Afghanistan: Too Many NATO Chiefs-Not Enough Indians
Barry Artiste, Now Public Contributor
John Manley's report of the dire straits Canadian Troops are in fighting in Afghanistan, certainly shows other NATO countries imbedded in Afghanistan are not holding up their end of the bargain. One look at the map (Posted on here) shows NATO countries controlling different sectors of Afghanistan. You have to ask yourself with all these Countries there clearly it shows more NATO Chiefs and not enough Indians to help out our troops who are dying at an alarming rate.
My Final Thought
The Theatre of War in Afghanistan plays like a Bad Western Movie, with the Taliban circling the War wagons as our troops are caught in the middle, all the while it seems Nato Countries have the safest seats in the theatre in which to view this tragic outcome.
Further more I have not seen anything concrete on the Opium Trade which is financing the Taliban, perhaps that page in the report was misplaced.
TORONTO -- If Canada's NATO allies fail to provide additional troops for southern Afghanistan, it will be an indication that the entire international mission has moved "too close to futility" and will justify Canada abdicating its responsibility for the region, John Manley said yesterday.
Mr. Manley, a former Liberal Cabinet minister, led the panel that this week delivered a report to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Canada's role in Afghanistan. The report calls for Canada to remain committed to the NATO-led mission beyond its scheduled end in 2009, but only if other countries provide 1,000 additional troops to bolster security and training activities in the dangerous region surrounding Kandahar.
Mr. Manley said it would signal a "failure of the mission overall" if NATO was unable to find additional troops to meet Canada's requirements. He added that it would be irresponsible for the government to leave troops in the region without adequate support.
"The obligation that any government has is to make sure it does not risk its troops in a cavalier fashion when there's no reasonable prospect of success," he told the National Post's editorial board.
"Looking at it on the continuum from utility to futility, then that would put us too close to futility where we'd have to say, with regret, that we can no longer look our kids in the eyes and say, 'You've got to go there.' "
Jake Epp, another panel member and a former Conservative Cabinet minister, added that a withdrawal would be "a failure of NATO" rather than Canada.
Canada has approximately 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, mostly in Kandahar.
While other NATO countries have so far been reluctant to deploy their personnel in the southern region, Mr. Manley yesterday predicted a shift in attitudes toward the mission among European members.
"I've seen this movie before, when I was foreign minister and going to NATO meetings and the debate was about Bosnia," he said. "The Europeans weren't there and Canada had 1,800 troops there ... and [the Europeans] said they couldn't do it. Well, they did. Eventually, it became significant enough for NATO prestige and European prestige that they did come to the table."
Mr. Manley admitted it would be "extraordinarily messy" if Canada was forced to withdraw from southern Afghanistan. However, he suggested it was unlikely a withdrawal would ever come to fruition and said it "should not be difficult" to muster the additional troops.
"It should be achievable; it should not be that difficult," he said.
Derek Burney, another panel member and a former Canadian ambassador, noted the United States last week committed to sending more than 2,000 Marines to southern Afghanistan for seven months. If just half of those assignments were made permanent, it would fulfill the panel's proposal, he said.
Panel members have suggested Mr. Harper delay any vote in the House of Commons on the mission until after a NATO meeting in April. The Prime Minister has not publicly commented on the report, but Stephane Dion, the Liberal leader, on Tuesday reiterated his call for Canadian troops to end their combat role by February, 2009.
Mr. Manley yesterday called upon his Liberal colleagues to support the panel's recommendations. He also cautioned it would be unwise for Liberals to try to fight an election over the future of the Afghan mission.
"I don't think this is an issue that would be a good one for either party to stake itself on in an election campaign. I'm not sure if Canadians want partisan politics to be the focal point of a mission like this," he said. "And certainly, if I was campaigning as a Liberal, there are a bunch of other things that I might want to put my focus on other than a military expedition that was started by a Liberal government."
The panel's report also advocates investments in new helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles as well as a focusing of reconstruction and development efforts on aid that directly helps Afghans. The panel suggests Ottawa should pursue a "signature" project in the country, such as a hospital.
Mr. Manley said the Prime Minister must also take a direct role in explaining Canada's role in Afghanistan to Canadians and lobbying his NATO allies for further support.
"We would encourage the Prime Minister to be talking to his NATO counterparts starting now," he said.