“But Afghanistan is a unique mission. It’s neither war nor peace-keeping. It’s a security operation that involves pretty direct combat with the enemy.”
Harper said he understands the NDP’s position - that Canada should not have sent its troops to Afghanistan and should withdraw now - better than any of his political opponents because at least this party has been consistent. But he suggested he has even less time for the two other parties.
“The Liberals and the Bloc tell me: rebalance the mission. What does that mean? I mean, what the hell does that mean?”
First of all, how can Harper say he understands the NDP position, given what he believes about Afghanistan? So, it is worse to want a re-think on the mission than to advocate immediate withdrawal? Come on. The fact that Harper purposely tries to extract the NDP from the other opposition parties is worrisome, and makes me more suspicious about the looming Clean Air Act. Mutual survival pact?
What the hell does "rebalance" mean? I take it too mean we are effectively losing the battle in Afghanistan, as every military assessment concludes. I take it too mean there is no military solution to the problems in Afghanistan, as O'Connor himself admitted. Rebalance in my mind simply means pragmatism, changing the objectives in a fluid environment. The Harper government has offered nothing except "stay the course" and "we will not be deterred". Great slogans, but dangerously stubborn, given the circumstances.
What if we tried to legalize the poppy trade? What if we poured massive amounts of money into training the Afghan army and police forces, instead of token gestures? Every independent analysis shows we spend the huge majority of our expenditure on the military. If there is no military solution, then why do we commit all our resources to an essential lost cause? I'm not suggesting that troops shouldn't defend themselves and protect people, but neither do I believe operations like the present one have any long term significance. As a matter of fact our mission resembles a tragic game of whack a mole.
When someone argues for "rebalance" they essentially say two things. First, we don't want to abandon Afghanistan. Second, we don't want our efforts to be wasted. There is no question that Afghanistan is slipping, so the question then becomes- do we stubbornly remain steadfast, in some ideological romantic view of righteousness, or do we make sober judgements that deal with practical realities? All "rebalance" means is an acknowledgment that the current path is flawed. Harper isn't the only "patriot" involved in the discussion.