Sunday, March 29, 2009

Prime Minister Harper on Afstan

Video of interview on CTV's Question Period, March 29 (recorded March 28). The PM says that President Obama's announced strategy...
...I think mirrors the Canadian government's position, frankly mirrors the great work done by John Manley and his counterparts [sic], I think it mirrors it just about as closely as it possibly could and we were a couple of years ahead of the curve.
What self-serving tripe. Moreover, since the Manley report was issued just some fourteen months ago, and since the House of Commons' resolution extending our mission until 2011 only passed just over one year ago, we certainly have not been "a couple of years ahead of the curve."

As for 2011, the prime minister was very clear indeed:
...we are planning for the end of the military mission at the end of 2011.
So far as I can see from everything he's been saying there is no inclination to change that planning.

Update: Further misleading political spin from Mr Harper. In response to a question about the effect the American troop increase (one doesn't say "surge" in polite company) will have on Canadian operations at Kandahar, he responded:
...this is very good news. One of the conditions of the extension of our mission in Kandahar was getting a military partner in Kandahar province. Obviously the Americans are that partner and the Americans, quite frankly, are bringing in far more troops than we had initially believed we needed, or hoped for.
What a load of codswallop. The prime minister is implying that only now are we finally receiving a military "partner" at Kandahar. Somehow he's overlooked the US Army battalion that has been an operational part of the CF's Task Force Kandahar since last August. That unit was the "partner" the Manley panel said was needed.

That a US Army brigade combat team, plus a US Army aviation combat brigade, are to be deployed in addition, largely to the Kandahar region, in fact demonstrates how seriously the Manley panel underestimated the need for additional forces.

Pity the interviewer, Craig Oliver, didn't know enough to bring to the prime minister's attention that the "partner" had already been provided, and that the new troops are something quite different. Typical of our media. Moreover, I can't remember any example of a government minister stating that the 2-2 Ramrods (more here) are that partner. MND MacKay provided an egregious example last November.

Upperdate: From the transcript of the prime minister on Fox News Sunday, March 29:
Prime Minister, does that mean that we're going to have to learn to live with Al Qaeda and the Taliban in that part of the world?

HARPER: No, I wouldn't — I wouldn't put it that way. I think what Secretary Gates said is correct, that first of all, we absolutely have to see the elimination of any kind of threat to the wider world, to North America.

Obviously, the Al Qaeda insurgency and the Al Qaeda element of this has to be — has to be eliminated. I think we agree with that...
Funny, I don't recall Mr Harper ever telling a Canadian audience that al Qaeda must be "eliminated", or that "elimination of any kind of threat" is a goal of his government's policy. In fact, this is what he said in an interview with Canwest News the same day:
...You may notice the (Obama) administration is much more clear on eliminating al-Qaida than eliminating the Taliban...
Rather a different emphasis, wouldn't you say? And nothing about his government's interest in "eliminating" al Qaeda. Different strokes for different folks. Hmmm.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

. . and then he went on to say that we can still expect casualties post 2011 because as part of our continuing efforts to train the ANA, our troops will have to go with them when the ANA goes into battle.

The original promise was "and end to the mission as we know it in 2011".

Any decent politician could drive something as big as a political panzer corps through that loophole and not scrape either side of the range of open options.

Training, Air Wing, Medical, Logistics, Comms, Defense for Aid Agencies on the ground . . . .

Don't know, just guessing. It will depend on who has a majority and if Obama is still the messiah in 24 months.

5:11 p.m., March 29, 2009  
Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

On a topic not entirely unrelated to Af-stan, here's an excerpt from an article at the Brussels Journal:

"...This is a contribution of a reader who must remain anonymous. (This, in itself, tells much about a lot.) The following conversation on a frequency reserved for (commercial aircraft?) emergencies was overheard on a Europe-Dubai flight.

Iranian Air Defense: "Unknown Aircraft, you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself."
Aircraft: "This is a Unites States aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace."
Iranian Air Defense: "You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft."
Aircraft: "This is a US Marine Corps FA-18 fighter. Send ’em up. I’ll wait."
Iranian Air Defense: … (Total silence follows.)"

The writer hopes that, to stay, the patient pilot flew a circle before continuing his mission."

(For you ground types, nice, easy, slow circling maximizes loiter time. Also, maximizes the time for the Iranians to wind up their remaining decrepit F-4s and F-14s to come up and teach that USMC fighter jock infidel a lesson. :-)

How is this incident -or perhaps more an illustrative vignette- with Iran related to Af-stan? Strictly speaking, while pleasant and satisfying, it doesn't. However, google "Iranian involvement with Al Qaeda", Iranian involvement with the Taliban". You'll get some results to both that are interesting and educational reading.

12:55 p.m., March 30, 2009  
Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

Wups! My bad! Here's that Brussels Journal link.

1:12 p.m., March 30, 2009  

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