August 04, 2006
Dispatches from Fantasyland
The Star sure gives its staff writers a lot of editorial rope:
The deaths of four Canadian soldiers and the wounding of 10 others in three separate incidents near Kandahar yesterday have sparked calls from critics for a complete re-examination of Canada's mission in Afghanistan.
"The news is sad, frustrating and troubling," said Peggy Mason, who served as Canadian ambassador for disarmament under the Brian Mulroney government. "What are we doing there?"
The question was blunt and penetrating.
You don't often see those two adjectives together, eh? Perhaps because they're nearly opposites. There's nothing probing about a rhetorical question posed by someone whose position is clear ("Too many dead soldiers! Get out! Get out! Aieeeeeee!") but who's too lazy to cobble together an actual argument.
One glaring factual error and a large metaphor smoothie to go, please:
Only a few years ago, Canadian troops were sent off to Kabul on what was billed as a peace mission. Today they're poised at the pointy edge of the bloodiest region in the country as the death toll rises.
From the October 8, 2001 Toronto Star:
Prime Minister Jean Chretien put several Canadian military units on alert yesterday to join the U.S.-led attacks on suspected terrorist sites in Afghanistan.
Government sources said Canada's military contribution to the campaign against terrorism launched yesterday is likely to be greater than originally expected.
"We are part of an unprecedented coalition of nations that has come together to fight the threat of terrorism," Chretien said. "I have made it clear from the very beginning that Canada would be part of this coalition every step of the way."
"Just after noon I instructed the Chief of Defence Staff to issue a warning order to a number of units of our Armed Forces to ensure their readiness," Chretien said. But he refused to reveal any details on Canada's military contribution, saying that could endanger lives.
"It's a substantive military commitment," one government source said.
Chretien said Canadians should be prepared for a long fight.
"The struggle to defeat the forces of terrorism will be a long one. We must remain strong and vigilant. We must insist on living on our terms, according to our values, not on terms dictated from the shadows," Chretien said.
"I cannot promise that the campaign against terrorism will be painless. But I can promise that it will be won."
Oh good, here's Lloyd Axworthy:
He said the discussion should focus on how Canada's original peace support operations in Afghanistan have evolved into what now appears to many as all-out combat.
"We were originally told that we would apply the concept of the 3-D approach in Afghanistan — the application of defence, diplomacy and development," he said. "Now it has become one big `D.'
The first mention in the Canadian media of this "3-D approach" in relation to Canada's mission in Afghanistan was in the Winnipeg Free Press… on March 28, 2004.
Then he tells me what I think:
Axworthy said Canadians have yet to get a satisfactory explanation from the federal government as to how and why that shift in Canada's Afghan mission occurred.
"But," he added, "there's an innate sense among the public that this is not right."
I love it when people do that.
So, what should we do? Peggy Mason has an idea:
"The government should throw its energies behind an effort to have the North Atlantic Council strike a renewed negotiation process in which everyone would participate," she said. By everyone, she meant all of the combatants, including Taliban insurgents.
Perhaps she'd like to round them up then.
What a long strange trip it's been...
Posted by Chris Selley at August 4, 2006 03:55 PM
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"including Taliban insurgents"?????
Earth to Mason...
Posted by: Jason B. Green at August 4, 2006 06:38 PM
Ya, that will work. For sure. Put her on a plane right away to go negotiate.
Peggy, um, tell me, why would anybody who is convinced they can achieve a military victory negotiate themselves a lessor victory? Just askin'.
Posted by: Shaken at August 11, 2006 05:30 AM
Well, I'm no expert on hammer attacks to the head, and harbour no desire to become one, but couldn't there be such a thing as a blunt and penetrating hammer attack to the head?
Not that that lets the Star off the hook. "Peggy Mason asks questions like a hammer murderer bludgeons" isn't really what they were trying to say.
Posted by: ebt at August 15, 2006 03:07 PM