“We need the commitment of the whole international community. If not, we should leave in an orderly fashion after February 2007 with our heads held high as a country that's provided the only other possibility -- short term security need -- on a par with any other in the world.”
Kennedy has repeatedly said, if the mission isn't altered, then Canada should withdrawal, but it was always stated in an ambigious fashion. I contacted the campaign to clarify this mention of an actual date. The response pointed out that February 2007 was chosen because American four-star general, Army Gen. Dan K. McNeil will take charge of both U.S. and NATO forces. This date would allow a smooth transition, if Canada chose to change it's commitment.
Kennedy's comments are essentially leverage, in that Canada should use its prominent role to force its own agenda of what is needed to succeed. Afghanistan is a NATO mission, but our disportionionate contribution allows for some Canadian dictation. I think Kennedy's stance operates from a position of strength, demonstrates leadership and a commitment that the mission accurately reflect what Canadians want. I don't care what some NATO nations think, especially those that sit in cozy bases in the north, while our troops die on the frontlines. This is a Canada first proposition, which I fully endorse.
There is a threat within the rhetoric, but pressure is the only way to alter a failing path. Canada isn't along from some joint ride and our contribution isn't open-ended or without demands. Some will argue that Kennedy is simply offering a "cut and run" option, but I think that view fails to listen closely. The military community now agrees that progress is elusive and efforts to quell the Taliban have largely failed, in fact resistence is stronger now that at any time since the overthrow. Kennedy simply embracing this verdict, and demands change or Canada won't attach itself to the guaranteed quagmire. If you admit it's broken, but continue on, how is that supporting the troops or intellectually honest. I see Kennedy's view as an effort to find something that works, and one that isn't afraid to assert Canadian opinion through arm-twisting and threatening language. We are leading on the battlefield, why not lead on what the goals should be?