Sunday, February 10, 2008

Liberal Amendments Preview

Some indication of what the Liberal amendments to the Afghanistan motion might look like:
The Liberal amendments fix the Canadian combat end date at February 2009; extend the military mission by two years for training and security duties; allow any military operation except "search and destroy" missions against the Taliban; and would give NATO notice immediately that Canadian troops will withdraw in 2011. They contain proposals for development and diplomacy.

Rules of engagement allowing self-defence by Canadian forces in the event of attack during training of Afghan army or police or during security duties will be made "crystal clear," Bryon Wilfert, the Liberals' associate foreign affairs critic, said in an interview with Canwest News Service Sunday.

The above seems to suggest a "combat" component, excluding the idea of offensive operations. Interesting to see if "search and destroy" means taking ground, or does it extend to eliminating known threats that intend us harm.

23 comments:

Mushroom said...

As a partisan, this looks like a hodge podge between the views of Dion, Iggy, and Rae. Trying to demonstrate that the Bloc and the Dippers are cutting and running, while the Grits are patriotic.

Will Canada stay on if Afghanistan reverts to a United Nations peacekeeping mission past 2011? Is this consistent with the Dutch position that it will leave next year, as Rae has claimed?

What is the role of special operation forces to rescue kidnapped foreign aid workers and to kill insurgent leaders that are setting IEDs that are killing NATO troops? Yes, Canada may not want to participate in a large scale offensive like Operation Athena. There needs to be an allowance for this.

Of course, the number of troops need to be considered. How many will leave in February 2009 and will stay on etc?

Miles Lunn said...

My understanding is the Liberals want the focus to turn away from combat, however whenever you are in a war zone, even if providing training or humanitarian aid, there is still always the risk of being attacked. Contrary to what some think, peacekeeping still means having fully trained and armed soldiers with machine guns. it simply means you don't launch offensive attacks and you don't pick sides, rather, they only use their weapons for self-defence.

Mushroom said...

Miles,

Nobody wants Canadian troops to stand by and let a massacre of Srebrenica and Rwanda happen, that is understood. However, the role of NATO and the UN need to be defined. For example, the Dutch will leave in 2010 and the Australians will take on more responsibilities. How will affect the southern command of Afghanistan?

Might as well say a vote for Harper is a vote for a never ending mission and more bodybags coming home. Sounds more sexy in an eight second soundbite.

bigcitylib said...

Generally speaking, this sounds like a defensible policy.

Mushroom said...

BCL,

I will be more happy if the Grits try to reach out to Layton. More focus on taking NATO out of the equation and putting the UN in. Putting forth benchmarks that calls for gradual scaling down of troop numbers until 2011. Emphasizing the role of special forces by saying if you touch us, you will be killed.

The Grits need to set a template on how war needs to be fought in the future. Afghanistan is a response to the failed peacekeeping missions of Bosnia and Rwanda. We went overboard with the "responsibility to protect" doctrine too far. Now it is time to restore peacekeeping back to its more positive aspects.

Steve V said...

I want them to flesh out this idea of "rotation". If the Cons secure more troops to augment our forces, then what happens if we move into re-construction and training. Does that not leave a gapping hole in the South? These extra troops seem to be needed because the consensus is we are too thin. Someone needs to explain how there will be any security if we are busy doing "other things". If we favor "rotation" that's great, but does that recognize the reality of no one taking our place? The French will come to "help", there is no negotiation of rotating in, on their own. I want to see the Libs fill in the blanks.

Gayle said...

Today Dion told Jane Taber he believes one reason it is hard to get other countries to commit troops is because there is no rotation, and that once you are in you cannot get out. I think this is a valid argument.

I also think there is room to reach out to the NDP on this but both parties must be willing to negotiate their position.

I am a political junkie, so I try to stay fairly well informed. My husband is not, but this war has him upset. He believes we cannot win this war without a huge commitment from other nations (and not just the handful of troops suggested by Manley). I think his viewpoint is representative of the general public.

Steve V said...

gayle

I saw Dion today on QP, and that was his answer to the "you don't make any sense" line. Actually, that's part of my point on this rotation, where are the troops coming from? If we take the view of your husband, that many more troops are needed, doesn't our leaving just mean they need more?

I'm not trying to be an ass here, I actually thought I understood our position. However, in the last few weeks it seems events have moved forward, and we are yet to respond. We are past the generalities now, if you argue we do this, then where are the assurance of that. Otherwise, the argument falls to pieces. I WANT to understand, but to be honest I'm starting to scratch my head here, as we nuance this to death, trying to not endorse, but willing to almost get there, without doing this, but acknowledging that this can happen. In for a penny, in for a pound.

Mushroom said...

"also think there is room to reach out to the NDP on this but both parties must be willing to negotiate their position."

What I am presenting is the consensus of the left among the NATO nations. Gradually scaling down from conflict into UN peacekeeping. With warlords and the Taliban, it can be as bloody as Somalia but that was another peacekeeping mission gone wrong. None of Layton's out now, come back in later when the UN asks us to don the blue helmets. That is political posturing, rather than setting realistic policies.

mississaugajoan said...

Eric Margolis, respected worldwide, once again has penned a great article on Afghanistan...

http://www.torontosun.com/News/Columnists/
Margolis_Eric/2008/02/10/4838323-sun.php

His past articles concerning Afghanistan are a must read for anyone wishing an unfiltered and honest opinion...

http://www.ericmargolis.com/archives.php

Canada's role in Afghanistan after 2009, can be the same as dozens of other nations involved in the rebuilding of Afghanistan. It does not need to be COMBAT. Other countries, who are not cowards, are doing it. So can Canada. Let's spend a few billion on reconstruction after spending $7B+ on COMBAT.

Gayle said...

Steve, from what I see it appears Dion is saying that we need to pull back in order to ensure NATO brings in fresh troops, and I think his position is based on the notion that if NATO knows for certain Canada will remove from active combat, there is no choice but to get more troops or leave.

If other countries know they can do what Dion wants Canada to do (that is, leave active combat after a defined period), they will be more likely to provide those troops. This is why he has been after Harper for a year now to get on NATO. What Harper is doing now is what Dion suggested he do a year ago.

If more countries commit troops on a larger scale, obviously the mission has more chance of succeeding. As it stands, with Canada's rather limited participation, dictated by a lack of resources, we cannot win. We must rotate our own troops in and out at a much faster pace than countries with larger armies. We simply cannot do htis alone, and a handful of troops and the occassional influx of troops from the US is not going to change that.

Robert said...

I'll wager the actual content of the Liberal amendment will be irrelevant as far as the Conservatives are concerned; it will be a Liberal position, which will be refuted and refused.

Here's comes the next election.

orchard said...

Steve,

I believe that we are no longer talking about rotation. I believe that we are going to be staying within Kandahar, but under the terms of a different role. We wont be perpetuating the failed policies of the War on Terror. We wont be seeking terrorists and Islamic militants. This is not going to be defined as a war between cultures. Instead, it will be a battle against systems of extreme oppression and for the protection of human rights.

Kandahar is an extremely important piece in the Afghan puzzle. In fact, reading Sarah Chayes book, the Punishment of Virtue, gives many clues about Kandahars importance. One of the most important things about Kandahar is the road which connects with with Iran and Pakistan. So important is this road, Kandahar, not Kabul, has been described as the heartland of Afghanistan. This is why Kandahar is the primary target of the Taliban. If we want to help Afghanistan, we need to stay in and help Kandahar.

wilson said...

Coderre answered my question today, on CBC Sunday Report.
Liberal rules of engagement:
Canadian soldiers will not be allowed to accompany Afghan soldiers on a mission, they must train in the camp, only.

Stroke 'training Afghan soldiers' off our to-do list.
The success in training the soldiers is from 'on the job' training, NATO will not change the rules for Dion.

MississaugaJoan said...

The Manley Report made no mention of the annual, double-digit growth of opium cultivation in Kandahar.

In 2006, 405 metric tons (405,000 kg) of opium were cultivated in Kandahar.

In 2007, 739 metric tons (739,000 kg) of opium were cultivated in Kandahar.

That's an 83% increase from 2006 to 2007.

In 2000, 185 metric tons (185,000 kg) of opium were cultivated in ALL OF AFGHANISTAN.

Orchard said...

Joan,

The 2000-2001 figures are an anomaly. Check previous years and youll find that the cultivation rates were high then as well.

Tomm said...

MississaugaJoan,

Eric margolis is only worldwide respected speaker on Afghanistan in the same sense that Stephen Staples is an expert on military matters.

Don't mistake time and interview sound bites with un-biased perspective.

Just my view.

Tomm

Tomm said...

Gayle,

I think you've hit the element that the Liberal's can possibly sell to the Canadian public (although Lord only knows why I would tell you this).

It's "rotation". Whether it is a NATO policy or not, it is a fancy sounding thing that makes sense and the Canadian public would, I think, buy it if the LPC can get the media to repeat it ad nauseum

That may be a key to the rest of the Liberal policy making sense.

Tomm

Tomm said...

Steve,

If the Liberal amendments are going to look like what you suggest, than they are likely non-starters.

If the Canadian troops hang back, duck fire fights, and aren't allowed to push Taliban out of anywhere, than we keep getting the casualties without any of the help that the Afghan people need.

The Afghan people, who are hardened to a war footing would lose all respect for our troops and our honour in helping them.

I think the LPC has to move Dion off his positions or the election campaign will be waged during the spring Taliban offensive and the Canadian troops will suffer.

The Canadian people will likely punish the Liberals.

Tomm

Mushroom said...

Tomm,

The Grit amendments is based on the fact that the Dutch will leave Afghanistan in 2010. It is assumed that Australia will take over the Dutch role in the South.

Knowing full well that France and Poland will most likely Canada's role and we scale down until
2011, these amendments reflect the concept of "not abandoning the Afghans".

You will continue on with your rhetoric of Dion appeasing the Taliban and so forth. We will have to counter by saying this is Mr. Harper's racist and fascist war etc.

Playing politics with soldiers' lives is what we are doing. No way Harper will accept the Grit amendments. Afghanistan will be his legacy and the rallying point of his party's ideology. What these amendments represent are a way to prosecute this war to ensure victory for the alliance, not nation building through increasing the use of a human body count.

MississaugaJoan said...

Orchard,

It was not an anomoly...it occurred because:

"In July 2000, the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, argued that opium was against Islam and banned its cultivation..."

www.unodc.org/pdf/research/
AFG07_ExSum_web.pdf

The sad thing is that 1 in 7 Afghanistan citizens are now involved in the cultivation of opium, 3,300,000 in total (400,000 more than in 2006).

This reliance on the cultivation of opium is unprecedented according to the United Nations. And all under the nose of NATO.

wilson said...

Mushroom,
'Playing politics with soldiers' lives is what we are doing.'

Libs always go there.
Implying that 'are troops are getting killed in combat.
It's some other countries turn to die'.

Could someone, anyone, please explain to me WHY Liberals want to end the combat part of this mission, when that is where they are LEAST likely to be killed, and increase the duties where they are MOST likely to be killed?????
Canadians want to know.

'...Number of Canadian troops killed in combat in Afghanistan last year: 0.

Number of Canadian troops killed by improvised explosive devises in Afghanistan in 2007: 12.

Number of Canadian troops killed by roadside bombs and land mines in 2007: 11.

The last Canadian casualty in conventional combat – died fighting – came during the latter stages of Operation Medusa, four servicemen perishing during a ground offensive on Sept. 3, 2006.

Since that time, there have been deaths in rollovers, helicopter crashes, suicide bombings and accidents but none from aggressively engaging the enemy...'

http://www.thestar.com/columnists/article/302371

mississaugajoan said...

Wilson,

I too would hide who you quote. I actually canceled my Toronto Star subscription because of her. And every time I get one of those irritating phone solicitors wishing me to renew, I said I would if she was sacked.

Wikipedia:

"As of February 8, 2008, there have been 699 coalition deaths in Afghanistan as part of ongoing coalition operations (Operation Enduring Freedom and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)): 414 American, 87 British, 78 Canadian, 29 German, 23 Spanish, 14 Dutch, 12 French, 11 Italian, 9 Danish, 5 Romanian, 4 Australian, 3 Norwegian, 2 Estonian, 2 Portuguese, 2 Swedish, 1 Czech, 1 Finnish, 1 Polish, 1 South Korean."

Canada's sacrifice in Afghanistan, per capita, is more soldiers than anyone else. Canada vs USA is 2.36 deaths/M vs 1.36 deaths/M.


Oh yeah, the idiot trying to make it seem that we would have had the same number of deaths if we were in Kabul (vs Kandahar) is Rosie DiManno.