Irregulars assemble! It’s time for an Inkless Research Quiz!


And there’s only one question:

Who can find the best quote from a senior political leader in Canada, the United States, the UK or Australia on the danger of setting a fixed date (to coin a phrase) in the future for military withdrawal from the current conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Ground rules:

1. Canadian political leaders will be scored higher than U.S., UK or Australian leaders, but we are Anglosphere-friendly here at Inkless so we’ll take ’em all.

2. Afghanistan scores more highly than Iraq.

3. The more recent, categorical, chest-thumping and dismissive of timetablists and deadline-setters, the better.

If you’re wondering what inspired this quiz, then darling, you just haven’t been paying attention.

Winner will receive a set of virtual steak knives from Bob’s House of You Weren’t Expecting Real Steak Knives, Were You?

Post answers below. I’m afraid I have to ask you not to post links, as our software doesn’t like links and it will wish your post into the cornfield where it will have to sit next to Ryan Sparrow for a while. But be prepared to cough up a link if asked.


Irregulars assemble! It’s time for an Inkless Research Quiz!

  1. Well,there was Lewis MacKenzie just last night.
    Bonus points for him being a Tory and a bit of a media munchkin too??

  2. Verbatim quotes preferred. From title-carrying members of sitting governments greatly preferred. Come, folks: surely in the collecte works of S. Harper, P. MacKay, P.V.L., G. O’Connor, there is something? I know there is…

  3. Do I get bonus points if he said it in Kandahar?

    “You can’t lead from the bleachers. I want Canada to be a leader . . . There will be some who want to cut and run, but cutting and running is not my way and it’s not the Canadian way . . . We don’t make a commitment and then run away at the first sign of trouble. We don’t and we will not, as long as I’m leading this country.”

    Stephen Harper, March 13, 2006, as reported by CBC.ca.

  4. “Here is what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently told Congress: Setting a fixed date to withdraw would ‘essentially tell [the enemy] how long they would have to wait until we’re gone.’


  5. “If we were to listen to the Democrats in Washington, D.C. who say, let’s have a fixed date of withdrawal — by the way, that’s code word for saying, leave before the job is done — we would turn over this important country to radicals and extremists who would plot and plan and attack.”


  6. My answer: I can. What do I win?

  7. Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, “Basically the vote (to remove troops from Afghanistan in Feb 2009) is going to be: Do you tell the enemy the exact day you are going to leave or do you not?..” April 24, 2007

  8. John Manley, from a March 08 editorial in the Globe:

    “We did not recommend a fixed date for the end of the military mission because we could find no operational rationale for any particular date.”


    “If the 2011 date for the withdrawal of Canadian forces is to be met, the government must establish a series of clear milestones to be met between now and then. One thing is certain: Afghanistan’s development and governance challenges will not be fully met by 2011.”

  9. “If you pass a resolution…that dictates withdrawal and a time for withdrawal, all you’re doing is telling the enemy, ‘hang on, we’re leaving.”

    John McCain, March 2007

  10. Stephen Harper himself, from February of this year:

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he understands clear timelines are essential in getting Canada out of Afghanistan but won’t accept the Liberal proposal to stop all combat by the Feb. 2009 end date.

    Responding to demands from the Liberals to determine clear deadlines for the mission, Harper said Thursday he is unwilling to take control away from the military leaders on the ground, saying they best understand the reality of working in the dangerous Kandahar province.

    “It isn’t the role of politicians to dictate their mission,” he said to jeers from the opposing side of the House of Commons.

  11. Hey Paul, once you’ve awarded your whole stash of virtual steak knives, it may be time to resurrect Marvel Comics name for this kind of award: Anyone spotting a gaffe won a No-Prize. I think they will be more in demand this election than previously ever thought possible.
    Some well-oiled machine the Cons have, they got oil all over the tires and now they are slipping and sliding all over the road. I am totally down with this strategy.

  12. Peter MacKay, in the H of C, May 30, 2006, in response to a question from Dawn Black about an end date to the Afghan mission:

    Hon. Peter MacKay: Mr. Speaker, Canada is involved in a very important effort in Afghanistan. The troops being there gives us the ability to help build democracy, to help build the capacity of the Afghan people themselves to eventually enjoy the same type of freedom that we enjoy in Canada.

    This is the type of effort that Canada is involved in. This is what members opposite and members of the NDP should be supporting, not backing down, not suggesting we cut and run, as they did in the vote last week.”

  13. This is where you really have to admire Vaughan Palmer (Vancouver Sun columnist on provincial politics). Apparently he has a seperate office for his filing cabinets, containing virtually any quote from every politician in BC in the past 30 years. So if someobody says something today which contradicts what they said 9 years ago, he will have it in his column.

  14. Peter MacKay- June 5

    “We have a very clear, decisive policy with respect to our foreign affairs commitment in Afghanistan. We have a very clear level of support for our Canadian Forces. This Prime Minister, this defence minister and this government have been unequivocal in our support for the important work that is being done militarily and on the development and reconstruction side in Afghanistan.”

  15. Gordon O’Connor- April 23

    “Mr. Speaker, if we want to talk about flip-floppers, they are over there. The Leader of the Opposition voted against the extension in Afghanistan; now he supports it. Members over there are flip-flopping all the time. They are the ones who have no consistent position. That party has had three positions in the last year.”

  16. My personal favourite

    Peter MacKay- April 10

    “Mr. Chair, I repeat to my colleague that the importance for our government and our armed forces to have a plan is obvious. Still, at the same time, though it is important for our country to present a plan for the future, it should not take place in public.

    We do not discuss operational details. We do not talk about how we might retreat or withdraw. That is not part of the public discourse that will help our troops. That is not at all something that will further the cause of elevating the people of Afghanistan. It is through diplomatic efforts of how we are going to complete the mission. It is through our commitment. It is through our fulsome support that I suggest we will get the job done.”

  17. Fulsome actually means disgusting. Its amazing how often people misuse that word: don’t try to sound smarter than you are, or you risk sounding exactly as stupid as you are.

    You can borrow that phrase if you want.

  18. What makes you think he misused it?

  19. I think TT is right. From ask.com:

    ful·some (fʊl’səm)
    1. Offensively flattering or insincere. (See synonyms at unctuous.)
    2. Offensive to the taste or sensibilities.

  20. Skeat’s dictionary says “cloying,” FWIW.

    Of course it’s just full + -some (<same), i.e. “condusive to or accompanied by fullness”; cf. winsome, which is wynn (“joy”) + -some, i.e. condusive to or accompanied by joy.

    Seems to me the fullness could be nauseating or not, but it would definitely fill you up.

  21. Myron Thompson (for the win, I’d reckon)

    “In 2006 there was a vote in the House that said we would stay in Afghanistan till 2009. The first question I had from some of the people who had been there was, “Whatever makes people in the House of Commons think that by 2009 it would be the time to move out? Whatever put it in their heads that would be the time to leave Afghanistan?”

    One person was seriously aggravated, asking if we were saying that we should pull out of Afghanistan at a specific time, that we should give the enemy enough time to survive until then and let them rebuild and become very strong so maybe they could bring the battle to the soil of Canada, to the North American continent. He asked if we did not realize that the Taliban and al-Qaeda were trying to destroy western civilization. He wondered why we were saying there would be an end when we would have to pull back. He said that they would be on our soil and that we would have to defend our people on our land. If that was the case, why were we not going after them?”

    Source: Hansard
    Thursday, April 19, 2007

    Helena Guergis

    “In February I met with Ms. Siddiqi, the Afghan woman and member of parliament, who I spoke of earlier. She just gave birth to her first baby boy, and I congratulate her on that. She has been a fierce advocate for women’s rights in Afghanistan. I find it hard to understand how she can be so incredibly strong, and I admire that. She has a $500,000 bounty on her head because she believes in what she is doing, she believes in what the international community is doing for Afghanistan and she is standing up for women’s rights. This bounty exists for her for no other reason than the Taliban want her dead because she is a woman in politics.

    How can NDP members, members of a party that brags about the number of women in its caucus, look her in the eye and say that they are not going to help her, that they want our troops home, that they are going to abandon her in her time of need?

    That is not the Conservative way, and that is certainly not the Canadian way, to cut and run when the going gets tough.”

    Source: Hansard

    Bob Rae (ha, I got the first Liberal)

    “In advance of a serious reassessment, I don’t believe in arbitrary dates for staying in or pulling out of Afghanistan.”


    John McCallum, speaking about Canada’s role in the war on terror (of which Afghanistan is part), and particularly the naval aspects of that (which are…?)

    ” Canada’s commitment to the international campaign against terrorism remains strong. As a consequence, we will not be removing our forces from the area. On the contrary, armed conflict in Iraq could lead to an increase in the terrorist threat. This is not the time to cut and run. This is the time to stand by our commitment to vanquish terrorism. Our contribution to the campaign against international terrorism has been and remains considerable, particularly on the naval side.”

    Hon. John McCallum (Minister of National Defence, Lib.):
    “I just mentioned security concerns, Mr. Speaker, and I am certainly not going to reveal to the world exactly where our ships are operating, but I would say that the NDP does not seem to get it. We had a resolution on this matter from the Bloc which was defeated overwhelmingly yesterday. The fact of the matter is that there is absolutely no way Canada is going to withdraw from the war against terrorism, to cut and run at a moment when our allies are at greatest risk. Indeed, we are fully committed to the war against terrorism and are proud of what we are doing in the gulf.”

    Source: Hansard

    For the sake of more fun, here is Gordon O’Connor asking for a timetable (from Hansard 04/05)

    “I do not have great confidence that the government had satisfactory answers to these considerations before committing our troops to increased involvement in Afghanistan. In particular, I doubt that the government has a clear political and military strategy for Afghanistan or criteria on which to measure progress or a definition of success or an exit strategy. We have had pronouncements from government officials who indicate that our commitment in Afghanistan may be 5 years, 10 years or even as long as 20 years. It is obvious that the government does not have an idea how long the commitment will go on.”

  22. A year to the day! In Canberra, no less.

    “”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.”

    – Stephen Harper, 11 September 2007

  23. I vote that Mitchell gets the knives:

    9.5 for geographical appropriateness

    10 for chronological significance

    9.4 for style and content

    10 for including a URL without crashing inkless central

  24. Press Release: “Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to Canadian troops during visit to Afghanistan”
    May 23, 2007
    (Stephen Harper)
    Khandahar, Afghanistan

    You know that we cannot just put down our arms and hope for peace. You know that we can’t set arbitrary deadlines and simply wish for the best. And you must also know that your hard work is making a real difference to real people and their families.

    Consider a letter recently sent from a young girl in Canada to your comrades with the Royal Canada Dragoons patrolling the Pakistan border about 100 kilometres southeast of here. Decorated with coloured hearts, this letter from a youngster born in Kabul tells the story of a family who fled to Pakistan after being chased from this country by the Taliban. She writes:

    “My mom wanted a country that was safe and where I would be able to learn so we came to Canada. Thank you so much for staying to make my country a better place and tell your soldier friends that I said thank you.”

    Friends, you are helping the Afghan people make a better life for themselves and their children.”


    Report of the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan
    (John Manley, Derek Burney, Jake Epp, Paul Tellier, Pamela Wallin)
    January 15, 2008
    p. 32–33

    “The Canadian combat mission should conclude when the Afghan National Army is ready to provide security in Kandahar province. Progress to that end will accelerate as training of the ANA intensifies; and without doubt, more military resources from other ISAF countries must be forthcoming. Ending Canada’s military contribution in Kandahar is therefore not a matter of setting artificial deadlines in time. It is a matter of making real progress in the context of events on the ground.

    . . .

    “Canadian interests and values, and Canadian lives, are now invested in Afghanistan. The sacrifices made there, by Canadians and their families, must be respected. What we do there (or stop doing) affects the Afghan people. It can affect Canadian security. It can affect Canada’s reputation in the world. It can affect our influence in international affairs, particularly with respect to future international responses to the dangers and deprivations of failed and fragile states. Canada is a wealthy G8 country; our good fortune and standing impose on us both authority and obligations in global affairs.

    . . .

    “A premature military withdrawal from Afghanistan, whether full or partial, would imperil Canadian interests and values. It would diminish the effectiveness of Canadian aid in Afghanistan, by further constraining the ability of Canadian aid workers to move among Afghans. It could encourage insurgents. It could weaken the confidence of some Afghans living in Kandahar in their own future and in their own government, increasing their susceptibility to the Taliban insurgency. It would undermine Canada’s influence in the UN and in NATO capitals, including Washington. It could curtail Canada’s capacity (and raise questions abroad about our future willingness) to act, and persuade others to act, in enforcing peace and restoring security where peace and security are threatened. In sum, an immediate military withdrawal from Afghanistan would cause more harm than good. Even an ill-prepared partial withdrawal would risk undercutting international confidence in Canadian commitments and impose new burdens on others obliged to take our place in Kandahar.”


    – Mustafa Hirji

  25. “I went in for one year. But I knew at the end of the first year we probably wouldn’t be able to get out. It would likely take a second year to get out. And that after a period of time we might rotate back in. By committing to two years, Harper has taken the pressure off others to replace us.” A quote from an interview with Paul Martin, February 7, 2007, cited in The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar by Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang. (A book I happen to be reading in an effort to understand how we got into this situation in the first place.)

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