What should Canada do in Afghanistan???
Douglas Bland has an excellent piece in the Globe & Mail today...
Consider, for instance, these important policy questions:It's time for the debate to begin - what should our role be post-2011. My position is clear: we cannot abandon the Afghan people.
Canada-U.S. relations: The maintenance of co-operative relations with the United States is Canada's vital national interest. What are the likely security, defence and economic impacts of withdrawal in 2011?
Canada-NATO relations: Would a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan negatively effect Canada's diplomatic and economic relations with the Atlantic alliance and the European Community generally?
The Taliban and other foes: Will a Canadian withdrawal embolden Taliban leaders and weaken the Afghan government, endangering subsequent humanitarian effort in the country?
The Canadian Forces: No one knows how much the Afghan mission will eventually cost Canada. But government officials do know that staying will cost many more billions, eating into budgets for other policies. Leaving will save something. Is the government actually willing to sacrifice the Afghan commitment (and its defence policy aimed at rebuilding the Canadian Forces) in order to reduce the deficit?
Canada and the UN: Will withdrawal from the UN mission in Afghanistan risk forfeiting our credibility as a leader of the “Responsibility to Protect” concept?
Canada's place at the table: When Afghans eventually (and inevitably) decide to negotiate an accommodation among their country's many factions, does Canada expect to have influence if we have abandoned the country?
Does Canada's commitment to the Afghan people actually matter to Canada's interests or to Canadians' security? Will there be no repercussions if we walk away? If not, one might ask why are we waiting until 2011. But if our commitment does matter and there will be significant risks if we leave, then perhaps the Prime Minister should talk to Canadians about them before we walk out the door.
Hat tip: Terry Glavin.