Tuesday, May 09, 2006

More Troops In Afghanistan?

I was reading this Globe and Mail piece on McKay's visit to Afghanistan. I found these comments from the governor of Kandahar province interesting:
“They are defending Canada from Kandahar, because the world is too small now. If today we can't defend against terrorism here in Afghanistan, tomorrow you will have to defend against terrorism in your own country, Canada.”

Asked how much longer the Canadian troops should stay in Afghanistan, the governor said that a deployment of “several” more years would be required, and additional troops might also be needed. He said he will convey that message to Mr. MacKay.

This is the first instance that I can recall where an Afghan official articulates the possible need for more troops. That request suggests that our present level of troops will be inadequate to make this province secure. This fact will likely increase the length of the mission, as well as the dangers. I hope a reporter puts the question to McKay after his meeting with Khalid. Any request for more troops completely changes the dynamics of the mission.


Mark Dowling said...

This is the point where the Bloc can and should say stop. No extension without a new vote (not a voteless debate). I think that is totally in keeping with supporting the troops in their CURRENT mission.

- and btw Steve re your comment on my blog - think of it as a gentle poke :)

Steve V said...


Will do! I am working on a new series, "Why Stephen Harper is the third anti-christ". I just have to decipher a few more of Nostradamus' quatrains and then I'm good to go :)

Scotian said...

Excellent point and a very good question that should be asked of MacKay and Harper himself. On the face of it your interpretation does appear to be a logical underlying premise of the governor's request to MacKay. Therefore the potential for significantly increased risks to our current troops in field may be about to take a sharp turn upwards through this year. If there is one thing that has me most pissed off about Harper's governing so far it is his need to politicize *everything* to try and maximize his political leverage/mileage from it, even things that by all rights should be treated in a bipartisan manner. This mission is the perfect case in point.

Back when Harper visited and made his famous "cut and run" remark I blogged about how this was the single best way to trigger a downward trend in the support for the mission. By using what was his representing *ALL* Canadians (and not just prospective CPC voters and his base) in what actually started from a legal and proper response to 9/11/01 and the following events immediately afterwards over the next few months for partisan positioning he offended many in this country. It is entirely inappropriate for *ANY* PM to do such a thing, except when there is a clear example of such within the Parliament which there clearly was not then.

Harper had already left a bad taste in many peoples' mouths after his letter apologizing to the American people that we refused to join them in Iraq with Day in the Wall Street Journal while LOO in 2003. This act was reminiscent of that one and if this PM is willing to treat this as a partisan issue instead of a non-partisan issue then it will become subject to the same limitations of partisan issues and lose support. What bothers me though thinking upon it now is whether this is intentional by Harper.

A cynical thought I know, and one I would not normally entertain about any PM, but his actions to date force me to consider it. However, could this be a part of his intent to polarize the voting public by creating the radical anti-war hysterics he knows will alienate many and turn them towards his party that do not currently exist in Parliament? For I find it difficult to believe Harper could be so unaware of how these issues have traditionally been handled, although I suppose his ad in the WSJ could be evidence that he really doesn't get this, which would then speak to how poorly he appears to understand the average Canadian in something rather important for a PM indeed any politician to understand. Especially if they are to be truly effective in representing the interests of those Canadians.

In any event, whether this is deliberate or accidental is rather moot, the reality is that by turning this into a political issue for partisan purposes it looks like Harper undercut support for this mission. This is why MacKay has to be sent out to try and remind Canadians why the mission is important and to try and illustrate/show Canadians some of the good being done by the troops. So depending on how MacKay and Harper play this they may be able to restore some confidence by actually not using this for partisan cheap shots like before or they could make matters worse on the most important national security/foreign policy file we currently have.

Take that with the point you raise about the governor basically telling Canadians that the current level of Canadians are insufficient to handle what is out there, and that means that attrition will work further and further in the favour of the Talibanists and other such factions fighting for control. So if the CPC government continues to weaken support just as things are about to get harder and bloodier for Canadian troops and Canadian families having to bury loved ones at a rate not seen in several decades this mission could be in very serious danger IMHO.

I happen to believe in this mission as much as I did not believe in Iraq. If for no other reason the Afghani people deserve some consideration from the western countries for its usage for a decade as the surrogate war between the superpowers, which was what led up to the years of chaos that led to the rise of the Taliban government in the 90s when that surrogate war ended. Taken with the reality that the Taliban was providing sanctuary to terrorist training camps and the links between AQ/bin Laden and 9/11/01 and their refusal to do anything about it after that tragic day this was a just response. Especially in the wake of invoking Article 5 of NATO over 9/11/01.

That Harper is playing these political games with both the lives of our troops as well as using them as his personal political props is very disturbing indeed. I just hope that our often neglected and unfortunately too often denigrated serving military members do not pay too high a price for this arrogance, both in lives lost and in terms of how the public will see their actions when they return. If Harper and the CPC manage to alienate enough Canadians with their political gamesmanship on this issue this could well spill over on the troops themselves, and that is the last thing they deserve IMHO.

Koby said...

Peter Mckay's version of the "fly paper" Republican talking point. “They are defending Canada from Kandahar, because the world is too small now. If today we can't defend against terrorism here in Afghanistan, tomorrow you will have to defend against terrorism in your own country, Canada.”

Peter Mckay's version of "last throes" Republican talking point.: "my understanding is sometimes the increase in the insurgency is the recognition that the Taliban may be on the run and we are now moving perhaps into territories where they are feeling more threatened."