Thursday, October 18, 2007

Expectedly partisan

Two things from (via David Akin), and then one about, Unexpected War Canada In Kandahar:

Unexpected War: Kevin Lynch
"Kevin Lynch, a powerful Ottawa mandarin who enjoyed the respect of Paul Martin and the Prime Minister's Office, was a well-known opponent of the Defence Department. "Kevin hates defence, he hates foreign affairs," said [John] Manley. Lynch had worked for Manley when he was minister of industry and would work for him again when Manley would replace Martin as finance minister in 2002. Years earlier, when he was a senior Finance official working for the government of Brian Mulroney, Lynch had successfully urged draconian cuts to the defence budget. And, in the mid-1990s under the Liberals, Finance Minister Paul Martin had cut the budget of the Canadian Forces by nearly a third to help eliminate the deficit. Now that there were urgent priorities in the aftermath of 9-11, priorities directly related to Canada's economy, Lynch and Martin were not about to put scarce dollars into the black hole of defence."

-Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang, The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar, Toronto: Viking Canada, 2007. P. 7
Unexpected war: Canada's generals
"... Canada's generals and admirals tend to be more concerned about their relationships with their American counterparts than they are with their own political masters in Ottawa, a preoccupation that would play out over the next few years on a variety of issues"
"One example illustrates the point. Defence Minister John McCallum tried urgently to reach a senior admiral at NDHQ and was put on hold and told to call back later, as the admiral in question was on the line with the Pentagon."

-Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang, The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar, Toronto: Viking Canada, 2007. P. 14
The Unexpected War a predictable diatribe on Afghanistan
One day, a good book is going to be written about how Canada became enmeshed in the war in southern Afghanistan. Sadly, the new book The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar, by Liberal sympathizers Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang, isn’t it. It is difficult to know where to begin criticism of this apology for the Liberal governments which first committed Canada to Afghanistan...

...although The Unexpected War doesn’t put it this way, there was precious-little informed oversight taking place by the Liberals in Ottawa. McCallum had no idea what challenges Afghanistan presented and decided that he had to travel to Afghanistan to learn, but his generals were apparently opposed. Astoundingly, it was Sasha Trudeau, son of Prime Minister Pierre, who told him: “You’re the minister, tell them you are going,” which he then did.

That the generals are portrayed as a gang of bullies should come as no surprise given that Lang, one of its authors, was McCallumn’s chief of staff at the time. Bill Graham fared no better as the new defence minister in 2004 when defence officials “failed” to brief him on the recommended location for the Canadian Provincial Construction Team in Kandahar. And who was Graham’s chief of staff? Lang, who apparently had learned nothing from his two years with McCallum. Indeed, when there is any mention of McCallum’s chief of staff, he is referred to disingenuously in the third person.

It gets worse, the book describes McCallum’s first meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, who it says would become synonymous with “arrogance, intransigence, misguided policy and abject military failure.” Then it elaborates on Rumsfeld’s “astonishing ignorance of counterinsurgency and the strategies and tactics” they use. How about Liberal gang’s own astonishing ignorance?

Almost begrudging respect is paid to the intellect and skill of current Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier, who it says, single-handedly bamboozled the best minds in Ottawa into adopting Canada’s International Policy statement. That should come as no surprise, given that Lang was quoted in The Globe and Mail on Aug. 10, 2006, saying: “The problem is, there isn’t anyone who can take him (Hillier) on with a counterworld view. He blows them away.” The problem wasn’t Rick Hillier: the problem was with the Liberals who were supposed to exercise informed oversight over him...

One of the final insults comes after it quotes Lang’s former boss, Graham, who said in an author interview on January 30, 2007: “There is no doubt about it. We’ve watched this mission evolve
differently from when we got into it.” The book then says: “Most important, any government owes its citizens a clear, compelling, and honest explanation of why its soldiers are fighting and dying.” That’s true, but it is also gratuitous.

A good time to explain to Canadians why its soldiers were fighting and dying would have been during the summer of 2005 when Graham and Hillier agreed to tour Canada talking about “what the mission meant for Canada, why it was the right mission, what Canada would be doing for the people of Afghanistan and how the mission would be dangerous for the Canadian Forces.” On September 23, 2005, newspapers were awash in stories quoting Graham warning Canadians of the perils of Afghanistan and the dangers of Kandahar.

In the end, if I had to pick the most-upsetting part about reading this self-serving diatribe, it would be knowing that I paid $33.39 to do it.

Bob Bergen, Ph.D., is a Research Fellow with the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI) in Calgary. The opinions expressed in this document are those of the author and not necessarily those of CDFAI, its Board of Directors, Advisory Council, Fellows or Donors. Bergen’s column appears bi-weekly. Learn more about the CDFAI and its research on the Internet at
See also:


Update: Colby Cosh's contribution (most of the piece) to a National Post editorial--do read the whole thing:
Running from their own war


Anonymous Anonymous said...

the other interesting point in their book is that despite Chretien's bleatings that he kept Canada out of the Iraq war, if you count the number of Cdn service people actually involved in Naval, Air operations and Exchange programs, Canada was the 5th largest contributor of servicemen to the American Coalition.

Go figure, Jean Chretien bending facts to support his twisted version of history.

Like he said Canada was well on its way to meeting our Kyoto carbon reduction obligations when he left office.

For sure, Jean, for sure. No lies there.

1:57 p.m., October 18, 2007  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

fred: A letter sent Oct. 17 to the "Toronto Star" and so far not published:

"In her article Rosie DiManno discusses former prime minister Chretien's pride in keeping Canada out of the Iraq war. But M. Chretien did not keep us out, the UN Security Council did. M. Chretien made it clear several times before the invasion that Canada would agree to whatever the Security Council decided. The Council never authorized the war (in fact no vote was even taken) as a result of opposition from France, Russia and China. So in the end one might well say that the Canadian decision was in fact made for us by those three permanent, veto-wielding, Council members. I don't see any reason for the former prime minister to be proud of that.



3:44 p.m., October 18, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Then it elaborates on Rumsfeld’s “astonishing ignorance of counterinsurgency and the strategies and tactics” they use."

Interesting observation since McCallum is on the record as not knowing the difference between Vimy and Vichy. Nothing like Liberal arrogance.

4:53 p.m., October 19, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Not knowing the difference between Vimy & Vichy didn't kill anyone.

Not knowing Counter Insurgency tactics when that's what your soldiers are facing every day?

But yah whatever.... any chance one can get to put the words 'Liberal' 'Corrupt' 'arrogant' and 'entitlement' together is a chance one doesn't pass up on (no matter how irrelevant)

2:26 p.m., October 20, 2007  

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