Friday, September 05, 2008

Afghanistan and the cost to Canada in fighting there

This post copied - and expanded on - from a comment I made on John Waugh's blog post: NDP Pathetic on Afghan war
What this adds up to is pretty simple. During this campaign Layton will leave the war on the back burner. He will not make opposition to the war a central plank in his campaign platform. He will not repeat his party's opposition to the war unless he has to. He will not fight for the withdrawal of Canadian forces from Afghanistan.

Progressive Canadians have no party, they have no leader.

In defending the NDP as the party best representing those like me who feel Canada has no business participating in ISAF (the NATO-led combat mission in Afghanistan), leftdog has a point with his comment that the NDP have been the loudest political voice in opposition to our combat role there. But at the same time, it's telling that he had to go back eight months to find any mention of the NDP stance being put forward by the party machinery on Canada's role within the ISAF mission.

I think what this says (and John Waugh was astute to pick up on it) is that the NDP don't see this issue as even cracking the top ten list for them - on the eve of an election campaign to boot.

This cuts to the heart of the matter for a lot of us who may have previously defended/supported the NDP and share much of their worldview; but have found it just as partisanly unwelcome a home as the Martin Liberals had been.

But there is another party with ideas on the subject. I am talking of course about the Green Party.

On page 104 of the Vision Green policy document (updated just last month) you may note on pages 103-104 the GPC maintains the NATO-led mission is wrong and that Canada should withdraw our troops from the effort by this coming February at the latest.
...Despite this disheartening situation, there is also a very high risk that the immediate removal of all foreign troops would lead to the outbreak of a full-scale civil war and a humanitarian catastrophe. Accordingly, the Green Party believes we need to shift as rapidly as possible away from the current US-led NATO command mission, to a more ethnically balanced and regionally represented United Nations command effort and a greater security role for the Afghan National Army. This mission redesign improves the probability that over time the conditions will emerge for a viable political solution to the conflict...
Will this become a central plank in the campaign? I certainly hope I can influence this from within the party. While global warming and its potential for devastation is perhaps the most important issue for humanity right now, the wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere must not be dumped out of the discussion merely for politically strategic reasons.

As John rightly points out, this is our biggest international commitment currently, and it sucked up all the resources we had previously spent 35 years building up as world leaders in peacekeeping activities - a shameful about-pace for which the Liberals and Conservatives need to be held to account, and which (one would hope) the NDP, Bloq Québecois and GPC would not let up on.

3:00 p.m. Update: It seems I was even timelier in posting this than anticipated.
OTTAWA — A majority of Canadians still view their soldiers as peacekeepers and would rather see them helping disaster victims than fighting, an internal poll prepared for National Defence suggests.

The results of the exhaustive survey, obtained by The Canadian Press, come despite the best efforts of both the Conservative government and the military to rebrand the Canadian Forces as a combat outfit.

“The image of the Canadian peacekeeper is one that has taken hold in the Canadian national psyche in the decades since the Korean War,” said the Ipsos Reid study, which is expected to be released Monday.

“Recent attempts at repositioning this traditional role toward one that emphasizes a more activist approach which includes the use of force have met with relatively little interest and still less acceptance.”
Why am I not surprised?

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1 comment:

RossK said...

That peacekeeper space, it would seem to me, is precisely the place where a sharp underdog with principles would want to go I reckon.

(and isn't amazing that after all the PR/Prop/Spin of the last three years that folks still want us to be seen as peacekeepers? That the Canuckistan I know and love).