Sunday, October 29, 2006

McKay Offers Peanut To Starving Elephant

On the surface, investing in the Afghan security forces is something I applaud. However, when the allocation insults your intelligence, it makes you wonder if our government gets it:

Faced with mounting criticism that Canada's role in Afghanistan is all war and no aid, the Foreign Affairs Department has taken the unusual step of purchasing basic equipment for roughly 2,000 Afghan National Police officers.

A tender was issued last week asking for Canadian companies to bid on providing everything from light protective vests and belts to boots and flashlights.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, in an interview with The Canadian Press, acknowledged it's the first time his department has been directly involved in the delivery of this kind of support in the Afghan mission.

But he denied that opposition party pressure and mushrooming anti-war protests had anything to do with the $500,000 purchase.

The absence of a stable, competent and reasonably equipped police force is one factor contributing to the growing insurgency, said MacKay.

"Let's not be naive, we've been in some cases competing directly with recruitment efforts by the Taliban and by those (engaged in) the heroin trade," he said.

"If Afghan citizens are to enlist in policing and armed forces, we have to give them the necessary equipment and better working conditions."


McKay acknowledges the importance of a dependable domestic police force, but unfortunately contradicts the premise by offering a pitance. Does anyone believe a half million dollars matters in the grand scheme? Does McKay expect us to see this initiative as substantive? Add two or three zeros and it might make a difference.

If our mission is too succeed, then pouring massive sums of money into the Afghan security appartus is essential. I think Canadians would fully support a huge infusion of money into equipping and training the Afghan police and army. McKay offers some timid tender and frames it as though it addresses the problem. If this initiative is representative of how our government prioritizes, we are in a world of trouble. The amount of money allocated suggests more damage control than genuine urgency.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wherever MacKay comes from obviously uses money instead of people as its currency de jour.
Even Oda has enough guts to bring "women on the ground" rhetoric into her statements; how sad of a Foreign Affairs Minister does Canada have in MacKay with this offering?
It's time for the Cons with their minority government to speak clearly about the actions they take out of taxpayers' sight.
MacKay is an embarrassment to Canada.
Harper likes that because MacKay is what he deems his closest runner-up for terrible governance.
Draft Harper and Draft MacKay.

Snark: Hey Peter, Condi might go fo a go fer in Uniform.

Dylan said...

"The absence of a stable, competent and reasonably equipped police force is one factor contributing to the growing insurgency, said MacKay."

A bigger factor in the growing insurgency is lack of basic services in rural Afghanistan, like electricity and water. Oh, and how about food? Perhaps some education for young men and women is in order.

Lack of police isn't the biggest factor, perhaps the biggest factor or the one that we could most positively contribute towards would be rebuilding infrastructure and basic services in afghanistan.

Which, by the way, cannot be done by the PRT's or the military. It needs to be done by humanitarian organizations. Since the trust in NGO's is gone because of our mixed military/development mission(s) such a task is difficult.

Where to start? Withdraw our troops and increase foreign aid.

Olaf said...

Steve,

I completely and categorically agree... kinda. The Canadian government should do much more to bolster the combat effectiveness and recruitment attractiveness of the Afghan army/security forces (That sounded awkward, but you know what I mean).

However, imagine if every NATO country currently operating in Afghanistan were to contribute $500,000 to these ends. Would this be enough? Not likely. However, I'm reluctant to look at this mission as a Canada-only mission that Canada alone must take responsibility for, as is so tempting to do.

Dylan,

Where to start? Withdraw our troops and increase foreign aid.

I better just ignore this comment lest my head explode, which would severely piss off my mother - she hates cleaning!

Steve V said...

olaf

What is really distressing, why has it taken five years for people to realize they need to equip the Afghan forces? Staggering incompetence.

Olaf said...

What is really distressing, why has it taken five years for people to realize they need to equip the Afghan forces? Staggering incompetence.

I think they always knew this was important... and only figured that other priorities were more important.

I don't know why I'd be defending other priorities as more important than properly equiping the Afghan forces... it's weird, it's like it's innate. If I'm in favour of something in principle, I feel as though I must counter even the most reasonable criticisms of practice. It's a bad habit really, and I'd appreciate if you'd call me on it when you can.

The equiping of Afghan forces should be considered another essential priority of NATO forces. I agree, grudgingly.

Steve V said...

olaf

I don't know how anyone could enter Afghanistan and think a longterm foreign presence would be tolerated. Even a basic historical understanding demands that the only solution is homegrown security.