One of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s best decisions was his plan to exit Afghanistan in 2011. Now I see several other nations, notably the Americans, seeking an exit strategy on about the same timeline. Few are the voices calling for victory in Afghanistan—whatever that might look like.
At a 60-nation conference in London, England last week, The United States’ and British governments agreed on a strategy to pay-off low-ranking Taliban fighters to lay down their arms. According to the plan, Western nations would provide funds to finance jobs, education, farmland and cash in return. The strategy would target Taliban fighters who joined the insurgency for economic rather than ideological reasons—and estimated 70 per cent of Taliban rank-and-file.
I hope our prime minister will think long and hard before joining such a scheme. We’ve done our part in Afghanistan—I’m for a clean withdrawal in 2011 with no ties that bind us to that miserable war and the Taliban terrorist who murdered dozens of our soldiers.
Ironic, isn’t it, that not too long ago Conservatives like myself were disparaging NDP leader Jack Layton for his position that we should negotiate with the Taliban enemy. We nicknamed him “Taliban Jack.” At that time, the Conservative caucus was sympathetic to our view. That was then. Now we have our Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon attending a London conference that’s seeking an agreement to do just that.
To be fair, Minister Cannon—who, by the way, is doing one heck of a good job in the foreign affairs portfolio—seems lukewarm to the proposal, telling reporters, “I think it’s probably too early ... to start looking at whether or not Canada is going to participate financially.”
Let’s hope Canada ops out.
We went to Afghanistan for the right reason: eliminate or, at least, reduce the ability of international terrorists to launch attacks against us or our allies. That has been largely achieved. International terrorists represented by al Qaeda have largely left Afghanistan for Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc. We’ve already achieved the only real purpose for our combat troops to be in that country.
Canadian troops are to begin withdrawing in June of 2011 and vacate the country by the end of that year. As recently as December 8, General Walter Natynczyk, chief of defense staff, affirmed that the Canadian forces would uphold that timeline.
This is the plan, let’s stick to it and let’s not augment it with other financial commitments of any kind regarding Afghanistan.
Return to Main page »
© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.