Tuesday, May 16, 2006

We should be in Afghanistan

While it’s important that we debate these things in an open and civil way, I believe unequivocally that Canada should be in Afghanistan, and that we should stay as long as we are needed and, more importantly, our military is able to sustain the mission.

I’ve been reading that support for the mission has begun to slip, perhaps inevitable given the recent casualties sustained. But I don’t think that support needs to be slipping, I think it’s our (the Liberals and the Conservatives) fault that it’s slipping, and I think we can change that.

The former Liberal government launched this mission, and it was the right thing to do. But I think many people feel that, especially as the mission transitioned to more of a dangerous combat role, we didn’t properly engage the Canadian public in a debate about the mission. We didn’t educate the Canadian people on the risks, and why they need to be taken. That kind of open debate is essential when a country sends its troops into harm’s way.

Afghanistan is not Iraq. I didn’t support the unilateral intervention in Iraq, but I did and do support our presence in Afghanistan. The former Afghani regime oppressed its people, especially women, and it harbored and aided Al Qadea and the 9/11 attackers. We are there now at the request of the democratically elected Afghani government as part of a NATO mission with worldwide support. It’s dangerous, but vital work and it’s in our best interests to see it through, in addition to being the right thing to do.

Afghanistan is not Iraq, and it’s important that the current government and the Liberals and Conservatives make that clear to Canadians. I think that line is becoming blurred for some, and that is hurting support.

It would be helpful though, in making that difference clear, if our current government avoided loaded phrases like “cut and run.” Unintended or not, that draws a linkage in many Canadians’ eyes, and it’s not a helpful one.

I think if we have an open and honest debate and discussion with Canadians about why we’re there and what we’re doing most of them will be on board. However, there does need to be a clear timeline for withdrawal (I’d say exit strategy, but there’s another loaded term) and it would be helpful if this mission was not at the expense of helping Darfur. Quite possibly we can’t do both, I’ve heard conflicting reports there, but if we can do something there too we should.

Lastly, a note to all politicians. You can’t make this political. This needs to be a bipartisan exercise. It is not advantageous for the Conservatives to try to paint the Liberals as anti-war, that won’t build support for the mission and it will turn the majority of Canadians against the war, and against you, because it will force everyone to pick sides and polarize the debate.

And Liberals, particularly leadership candidates. Joe Volpe, I’m looking at you bud. This is not your wedge issue, you’re not going to become the anti-war candidate and sweep to glorious victory on the wings of angels. Particularly, Joseph, if you were a member of the Liberal cabinet that authorized this mission in the first place.

Not to pick on Joe, but his comments in that CP piece really piss me off. These two in particular:

He's also calling for a reorientation of Canadian Forces to pursue a more traditional peacekeeping mission while helping to restore "civil society" to the war-ravaged country.

"That's what we're equipped to do, that's what we're capable of doing and that's where our expertise lies," Volpe said in an interview.

That’s a load of crap, Joe. Canadian troops are among the best trained in the world, and are more that capable of handing their mission. If not, YOUR government wouldn’t have sent them, would YOU? Besides, we are helping to restore civil society, as long as there’s still Taliban around blowing stuff up it’s hard to be civil.

Volpe suggested this was no coincidence. He believes there was a change in the mission at the behest of U.S. President George W. Bush.

"We can't switch from peacekeeper to peacemaker on the fly just because a Republican government in the United States asks us to. We can't be an extension of American foreign policy," Volpe said.

Ah, the beloved Bush bogeyman. I love to bash Bush too, but I’m not a (semi-serious) leadership candidate discussing the deployment of Canadian troops in a war zone. Is that your argument why we shouldn’t be there, Joe? Because Bushy wanted us to? It is possible to make an actual argument about why we shouldn’t be there, but that sure isn’t’ it. Again, don’t play politics with the deployment of troops. Enough said.

I can respect people that feel we shouldn’t be there, and they are fully entitled to their opinions. But let’s have that debate, and let’s do it on a bipartisan, open way, without any cut and run talk from the right or Dubya bashing from the left. We have soldiers in harm’s way, so let’s respect them by keeping this debate respectful please.

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FurGaia said...

[...] I believe unequivocally that Canada should be in Afghanistan

Why please?

[...] and that we should stay as long as we are needed

Do you mean no time limit whatsoever?

[...] and, more importantly, our military is able to sustain the mission.

What IS the mission, pray?

I'm not being flippant here. I truly would like to know your answer to those questions.

s.b. said...

The devil is in the details here. The Con's are asking for an unrestriced mandate for two more years.

Two years is a long time and the mandate should be clearly outlined through the parliamentary process. We are not just an extension of US military interests in the region and should only be doing humanitarian and development work at this time.

Six month mandates should be explored within clear parameters

foottothefire said...

We may think we are there because of 9/11 but the Executive Branch of the US Government isn't there because of 9/11 - not anymore.
There's a pipeline and oil and all kinds of related things that has the USA and their lap dog - Britain - over there. Do some research on the subject; it's readily available.
NATO my aunt Fanny, and 'supporting the troops' doesn't cut it either.
Bring 'em home - that's the support they need! We are on our way to a modern day viet nam.

polarslam said...

I also fully support the Afghan mission and I have to say that I'm not at all surprised to see Joe Volpe playing silly politcal games and trying to create dangerous wedge's in the party.

It's the only thing he knows how to do.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Why please?

Well, initially to rout-out the Taliban regieme that aided and abbeted 9/11, and was providing a continuing safe haven for terrorism.

More importantly, now that we (the international community) is there, we need to stay involved until a stable democratic government is in place, and not let things disolve back into anarchy and begin the cycle of destruction all over again.

Do you mean no time limit whatsoever?

Of course not. As I mentioned in the last line that you quoted, the ability of our military to sustain the mission is a key consideration. We should also only stay as long as out help is desired and needed by the Afgan government. The burden should and is being shared with other countries. And as I said later in the post, we do need a clear timeline to rotate back. That has to be a part of the debate.

Two years is a long time and the mandate should be clearly outlined through the parliamentary process.

I agree, the length of the mission and its parameters should be part of the debate, and should be clearly defined.

We may think we are there because of 9/11 ...pipeline and oil... USA and their lap dog - Britain - ...Do some research on the subject...

Ok, I'll check out www.wildcomspiracytheories and report back, but I think it's really the stone masons and the illumanati in a pact with skull and bones to put flouride in their water.

Black Wolf said...

u can say ur in favor of been in afghanistan, when u come back from there, and see what action and seeing what war does to a human body, and if u want to support war lords and drug dealers in karzay's government, well thats ur freedom. If the soviets couldnt do it, and they were more vicious than we could ever be, what chance do we have, how do you expect the population to support karzay, or an occupation army, when what they see is drug dealers and war lords, the taliban at least eradicated, heroin, now the country produces 80 % of it...is this ur idea of democracy???or are u just bloging for the fun of it, without the proper information?

FurGaia said...

Thanks Jeff for having bothered to reply. I am genuinely looking for insights into why we are there. Because of what happened in Rwanda, there is always the fear that inaction may lead to disaster and catastrophe. However, Afghanistan is not Rwanda.

Afghanistan is an extremely complex proposition and I am wary of cause and effect explanations of why we are there.

You are right. A debate is necessary. Only let it be grounded in reality (insofar as we can grasp it - I'm not even sure that we can!). It would serve no one if the "debate" ends up being nothing more than propaganda "to sell" Afghanistan to us obtuse Canadians!

Nav said...

Black Wolf: What brilliant satire of the extreme anti-war position. I particularly liked your mockery of the argument that the Taliban's abysmal human rights record was negated by their success at curbing the heroin trade. Good show.

A BCer in Toronto said...


I agree Afganistan isn't Rawanda or Darfur. There was an oppresive regieme violating the human rights of its people, but you could say that for any number of countries and we're not about to intervene there.

What made Afganistan different was 9/11 and their support of Al Quaeda. Our security was directly treatened, so we had to act. Now that the international community has gone in and toppled the Taliban, we can't just leave before things have stabilized.

As for blackwolf, I'll go with Nav's view that you were offering satire. Otherwise, I think you've been using some of the product of which you speak.

foottothefire said...

Cute sarcasm on the conspiracy thingy.
now try typing
afghanistan pipline
into google and then actually read the first page of entries that come up.