Sunday, September 10, 2006

Advantage To The Liberal "Division"

I have read several MSM articles on the NDP's decision to forcefully back an Afghanistan withdrawal. Several musings on how, politically, the NDP is now the only "anti-war" party, with the Liberals chronically divided. The suggestion seems to be that clarity is advantageous, while any sense of discord is a liability. The Conservatives are staunch supporters, the NDP are now equally rigid opposers, while the Liberals don't know where to turn. In my mind, this condition actually benefits the Liberals if it is framed properly.

I accept the premise that most Canadians are conflicted on Afghanistan. There is a general sense that this is not Iraq, there are in fact logical and moral arguments that support our participation. However, there is also a growing belief that the mission is unbalanced, directionless and trending badly. This tension makes the question a complicated one that needs to be debated. It would seem that the only place for this debate is now squarely within the Liberal Party. The other parties can call it division, as though a weakness, but the Liberals would now seem the only party able to navigate the complexities.

I think most Canadians would fall somewhere in between the idea of immediate withdrawal and open-ended commitment. The moderate view has one home, the Liberal Party. If the question becomes which party best reflects the view of average Canadians, then the idea of division becomes desirable. I don't think this mission is cut and dry for most people, why shouldn't a political party reflect that internal debate? On this issue, rigidity is tantamount to marginalization, whereas pragmatism allows for movement. If the Liberals need to stake out a dominate policy on Afghanistan, I think politically Kennedy's has the most to offer. A firm stance, which allows for differing paths, contingent on the circumstances. The Kennedy position has the room required that best reflects the debate in the hinterlands. Replace "division" with "debate" and the Liberals come off fine.


eugene plawiuk said...

While the NDP position is seen as hard and fast one merely had to listen to Alexa and her nuanced comments to understand that Withdrawl of Troops is the begining of a strategy not the end. That is repositioning in Kabul, promoting authentic development opportunities and begin a peace process.

The Liberals, even Kennedy have no such plan. Watch over the next few days as the NDP nuance their plan into something that is an alternative to the Conservatives Kill all terrorists and the Liberals wishy washy support for something, not sure what.

SouthernOntarioan said...

Good point Steve. Appearing wishy-washy does sometimes have advantages.

However, people tend to like clarity when they are making choices like Afghanistan. So while it may be an advantage in other situations, I don't think this is one of them.

Anonymous said...

Ya sure, send money to rebuild only to have the Taliban destroy it, so send more money to rebuild only to have the Taliban destroy.

The NDP are in a time warp. I noticed their delegates were mostly middle-aged white trade type people. They don't have a very inclusive representation at their convention.

The NDP have to get out of th 20th century. Alexa McDonough does nothing but talk, talk, talk and interrupt. That isn't a discussion or debate - she needs to retire.

Doesn't take a rock scientist to figure out that Layton is just trying to get Quebec votes and it doesn't take a rocket scientiest to figure out you can't rebuild while there are constant attacks. I can't believe the BS coming out of the NDP convention - what a angry, frumpy, sorry lot.

Yes, frumpy. I tried to imagine if the NDP were the Gov't of Canada - oh my God. They would have to meet and greet officials from around the world and they all look like "hell". They have to perk up their image. They are a disgrace.

WesternGrit said...

I totally agree that we need to keep our moderate middle position. Wishy-washy? C'mon. The ONLY sensible approach to all this IS a balanced one. We need to help re-build the country (actually my opinion is that the US should handle that task - financially - with our expertise), but we need to work with the UN for a UN-sanctioned peace effort (which this has now become). We are BOUND by our NATO obligations to aid our allies, however as a Liberal gov't we did fine to ensure we carefully proceeded.

I didn't agree with the illegal war in Iraq - and since it was not UN-sanctioned, I'm glad we did not go. Afghanistan is a different story. What kind of humanitarians are we, if we watch our "allies" destroy a country, then we "responsible", "caring" Canadians sit on our fucking hands and watch the grim results? We got involved - perhaps for the wrong initial reason (to do SOMETHING for the US, since we didn't back them in Iraq) - but, we now KNOW FOR A FACT that there are damn good reasons to stay and help rebuild.

Hey... Suez wasn't easy either. We'll survive, but only a careful MODERATE response will work. The NDP "quitter" attitude is a shame. Whatever happened to women's rights? Will they not step up to the Taliban to help protect these? The choice the Dippers have made is "keep our troops home rather than have peace or human rights in Afghanistan". Of course the Cons just believe in "going over to kill some brown people and mindlessly support our American masters"...

Steve V said...


With all due respect, nuance is the last word that comes to mind when I think of this weekend's NDP resolution. An immediate withdrawal creates an unavoidable vacuum.

SouthernOntarioan said...

Well, I agree for the most part WesternGrit, but I do think the Liberal position is too wishy washy. Its kinda like Kerry's "I supported the war before I opposed it" sort of thing.

To be honest, what is unusual is that the Tories tend to now support human rights more often than the Liberals even. Think of China and the Liberal government's intentional ignorance of the human rights violations there in exchange for better trade relations.

For example, we helped build the Three Gorges Dam (which is great environmentally) which forced millions of people off their land in exchange for little or nothing.

On issues like Taiwan, Tibet, Ukraine, Belarus, Afghanistan and the Sudan, it was Tories who led the charge for increased human rights. The Liberals tended to take a more 'nuanced' approach.

The NDP used to be the party to turn to for human rights and it is sad for me to see them fall so far.

dalestreet said...

Just thought I'd point out that after reading some of the statements made by the NDP, it doesn't appear that they are advocating abandoning Afganistan, but rather removing our troops from the US's Operation Enduring Freedom and putting them back into NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

I have no idea whether this will be a "better" use of our armed forces, but it does seem to fit more with our traditional role of engaging in multi-national peacekeeping. I imaging it would also free up resources to allocate to places such as Haiti, Darfur and/or perhaps, Lebannon.

It just sounds to me that the NDP wants our forces to be less "Rambo" and more "Sam Steele".