Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Those Who Agree With Dion, Come On Down

Well, after months of moaning and mewling and criticising, Mr. Harper seems to leaning toward adopting Stephane Dion's position on Afghanistan.
Mr. Harper said his government will seriously consider the Liberal proposals, which include an end to combat operations in 2009 and full troop withdrawal from Kandahar in February 2011.
Mr. Harper said the Liberal commitment to a continued military presence in the country post-2009 is “really very close to the government's position” and he raised the possibility the Conservatives would introduce a new motion on the matter.
I'm always a bit leery when Harper is consiliatory but I do hope there is concensus.
It's going to be interesting to see how Harper's supporters and MP's are going to spin this flip.
Update: France won't announce until Bucharest meeting.


Jay said...

Great leadership on the part of Dion.

If it weren't for him this mission would be staying in the CRAPper.

Dame said...

Well this is to sustain the present position /unchanged/until the Forces from outside events WILL SET the stages ..

Until then We are there clearly just for bleeding unnecesserily foolishly.
If McCain will come up on the Top everything will be different and If Harper is still the PM he will flip-flop without the slightest regret...

he is manipulating all of us.
Now i am getting really depressed and Cynical.


The Mound of Sound said...

Harper and Dion are playing politics with the lives of our forces in Afghanistan. This isn't a military compromise but a political way out for two parties that don't want to have to face the electorate on this issue.
Without a firm committment to do everything necessary to facilitate our departure in 2011 from NATO and the Pentagon, we'll just face the same quandry in 2010 that besets us today.
What good will come from staying two more years? Will it help resolve the threatening problems in Pakistan? No. Will it be enough to get the Taliban to fold their insurgency? No. Will it cause the Kabul government to purge itself of corruption or will it take down the warlords whose power grab ensures the continuation of fundamentalist feudalism in the countryside? No. Will it free Afghanistan of its growing dependence on a narco-economy? No. Will it keep Canadians safe from terrorist attacks at home? Oh sure, naturally.
What do we need to achieve to make another two year extension worth the lives of the Canadian soldiers it will claim? Surely we have to have some price for our sacrifice.
As for an end to combat operations in 2009, that's a facile claim at best. If we stay in Kandahar we fight. If we don't fight, we'll have to run.
I disagree with Jay on this one. This wasn't great leadership on Dion's part, it was, at best, mediocre politics trumping reality and principle and the fact that Harpo and Dion may be on the same side on this issue ought to be worrisome.

ottlib said...

I am torn knb.

Do I give Mr. Harper the benefit of the doubt and actually believe he is doing something for the good of the troops and Canada?

Or do I believe his internal polling has shown that he is on the wrong side of public opinion on this so he is backing away from an election triggered on this issue?

Past experience tells me that the second belief is probably the correct one.


A agree with you to a point. However, if the Canadian government could work together with the US, Dutch and British governments to to apply pressure on the other NATO allies they might be able to make an arrangement with the extra time.

Of course if the do not then what you say is absolutely true. More Canadians will die and their deaths will do nothing to prevent the probably collapse of the entire NATO mission early in the next decade.

The Mound of Sound said...

Ottlib I'd agree if it was possible but I don't think that's going to happen. The rest of NATO is steadily losing their appetite to play in the Afghan sandbox. With what we've got to show for the better part of seven years of fighting in that country, it's hard to blame them. When America has four soldiers in Iraq for every soldier they field in Afghanistan it's difficult to believe that Washington shouldn't be held accountable to do an awful lot more in Afghanistan and stop blaming NATO for its own war of whim.

Karen said...

MoS, I agree to an extent. Certainly the complexities of the mission are not being addressed in any depth, though I'm not sure they can be to be honest. Some of what you mentioned will be left for Afghanistan to resolve.

Because the motion is calling for some unity on policy within NATO, ie, transfer of detainees, narco-economy solutions etc., and more transparency here at home, with regular reporting and a committee, my hope is some of what we know is going on and must be dealt with will come to the fore.

While of course there are political angles to this, overall I think there was an effort made to get us out in a way that won't create chaos, in Afghanistan or NATO.

Will it all be solved when we're gone? Of course not, but surely there is more going on behind the scenes vis a vis Paskistan which looks like it's imploding, or bringing some Pashtun into the Afghan government. It won't make Karzai's life any easier but it's the only way to gain perhaps some stability there.

Without a firm committment to do everything necessary to facilitate our departure in 2011 from NATO and the Pentagon

Could you expand on that please? How would you define that?

In developing a motion such as this, in order to determine how to go forward it seems to me that you have to look at what has been failing thus far. My presumption would be that in order to dialogue with NATO, those issues would have to be laid out perhaps forcing a more united way forward in a different direction. The US may not be on side, but if the rest are, we may have a way to push Afghanistan to do more.

Karen said...

Marta, I hear you, but look for the light, ;). McCain? Not a hope. I know there is a chance of course, but I think that country is destined at this point to go Dem.

Now they too see merit in Afghanistan, but I think a Dem administration would look for ways to end it's involvement.

Harper back in? Tsk, tsk.

Karen said...

ottlib, I confess that I share your cynicism.

You have to admit that it's pretty remarkable just how far he's shifted.

Maybe it's a bit of both? Maybe internal polling has helped him realise that there is more to the mission than looking macho during QP?

Okay maybe not, ;).

Anonymous said...

The only one that really did a flip here is Mr. Dion.

1) Mr.Dion has always said that that Canada should not be having a combat roll after Feb 2009.

This resolution doesn't say this.

Here is what Mr.Dion said the globe and mail link.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said Canada's involvement in Afghanistan after 2009 should be viewed as a new mission with a new focus on training and reconstruction. He said it would be up to the military to decide what level of security is needed – an obvious attempt at compromise on the controversial combat question.

“We will not micro-manage the military. It is for them to determine how to implement this new mission,” Mr. Dion said.

What do you think our military will do? Start playing paint ball? How do you think the military will determines this? "Combat" just like all military would do if you let them the choice.

The combat mission will still go on. The difference is there will be more reconstruction and training. In which we were already doing.

Mr. Harper in his throne speech that he would like to extend it until 2011.

2) There is no deal here yet.

I really find it amazing how Dion's supporters try to spin it.

Without the Manley report this compromise would have never happened from the liberals.

Does anyone actually believe that Mr.Harper would would accept something that he really doesn't believe when it comes to Afghanistan? (To my critics this is a rhetorical question.)

Anonymous said...

Here is what a member of our Canadian forces said:

As one member of the Canadian Forces said, Mr. Dion's previous position was "as naive as it was impractical."

Here is the link to this.

Only liberal Mr.Dion's supporters would spin otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Here is what a member of our Canadian forces said:

As one member of the Canadian Forces said, Mr. Dion's previous position was "as naive as it was impractical."

Here is the link to this.

Only liberal Mr.Dion's supporters would spin otherwise.

Anonymous said...

From the start, Harper said he wanted this to be a Parliamentary decision, as devoid of politics as possible. The only ones playing politics with this are the Liberals. Harper appointed an independant group to advise (the Manley group) and agreed to accept their recomendations. It is and has always been the Liberals bouncing all over the map on this. Finally, they have come to the realization they actually have to have a position. They chose one so very close to the Conservative position that it is almost identical - if you want to believe that Harper moved to Dion, that is fine. All I (and Conservatives) care about is that Parliament votes to keep our troops in Kandahar, helping the Afghan people and aiding in the rebuilding of their country until the end of 2011. That is what we have been doing for the last few years, what Harper has wanted to do and now, with Dion on side, what Canada will do until the end of 2011. I am so glad Harper moved to Dion's position!

Karen said...

Does anyone actually believe that Mr.Harper would would accept something that he really doesn't believe when it comes to Afghanistan?

Rhetorical? I actually did laugh out loud at that comment.

Well, you gave me what I expected from the right. You're wrong though. Dion has held this position for a year, he just fleshed it out more today. That is to say, he stated his position long before the faux report by Manley and other predictable hawks came out with their report.

While it was contrary and all the same exactly what Harper wanted, the Con's didn't even try to ammend the report.

Harper's position has been shifting with the tide of approval and if you, the most ardent of Harper supporters do not see that, you are not only blind but you are deaf to reality.

You know, the kool-aid expression is cute, but it's also real. When you look at who ingested it in real terms, you have to have compassion. To be duped on that level is either a show of incredible naivete, or an example of one individual who can rally the naive to his/her cause, so as to render themselves incapable to a contrary let alone, unique, thought.

I knew the spin would come, but you do yourself no favours here. You expose the depravity of your party. You will sink as low as is necessary to defend what you do not beleive.

It's an amazing feat really, but not one to be proud of.

Oh, I just caught your later comments. Not an opinion, formed and reasoned, just another nod that this must be so because the Post tells me it is.

I've tried to put out some of what is really entailed in this mission. Comments don't seem to come on those posts except from those who really get it.

This partisan junk fails to see what is really going on and what is really at stake.

This comment I'm responding to is the reason we should not fight an election on Afghanistan. They have no real understanding of the state of affairs in that region, nor will they ever.

Come back when you want to discuss the reality of what we face. Your fantasy world is not one that many of us subsribe to.

Anonymous said...

Its to bad that you can't see reality when its starring right in your face.Because your are so blinded with your liberal bias. So to this I say adios amigos and don't stop drinking that Liberal kool-aid that you love so much. Don't expect me to answer you on your next criticism,because I will not be around for a while.

wilson said...

The reviews are in:

Canada dodges election bullet as Dion backs down
'...The Liberal leader emerges from all this diminished, since it was his own misjudgment that took the country to the cusp of what would have been a very ugly and undignified political brawl. But he remains at the helm of a united party -- and one that now has a more coherent position on the mission in Afghanistan.

His change of heart has all the appearances of a conversion made under duress, as such senior members of caucus as Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Keith Martin browbeat him into a more conciliatory stance. But it still required the Liberal leader to recognize that his efforts to mask his own weakness by appearing tough were likely to have the unintended consequence of sending the country to the polls on an issue that threatened to degenerate into poisonous partisanship...'


burlivespipe said...

Oh Revelation! Wilson quotes from the National Post to prove that the world is flat, Harper's a gen-e-yous and Dion isn't a leader!
Miracles never cease.
Perhaps he'll next indulge us in the intermittent twisting marvels of Harper, He-Man of His Own Domain...
If he's now partnering up and taking advice from Dion, does that means he loves the Taliban now too?

Anonymous said...

Actually, I don't quite agree with either of the interpretations that Dion has caved or Harper has caved. They started with the following positions:

Harper: combat mission to continue and be reviewed in 2011. Against any fixed end date - should stay until job is finished. Was criticized for not emphasizing non-combat roles and for proposing open-ended mission.

Dion: combat mission to end in 2009 and change to non-combat training-development mission after that. Was criticized for being naive in thinking one could develop without combat.

Harper put forward a motion which was essentially the same as his position above.

Dion motion: security-training-development mission until 2011 with withdrawal in 2011. While "combat" role is not completely clear, and left to military, it seems the focus is on security and likely to exclude "search and destroy" missions, which only Canada, UK, USA, along with small numbers from some small countries, have participated in. Netherlands does not use these.

Looking over all this, IF there is agreement between Harper and Dion now, I would say Harper has shifted by agreeing to a fixed end date. As to the emphasis on combat-training-development, I actually find it difficult to believe Harper would go along with this more Dutch-style security (as opposed to US-style counterinsurgency). On the other hand, I see it is being reported in the Danish news that NATO is willing to shift more towards maintaining security and away from aggressive combat. [There it is reported as the "Danish" model.] Perhaps the entire NATO mission will move more to the Dutch-Danish-Dion model, although I suspect the US will continue to do whatever it wants to do.

Gayle said...

I would suggest that both leaders have compromised their positions, which is, after all, what compromise is all about.

Any discussion about who blinked first is counter productive and completely irrelevant to this issue, which always should have been a non-partisan one.

I am in the camp who believes that any election fought over Afghanistan could lead to an increase in casualties as the Taliban will step up attacks to sway public opinion. I applaud both leaders for being willing to compromise to minimize the liklihood the war will be a major issue in the coming election.

Now my partisan hat: I suspect conservatives supporters are a little confused right now. They have spent 2 years claiming victory after victory, and accusing Dion of flip-flopping at every turn. Now their illustrious leader is NOT claiming either. It must be difficult to process, which is why we find the hollow claims of victory being posted here from their camp.

At least the liberal supporters posting here are prepared to comment on the actual agreement, rather than concentrating on who "won".

The Mound of Sound said...


"Without a firm committment to do everything necessary to facilitate our departure in 2011 from NATO and the Pentagon, we'll just face the same quandry in 2010 that besets us today."

What I meant by that is a firm committment by NATO that we're out in 2011 supported by an American guarantee to replace our forces with theirs in the event NATO can't get another member nation to step in. That guarantee would have to become operative in 2010 in order to ensure the replacement force was in place by 2011.

Without that promise, don't count on NATO or the US to let us leave.

Karen said...

Hmmm, interesting MoS. Both pieces are complex aren't they?

Both entities, NATO and the US trying to shore up their credibility require a reason, a mission if you like.

The NATO question is very complex and the US one depends on what Party gets in. Both will suggest that Afghanistan is a righteous mission, one will suggest it's more righteous than Iraq.

There were noises out of NATO today as well as Australia and the US. Ashdown too chimed in. The threat that the Manley Panel threw out seems to be gaining traction.

That tell's me there is no direction within the group of players. Ashdown seems to agree overall with Dion's proposal, though he's not mentioned. He speaks to areas of importance not being addressed.

I'm sorry I just don't have the time to link to those references at the moment. Tomorrow maybe because I think there is an interesting dialogue starting.

7 years later...it's about bloody time.