We cannot abandon the Afghans....
Nobody can say it quite like Terry Glavin...
An "odd guard guarding an embassy" is all that will be left of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan next year. Thus Prime Minister Stephen Harper has declared, unchallenged, and as though it were only up to him to decide in the first place. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff pledges to support only a "different role focusing on a humanitarian commitment," indicating such open-mindedness as to risk having his brains fall out, and the New Democrats haven't made a contribution to the discussion since their 2006 edict declaring that Canada should simply refuse the United Nations' entreaties altogether because Afghanistan is just "not the right mission for Canada."Please read hit entire post. Now is the time for strong leadership from Canada - that we will stand behind our Afghan comrades, they will not be abandoned, and that we are there to win.
But somehow, it is the right mission for Mongolia, Estonia, Macedonia, Singapore, and even little Belgium, and while all 43 nations of the International Security Assistance Force have been embroiled in difficult discussions about what ISAF should be doing in Afghanistan after 2011, when the Afghanistan Compact expires, Canada has been paralyzed by the frenzies and taboos that have come to afflict its entire political class. The most recent spasm combines elements of both.
The frenzy: The only thing the House of Commons special committee on Afghanistan has been allowed to talk about is whether or not someone in cabinet might have done something that might be cynically construed as an act or an omission that might be spun in such a way as to suggest something less than assiduousness in the care and feeding of captured Taliban brigands, three years ago. The taboo: It's only a war crime if the Conservatives did it. You know paralysis has set in when that all that's left to us is to answer harangues to light our torches and march on our summarily-prorogued Parliament, while the rest of the world goes about its business.
In little more than a week from now, in London, foreign ministers and other senior representatives from the entire ISAF alliance will gather with the UN's Ban Ki-Moon, Afghan president Hamid Karzai and top NATO officials. They will be making an historic decision about the way forward in the most ambitious undertaking in the UN's history, a project in which Canada, in spite of itself, has until now played an extraordinarily important role. As things stand at the moment, all Canadians can say with any certainty about what Ottawa's contribution will be in London is that it should be expected to include an announcement along the lines of, The Boss says that if there is even one Canadian soldier reporting for duty in Afghanistan after 2011, he must be assigned to guard an embassy, and he must be odd.
With nearly $18 billion of Canada's money spent and the lives of 139 Canadian soldiers lost to the unfinished and necessary work of rebuilding and defending a sovereign Afghan republic, is that all we can say for ourselves? By way of charitable understatement: "There is no record of an analysis by any party of the consequences of leaving," Douglas Bland, head of the defence studies program at Queen's University, recently observed.