Don’t cut and run ’til you see the whites of their eyes


So. All that talk about not “cutting and running,” all that stuff about not setting “arbitrary deadlines,” all those pious lectures about how we had to finish the mission, how we could not break faith with the Afghans, how setting deadlines only makes Canadian soldiers targets — all gone, in the course of a casual breakfast with reporters.

Another 180 degree Harper backflip, in the middle of an election campaign, with no consultation or warning, on a matter of the most vital national interest. And, by a delicious piece of timing, exactly one day after the Taliban demanded Canada pull its troops out — and two days after Canada’s outgoing ambassador to Afghanistan called for putting more troops in. But hey: it takes the issue off the table. Yes: capitulating to your opponents has a way of doing that. That’ll show ’em! Bet they didn’t see that one coming!

REAX: General Lewis MacKenzie is not impressed.

Maj. Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, a retired Canadian commander formerly in charge of a U.N. force in the Balkans, criticized Harper for announcing a deadline during an election campaign.
MacKenzie said that should only be told to allies in the highest of confidence.
“I don’t like deadlines,” MacKenzie said. “I don’t like announcing deadlines to an enemy force that now says to themselves, ‘Well, we’re getting rid of the Canadians’ so let’s turn our strategic attack on some other country.'” 

Neither is the father of one of the 97 Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, their lives sacrificed to the glory of a half-finished mission:

“I would never want to see another soldier go in harm’s way so I can justify my son’s death,” Davis told CTV’s Canada AM.
“But at the same time if we pull up stakes and come home when we’re not ready to — when the mission is not complete — if we did that then my son died in vain…”
Davis said Thursday it would be ideal to have Canadian soldiers home by 2011 but setting a deadline “undermines the work our soldiers are doing and it undermines the mission.”
He said the deadline makes it difficult for Canadian soldiers to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people if they know troops will be gone in two years…

I couldn’t believe he would say something so irresponsible as that,” Mr. Davis told CTV. 

But hey — he’s a Liberal

UPDATE: Mind you, if Harper’s willing to, shall we say, change his mind now, it’s just as possible he could change his mind again. Once he was for staying the course in Afghanistan, now he’s for putting an “end date” on the mission, in another year — after the election — he could be for staying past 2011. That’s the thing with Harper. You just never know.


Don’t cut and run ’til you see the whites of their eyes

  1. I cannot wait to hear all the right-wingers who for so long have maintained a shrill “no cutting and running”–and accused the Liberals of wanting to do so–attempt to justify this.

    Of course, they will; consistency and reason aren’t exactly their hallmarks.

  2. Um, this is a NATO mission, not merely a Canadian one. If Canada withdraws in 2011, another NATO member, probably the US, will take over Kandahar. And if no other NATO takes over Kandahar, then the mission wasn’t winnable in the first place, and many more will die in vain, because the Alliance failed –not because the Canadian government decides that its badly overstretched land forces need an operational pause.

    The idea that the Canadian government can never announce a firm withdrawal date is absurd. Firm withdrawal dates are required to allow the Alliance begin planning the replacement of the Canadian troops.

    In direct response to AC, 1) Harper changed his position on whether this was an open-ended mission some time ago; this isn’t an election time flip. 2) The Army has been telling the government that they can’t go on in Kandahar past 2011. Is the government supposed to insist that they continue past their breaking point simply because of past rhetoric?

  3. Speaking as a died in the wool 100% Conservative I completely agree with the PM – it’s very simple folks – we made a committment and we will keep the commitment and then we come home! So what is this with cutting and running I just don’t get the intellectual level of some people at all. Cutting and Running would be leaving before 2011 like some people advocate!

  4. Phil: Perhaps the government could rely on substantive and frank discussion rather than rhetoric? Just sayin’..

  5. T. Thwim: I fully agree! The original rhetoric was misguided and the Conservatives were dolts for employing it. I just don’t want them to ignore the Army’s concerns because they used insisted on using said rhetoric in the past.

  6. Well if you read the article just posted on the globe and mail
    “Canada will still have a role in Afghanistan: MacKay”

    Not only have they done a 180 degree like Andrew Coyne says, but they have also just turned an issue where they had a clear message into mud.

    So what is their position of Afghanistan? I just don’t know it’s not clear at all. Military leaves, but Canada stays? That’s not a position, that’s not a policy, it’s just confusing.

  7. after one week of this campaign, is anybody else (other than the partisan hacks) completely disgusted and turned off by what has transpired so far?

    every federal campaign since 2000 just stinks more and more, and I am looking for an independent candidate at this point to vote for.

  8. I can’t fathom this response. Virtually everyone took the 2011 end date for the mission at face value when the Conservatives and the Liberals agreed upon it last fall. Why is Harper’s decision to reaffirm the party’s committment to ending the mission when they said they would suddenly being seen as a flip-flop?

  9. I couldn’t care less about the flip-flop. Its about having neither the skills or the inclination to keep what comes next on the down-low.

    NATO must be livid.

  10. Good point RM: the answer to your question is that some of the posts have little or more often than not nothing to do with the subject matter and everything to do with partisan positioning kinda like when the opposing hockey team is skating off the ice you get a bunch of people together and give them grief on their way out just to psyche them.

  11. My understanding was that 2011 was the date to re-consider the mission, not abandon it.
    Harper’s decision is clearly a sell-out to Quebec and the quasi-pacifist wing of the Canadian electorate.

    As a CP supporter I am disgusted.
    We might as well have Dion or Taliban Jack as PM.

    As to Geiseric’s comment, it lives up to his moniker. NATO livid? Come on! Are you referring to the “alliance” that has failed to support us in Afghanistan for the last few years. They have no right to be livid; we are just acting like so many of the other member-states: running away from Islamic barbarism.

  12. Harper demonstrates once again his tru gift; incompetency. The announcement was politically motivated, for personal gain and typical cold blooded, out of touch Harper.
    Some kind of leadership.

  13. Inside of ten years from now, perhaps even longer this conflict will be noted as a footnote on the last few pages of some individual(s) book/papers……..

  14. I hope not, Neil. 100 of our soldiers died over there – they deserve more than that. Maybe you should remember that.

  15. “Are you referring to the “alliance” that has failed to support us in Afghanistan for the last few years.”

    That would explain why you don’t think they minded hearing what comes next by reading the newspaper.

    quick! redefine commitment!

  16. “I hope not, Neil. 100 of our soldiers died over there – they deserve more than that. Maybe you should remember that”.

    Life goes on…..

  17. Good title

  18. Mind you, Mr Coyne, I thought you were paid to remember… Remember?
    In February 2008, in response to a request by the opposition (i.e. the Liberal party), Mr Harper set a date to END the mission in Afganisthan.
    ‘Ainsi, il y est écrit noir sur blanc que la mission canadienne à Kandahar se terminerait en juillet 2011 et que les soldats canadiens quitteraient le sud de l’Afghanistan à la fin de cette même année. Cet ajout est une concession importante du gouvernement conservateur, dont la motion originale ne comportait aucune date de fin de mission. ‘-La Presse Canadienne

    He has just renewed the same agreement he had stated in February, while he was not campaigning.
    Gen. MacKenzie is wrong in his accusations, and you are too for supposing he changed his mind.

  19. This is probably the most Incrduolous Thing Harper ever said and I think it means nothing considering he has zero credibilty Today.

    He will reverse anyhing tomorrow without the slightest embarassment
    The man is a Chameleon

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