What are we doing in Afghanistan? (II)

Good question.

A couple excerpts from Stephen Harper’s speech to the House when the Prime Minister tabled the 2006 extension of the mission.

Our rationale for being in Afghanistan is clear. It is in the interests of this country.

We are there as well at the invitation of the Afghan government. We are taking part in a multinational operation sanctioned by the United Nations.

Our mission there is not some sort of throwaway option among competing alternatives. It is not a manufactured make-work project to keep soldiers and diplomats busy. It certainly is not a unilateral effort on Canada’s part.

The events of September 11, 2001 were a wake-up call not just to Americans but to people in all free and democratic nations. Two dozen Canadians were killed as a result of the attacks on the twin towers. They were our ordinary fellow citizens, people with stories, families and dreams. The attacks in New York and Washington have been followed by others in Madrid, Bali, London, Turkey, Egypt and elsewhere.

We should be clear. Canada is not safe from such attacks. We will never be safe so long as we are a society that defends freedom, democracy and human rights.

We have known as a nation since the beginning that as long as we defend the values of freedom, democracy and human rights, we will not be safe from attack from those who oppose them. Not surprisingly, al-Qaeda has singled out Canada along with a number of other nations for attack. It is the same al-Qaeda that together with the Taliban took an undemocratic, failed Afghanistan and made it a safe haven from which to plan terrorist attacks worldwide.

We just cannot sit back and let the Taliban backed by al-Qaeda or similar extremist elements return to power in Afghanistan. It cannot be allowed to happen. The continued existence of Taliban pockets following defeat of the regime means our efforts in Afghanistan have never been peacekeeping in the traditional sense.

Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are not interested in peace. They target civilians. They target women and children in a quest to impose once again their will and their dark and backward vision of life on the Afghan people. They promise their followers heaven in the afterlife. What they deliver is hell on earth…

… The allied governments that have sent missions to Afghanistan are a diverse lot: conservative, liberal, social democrats; people in parties who would normally and naturally disagree on so many other day to day political issues, as we do in this chamber, but who share a common resolve to strengthen democracy, ensure equality rights for women, reduce poverty and make the free world safe from the threat of terrorism.

To achieve these objectives, our allies agree that we must eliminate the threat posed by al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and train Afghan security forces so they are capable of sustaining security in their own country.

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