Harper commits to the same thing, apparently from his back pocket. Guess he keeps Hansard in there.

    To the Canadian electorate, many of whom can’t get past the juvenile anti-American frisson of blasting Bush’s Afghan war-for-oil: “Look, at some point, Afghans have to start running their own country. The West can’t stay there forever.”

    To NATO: “Unless a new Parliament gets the nerve (aka majority) necessary to re-consider, you guys should expect Canada will have done its job by 2011. Hey there, France and Germany, maybe it’s time the Canadians and Poles stopped embarrassing your soldiers the way the Brits and Americans certainly are — last I checked, you freeloaders still have a seat at the table in Brussels. Here are the keys to Kandahar, and here’s the to-do list. If the people of Canada will not elect a Parliament with the nerve to re-consider, in 2011 we’re done. Good luck, hope it goes well, we’re cheering for ya, call us in a few years and we’ll have a look at our options.” Or so I would imagine the conversation would go when the press was outside the room. Please (try harder to) consider the possibility that countries’ representatives say different things to each other when the media leave the room. Especially at a meeting of a military alliance like NATO.

    Note that I am not in Harper’s inner circle. It’s just what I see from here on the outside. And I’m just trying to explain it to y’all.

  34. So, MYL, let me ask you this: if/when this “bluff” (if that’s what it is) works and our NATO comrades decide to get serious about Afghanistan security, does Harper then turn the rhetoric back on about never deserting the Afghan people, defending freedom, etc.? But . . . wouldn’t that mean announcing to everybody (NATO, Taliban, Canadian electorate) that our real motives in Afghanistan – assuming we still have some – are available for bluffing with? How credible do those become if we’re willing to jump back and forth across the line of whether we’re planning to withdraw? Apart from the grotesque cynicism of treating Afghan freedom and incidentally our own soldiers’ lives as diplomatic chess-pieces. I’d much prefer to think we’d actually once and for all changed our policy to a 2011 withdrawal; but I fear your view is all too true. Harper has simply spent our international credibility in order to defuse Afghanistan as an election issue.

  35. I see I didn’t mention Parliament. I do hope you’re not in Harper’s inner circle, because if they’re really going to play the “obeying the will of Parliament” card – my God, it just makes me gasp. At least refrain from arguing that Harper takes the authority of Parliament seriously.

  36. Where’s the bluff? Repeating what Parliament passed in March? I just don’t see Canada’s international credibility spent. Not least of which when we share a stage with several other NATO nations.

    NATO Meeting of Member Defence Ministers, January 2011: Sorry fellas, it’s a wrap. We looked back at the charter, and it turns out that a Canadian Prime Minister’s commentary during a domestic re-election campaign does carry veto power over the entire alliance. Something about Canada being a distinct society or something, look, I wasn’t there when the charter was drafted. So, not only is Canada gone, Mister Harper made public musings, something about at some point, enough is enough. So that’s it. We’re all gone. Konrad, please distribute the NATO plan for orderly and safe evacuation of all ISAF locations. You’ll like the touch, it involves the last helicopter leaving a vacated embassy in Kabul — whoa, suddenly everyone has a comment! The chair recognizes the USA defense secretary…

  37. if they’re really going to play the “obeying the will of Parliament” card – my God, it just makes me gasp.

    Uh, Jack, at the risk of threatening your upper airway, have a look at page 30 of the CPC manifesto of October 2008.

    Since Jack is gasping, it therefore follows that re-iterating a past (and passed!) parliamentary resolution is the surefire way to spend a country’s international credibility. Or something. Jack would explain it all to us, if someone could please fetch him a glass of water.

  38. Uh-oh, Jack’s still not speaking. Anyone in the GTA know the Heimlich?

  39. The credibility problem, MYL, arises from the tenor of our rhetoric about why we were there in Afghanistan. Pick your phrase – “not going to cut and run,” “defending freedom,” “responsibility to the Afghan people,” whatever – the point was that we were not going to let Afghanistan collapse back in on itself, for humanitarian, diplomatic, and strategic reasons.

    Now, apparently, we’re perfectly prepared to do that, it’s just that we’re not going to do it until 2011. And just to reinforce the fact that we’re going to let Afghanistan blow up, the PM not only talks about our own withdrawal but about the desireability of a full NATO withdrawal. Because, doncha know, we will never desert our allies – we need them to desert with us.

    This BS about the Afghan army taking over – it’s just ridiculous. Have you seen those guys on YouTube? They basically shoot straight up in the air. The Taliban would wipe the floor with them. That was the point of Harper’s rhetoric these last three years! Oh, but I forget, one has to read in between the lines on that stuff, right? How naive of me!

  40. I think Conservative policy is to hope that Obama wins the election and follows through on his pledge to increase troops to Afghan. When the US
    troops arrive they launch strategy similar to the Iraqi ‘surge’ and eliminate the remaining rebels. All will be quiet by 2011 and PM, whoever he is, will withdraw troops and claim Afghan society is well on its way to stability and prosperity.

    Not sure it’s going to play out this way but I think that’s what Cons are hoping for.

  41. Hey there, France and Germany, maybe it’s time the Canadians and Poles stopped embarrassing your soldiers the way the Brits and Americans certainly are — last I checked, you freeloaders still have a seat at the table in Brussels. Here are the keys to Kandahar, and here’s the to-do list. If the people of Canada will not elect a Parliament with the nerve to re-consider, in 2011 we’re done. Good luck, hope it goes well, we’re cheering for ya, call us in a few years and we’ll have a look at our options.” Or so I would imagine the conversation would go when the press was outside the room.

    I’m sorry, but WHAT???

    Harper clearly didn’t say during the election “We’re handing over the keys and we hope someone else takes up the fight, preferably those who haven’t really fought yet” he said (paraphrasing) “We’re leaving in 2011, and we think everyone else should come with us“.

    I get that politicians sometimes say one thing in public and another thing behind closed doors (let’s face it, sometimes? it’s darned near pathological) however, I fail to see why Harper’s public rhetoric would be “We think the West should get out by 2011 like we are” if in private he were saying “We’re leaving in 2011, but we think you all should stay and keep fighting”. Wouldn’t that just really tick our allies off? Publicly calling for them to leave, while privately berating them for not committing to stay?

    I don’t think much of our Prime Minister, but I don’t think he’s that thick.

    There’s nuance, and then there’s “saying the EXACT OPPOSITE in private to what you’ve said publicly”. I just can’t believe the PM is saying publicly that the rest of “the West” should get out by 2011 along with us, while privately he’s telling our Western allies to cowboy up and stay. If that’s the case, if the PM is really saying the exact opposite to the electorate from what he’s saying to our closest allies, on an issue of war and peace, why should I believe ANYTHING the Prime Minister say to me?

  42. I’d like to correct a misconception by MYL and Jody from several posts back.

    Canada went to war in a UN sanctioned mission to get the Taliban out of Afghanistan because they were proven to harbour terrorists. It didn’t hurt our resolve that they were also severely trampling human rights, etc. but I suggest that wasn’t why we actually went to war. THEN came the rumblings from the U.S. about also taking the war to Iraq. Then came the decision by the UN not to have that be a UN sanctioned war. Then came our decision not to participate in Iraq.

    And if we had it to do over again, but knew the U.S. was going to divide its effort–thereby teaching the Taliban how to fight by observing Iraq–I expect we’d have done things differently with regards to Afghanistan. At the time however, we had no idea Bush was as idiotic as he has now proven himself to be.

    It wasn’t a question of ‘door number two’ because there was only one war on the table at the time of our decision.

    At least, that is how I distinctly remember it.

  43. “I ask because that table of diplomats I addressed on Thursday was kind of… astonished by what they heard from the Prime Minister during the election campaign. And they weren’t the only ones.”

    Was I the only one who didn’t believe Harper when he said this? The man has been known to make statements during a writ period only to end up doing a complete about-face later on.

    Why would this one be any different?

  44. boudica nails it. Harper said this to neutralize the issue, knowing full-well that when the clock is running out of the mission. If there are no replacements for the Canadian contingent, if the mission is not hopeless and if there is a political case for it, he would argue for continued Canadian involvement.

  45. 200 words or less : We agreed to rotate in and help fight a war and then we extended the mission (several times) and agreed to rotate out in 2011! = there it is we did our bit and then we will leave and let someone else rotate in – this is how NATO works. So where is the problem? here is the insconsistency? Whereis anything else except exactly what was agreed upon and what has been done. The next issue will indeed be when Obama leans on us to extend the mission again which indeed he will if elected as he has said so!However that is another issue for parliament to debate in 2011. If someone dares to say the cut and run thing get a grip and grow up as cut and run would be if we left now leaving in 3 years when the mission is up as far as our arrangement goes is by no stretch of the imagination either cutting or running. Frankly I am unsure as to why people seem to want to complicate things or look for deep hidden meanings when more often than not they are exactly as they are.

  46. “If someone dares to say the cut and run thing”

    Stephen “cut and run” Harper.

  47. Stephen Harper was the one who said cut and run. Perhaps you should write him a letter telling him to get a grip. The postage is free.

    Also, I feel compelled to point out to you Wayne that “!=” means ‘not equal’, which is confusing when you tend to mean the opposite. For the benefit of everyone reading, try not to start sentences with equal signs. Therefore is probably what you mean.

  48. Sorry Boudica : but you again stray from the central point. Where is the logic since leaving in 2011 is a promise therefore there is not cutting and certainly no running. The primary facia is obvious what is interesting though is that in a way it indeed does NATO a favour as Harper sent a very clear and very strong signal to our partners that they will have to start preparing to play the hand out without us after 2011 unless parliament changes it mind of course. This could be interesting as by that time Obama will have a few years under his belt and would be perfect timing for my boy Stevie to use the circumstances at that time to go for the 12 more seats. Imagine a giant conflict Obama leaning on Canadians to keep fighting the war and Harper standing up and saying NO! It would be very interesting to watch those dynamics because by that time the honeymoon will be over with Obama and buyers remorse may have settled in. In a way I hope Obama wins by a large majority otherwise he may not have earned the political capital to have a long honeymoon.

  49. Andrew Stevie said and I quote : Canadian do not Cut and Run and we don’t so again where is the problem?!+)(*&*&^%%$#@!@!

  50. Wayne: Steve said we will leave Afghanistan whether or not the country is ready for us to leave. That is, by definition, ‘cutting and running’. I am pro-Afghanistan, and I think it is abhorrent that we would consider leaving Afghans in Kandahar to the wolves. As long as civilians want us there to protect them, I think we should stay. Harper has flip-flopped on this issue, which I find disappointing.

  51. Well Andrew : you can decode a statement to mean anything you want much as I do with keyborad symbols and if you want to interpret something to say something other than what is said … well … go right ahead but by definition and clarification it isn’t cutting and running so deal with it. As to you support for the mission well that does my heart good but there is no flip flop no change of direction and no broken promise. You should join the Conservative Party become a volunteer earn your way to a leadership convention as a delegate and then place the mission as the price of your support. This is the Canadian way of politics.

  52. Jenn, We were conned. The Bushites were talking about invading Iraq, getting a foothold in the region, before they were (s)elected; 9/11 gave them the ‘opportunity’ (Rice), but they decided to bomb and invade Afghanistan first: it was easier, it would appease the US public, and would get the rhetoric out about ‘you’re either with us or the terrorists.’

    The Taliban asked for evidence that bin Laden was responsible for 9/11, but the cowboys weren’t interested in going the international law route. They were out to ‘create reality’ (Rove). They got UN cover for invasion and then called off the Special Forces search for bin Laden and left their allies, including Canada, holding the bag.

    The original Taliban (‘Students’) were young Afghanis who restored order and ended the opium trade after the terrible civil war that followed defeat of the Soviets (with help from the US/CIA, who armed al-Qaeda; bin Laden was a CIA asset back then). Today the word covers multiple entities who want to expel the current invaders, including us.

    It would help if all the meddling stopped, but it won’t. Those in charge don’t really care about human rights, or the Afghanis, who are being killed quickly by air strikes and slowly by starvation and depleted uranium. All the highflown humanitarian stuff is just cover. What it’s really about is long-term geopolitical basing/control for the purpose of domination and resource extraction. The Great Game, Part II/deja vu. Including opium.

  53. What’s the matter with Wayne, today? I can see the foaming mouth from here…

  54. Wayne: Harper said we shouldn’t ‘cut and run’, and to leave Afghanistan before the mission is complete would be to ‘cut and run’. It’s not complicated.

  55. Canada’s Afghan Policy can be divided into several stages:

    <2006: Send in troops to support the US and the removal of the taliban terrorist training camps. Have a “wtf?” moment when Bush pulls out and goes chasing his daddy’s tail in Iraq.

    2006 to Pre-writ 2008: Play to the base and attempt to brand any desire to get out of Afghanistan as weak/cowardly/terrorist-sympathizing.

    Campaign 2008: The base isn’t big enough, so play to Quebec and their anti-war concerns.

    Is that really so hard to understand?

  56. Anyone seriously believe that all of NATO is out in 2011 because Canada will rotate out, and that this abandonment is all Harper’s fault (or genius, depending on your leanings) because of something he said in a leaders’ debate of an election campaign?

    Anyone seriously believe Harper’s musings convinced Canadians that NATO will leave in 2011? Expanded audience: Any Canadians out there expect NATO to leave because Harper pandered during an election campaign?

    Expanded audience still: Any NATO partners convinced of the necessity to abandon ISAF by 2011 because of something Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper might have said during an election campaign?

    Thank you all. The partisan righteous indignation can take a break, now.

    Bottom line: The CPC commits to abide by the Parliamentary resolution, ever since the resolution was passed. The resolution is not (repeat in all-caps NOT) a veto over ISAF at NATO. Harper wonders aloud an opinion that is likely politically popular, during an election campaign, apparently the first time anyone can remember a politician trying to say popular things during a campaign, especially on a subject over which he has no control anyways, like suggesting to other sovereign nations in an alliance what they should be thinking. That opinion wondered aloud probably went absolutely nowhere internationally, but by all means let’s bring out the domestic partisan hatchet job.

    Prediction: you don’t hear from PMSH again about NATO withdrawing with the Canadians. You hear things like, “NATO has to take a serious look at progress in the mission, and how to continue to achieve its objectives. Which, I would add, is what we NATO allies are constantly doing several times a year in Brussels. Canada will be out in ’11; Parliament said so. NATO will of course have to evaluate what happens when Canada leaves, and whether any other allies can rotate in for their turn. Until then, we will do all we can to help the proud Afghan people stand on their own after decades of neglect and-or abuse. Maybe our announcement will help sharpen NATO’s focus about achieving objectives more quickly. Maybe our announcement won’t. But Parliament has spoken, and we respect the will of Parliament.” Harper then leaves the scrum when a couple of reporters in the back start muttering about fixed election dates and the will of Parliament.

  57. Anyone seriously believe that we should seriously believe anything Harper says about Afghanistan?

  58. Jack, your refusal to take a break will be smiled upon by your superiors. But your union colleagues are muttering, friend. Take your break when offered, if you know what’s good for you.

  59. (Union? I don’t follow you… Haven’t ever been unionised, myself…)

    MYL, I still don’t get what you’re arguing. Harper says we should leave in 2011 (as Parliament suggested); he further said that NATO might have to leave. The former position makes nonsense of the “we will never desert our NATO partners” line; the latter makes nonsense of the “we will never let Afghanistan go hang” line.

    You seem to be saying that the former position is Harper’s real position and the comments about “the West” getting out were just him thinking out loud. Well, leaving aside how irresponsible it is for a PM to think aloud like that, how does a 2011 withdrawal square with Harper’s rhetoric for the past three years?

    Incidentally, is he planning to implement Kyoto? That was another of Parliament’s glorious hours, if you’ll recall. Or is the Parliament card just tactical?

    He could, of course, solve the situation by giving a speech as direct and straightforward as your long post; but what are the odds of that?

  60. “Harper then leaves the scrum”

    Harper scrums?

    And point of clarification: why was it cutting and running before, but not now? What has changed? Or is it cutting and running, unless the mission has gone on for 8 years?

  61. Stephen Harper will provide a full and detailed description of his Afghanistan policy tomorrow morning over coffee and muffins with Bob Fife dutifully by his side.

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