Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Quagmire Afghanisnam

The easiest thing about a war is getting in. It's getting out with both cheeks intact that can be awfully tough.

Canada's senate has had the courage to say what we haven't been hearing from the Conservatives or Liberals - Canada hasn't a hope of getting our troops out of Afghanistan by the latest "deadline" of 2011.

"I don't think there's any chance of being out of there in three years," Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, the national security and defence committee chairman told reporters.

As I argued at the time of our last capitulation to a further, two year extension of "the mission," setting unilateral deadlines was futile without the firm agreement of NATO or the United States to replace Canadian forces one way or the other in time for our scheduled departure. Put another way, we needed a positive, unequivocal, even airtight commitment that, if NATO couldn't come up with a replacement force, the Americans would agree to furnish the troops necessary to relieve us. Without these sorts of binding undertakings, we were simply selling out our soldiers. And that's just what we did.
It's not that we shouldn't have known better. Remember when we were supposed to be out in 2008 and then 2009? We extended and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer did absolutely nothing about it. NATO made no provision to replace us. Instead it left us in the impossible position of being the first nation to bail out and, even if you think that was a good idea, the majority of Canadians would have been aghast and ashamed. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice...
There's no way in hell we shouldn't have known that, if we let that Dutch weasel get away with it once, he'd do it to us again if he could. And yet we acted as though the United States command and the NATO secretary general had a shred of integrity and honour. They showed their respect and appreciation for every Canadian soldier, dead or alive, by taking us for granted and leaving us stuck without relief. Harper and Manley simply put a lovely, patriotic gloss over the outrage.

We had something NATO and the United States needed and wanted - our willingness to stick this out for yet another extension - and we failed to secure the one thing we needed from them in return - their word.

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