Thursday, July 12, 2007

Understanding The Harper Conversion

For people trying to make sense of Stephen Harper's flip flop on Afghanistan, coupled with the timely changed strategy of the military, this finding might help explain:
A growing number of Canadians, especially in Quebec, say the rising death toll among troops in Afghanistan is too high a price to pay for helping the troubled country, suggests a new poll.

A Canadian Press-Decima Research survey shows 67 per cent of those asked believe the number of casualties has been unacceptable, a five-percentage-point rise from a poll taken a little over a month ago.

Only 25 per cent of respondents said the number of killed and wounded was acceptable, in a survey taken following the most recent deaths of six soldiers in a roadside bomb attack.

Bruce Anderson, CEO of Decima Research, said Canadians are clearly becoming more doubtful about whether progress is being made, in light of the deaths of 66 soldiers and one diplomat in Afghanistan.

Of particular concern to the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the result showing skepticism runs highest in Quebec, where 76 per cent said the sacrifice is unacceptable. This comes as the Royal 22nd Regiment — the famed Vandoos — prepare to take over the battle group in Kandahar next month.

The base:
Even among the most ardent supporters of the war — people who identify themselves as Conservatives — doubt has crept in. The number of Tories who say the price tag has been too high increased by eight percentage points since the beginning of June, to 48 per cent.

Pardon my cynicism, but I find it quite a coincidence that Hillier is speaking about a changed mission in Kandahar, resulting in fewer casualties, just as the Quebec regiment is set to take the reins. Speaking of coincidence's, Harper just happens to soften, then dramatically alter, his position, as public support wanes badly. When I heard Harper's recent comments, my first question was whether or not the government had some indication, through internal polling, that support for the mission had fallen into the danger zone politically. The publication of this poll lends credence to suspicion.

The public has turned on this mission, with little reason to suggest any future turnaround. Harper has made the calculation, the message has filtered to the military, and it will be interesting to hear the spin as to why this moment demands such a re-think.

The province that resists the mission the most is set to take the lead, which just happens to correspond to a new strategy in Kandahar, which just happens to coincide with Canadians turning against the mission, which coincidentially happens while Harper dramatically changes gears. It all fits quite nicely from here :)


ottlib said...

Stephen Harper's changes of heart always do seem to correspond to dramatic changes in polling numbers does it not?

First, Global Warming and now Afghanistan.

Of course, Stephen Harper's "solutions" for global warming was John Baird and propaganda.

Do these new polling numbers indicate that we will now see John Baird as Minister of Defence or is Mr. Harper's "conversion" genuine?

Time will tell.

Steve V said...

A good laugh:

Aug 06

"Principles not polls will govern how the Conservatives establish policy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said at a Friday news conference in Cornwall, Ont...

"We don't make decisions in our governments based on polls," Harper said."

Anonymous said...

Do these new polling numbers indicate that we will now see John Baird as Minister of Defence or is Mr. Harper's "conversion" genuine?

I think that would be wonderful. That means we could have Bairdo sent on visits to Kabul where he can yell and bluster and jab his finger at Karzai to his heart's content.

Karen said...

Steve, obvious is obvious. The silence on this issue by the "right", is telling.

It's a case of,
"we support this guy, on everything", that apparently includes when he takes a completely different stance, a Liberal stance in fact...but facts do not matter.

I'm not sure, is there one issue he started out on that he still supports, in public?

Steve V said...

"The silence on this issue by the "right", is telling."

That's true, the crickets are deafening.

Karen said...

I LOVE crickets, but even they aren't chirping.

Good image though.

We should perhaps become more adept at placing sound in our posts. It shouldn't be an option.

Perhaps that will be the next thing, as you scan over a word, poof, there is sound.

You're comment, with crickets in the background, funny but true.

Of course, this could also be a nightmare.

Sorry to go off topic.

Anonymous said...

Why is it you folks on the left are so surprised that even true blue Cons took the instant vaporization of 6 soldiers like a kick in the balls? It sent shock waves across the entire country, you morons. It is causing everyone to re-evaluate; from Hillier , through the soldiers and down to ordinary Canadians.

Luckily, the country has people like you who figure the whole thing is "A good laugh". Pathetic.

Steve V said...


Aren't you a piece a work. "Shockwaves"? What about the 6 who died on April 8? Where was the "re-evaluate" then? Seems to me all we heard was divisive rhetoric, Hillier going on and on about progress, stay the course, the Liberals are cowards, blah, blah, blah.

Face it, Harper has put personal fortunes over supposed principle. You will note the historic precedent of Harper's every changing Iraq position, which once again just so happened to follow public opinion.

I actually like what I'm hearing now, anyone who has read my posts knows I have been arguing for a re-focus from combat to training domestic forces as the ultimate solution, with the best chance for success. Having said that, I am not prepared to heap praise, because the motivations don't start from a genuine place, they are simple based on electoral calculation.

What is truly PATHETIC, besides your pius nonsense, is lambasting anyone who argued for a new direction, then embracing it as though pragmatic. I am not prepared to applaud a opportunistic cameleon.


That may very well be "the next thing", or perhaps video comments. No more pajamas? ;)

Anonymous said...

" like a kick in the balls"

ummm what about the 6 soldier's that died in April 2007? I still was hearing a lot of Con support after that for continuing with the war.

I noticed the US house voted to pull out of Iraq today. Go figure...looks like the reinforcements are coming to Afghanistan. Harper is win/win here if the US pulls back to Afghanistan. The US Repubs ...maybe not so much, but it may save them from being totally decimated in 08.

Steve V said...

"ummm what about the 6 soldier's that died in April 2007? I still was hearing a lot of Con support after that for continuing with the war."

Is there an echo in here? ;)

Anonymous said...

*ha ha* I guess I was typing my comment as you were typing your and your got their first Talk about thinking alike : )

Anonymous said...

that would be *yours* even

Steve V said...


I've been giving more thought to your Iraq to Afghanistan argument, and I think you might be right. As you said, it is a collection of things, and while the US forces are tapped in terms of future rotations, there is plenty of room to augment our forces. There is no real danger, public opinion wise, for the US to continue a protracted war in Afghanistan, and with the recent report of complete Al Qaeda re-configuration on the Pakistan border, it will clearly emerge as the frontline again.

Great minds :)

Anonymous said...

If you want the Liberal position on the war, here is a press release from head office:

Trouble is, it doesn't give even one iota of what the Liberal future plan might be. All it does is criticize the Conservatives for continuing the Liberal plan which was set out from 2001 to 2006 when Harper took over. The Liberals have no answers on this. What happened to the dreams they had when they got us into Afghanistan?

Steve V said...

"it doesn't give even one iota of what the Liberal future plan might be."

Just curious if you can point me to Harper's plans after 2009? Quick, they might have changed today :) Also, you play the same game the Republicans used to play with the Democrats. Your guy is in power, you guy calls the shots, it is not up to the opposition to provide detailed tactical support, is it?

I've heard Dion articulate possible scenarios after 2009, which strangely are being mirrored by the once hawkish, now talonless Conservatives. Flippity flop, flop oh flip, will my hypocrisy never cease...

ottlib said...

Steve and KNB:

Gwynne Dyer wrote a column the other day arguing that the Americans will not be pulling out of Iraq before 2009.

His argument is compelling as it rightly points out that the Iraq issue is now firmly a domestic political issue in the US and with the next election just 14 months away nothing will be done until afterwards.

So if Stephen Harper is waiting for George Bush to save him he may be waiting a long time. I think he is on his own.

Anonymous said...

The question Gwynne asked is this.

Can the Americans pull out without losing?

160,000 troops are a lot. Scaling down may take years. By then, the Iranians or even the Turks may have swamped Baghdad.