Stephane Dion has been very clear since February, that Canada should inform NATO, the US and of course Afghanistan, that come 2009, Canada will be willing to stay in Afghanistan, but not on the front lines. Our mission will change then. He has called on Harper to make this clear, but of course Harper says nothing, except that we won't extend, unless there is consensus. There is of course no consensus, so I have no idea what that means.
I think I do now know why he is being so evasive. You see, we of course are not the only country voicing our concerns.
WASHINGTON - The United States is worried about weakening Italian and German military commitments in Afghanistan as casualties increase in the fight to stem the bloody Taleban insurgency, officials said.
Debate is raging in Italy and Germany, and to a lesser extent the Netherlands and Denmark, on whether they should remain in the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF), already grappling with a shortage of troops in the face of one of the most intense military engagements in decades.
How can Harper let his buddy George down, knowing that many other countries are considering the same options? What this should tell us, is that many allies are seeing the futility of this war. However, as noted in the previous post, the considerations of the US seem to take precedent over Canadian interests.
What is interesting now though, is that Harper has political considerations at home to be concerned with. The war is not popular and it's bound to get worse. Activity by insurgent groups is growing, poppy crops/sales are up, civilians are being killed at a higher rate, including by troops, (specifically the US), and another "friendly fire" incident has taken place...it's pretty tough to argue that things are getting better.
So, will Harper choose his relationship with the US, or his desire for a majority? My guess is, they are working out a way to do both. I'm sure that Maxime Bernier and Peter MacKay are being given their "sell lines" as I type. They've been MIA, and while I have no doubt that Bernier is on a steep learning curve, MacKay is pretty familiar with the file and has been quiet as a mouse.
Other key countries like Canada and Britain remain committed despite their own losses. On Friday three British soldiers were killed while fighting Taleban forces near Kajaki Dam in Helmand Province after being hit by a bomb dropped by a US fighter jet.
Why no mention of the debate going on here? Every opposition party has been riding Harper on this issue for months, yet it's reported we're still solidly committed. Why do you suppose that is? Bush mentioned that he had a better understanding of where Canada stands vis a vis, Afghanistan, when he was here for the SPP. It's rather interesting that a report from the US, post SPP, doesn't seem to think so. Certainly the ones writing the story were not alerted to any concerns here. That tells me that Harper told Bush what his political problem was and they have come to an agreement. What that might be, I have no idea yet, but I suspect we'll start to get an inkling soon. Whatever it is, it can't be good.
You know, the oddest thing about this whole mission is the fact that the US continues to crow about it's importance and the need for resolve, yet they were the first to give up their commitment to it. NATO entered in good faith, but it's being played, imo. That we are supporting the US, while they flout most International Agreements, is quite something.