David Mulroney served as a deputy minister in charge of Canada's Afghanistan task force. It seems he learned a thing or two from the experience, enough to know that we're at risk of repeating the same mistakes in our rush to war in Iraq.
"When I recently saw Foreign Minister [Rob] Nicholson musing that we'd apply some of the lessons of Afghanistan to our engagement, I kind of sat bolt upright because I think one of the problems is we haven't spent much time learning the lessons of Afghanistan," Mulroney said in an interview to air Saturday at 9 a.m. on CBC Radio's The House.
He said the lack of discussion about Afghanistan toward the end of the 10-year mission has kept Canadians from learning key lessons, which include being realistic about how much Canada doesn't know about a region and setting "often very modest" goals.
Mulroney also said Canada needs an exit strategy.
"When does it happen for us and who's around to pick up the pieces of what we've put in place. Until we've really talked honestly about that, I'd be very worried about our ability to pull something off in a place that's as challenging as that nexus of Iraq and Syria."
Readers of this blog may be familiar with how often we have decried the failure of our political and military leadership to have a full, candid and, above all, open post mortem on why so few things went right and so many wrong from our adventures in Afghanistan. The lives lost and broken bodies of our soldiers will have been squandered if we don't come clean and learn the real lessons of their sacrifice.