The National Post ran an item today headlined "Quit whining, diplomats tell MPs." It's an account of how two diplos told Canadian MPs to start acting like they had a pair.
First up was NATO spokesman James Appathurai who told the Commons defence committee that Canada had really bolstered its clout at NATO by its active participation in Afghanistan. Okay, fair enough.
Appathurai also said Canada should stop harping on about its casualties in Afghanistan:
"Canada is not bearing the burden alone when it comes to casualties," he added. "Over a dozen NATO countries have lost troops in significant numbers. I can tell you we have the flag down in front of NATO headquarters on a regular basis.... These sacrifices are being made by everybody and in all zones, in the north, the west, and the capital and the east and the south."
It's not that the sacrifices aren't being made by others, it's that a disproportionate share of them are being borne by the countries whose forces are in the southern war zone. His crack was probably a bit out of line but it paled compared to the stuff spewed out by our home grown guy,
Chris Alexander, the UN's deputy special envoy to Afghanistan and Canada's first ambassador to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban.
Alexander must have spent too much time listening to the White House speeches because he yarded out just about every specious argument they've used to prop up their inept war on terror. First up, we can't leave Afghanistan because we've spent a lot of money there already:
"The billions of dollars spent in the past five years assisting Afghanistan would 'go up in smoke,' while the very existence of NATO and the UN would be threatened if the West withdrew, he said."
Next was the standard Bush line about how we can't leave without dishonouring the 40-Canadian soldiers who've already died over there:
"And most tragically, none of us around this table would be able to explain to the families of the 44 Canadians who have lost their lives in Afghanistan what the purpose of that sacrifice was."
So, Chris, is losing another 40 or 240 going to make that better? What is your threshold? How many dead would make you happy or would justify the first 40?
The most despicable line trotted out by Alexander was the one about leaving would be "giving comfort to the enemy."
Later Mr. Appathurai chimed in with his own nonsense, claiming that the issue of why Canada is in Afghanistan is not up for debate:
"There is no controversy in any serious discussion," he told a luncheon audience of diplomats, military and non-governmental organizations. "Anyone who calls that into question is not being serious."
Sorry Jimmy, there is controversy aplenty. The corruption of the Karzai government is controversial. The corruption of Afghanistan's security forces is controversial. The oppression of Afghanistan's women is controversial. The spreading power and influence of Afghanistan's warlords within the Kabul government is controversial. That country's narco-economy is controversial. The role of Pakistan and the growing involvement of Iran is controversial. The place is one huge controversy and that makes the issue of why Canada is there and what we're achieving controversial and demanding of serious discussion.
There's a reason why these guys don't touch on these problems and how they undermine NATO's efforts in Afghanistan. Unless the controversies are ignored they might just lead to serious discussion by genuinely serious people and that's the last thing Alexander and Appathurai need.