Deadlines and timetables are the new black


Inkless Irregular Jack Mitchell is in serious danger of going home with all the non-existent steak knives in our First Annual frequent whenever I feel like it Inkless Research Quiz. Recall that we were looking for examples of Anglosphere political leaders explaining the dangers of fixed deadlines for Afghanistan (or Iraq) troop withdrawals. Here’s the memorable quote Jack found:

“”My hope would be that in the next year and a half, rather than just debating a date, we would talk about what the objectives of policy are,” Mr. Harper said at a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister John Howard. “Canada went into Afghanistan because of very real reasons of national security and international security, and I believe that since we’ve been there, particularly in Kandahar, we’ve undertaken obligations.”

“I don’t see the United Nations telling Canada to leave on a certain date, or the Canadian military urging me to pull out on certain date, or the military families to do that,” he said. “I don’t see our allies urging us to do that. In fact I see allies like Australia that are increasing their commitment.”

And indeed that’s Stephen Harper, a year ago to the day.

The contest remains open. Entries in this comment thread or the original one. The ground is fertile, but new entrants are on notice that Jack has set the bar high.


Deadlines and timetables are the new black

  1. I’m liking all these contests on the blogs today. First Feschuk, now Wells…I hope this becomes a habit.

  2. Paul,
    Have you thought about a skill testing question? All the contests have one – I think it might be a legal requirement. How about –
    Should Harper be returned to government with a minority, what is the date of the next election?

  3. The definition of ‘political leaders’ may render the following comments ineligible, but here is some testimony from the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade from February of 2007:

    Senator Downe:What is your projected date to be there?

    Mr. Appathurai (of NATO): We are working, for example, to help the Afghans create an Afghan national army. I believe in the next two years it will be up to 70,000 troops. The U.S. has come in with almost $9 billion to do that. That being said, these armed forces need to be trained and equipped and they are only one pillar of a stool that has many legs. The police are a critical part there, but NATO cannot do the police training. The EU has stepped up its effort and I believe they will double the number of police trainers they have, but that is a small number.

    There is no date for us. We have timelines when it comes to training and equipping, but we are there for the long haul.

    Mr. Alexander (of the UN): In the spirit of support between our two organizations and on this very important question, it is important to realize where discussions of timetable lead. If we around this table, or around tables in Kabul or the North Atlantic Council in Brussels, try to determine an end date, there is only one group that will take heart in that, and that is the Taliban. They are looking for signs that political will, resolve, and the bringing of security to Afghanistan is finite. It is only by showing resolve, to some extent open-ended resolve, that the member states of the United Nations and NATO ISAF will succeed in breaking the will of the Taliban and those supporting them to continue this fight.

    It is possible that this insurgency will crest this year and that we will see a need for less robust commitments next year. Let us hope that is the case. It is also possible that the violence this year will be worse than anyone has anticipated, and we need to be ready for that eventuality.

    As long as the phenomenon described earlier of external sanctuaries and support continues to drive this insurgency, it will be necessary for NATO and the Afghan government to demonstrate strong resolve and an open-ended commitment to this mission.

  4. …”As long as the phenomenon described earlier of external sanctuaries and support continues to drive this insurgency…”

    external sanctuaries = ?
    external support = ?

    Looks like a playing field in a global game that did not stop at the end of the “cold war” with the Afghan people as the football.

  5. You want a quote, by political leaders? OK, how about the resolution passed by the House of Commons:

    therefore, it is the opinion of the House,
    that Canada should continue a military presence in Kandahar beyond February 2009, to July 2011, in a manner fully consistent with the UN mandate on Afghanistan, and that the military mission should consist of…

    I’m not sayin’ I agree with specific withdraw dates, only that this is in fact the will of the House of Commons as at March 2008. And, BTW, if this is a NATO mission (doesn’t look like one but they keep telling me it is), then Canadain contingents can rotate out for a pause while NATO allies fill in.

  6. I’m just glad this country is run by old,white guys.

    At least the media will question them(ok party affiliation does come into it).

    Put a woman up and they can’t take a fall fast enough.

    Women of Canada, whine enough and you too can be in the debates.

  7. My hope would be that in the next year and a half, rather than just debating a date, we would talk about what the objectives of policy are

    New Contest?

    Can anyone find out the results of the debate we had over what the objectives of our Afghan policy are?

    I actually thought it made sense when Harper was saying “the date’s not important… determining what we hope to ACCOMPLISH in Afghanistan, and then making sure we accomplish that, however long it takes, is what’s important”. Now, it seems the Tories have short-circuited the need to even DISCUSS what we want to accomplish in Afghanistan, ’cause we’ll be out by 2011 in any case.

    I have a terrible fear we’re gonna leave Afghanistan in SLIGHTLY better shape than we found it, and it’ll be back to the way it was pre-9/11 by 2012 at the latest (well, I have some hope the Americans won’t let that happen, but still, way to “cut and run”). Regardless of what happens, just saying “we’re gonna withdraw from the country in 3 years, period” seems entirely unhelpful to me.

    It’s funny, on every issue I want the Tories to hold their ground, they cave, and on every issue I wish they’d cave on, they hold. Even when that means caving on supposedly “conservative” ideals (like fighting the war in Afghanistan), and holding on supposedly “liberal” ideals (like spending like drunken sailors and appeasing Quebec nationalism). It’s like, it’s not enough for them that I don’t want to vote for them, they want me to NEVER want to vote for them.

  8. Continuing with the theme of the original contest, how’s this:

    You know we just can’t put down our weapons and hope for peace. You know that we can’t set arbitrary deadlines and simply wish for the best” (SOURCE)

    It’s a little older than Jack’s quote, but that’s Stephen Harper, IN KANDAHAR, in May of 2007.

  9. When your opponent, and only competition for governance, has always set the Platinum Standard for Political Prevarication, should Conservative truth telling ever be an issue?

    Wage and Price Controls, Gas Tax, GST, NAFTA, Childcare.

    Paul Martin, along with all Liberals, and OJ, searching for the Adscam perpetrators.

    Decades of saying one thing, doing the exact opposite.

    Not easily done,I might add, without support in the media.

    I figure Harper should be able to lie his freaking face off for at least 2 or 3 elections before we even start scolding him.

    Two further points:

    1. I think the media is mad he is so much better at something that is usually their somewhat exclusive territory.

    2. Didn’t Harper say he was going to govern like the Liberals?

  10. So, um, have the judges come to a decision? These would make a fine virtual prize. They’ve got resin-fused wood handles.

  11. Or rather (work, link!) these.

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