Christian Conservative Christian "Independent"

I'm an evangelical Christian, member of the CPC, but presently & unjustly exiled to wander the political wilderness.
All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Liberals Retreat on Afghanistan"

I will refrain from commenting too much on this, because I am glad to see that the Liberals have changed their position on this issue... in my opinion, they're doing the right thing, so I won't beat them over the head with it.

I will, however, post a link to this article in the Toronto Star on Dion's decision, because it's significant... because it's from the "Red Star", of all places.
Liberal `compromise' is really a retreat to Harper's position
Feb 13, 2008 04:30 AM
Thomas Walkom

On Afghanistan, the Liberals are in full retreat. Party leader Stéphane Dion presents his solution to the Kandahar quandary as a compromise. It is not. In effect, the country's major opposition party has signalled that in all major respects it now supports Prime Minister Stephen Harper's handling of the war.

While designed to finesse the tricky Afghan issue, this remarkable about-face may simply convince voters that Dion and his band of confused MPs aren't yet fit to govern.

Until yesterday, Dion had been demanding that the government end Canada's current combat role in Kandahar by February 2009. Now, like Harper, the Liberals say Canadian troops should remain there until 2011.

What exactly would these soldiers do? Until yesterday, Dion had been demanding that Canadian troops – whether in Kandahar or elsewhere – remove themselves from combat and let someone else do the dying.

"It is the rotation process," he said earlier this week, a reference to the not unreasonable idea that every NATO country should bear its fair share of casualties.

Now, the Liberals say Canadian troops should "continue in a military presence in Kandahar ... in a manner fully consistent with the UN mandate on Afghanistan." They say that would involve training the Afghan army (which is what Canadian troops are already doing) and "providing security for reconstruction and development efforts in Kandahar."

Nowhere in the new Liberal motion is there a specific call for an end to the combat mission. Dion says the Liberals want to end the fighting role, but their motion does not.

Indeed, it would be difficult for Canadian troops to do what the Liberals want them to do – in Kandahar at least – and avoid combat. How can Canadian troops train Afghan forces without accompanying them to the battlefield? How would they provide security in the Taliban heartland and avoid combat?

Some Liberals have said their motion means Canadian troops will no longer go on so-called search-and-destroy missions. But is that true? At a press conference yesterday, Dion was asked specifically if he was demanding that the government follow the lead of other NATO allies such as Germany and apply formal conditions, or caveats, that keep Canadian troops out of military offensives. The Liberal leader's answer was a clear no.

"We are not speaking of caveats," he said. "We will not micromanage the military."

Which is the Conservative position.

That the Liberals eventually caved on Kandahar is understandable. A Liberal government put Canadian troops into that province. Until public opinion began to shift, most Liberals – including Dion – were staunch defenders of the combat role. Foreign affairs critic Bob Rae and deputy leader Michael Ignatieff, the two pretenders to the Liberal crown, still are.

By signing on to Harper's policy under the guise of statesmanship, the Liberals are hoping they will so confuse the public that no one will notice that they have capitulated.

I suspect they are wrong.
Canadians may be split over the war itself. But voters are rightly suspicious of leaders who vacillate and political parties that seem all over the map. Those who don't support the Afghan war will find little solace in Dion's reconversion. Those who do may prefer to vote for the party that has at least been consistent. And those who don't care about Afghanistan may find it unnerving that would-be prime minister Dion is so easy to push around.

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