Monday, July 23, 2007

On talking points

Speaking on the war in Afghanistan, as part of the Conservative government’s new softer, not at all related to polling, line on the issue, Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor was quoted today as saying:

Speaking on CTV's Question Period, he said the training of Afghan soldiers over the next four or five months will allow Canadians to take on a reserve role some time near the end of the Vandoos' tour, which concludes next February.“We're hoping that by the end of this rotation ... the so-called Vandoos rotation, we'll have about 3,000 Afghan Army operating in the Kandahar province,” he said.

“And as we train more and more of the Afghan army to carry out their own operations, we will continue to withdraw. With more emphasis on training … at some stage [we'll] basically be in reserve.”

Certainly all sounds hopeful, and I hope it’s true. But you know, if you close your eyes and replace Afghanistan with Iraq, that kind of sounds like Donald Rumsfeld talking. Because that’s the exact same line parroted by Rumsfeld with regularity, when he still had a job (and Gordo's days are numbered, the paralells are spooky).

Hopefully it works-out better for O’Connor than it did for Rummy. I at least like it better than “cut and run” and “against the war, against the troops” which were recycled Bush/Rumsfeld talking points that Harper and O’Connor were parroting last year.

After writing most of this post I came across this Liberal news release; I’m glad to see Liberal defence critic Denis Codere is on the same page:
Mr. Coderre also compared the Minister's remarks yesterday with those made two years ago by U.S. President George Bush. In August 2005, facing pressure for his policies in Iraq, the President said "We're also training Iraqis. Our troops will come home as soon as possible. 'As soon as possible' means when those Iraqis are prepared to fight. As Iraq stands up, our coalition will stand down."

"Again we see the Conservatives borrowing from the Bush playbook," said Mr. Coderre. "Canadians deserve better than this. If the goal of the Afghan army's sufficiency comes up empty in 6 months, will further rotations of Canadian troops also be emphasizing training instead of combat? The Minister must end the politically driven double-speak and present a clear and practical strategy for Canada's mission in Afghanistan."

More importantly

On another note, so I see O’Connor was on Question Period this weekend. It’s a shame those muckraking journalist hosts, Jane Taber and Craig Oliver, didn’t see fit to question Gordo on how his department’s decision to stop releasing previously available information, such as the number of detainees captured by Canadian soldiers, meshes with the CPC’s while accountability thing, not to mention hiding behind the troops to save political embarrassment by shouting national security.

I know some unnamed veteran citizens that would be interested in his answer.

Still waiting for an elected Conservative official to defend the decision…

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Oxford County Liberals said...

Why dont you write Ms. Taber and ask why she and Mr Oliver missed the opportunity to do so?

Steve V said...

Canadians can accept a realistic plan. O'Connor is foolish to raise expectations, particularly when others completely contradict his rosy assessment. Those comments could come back to bite him.

CT said...

Taber and Oliver were off last weekend. Unfortunately I don't know the name of the man who interviewed O'Connor in their place. You're correct that he wasn't asked about this though. Yelling at my TV failed to resolve that problem.

Forward Looking Canadian said...

The Conservative government is clearly incapable of defining and defending our mission in Afghanistan and feel the need to cave to the opposition parties. As someone who studies defence and foreign policy, I am embarassed by our government's inability to defend the mission I support.

You're right that Gordo is using U.S. tactics to talk about the mission, instead of real-face-based information that could be useful to understanding our role there.