Saturday, November 13, 2010

Some obvious, but neglected, thoughts about Canada's Afghanistan Mission

Three facts about Canada's role in Afghanistan are too often neglected or obscured in political debates.

First, Canada was obligated by virtue of its membership in NATO to participate. An ally was attacked from bases in Afghanistan.

Second, after the greatest military superpower the world has ever seen was attacked on its own soil for the first time in 60 years, the country that was picked to play a lead military role in arguably the most dangerous province in Afghanistan,Kandahar, was.....Canada.(??!!!). Some people will try to argue otherwise, but this state of affairs only makes sense when you consider that the United States had 150,000 troops tied up in a dangerous mission in Iraq.  But if Canada rejected direct participation in the Iraq war on the grounds that it was unnecessary, illegal and   immoral, why on Earth should we feel an obligation to pay a disproportionate sacrifice in Afghanistan, when the reason for that sacrifice was (in large part) Iraq?  Since both Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff supported the war in Iraq, it must have been easy for them to indirectly support that war  by taking on more of the burden in Afghanistan.

Third,  the parliamentary resolution passed in March 2008 says that "Canada will end its presence in Kandahar as of July 2011."   In other words,  there is no room to argue that  Canada's military "trainers" should remain in that region on the grounds that they are already familiar with it.  They should set up shop in places well away from Kandahar or Waziristan, such as Kabul, where most of our NATO partners have been safely ensconced for the past several years.  There will still be casualties after July 2011, but if Canada's mission is properly conceived and executed, Canadian military funerals should be a much rarer occurrence a year from now.

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