This is a question that I, and many others, have and will continue to wrestle with. It is clear to me that there is a distinction between the national interest of Canada and the interests of the Canadian public when it comes to the mission in Afghanistan. I've written many times on Canada's participation in the reconstruction and stabilization mission in that country, and I am very proud of our contribution to that noble mission. Speaking as a Wilsonian realist, there is no doubt in my mind that ensuring security and prosperity in Afghanistan is in the Canadian national interest and concurrent with our ideals of promoting democracy, human security, and liberty in the world. I know that I am not alone in that perspective; the folks over at The Torch are staunch supporters of the mission, and yesterday I read an all-too-rare post by my former Dal colleague Riley expressing his continued support. There are thousands of other voices out there who get it.
But there are also thousands who don't, and some of them happen to occupy important places in our media and government. These folks are the ones who are winning the public relations side of this conflict, undermining the government, public support, our Canadian Forces, our allies, and the people of Afghanistan in reaching the objective of a peaceful, secure, democratic Afghanistan that need not worry about a resurgent Taliban-al Qaeda symbiote overtaking that country again.
And it appears that they have gotten to the Prime Minister.
The Torch today cited a news story in which the following was stated:
Mr. Harper reaffirmed his government's plans to seek a "reasonable degree" of parliamentary support before considering any extension to the current Afghan mission, or agreeing to a new one. But when asked whether he has any desire to prolong the combat mission in southern Afghanistan beyond 2009, Mr. Harper said, "No."
I don't know if he's just being coy, and leaving out whether or not the Government plans to have a continued presence in a different region of Afghanistan after February '09, or if he's conceding that there's no chance of Canada being a participant in any part of the larger reconstruction and stabilization mission. My great fear is that it's the latter. I'm not going to go into another diatribe on why Afghanistan should matter to Canadians, and why I feel as though we should maintain a strong leadership presence in the country. I've done that enough, which is why I'm putting links to some of my many posts on the subject. What I really would like to know is why can Canadians not wrap their heads around the importance of Afghanistan's future and how it is squarely in our interests.
Why Afghanistan Matters
What Canada Must Overcome to Succeed in Afghanistan
On Timetables and Afghanistan
PMSH in Afghanistan
They Still Just Don't Get It