Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Missing the Canadian perspective

Over here in Deutschland much of the talk on CNN International and the BBC is about Afghan president Hamid Karzai's comments on Pakistan, and the issue of Taliban militants using safe-havens in Pakistan to attack Afghan and NATO (including Canadian) regions and forces in Pakistan:

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday said his country has the right to send troops into Pakistan to fight Taliban insurgents who launch cross-border attacks.

Speaking at a news conference in the Afghan capital, Kabul, Karzai threatened to send the troops after Pakistan-based Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, who vowed in May to send fighters into Afghanistan to wage war on foreign troops.

There are currently tens of thousands of foreign troops in Afghanistan, including about 2,500 Canadians, as part of the International Security Assistance Force created after a U.S.-led invasion toppled the former Taliban government in 2001.

Karzai said Afghanistan has the right to self-defence when it comes to the cross-border attacks.

"When they cross the territory from Pakistan to come and kill Afghans and kill coalition troops, it exactly gives us the right to go back and do the same. Therefore, Baitullah Mehsud should know that we will go after him now and hit him in his house," he said.

The reporters on CNN and BBC say it's a near certainty Karzai was speaking with the blessing of NATO and the Bush Administration and that they would be in line with this policy, and indeed no denials have been forthcoming from either quarter. Given the complicated nature of the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, its likely Karzai is making these comments because the Americans can't.

Now my Internet access has been sporadic and limited so I'm not sure what sort of coverage this has all been getting in the Canadian media and on the blogs. I'm sure, though, that the same people who were all over Stephane Dion for making these comments awhile back are also all over Karzai and the Bush administration, because after all those folks are usually all about ideological consistency.

"If [Pakistani leaders] are incapable of doing it themselves, it is something that we could envision with NATO forces — how to help Pakistan help us bring peace to Afghanistan," he said during a news conference in Quebec City Wednesday.

I'm sure the Conservatives have a press release out slamming Karzai, right? And the Blogging Torries are all over him? Particularly given that Karzai went even further than Dion, threatening outright invasion.

Dion, you'll recall, just called attention to the problem of cross-border infiltration and said NATO should work with the Pakistan government and military to address the issue if they're unable to do so on their own. A very reasonable position that the Conservative spin machine twisted into calls for invasion.

So will Harper be all over Bush and Karazi who actually are advocating invasion? Yeah, I won't hold my breath.

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Barcs said...

The reporters think that Hamid Karzai had the blessing of NATO. Who knows maybe. (He obviously had Dion's support to invade another country's sovereign soil...lol)

As for Karazai's comments themselves: No the Conservatives didn't exactly slam him for making them. They did however call for calm in political storm and suggested such inflammatory remarks are unhelpful to negotiating with Pakistan to rid both countries of the radicals. (Funny that position could have been written by the liberals and their peacekeepers with blanks in their guns... I wonder why peaceful negotiation hasn't generated more support for the conservatives from liberal and media types????)

And the Canadian media? Why would they want to talk about Karzai's comments?? To do so would mean conservatives everywhere would be bringing up Dion's suggested invasion.... That wouldn't help the liberals at the polls to have their leader shown again in another round of the "Not a leader" ads?

No doubt you can see the distinction of Pakistanis crossing the border and attacking Afghani nationals and the president of Afghanistan giving a response.... Or a Canadian leader 1/2 the world away threatening the same action for ... well for something I am sure. Can you tell me with a straight face that liberals and dippers would support President Bush if he made the same comments Karzai and Dion did?? (And don't think Canada wouldn't participate because even Martin's liberals thought we needed to be in Afghanistan)

(Why weren't liberals slamming Dion for taking a Bush-like stand??.. I know, I know it isn't a Bush like stand if the left does it instead of the right doing it... eeeevviiill right wingers)

Afghanistan does have the right to defend itself. No?

While I think Pakistan is a problem, and one of the best ways to deal with it is to pacify the radicals that cross the border.... Invasion (as Dion and Karzai) may be the right idea.

But as Dion eventually clarified it would be better to have Pakistan's blessing.... than to invade another country in the region. (If the politics are "we hate the west they want to change our way of life" then invasion again becomes a political problem unless Pakistan first stands up and says "we will not stand for radicals crossing our border but we don't have enough troops. Would you help us?")

buckets said...

Where are you, Jeff? (I'm currently in Munich.)

Mike514 said...

I look forward to news reports of Karzai being "surprised" by the headlines, and explaining that he meant invading Pakistan with diplomats, not soldiers.

Mike514 said...

If I may also add: You missed an important point, Jeff.

Let's assume Dion actually wanted troops in Pakistan. It would have been hard for the international community to take him seriously because he also advocated a full withdrawal of Canadian troops from the region by 2009.

You can't have it both ways. He says he believes troops should be in the area, but at the same time he proposed removing our troops from the area. Which one is it?

Jeff said...

Look back at what the both said.

Dion said this is a problem, we should work with Pakistan to solve it if they can't solve it themselves. The Conservatives twisted that into Dion calling for an invasion, and attacked him for it.

Unlike Dion, Karzai went to the step Dion only went in the imaginations of Conservatives and outright called for an invasion. The position they attacked Dion for supposedly taking.

And while Karzai undoubtedly went further out to draw attention to this, the fact is everyone, NATO, member countries, and the Afghan government have been calling for action on the border issue for some time, long before Dion brought it up in Canada.

Indeed, everyone seems to have been taking the issue seriously except the Conservative government, who would rather use it for politics. But the fact is this is an issue that directly impacts the success of the Afghan mission and the safety of our troops, so perhaps the Cons should take it a little more seriously.

Karzai's comments, although they do go further, are further evidence that it was Harper, and not Dion, that was out on a limb a few months back.

Barcs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barcs said...

Dion's words as reported (and as listed on your blog)
"If [Pakistani leaders] are incapable of doing it themselves, it is something that we could envision with NATO forces — how to help Pakistan help us bring peace to Afghanistan," he said during a news conference in Quebec City Wednesday.

Coincidently Pakistan had said several times that their borders are sovereign and entry would be tantamount to attack.

Pakistan's response... kinda makes the Coulliard gaffe look small when a country say stuff like:

"We are dismayed by the statement of the leader of Opposition," the government said in a statement released late Thursday by the Pakistan High Commission in Ottawa.

"It shows a lack of understanding of the ground realities."

"We have, at the highest level, made it clear that Pakistan will not allow any foreign forces to operate within its territory under any circumstances.

"The sovereignty of the state will not be compromised at any level as the government and people of Pakistan are fully capable of handling their security matters themselves."


And make no mistake we are talking about a nuclear power here.... not some newspaper in Italy printing a story about Berniner/Coulliard that is so important that they mix up the ministers picture with someone else. (but oddly not the ex-models....)

Can't believe I missed this at the time:

"One day, we are going to have to act because our soldiers are cleaning out some areas, but in fact very often they are only clean in principle. The insurgents go take refuge in Pakistan and they are going to come back (to Afghanistan) at the earliest opportunity. This could last very long if we don't tackle the problems that often originate from Pakistan," Mr. Dion said.


And scathing stories popped up in the Pakistan news:


Which by the way quotes Dawn Black savaging Dion on the issue.

So was it just the evil conservatives Demonizing Dion in their imaginations?

Maybe it was a statement taken out of context by not only the Conservatives, but the NDP almost every major newspaper in Canada, the Pakistani government and the Pakistani news sources? But hey... who listens to the ramblings of all of them anyway.

Or was it just a massive screwup by Dion to suggest we take our troops out of Afghanistan (which wants our help) and cross the border into another countries sovereign territory and pacify a few "outsiders" along with a few of its people????

Karzai's comments are not that much different than Dion's... They are worded more strongly. But say essentially the same thing. And as shown in the media... not the imaginations of the Tories (unless they were group dreaming with the NDP, the media (here and in Pakistan) and with the Pakistani government.

Lastly, if you want the issue taken seriously I suggest that you ask Dion to cease the partisan political bashing (as ALL parties relentlessly spew) right before he votes to support the proposal he is bashing.

Barcs said...


To a person, reporters covering the event, of both French and English media, took this to mean that Dion was calling for a military intervention, sending in troops, some presumably Canadian.

The next day Dion professed to be surprised, very surprised, by the media take on his statements. "I was surprised by the way it was reported," he said in a session with The Gazette's editorial board. "I did not expect this interpretation."

"Unlike Dion, Karzai went to the step Dion only went in the imaginations of Conservatives"

Apparently only reporters in Quebec that day were partisan Tory MP's ......

Jason Hickman said...

Carbon tax? Afghanistan? Who cares? Guess who's back.