Sunday, April 11, 2010

Afstan and the government: Politically craven and immorally audacious

These people really do wrench one's guts. So the RCMP and municipal cops can take the risks involved in training Afghans post-2011 but not the Candian Forces:

MacKay says Canada will continue training Afghan police post-2011

SPERWAN GHAR, Afghanistan — Canada will continue to train the Afghan police force after the military mission in the war-torn country officially ends next year, says the federal defence minister.

Peter MacKay said Saturday that despite U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s urging that Canada keep soldiers in Afghanistan past 2011, the military mission will end.

“We will work within the parameters of the parliamentary motion, which states very clearly that the military mission will come to an end in 2011,” MacKay said from Kandahar while visiting Afghanistan with Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose.

“We will then transition into some of the other important work that we’re doing. That includes a focus on police training. The prime minister has been clear in saying our commitment to Afghanistan is for the long-term.”..

...on Saturday [April 10] he was clear that the training would not be part of a continuing military operation, adding the Stephen Harper government will abide by the 2008 Parliamentary motion binding Canada to the withdrawal...

The problem is the Commons' motion (not a "parliamentary" one) of March 12, 2008, makes no mention of the CF's leaving Afghanistan; it refers only to Kandahar:

...this extension of Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan is approved by this House expressly on the condition that:


(c) the government of Canada notify NATO that Canada will end its presence in Kandahar as of July 2011, and, as of that date, the redeployment of Canadian Forces troops out of Kandahar and their replacement by Afghan forces start as soon as possible, so that it will have been completed by December 2011...

The government is simply lying--there is sadly no other word--when it says the motion demands "the military mission will come to an end in 2011". Why, when doing stories like the Canwest News one above, do not our hopelessly lazy major media make the effort to point out what the motion actually says? Though here's an exception that proves the rule, good on Murray Brewster of CP--though even he suffers from terminological inexactitude:


MacKay danced around the question of whether those political forces are still at play by saying the allies are grateful for the contribution and respect the fact that Canada has suffered 141 dead and over 1,400 mentally and physically wounded.

"But they also very much understand that in Canada we have a parliamentary motion that is unequivocal. It is very clear the military mission will end in 2011," he said.

But actually, it isn't clear. The motion, as passed by Parliament [no, just the House of Commons] in March 2008, says the Canadian military must cease combat operations by July 2011 [no, this is the only time the word "combat" appears in the motion, sixth sub-paragraph in: "the House takes note that the government took a decision to commit a combat Battle Group of roughly 1200 troops to Kandahar for a period of one year, from February 2006 to February 2007"] and withdraw from Kandahar, not the whole the country. It was Prime Minister Stephen Harper who added the rider that every Canadian soldier would leave Afghanistan.

By the letter of the motion, the federal government has wiggle room to stay, if it chooses. But the political will to rid itself of the messy and costly Afghan file is strong among most Conservatives, who four years ago cheerfully embraced the military and this inherited war.

Harper is widely known to be privately skeptical and worried that Canada has been mired in an endless conflict [see 'Not news: PM Harper "an Afghan skeptic"/"Hurl time"'].

As for cops:


Canada currently has 48 civilian police - RCMP and municipal officers - and 40 military police mentoring Afghan cops in Kandahar...


"Afstan and the meaning of words (and lack of leadership)"

Afstan: Hell no, we're gonna go...


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