Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Major Points in the Afghanistan Report

I will begin posting my Afghanistan Report, one chapter at a time, on Sunday.

Here are some of the major points made in the report:

* Canadians have been fighting in Afghanistan for five years without having had an authentic national debate on the mission.
*The Chretien government took Canada into Afghanistan without thinking through the implications of the mission. The mission has been extended by the Martin and Harper governments. Forty four Canadians have died in the mission to date. On a per capita basis, more Canadians have died there than has been the case for any other country sending forces from the outside, including the U.S. and the U.K.
*The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington. In the process, the U.S. went to war against the Taliban government to which it was providing aid until only a few months earlier.
*The Taliban and Al Qaeda grew out of the earlier struggles of the Mujahideen to overturn the pro-Soviet regime that was kept in power by Soviet troops. The Mujahideen, who were virulently opposed to the rights of women, received enormous financial aid from the United States. Now the U.S. and its NATO allies are fighting the political forces Washington helped create. This war is not about human rights and never has been.
*One of the greatest human rights abuses of recent times, the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo, Cuba, where prisoners from the Afghan conflict are held indefinitely, is a legacy of this war.
*Apart from the U.S. and the U.K., Canada’s major NATO allies, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain are involved in the Afghanistan mission in a very limited way. They are keeping their forces out of the serious fighting in the south, where so many Canadians have died, because public opinion in their countries won’t stand for high casualties in a war they don’t really support.
*Pakistan, Canada’s supposed ally, is playing a duplicitous role in the war. Pakistani territory adjacent to Afghanistan is being used as a refuge by the Taliban and other insurgents. When the fighting gets too tough for them, they retreat across the border into Pakistan and come back in force when they are ready to hit Canadian and other NATO troops again.
*Americans are rethinking the war in Iraq. Only one in four Americans now supports the U.S. war in Iraq, which for the people of the U.S. has been the major conflict, with Afghanistan as the sideshow. Both Democrats and many Republicans want a major change in American foreign policy, including bringing the troops home from Iraq. Once Americans decide to pull their forces out of Iraq, they’ll soon do the same in Afghanistan. The peace deal that will follow will not leave a democratic regime that respects human rights, the rights of women in particular, in place in Kabul when the U.S. completes the change in its foreign policy that is already underway.
*Ninety per cent of Canada’s spending in Afghanistan has been on its military effort and only ten per cent on reconstruction aid. Canada ought to pull its troops out of the conflict. Canadians should undertake to provide additional aid to Afghanistan up to the level of Canadian military spending there to date. That would amount to at least $3.5 billion in additional reconstruction aid.
*Canadians should use the national discussion of the Afghanistan mission to design a new foreign policy for Canada. Among other things, Canada ought to move swiftly to the provision of .07 per cent of its GDP to foreign aid projects. Canadian governments have long talked about this target, while doing little to meet it.


Red Jenny said...

Nice summary - clear, concise.

Jan_ from_ BruceCounty said...

Good summary. I am wondering James if you were going to include information on the idea of invading both Afghanistan and Iran was decided prior to 9/11 and it was about securing power over oil.

Anonymous said...

Jan, it was 'Iraq' not 'Iran' which the US invaded after Afghanistan. Iran has not been invaded yet!

Anonymous said...

what i feel from talking to some university students and people is the impression that Canada is there stricly on peace keeping no gun holding role, this is a huge misconception, do you agree Mr. Laxer?

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