"To be frank, we are currently lost in Afghanistan. I support the mission, but I think we are lost right now. We need to find a new strategy and I think Canada can offer a legitimate contribution," he said.The debate on Afghanistan has been largely non-existent, basically nothing more than a discussion on the 2011 end of military operations. It's as if Canada is merely playing out the clock, and nobody is putting forth any strategic re-think in the intermediary. Canada will just plod along with it's NATO partners, even though the evidence mounts that the operation is a destined to fail, by any measure.
I don't want to elevate what Ignatieff said, but a recognition of being "lost" is a starting point and I would encourage the Liberals to concentrate on 2009 and 2010, what the policy should be, rather than constantly referring to a position two years out, which does nothing for the NOW.
The Conservatives seem content to debate the "future of NATO", the same old line that more input is needed from our partners, if we are to succeed. That emphasis assumes there is a solution at hand, we just need better participation and commitment. However, that policy endorses status quo tactics, merely a question of degree.
Admitting failure is half the battle to understanding plausible solutions. Rather than talk of end dates, it's about time we heard a debate about whether we're just spinning our wheels until then. If one determines that we are "lost", then they need to offer an alternative vision, and if that isn't conceivable under this international regime, then we can legitimately reconsider our commitment.
I'll be curious to see, now that Ignatieff is getting his internal footing, if he articulates a path which distances the Liberals from a mere endorsement of the 2011 end of operations, as though that's the only consideration. I want to hear what is the "new strategy", because after you admit being "lost", it's incumbent to clearly define a way forward, otherwise you're simply irresponsible.