Voorbeeld voor Nederland? Een onafhankelijke Canadese onderzoekscommissie, ingesteld door de regering, dringt aan op een nationale politieke consensus t.a.v de missie-Afghanistan – en stelt (onmogelijke?) voorwaarden aan een evt. verlenging van die missie.
Political parties should put aside their differences to "fashion a consensus" on the future of the mission in Afghanistan, says John Manley, the chair of a blue-ribbon panel that studied the future of Canada’s engagement in the country.
The Conservative government and the Liberal opposition need to make concessions in the political debate that will culminate in a vote on the fate of the present 2,500-troop mission when its mandate expires in February 2009, Manley said in an interview yesterday. The Tories favour a mission extension to 2011, while the Liberals want the troops rotated out next year. The Bloc Québécois has a similar position to the Liberals, and the New Democrats want Canadian soldiers to return to Canada immediately.
With a minority government situation and an election possible as early as this spring, the Conservatives and Liberals should, at the very least, agree not to make Afghanistan a major issue should the country go to the polls before the question is resolved, Manley said.
"If you put things in an electoral context, then parties have to find ways to differentiate themselves from other parties. It’s about giving the electorate a choice and my hope is that, in this case, the least the government and the principal opposition party can do is find a way to seek out some common ground," he said.
Manley’s report, released Tuesday, calls on Harper to increase diplomatic efforts to secure 1,000 additional troops to fight alongside the Canadians in Kandahar. The report also recommends the government buy or lease transport helicopters and aerial drones within the next year so that the military can more safely move troops and track insurgents. If that doesn’t happen by February 2009, Canada should give notice of its intention to quit Kandahar, the report says…
on Canada’s role in Afghanistan shows commitment tempered with unease that rings true for any Western country
An independent panel in Canada, which reported this week on whether to keep its troops in Afghanistan, has produced an astute and moving description of the dilemma that will ring true for any Western country.
Its broad answer is that Canada should not pull out quickly but its presence should be conditional on more support from other Nato countries and, in any case, it should begin to ratchet down its efforts.
Behind those carefully phrased recommendations is a mixture of powerful sentiments: that Canada’s contribution and casualties have not always been acknowledged enough (by the US, is the implication); that there are good, idealistic reasons why it should not pull out quickly; but there is real alarm about the prospects of the Nato mission…
The panel calls in detail for more coherence in international efforts; more Nato troops; forceful representations with Afghanistan’s neighbours, in particular Pakistan; and concerted efforts by the Afghan Government to tackle corruption, provide basic services, and pursue political reconciliation.
This is reasonable, but also wishful thinking. More Nato troops cannot be summoned out of thin air after a year’s efforts to boost numbers. President Musharraf is only just in charge of Pakistan; the same is true of President Karzai in Afghanistan itself. In these, the panel (and Canada) is bound to be disappointed although it may have more luck in its call for more helicopters and surveillance planes.
Its message otherwise is clear: that Canadian forces should begin to hand over responsibility for security to Afghans, that their combat role should then be significantly reduced and that its aid should be spent on practical projects in Kandahar province.
The report shows that support is falling and alarm is rising in a country which has played a crucial part in a conflict which is a long way from coming right.
The report on Afghanistan delivered Monday by the Manley panel was deeply disappointing. Its totally predictable findings could have been written without the panel of instant Afghan experts wasting millions of tax dollars.
This whitewash was designed to provide political cover for the Harper government, which has hung its hat on the failing war in Afghanistan, and provide it an escape hatch if the kabob hits the fan. It’s the latest example of the Liberals pathetic failure to demand Ottawa answer tough questions about the mess in Afghanistan.
Most disturbing, the report claimed continued military operations in Afghanistan, which has so far cost 79 Canadians dead and untold billions, were necessary to "enhance" Canada’s international influence. Two days later, another Canadian soldier died in action.
As one who spends half his time abroad, I can attest that Canada’s military role in Afghanistan is virtually unknown to Americans, save occasional pats on the back to the Harper government from Bush administration officials. Many Americans can’t find Canada, never mind Afghanistan, on the map.
In Europe and Asia, most people regard the Afghanistan conflict as a 19th century-style colonial war over future oil pipeline routes, and NATO’s role there the result of severe arms-twisting by Washington. That’s why most NATO troops are kept out of combat…