Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A limited mission or an endless war?

It came as no great surprise: the Liberals today proposed a very gentle amendment to the Conservatives' motion to extend Canada's military stay in Afghanistan. The key difference is that the amendment calls for withdrawal of troops starting in February 2011, whereas the original motion simply referred to extending the stay until 2011 (and then?).

Seems like a cosmetic change to me, but I guess it keeps everyone happy (except, of course, the Canadian public, who have consistently been of the opinion that the Canadian military presence needs to wind down). Stephen Harper must have been delighted. But it's not yet a fait accompli, so he prudently kept his response low-key, referring to the amendment as a "positive development". The Liberals, who got Canada involved in Afghanistan in the first place, have some internal divisions about this. But it lets hawks like Michael Ignatieff pretend to be doves. Here he is, yesterday in the House of Commons:
When the government speaks of extending Canada's combat role to 2011, is this a withdrawal date or a renewal date? Which is it, Mr. Speaker, a limited mission or an endless war?
Note the clever juxtaposition of mission with war. (Note to Payroll: Increase speech-writer's salary.) And yet even with a "withdrawal date" of 2011, who's to say that the "situation on the ground" won't change? Well then we can just get another extension, now can't we?

But don't take it from me ...

There are some excellent posts about the war at the StopWar blog. Eric Margolis has some unique perspectives and insightful analyses, such as his post on the Manley report and his post yesterday on the NATO conference last week. There are a number of good articles at rabble.ca, such as Making war a winner by Duncan Cameron, and Ottawa gets advice of prolonging the war - part I and part II by Roger Annis. Project Ploughshares has an extensive set of documents and commentaries on the war in Afghanistan. There are some good posts on the Ceasefire Insider blog.

There are many more articles and resources out there. But they don't get a lot of play in the mainstream media. Theories anyone?

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Anonymous Mohammed-TA said...

"But they don't get a lot of play in the mainstream media"

Well, if the media not playing such articles is "mainstream" then it probably implies that theirs is not a mainstream Canadian view.

Except if what makes something mainstream is the degree of funds injected into and not viewership! And that would leave me quite confused....where is the money to be injected into mainstream media industry coming from if its not related to viewership?

Elsewhere? I think I must caution myself before it gets too conspiratorial :)

11:42 PM, February 14, 2008  
Blogger Nick Barrowman said...

In Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky presented an analysis of the mainstream media using a "propaganda model". Sometimes criticized as a conspiracy theory, it is manifestly not: it's not about secret back-room schemes, but rather about market forces and the machinery of public relations.

To what extent and in what way it applies to the question of Canada's involvement in Afghanistan is worth considering.

10:18 AM, February 15, 2008  
Blogger Gail said...

I found you through Blogs of Note, was immediately attracted to your lovely quilt photo, and then found this post on terminology (limited mission or endless war).

I really hope we Americans will do the right thing this November.

Gambits from Gail

2:17 PM, March 25, 2008  
Blogger Nick Barrowman said...

Hi Gail,

Thanks, I'll pass what you said on to the quilter herself! (She has made many other wonderful quilts.)

I think there's a lot of hope internationally that the U.S. election may be a very positive turning point.



P.S. I had a quick look at your blog: love the Swiss chard!

5:20 PM, March 25, 2008  

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