Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned Afghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday that Canada's desire to keep troops in Afghanistan cannot be guaranteed if opposition parties at home resist...
"As I said to the President, we have a parliamentary system and I don't control the majority and I don't control the other parties, but I would hope that if in the future we reduce our military presence, it's because we've achieved two of our objectives," he said after the two men met in the presidential palace in Kabul.
We will not "cut and run", but I really don't have the longterm authority, or present power, to back up my pledge. These mixed messages offer more confusion to Afghans than if Harper said nothing at all. Karzai is left with the impression that the Harper government is a weak entity, in a volatile environment.
Stephane Dion chastised the Prime Minister for politizing his visit with talk of internal troubles and he was right to do so. Internationally you want to project strength, no matter what the issue. Instead, Harper talks tough one day, then absolves himself of any longterm relevance the next. I guess you can chalk this inconsistency to lack of experience, but given the stakes in Afghanistan it serves as a bad blunder. Harper's purpose in visiting Afghanistan was supposed to clarify our commitment on many levels, to different audiences. Instead, there is still confusion because political uncertainty is now part of the equation, undercutting any appearance of unity.