The CBC is reporting that 3 Canadians were injured by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan today.
Is the moon full today? … because today I’m going to the words of George W. Bush.
“Stay the course”.
For the most part though, his words and mine are directed at very different things. He’s talking about the continued occupation of Iraq… and I am talking about the security forces sent to stabilise and secure Afghanistan.
And this is where I may diverge from what others of my political leaning might think. Jack Layton, for example said that the NDP would ensure no more troops were sent to Afghanistan.
Specifically, he said:
We appear to be drifting from our original mission there – which was to provide security in the capital region – and into a combat role side-by-side with American troops…. Canadians need to have a debate on whether they want Canadian service personnel to become deeply involved in an initiative that’s pressed forward by (U.S. President) George Bush”
I certainly have done my fair share of Bush-bashing (not the same as bush-beating) on this website. And I fully admit it. That said, I think in this instance Layton is simply playing on peoples dislike for the name “George Bush” rather than talking about what Canadian soldiers are really supposed to be doing in Afghanistan and what Canadians want to be done.
Remember that Afghanistan was a direct response to the attacks of 9-11. NATO invoked its’ “self-defense clause” for the first time ever in it’s history and it was clear that Afghanistan was Al-Qaedas’ base of operations. The vast majority of Canadians supported this military action and supported Canadas’ significant contribution.
The invasion of Afghanistan did much to cripple Al-Qaedas’ ability to use Afghanistan as it’s base, but that was not the whole story. When the Taliban was run out from power our job was only beginning. Canadians helped to protect Kabul so that the newly elected government of Hamid Karzai could have the best chance of building up his ruined country. We provided, military, police and administrative help for the new Afghan government, all these were desperately needed.. and appreciated.
It is now 4 years on and we are still in Afghanistan. But I believe our military planners and government, indeed NATO and the UN recognized that Afghanistan would be a very long term commitment. This is nation building, not peacekeeping, and it’s not a clear cut or simple process (not that peacekeeping is ever simple anyway).
There has also been an increase in “offensive” operations conducted by our Joint Task Force 2 squad in conjunction with US and Afghan forces. Unfortunately, Al Qaeda still lurks in many regions in Afghanistan. And as our original mandate was to go in and ensure that Al Qaeda could no longer operate in any region of Afghanistan, then we have a responsibility to carry that through as well.
We must allow our soldiers to do what needs to be done to ensure that Afghanistan is left in a better position than it was when we got there. If and when the Afghan people wish us to leave, we will do so, fully and completely, but not a moment before. That would be unfair to them, our soldiers and ourselves.
If Jack Layton wants to discuss with Canadians and revisit our goals and priorities in Afghanistan, then by all means we should do that. But to simply say that Canada should not contribute any more soldiers to Afghanistan is irresponsible and frankly dangerous for us, our soldiers, and Afghans.
I will discuss the juxtaposition of my views here with my views on Iraq in a later post.