Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Canada's Future in Afghanistan

The review committee headed by former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister John Manley has reported and the report is a refreshing surprise. The committee consisted mainly of people considered pro-war hawks and it was anticipated that it would give Stephen Harper what he wanted when he set up the committee. It had been assumed that Mr. Manley would support a continued role for Canada in combat. Mr. Manley is a man of principle who does not oversimplify and that shows in this report. This report moves the debate away from the simplistic partisan views of get out or stay in as put forward by Canadian politicians until now. It states that the purpose of the mission is a good one but Canada should not do it alone or take on a disproportionate share of responsibility and casualties. It calls on NATO to provide more real help to lessen the burden on Canada and make the chances for success greater. If this is not done the report says Canada should withdraw. The report accurately states that Canada can not just provide training in a war situation and not ever get involved in combat while doing so.
I believe Canadians will accept continued participation under different terms than what they are now. Presently Canadians are facing too much danger while the American focus is still in Iraq and our European allies are playing it safe on the Afghani sidelines.
This report and the well considered ideas in it offer a very reasonable compromise position. There potentially could be an agreement between our parties in Parliament to allow such an approach to be taken. The question now is whether our current politicians both Government and Opposition are willing to put aside their usual attacks and insults of each other and work together for common ground on this very critical issue. Sadly, the NDP immediately rejected the report calling it just a plan to continue the war. Clearly Mr. Dion and Mr. Harper are thinking the whole thing through carefully before responding. That is a good sign.


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