Monday, July 30, 2007

CDFAI's Bob Bergen Says Opposition must Support Harper's Afghan Mission

Bob Bergen, who is a Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute in Calgary has published an op-ed piece across the MSM. Mr. Bergen states in the piece"the Liberals have a moral obligation to help Harper's government finish what the Liberals themselves helped start"

Now, does anyone else that's Liberal feel the same obligation Mr. Bergen suggests? I, for one, do not.

In reading Mr. Bergen's op-ed in The Review today, I couldn't help but think his message is one skewed to influence Canadians to support the Conservative agenda for a further extension of the Canadian mission past our current 2009 agreement.

While Mr. Bergen brings into play the Afghanistan Compact and extols the virtues of how well the agreement is being implemented, there are many groups around the world that argue that the premise of the agreement and its goals could never be met by 2010. In fact, on January 30, 2007, Sam Zarifi, Asia research director of Human Rights Watch, declared, "Afghanistan hasn't really met any of the benchmarks, particularly those addressing the well-being of Afghan people." Zarifi further contends more Afghani civilians were killed and/or displaced in 2006 then in 2005.

Earlier this month, The Senlis Group released another damning report.
Edward McCormick, the country director in Afghanistan for the Senlis Council, told CTV's Question Period that Canada needs to do more to ensure that projects are carried out in the region.McCormick, who lives in Kandahar, said despite what is being said in the House of Commons, he is seeing few CIDA development projects carried out in southern Afghanistan.

"There may be something going on in the north where areas are more secure, where it has been possible to have schools set up for girls, but it's not happening in the south."

"Instead when I walk into the villages and refugee camps, which I do daily, I'm seeing children dying of starvation."

Mr. Bergen further asserts that the Harper government sought and received a Parliamentary mandate to extend the Afghan mission in 2006. Quite the contrary. Stephen Harper threatened an election if the mission wasn't extended. Only a half hour of debate was allowed, and during that time, most Conservative members were not in the House. Opposition MPs were not privy to the nature of Canada's new mission. Seeing that Canadians didn't want another election, Harper's blackmail ploy was successful.

As for Paul Martin sending troops over to Afghanistan along side the Americans in October 2001? It was Jean Chretien that was Prime Minister at the time, not Paul Martin. The world was reeling from the tragedy of 9/11, and Canada was to only play a supporting role in Afghanistan and one of rebuilding. (I would expect a Ph.D. employed as a Research Fellow would research who the PM was)

We continue to lose or young men an women serving in the Afghan theatre - more in the past 12 months than all the other years combined. We will lose more if this mission isn't changed or ended. Are we willing to make that sacrifice as Canadians?

I agree with Mr. Bergen - more debate is needed. It's needed because it wasn't debated in the first place. So, yes, the Parliamentary Committee on National Defence has recommended said debate. I look forward to that debate in 2008. As Mr. Bergen states, the NDP and Liberals are already against an extension. I would hazard a guess that if the Vandoos of Quebec begin to lose fine young men and women, the Bloc will have no choice but to support the rest of the opposition. Quebecers already detest the mission at a 75% opposition rate.

Should we continue to support the mission in Afghanistan financially? Yes. Should we continue to send our troops in harm's way as part of an attack force? No. We, as Canadians, can still implement our objectives without the involvement of our military and the risk of losing more of our young people.

1 comment:

jo said...

Surely, to protect the Canadian troops fighting the insurgents, it is development spending and financial support for economic diversification that has to be increased. The Senlis Council ( points out that the Taliban are simultaneously intimidating the population and setting themselves up as the group that address the Afghan people's legitimate grievances - among which are the increase in civilian deaths from bombing raids led by international forces with too few troops on the ground. Canada can lead other key nations such as Britain and the US by supporting their soldiers with effective, multiple and properly funded alternative development programs.