Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pompous rhetoric

Canada's Conservative government wants to extend the stay of Canadian troops in Afghanistan another two years beyond the current February, 2007 deadline. (See reports from The Globe & Mail and CBC.) After a 6-hour debate tomorrow, members of parliament will vote, and Canadians will have to live with the consequences. Pronounced Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
"What we are doing there is not just protecting our national interests, but providing international leadership and providing real advancement to the standard of living and human rights of the Afghan people."
Do these claims stand up? First, how is the Canadian military presence in Afghanistan protecting our national interests? No doubt there will be some grand words in the House of Commons tomorrow, but I'd like to hear a cogent argument, not just hot air. A national child-care plan would be in our national interest, but the Conservatives won't hear of that.

Next, does a foreign military adventure demonstrate international leadership? Perhaps we're supposed to believe this simply because the words "military" and "leadership" happen to be in the same sentence. Living up to our Kyoto commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions would show real leadership, but instead the Conservative government wants to back out of that agreement.

Finally, is the Canadian military presence in Afghanistan advancing the standard of living and the human rights of the Afghan people? Perhaps, but what's the evidence? And could we achieve more by different means? I believe it would be much better for Canada to provide financial support and diplomatic interventions to nurture real democratic progress in Afghanistan.

I wonder if the Conservatives have anything more than pompous rhetoric to support this military adventure?
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer is Harper may get the right answer. They may just pull the troops out in February. Now, we get to run the whole thing for NATO. We already were running it. So, stay and we're real important at NATO.

Afghanistan has been a rural pacification program. First it was the Green Berets making friends in the country and, later, a returned Peace Corps Volunteer running Mercy Corps with billions from A.I.D.(traditionally CIA money). This is classic down to the persons chosen to run Afghanistan.

The US was only concerned with pacification. The US is done. Canadians do not need the problems in Afghanistan. Maybe we should create some NGOs, send spies(the new ones we supposedly need), and fund them though another agency that is'nt CSIS. Yes, we will make sure the funding goes to Liberal NGOS and spies 'like the AID money went to Dems.

Afghanistan was a joke for the US. 'Pacification program going back to the 60s and make sure the dems get alot of money through NGOS - cut off the real money that should have been going to Afghanistan.

Hopefully parliament is smart enought to see what it is being offered and pull out by February.

10:03 AM, May 17, 2006  
Blogger Raywat Deonandan said...

What also needs to be noted is the rather duplicitous tactic of announcing the "discussion" with only 48 hours notice, thus stacking the preparatory odds in the Conservatives' favour.

Harper campaigned on a promise to involve Parliament in any decision to augment or extend the role of Canadians in Afghanistan, and he's keeping that promise... technically. All rather shady to me.

10:39 AM, May 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's the stick by which the Harper government can be measured. Technically they keep their promises - no-one is paying any attention to whether these promises actually address the real issues facing the people of Canada.

Guaranteed when the next election rolls around they will parade out this list of "promises kept" - and contrast it to the wasteland that is the most recent Liberal legacy.

12:01 PM, May 17, 2006  
Blogger Nick Barrowman said...

I would have guessed that the Conservatives would easily pass the two-year extension. But today's news that another Canadian soldier has been killed in Afghanistan—as it happens the 1st female soldier to be killed in this mission—could have some impact. It may remind the MP's that the lives of both Canadians and Afghanis are at stake.

6:57 PM, May 17, 2006  
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