Friday, September 12, 2008

While Our Politicians Fiddle, The War is Widening

(written for's election coverage)

The journalists on the leaders' tours seem to agree that Stephen Harper's commitment to bring our troops home---IN THREE YEARS—has taken the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan off the table for the duration of the election campaign.

The leaders need to think again, because this war is widening.

Under the direct orders of President George W. Bush, according to a story in the New York Times, U.S. commandos are carrying out cross border incursions from Afghanistan into Pakistan to go after the Taliban. Admiral Mike Mullen, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signaled yesterday that Washington was adopting “a more comprehensive strategy” to combat the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The government of Pakistan sharply responded to the new U.S. strategy in a statement that insisted that “no external force is allowed to conduct operations...inside Pakistan.” In addition, to commandos, the U.S. has begun deploying pilotless drones inside Pakistan. The timing is instructive. Just days ago, Pakistan's new President, Asif Ali Zardari, was sworn into office, a further step in the return to civilian rule. Washington is now pushing Zardari around, an exceptionally dangerous tactic in this volatile country and one calculated to undermine the forces of democracy.

A year ago, Barack Obama was foolish enough to say that he would favour U.S. incursions into Pakistani border regions to go after Al Qaeda leaders with or without the authorization of the government of Pakistan.

The Canadian units in Kandahar are in the middle of all this, continually being hit by Taliban fighters entering Afghanistan from Pakistani territory. The solution for us, though, is to end a mission whose purposes and trajectory Canadians do not support.

Widening the war is appallingly dangerous, with potential consequences far greater than those in the Afghan conflict.

Canada's political leaders need to speak.


Richard Sharp said...

Totally agree. What could be more important in a federal election than issues of war and peace? The war is dangerously our of control by repeated violations of Geneva conventions and Pakistan's sovereignty, enraging Pakistanis and Muslims everywhere. Lousy strategy, if you ask me.

By the way, Harper HASN'T promised not to get us in new wars the Americans decide are necessary.

Northern PoV said...

Calm down folks.
Harper has promised that we will be out of combat in Afghanistan by a FIXED date.

He promised:
* not to tax Income Trusts,
* not to appoint unelected Senators
* not to call an election before the FIXED date that he set

so what's the worry?

Anonymous said...

So the Americans are bent on escalating the war in Afghanistan by spreading it into the volatile areas of tribal Pakistan, are they? Be sure that with all the finesse of a rampaging rhino, the Americans will soon set the area ablaze.
What to do? Probably nothing. Thanks to the NDP, the war isn’t a factor in the election. The party has gone awol on the issue and with Stephen Harper on the way to a majority, things look bleak. Or are they?
Let’s look for the silver lining. The Canadian people are about to get a useful lesson in what it’s like to become a ready-aye-ready ally of Uncle Sam.

Adam said...

A town in Afghanistan called Azizibad was recently bombed killing 90 civilians, and today Hamid Karzai announed that he would not support forieng troops in Afghanistan much longer. I find it bizzar that we are suuposively fighting for women's rights but that we don't listen to the oldest women's rights organization in Afghanistan, RAWA. People like Malalai Joya and Sonali Kolhatkar DO NOT suport our noble mission and they are seldom mentioned in the press.