Stephen Harper and Afghanistan

The Globe puts forward a rather remarkable account of Stephen Harper’s thinking on Afghanistan.

Though it’s widely believed that public opinion is all that keeps Mr. Harper from extending the military mission, the Prime Minister is in fact an Afghan skeptic, according to one person who has worked with him on the issue. Many in his government and the military favour extending the mission, but not the PM – and not just for political reasons. He wants results.

For almost two years, Mr. Harper has harboured deep doubts about the Afghan mission. He worries that extending it would mean throwing good money after bad, and, more importantly, lives with it. After years in which progress has been elusive, he doubts the impact Canada can have.

The Prime Minister’s last major speech on Afghanistan—as noted by John Geddes yesterday—was delivered May 7, 2009 in Kandahar. If, as the Globe reports, he was worried then about progress and purpose, he did not let on. A few excerpts.

In the seven years since our work here began, incredible progress has been made – progress that continues each and every day. The foundations of democracy have been laid; basic human rights and freedoms are being restored; private enterprise is growing; millions of children are going to school; basic medical care has improved; and the infrastructure of a viable economy is emerging…

Yet, as we all know, these achievements have not come without cost. Canada has paid dearly for this mission with our most precious asset – our brave sons and daughters…

Theirs is a legacy we will build on. Because even in our shared sorrow, we know why we are here. As part of the family of civilized nations, we have a national obligation to do our part to contribute to our peace and security. As a prosperous and free country, we have the moral duty to share our good fortune, our freedoms and our opportunities with the citizens of the world who have too long had to endure violence, oppression and privation.

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