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October 08, 2007

Nothing like an open mind

I didn't agree with obstructing Liberal defense critic Denis Coderre from visiting Afghanistan (if he even was obstructed, which is not clear), but he certainly can't claim to be doing any fact-finding. He's got his fingers stuck deep in his ears:

Liberal Defence critic Denis Coderre arrived in Afghanistan on Monday to hear from Canadian troops on Canada's role in the conflict.

But Mr. Coderre said that no matter what he hears in the coming days, it won't change his party's position calling for an end to Canada's combat mission when the current mandate expires in February 2009.

“No, in the sense that, about the combat mission we are pretty clear about the notion of rotation,” Mr. Coderre told reporters after his arrival at Kandahar Airfield.

“We feel that rotation is in order and that we should put an end to the combat mission.”

I doubt Maxime Bernier learned much he didn't know already on his trip, but at least he brought some Joe Louis artery cloggers for the troops. That's class.

October 05, 2007

Why we're in Afghanistan

It's good to have a reminder every now and then. Afghanistan's Education Minister Mohammed Atmar was in Toronto yesterday:

"You protect our people and advance the basic rights of our people," he said. "Our government is so proud to convey to you that you are our greatest ally -- an ally that we depend upon, an ally to be appreciated, an ally that we will long be grateful to."

Atmar's words of praise came on the same day Canada pledged $60 million over four years to education in Afghanistan.

Atmar paid particular tribute to "the brave Canadian men and women in uniform who are literally protecting my kids as they go to school."

What Canada has done in Afghanistan is "something that will be written in golden script in our history books," he said.

The head of UNICEF Canada was also there and clearly agreed:
"Canadians need to know this and not give up on Afghanistan," said Nigel Fisher, president of UNICEF Canada.

"If you look at a map of Afghanistan, it is important to see that the area of Taliban activity is only one third of the country. Most Canadians don't know that in two thirds of the country, there is considerable progress and the Taliban is not a problem."

"Our presence in Afghanistan has to be long-term," Fisher added, "because development is a long-term issue. And when you look at the chaos that Afghanistan came out of in 2002 - 25 years of predatory leadership, of foreign invasion and civil war - you don't turn that around in a couple of years."

But what do these neocons know? Maybe we should listen to Jack Layton, because he has a plan that sounds absolutely foolproof:
I do know that it’s the wrong mission for Canada. It’s not, in our view – and I believe in many Canadians’ view – the way to ultimately achieve peace. Human rights and democracy in Afghanistan? What you see there right now is about as far from peace, human rights, and democracy as you can find. We should be withdrawing [from southern Afghanistan], and trying to use our diplomatic abilities and influences to try to engineer a process of comprehensive peace in that whole region.
I've searched and searched the NDP's website looking for the magic words that our diplomats could yell from the sidelines to bring the country peace, human rights, and democracy after our forces have left, but haven't been able to find them.

September 13, 2007

Not everyone in Quebec wants to abandon Afghanistan

Last weekend, local businessman Andre Dupont took out a full page ad in Le Droit, the largest French language paper in the Gatineau-Hull-Ottawa region.

An English translation:

Be proud of our Canadian military

Nobody is in favour of War

No one is in favour of war for the sake of war.

But when our country mobilizes to defend people’s freedom, democracy and peace, we have the duty to support our soldiers, to acknowledge their courage and to honour them.

We should be proud of these men and women who put their lives on the line every day in the name of defending our institutions and our freedom.

Our prayers go out to our soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world, and there is a special place in our heart for those who fall on the battlefield and give their lives carrying out their mission. To their families, their wives and their husbands and their children we offer our most profound sympathies.

Would that their sacrifice serve as an example to all of us, and their example inspire the next generation.

Andre Dupont

You really have to respect someone willing to spend his own money and risk losing customers to state something he believes in and feels needs more support.

Feel free to use the image and translation on your own blog to help spread Andre's message.

Now, back to work...

September 07, 2007

'Bin Laden' speaks

And the Ottawa Citizen -- first, as far as I can tell -- has the full transcript.

What a bunch of nonsense it is. A couple of years ago, bin Laden was getting his material from Michael Moore. Now it seems composed of a mish-mash of Chavez speeches, NDP pamphlets, Noam Chomsky, and some guy muttering to himself in a bus station somewhere. He's getting more sophisticated in his lunacy.

It seems to me that bin Laden -- if this is bin Laden, and I'm still kind of doubtful of that -- is appealing in a ham-fisted way to those in the West he considers his allies. I'll generously assume that they aren't really his allies, but by their actions, sometimes it isn't easy to tell. They fooled him, anyways. Perhaps for this reason, most of the news stories' I've seen on this new tape (ie. BBC's 'extracts' from the transcript) are overlooking these blatant and desperate attempts at finding common ground with the modern left. Here's a few of the choicer passages that probably won't find their way into the pages of the Globe or the Star tomorrow:

In the Vietnam War, the leaders of the White House claimed at the time that it was a necessary and crucial war, and during it, Rumsfeld and his aides murdered two million villagers. And when Kennedy took over the presidency and deviated from the general line of policy drawn up for the White House and wanted to stop this unjust war, that angered the owners of the major corporations who were benefiting from its continuation.

And so Kennedy was killed, and Al-Qaeda wasn't present at that time, but rather, those corporations were the primary beneficiary from his killing. And the war continued after that for approximately one decade.

[...]

This war [Iraq] was entirely unnecessary, as testified to by your own reports. And among the most capable of those from your own side who speak to you on this topic and on the manufacturing of public opinion is Noam Chomsky, who spoke sober words of advice prior to the war, but the leader of Texas doesn't like those who give advice. The entire world came out in unprecedented demonstrations to warn against waging the war and describe its true nature in eloquent terms like "no to spilling red blood for black oil," yet he paid them no heed. It is time for humankind to know that talk of the rights of man and freedom are lies produced by the White House and its allies in Europe to deceive humans, take control of their destinies and subjugate them.

So in answer to the question about the causes of the Democrats' failure to stop the war, I say: they are the same reasons which led to the failure of former president Kennedy to stop the Vietnam war.

Those with real power and influence are those with the most capital. And since the democratic system permits major corporations to back candidates, be they presidential or congressional, there shouldn't be any cause for astonishment - and there isn't any - in the Democrats' failure to stop the war. And you're the ones who have the saying which goes, "Money talks." And I tell you: after the failure of your representatives in the Democratic Party to implement your desire to stop the war, you can still carry anti-war placards and spread out in the streets of major cities, then go back to your homes, but that will be of no use and will lead to the prolonging of the war.

[...]

In fact, the life of all of mankind is in danger because of the global warming resulting to a large degree from the emissions of the factories of the major corporations, yet despite that, the representative of these corporations in the White House insists on not observing the Kyoto accord, with the knowledge that the statistic speaks of the death and displacement of the millions of human beings because of that, especially in Africa.

[...]

And Iraq and Afghanistan and their tragedies; and the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes; and the abject poverty and tragic hunger in Africa: all of this is but one side of the grim face of this global system.

So it is imperative that you free yourselves from all of that and search for an alternative, upright methodology in which it is not the business of any class of humanity to lay down its own laws to its own advantage at the expense of the other classes as is the case with you, since the essence of man-made positive laws is that they serve the interests of those with the capital and thus make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Oh, and he hasn't completely forgotten the more conservative Westerners. Apparently taxes will be much lower when we finally get around to submitting to Allah:
There are no taxes in Islam, but rather there is a limited Zakaat (alms) totaling only 2.5 percent. So beware of the deception of those with the capital.
But can you really believe these kinds of campaign promises? Does he have the numbers to back it up?

July 05, 2007

The Taliban's local allies

I really don't feel like writing a long diatribe against Jack Layton's and Stephane Dion's eagerness to use the deaths of our soldiers for their political ends. So I'll make it a short one instead.

Dividing us and sowing doubt is what the Taliban are trying to do, and it's clear the opposition are willing to do their part to help in this task. They really don't seem to understand that every time they open their mouths and demand Canada leave Afghanistan to those butchers, they encourage them and put our troops in more danger. It is impossible to completely prevent the types of cowardly attacks the Taliban have been successful with, but it is not impossible to convince them that it will not affect our resolve and that they are fighting in a losing cause. Dion and Layton instead offer them hope.

Jonathan Kay has some more.

April 18, 2007

The Liberal's definition of 'taking a stand'

Perhaps buoyed by a rogue poll, the Liberals are threatening to introduce a bill that could spark an election:

The federal Liberals today announced that they're putting forward a motion demanding the withdrawal of Canada's 2,500 troops from Kandahar by February, 2009.

The motion will be debated tomorrow and voted on next Tuesday. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has staked much of his own political fortunes on the mission, could declare it a confidence motion - meaning a possible election if the NDP and Bloc Quebecois join together to support the Liberals.

"We want to send a clear message that by February, 2009, we will pull out our Canadian Forces," said Liberal MP Denis Coderre (Bourassa), who is proposing the motion.

"It is a very important issue for Canada . . . the time has come to take a stand," Coderre told reporters after a Liberal caucus meeting this morning.

How do you 'take a stand' when you're promising to run away?

It's clear Harper will make this a confidence motion -- you can't let the opposition parties dictate foreign policy. The Liberals are short a few marbles if they think this is a good issue take the government down. War is never popular, but I think they underestimate the support Canadian's have for the mission in Afghanistan. Besides, the Liberals aren't even coming out against the war. (It would be a little hard to, since there's was the party that sent the troops there in there first place.) They're just taking the position that Canada has 'done it's share'. Pathetic.

Liberal thinking may be that this is a good issue to run on, because (according to conventional wisdom) Quebecers are very anti-war. Therefore, the Liberals can hope to do well in Quebec and take advantage to the declining fortunes of the Bloc. Then, if they can hold on to what they have in Ontario, they might be able to win a minority. It's an interesting thought, but I think the Liberal support some of these polls are showing is pretty soft. The party seems disorganized and erratic (to which bringing the government down will do little to change). Competence and stability are something Canadians want right now -- there's been enough pointless bickering. The Liberals could be sailing into Kim Campbell country.

And they deserve it. Taking advantage of a tragic week for the Canadian Forces to force yet another election on the Canadian people, and giving hope to our enemies, these are the actions of a party that should be kept far away from the levers of power.

January 25, 2007

Dion's Shallow 'Support'

Stephane Dion seems to be making use of the technique his predecessor used to such great effect when he was Prime Minister. Take no position on anything, but talk instead about how important it is to talk:

"We are in Afghanistan to help the population live more securely and to give it, over the coming years, a functional government.

"That is why we are there. To do that we have to know if the mission is working well. What is really happening? We want hearings from the Foreign Affairs committee to know how we can improve this mission.

"We support the troops but we can't support the troops efficiently if we don't know exactly what is happening."

Can't you? I don't know everything that's going on in Afghanistan, and I haven't been invited for any 'fact-finding' tours, but I trust that the men on the ground and their leaders are doing the best they can given the situation. Maybe I'm naive, but I'd rather trust them than a committee of MPs eager to score points. The time for talking has passed, there was a vote on the House of Commons and now is the time for getting on with the job, not second-guessing every decision.

Dion wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants the power to influence and make noise about Afghanistan, but is unwilling to take responsibility for it. Good politics, maybe, but bad for those doing the difficult work on the ground. One only needs to look at the current circus in the US Congress to see what damage having a 'Foreign Affairs committee' digging for dirt would do:

If they were serious and had the courage of their convictions, they'd attempt to cut off funds for the Iraq effort. But that would mean they would have to take responsibility for what happens next. By passing "non-binding resolutions," they can assail Mr. Bush and put all of the burden of success or failure on his shoulders.

This is not to say that the resolution won't have harmful consequences, at home and abroad. At home, it further undermines public support for the Iraq effort. Virginia Republican John Warner even cites a lack of public support to justify his separate non-binding resolution of criticism for Mr. Bush's troop "surge." But public pessimism is in part a response to the rhetoric of failure from political leaders like Mr. Warner. The same Senators then wrap their own retreat in the defeatism they helped to promote.

In Iraq, all of this undermines the morale of the military and makes their task that much harder on the ground. When John McCain asked Lieutenant General David Petraeus that precise question during his confirmation hearing Tuesday, the next commander of Coalition operations in Iraq said, "It would not be a beneficial effect, sir."

And when Joe Lieberman asked if such a resolution would give the enemy cause to believe that Americans were divided, he added, "That's correct, sir." Several Senators protested and demanded that the general stay out of domestic politics, but his only offense was telling the truth. Of course the enemy would take comfort from any Senate declaration that Mr. Bush lacks domestic support.

All of this also applies to the many Congressional efforts to set "benchmarks" or otherwise micromanage the battlefield. Hillary Rodham Clinton says she is "cursed with the responsibility gene" that makes her unwilling to cut off funds, but instead she proposes to set a cap on U.S. troops in the theater. So while General Petraeus says he needs more troops to fulfill his mission, General Clinton says he doesn't. Which battlefield commander do you trust?

House Republicans are little better. They blame Mr. Bush and Iraq for their loss of Congress, rather than their own ethics, earmarks and other failures. So looking ahead to 2008 they now want to distance themselves from the war they voted for, albeit also without actually having to vote against it. Thus their political brainstorm is to demand monthly "benchmarks for success" that the Bush Administration and Iraqis will have to meet.

So every 30 days, General Petraeus and his men will have to take their attention away from the Baghdad campaign and instead report to Congress on how well Iraqis and Americans are communicating with one another, among other crucial matters. Minority Leader John Boehner is even asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi to create another special Congressional committee to look over the general's shoulder. It's a shame Ulysses S. Grant isn't around to tell them where to put their special committee.

Let's not let it happen in Canada.