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First things first

The time is fast approaching for Messers. Dion, Duceppe and Layton to make some choices.

M. Duceppe has promised to introduce a motion requiring the Government of Canada to withdraw from Afghanistan. He will seek support from the Liberals and the NDP.

Jack Layton and the NDP, to be intellectually consistent, ought to support the motion.

M. Dion and the Liberals should not.
The Ruxted Group agrees with Stéphane Dion that something akin to a Marshall Plan is needed for Afghanistan but it asks M. Dion to remind his fellow Canadians that:

1. The Marshall Plan could not be implemented until Europe was at peace; when Afghanistan is pacified, Western nations will be able to apply aid and trade and diplomacy effectively.

2. An agreement akin to a Marshall Plan already exists – it is called The Afghanistan Compact. It was agreed in London, on 1 Feb 06 by over 50 countries, including Canada, and a dozen international organizations including NATO and the United Nations. The difficulty with the Afghan Compact is that Western Nations cannot be held to its commitments whereas Afghanistan can – and, Ruxted contends, will - be held to the timelines contained within the Compact. Canada must hold its NATO partners and all states and organizations signatory to the Compact, to the commitments made therein. This is a vital part of the diplomacy part of Canada’s 3D strategy.

3. There is development (another part of 3D) underway in Afghanistan – development which will help the Afghan people and which will help the freely elected government of Afghanistan to achieve their own goals in peace. This election was conducted under close international supervision and support. Most development is confined to the North and West. In the East and especially in the South, where Canadians are working and fighting, the Taliban are making a determined effort to terrorize the population and stop development.

Some Canadians are dismayed at the slow and painful progress of development in Kandahar. They must be patient. Such patience would come easier, however, if trusted political leaders would explain that development cannot proceed at anything like the pace Canadians wish unless and until the enemy threat is defeated. The Taliban and their allies oppose development because they need a cowed, ignorant and compliant population to do their bidding – security followed by development will give the Afghan people freedom and education, allowing them to decide for themselves how they want to be governed.

Canadians are upset at the growing casualty list. None are more upset than soldiers who are mourning comrades, friends and members of their tight-knit regimental families. Yet the soldiers seem to understand, perhaps better than many, the necessity of their sacrifice: it allows progress in Afghanistan; they wish only that their politicians would explain it more forthrightly.

Canada is a fortunate nation – geography, history and our own hard work have blessed us. We are as fortunate as Afghanistan is unfortunate. If the doctrine of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ means anything at all it must mean that the fortunate few, like Canada, are obliged to help – at the cost of treasure and the painful cost of lives, too – the unfortunate many. There are many countries which can help mount a humanitarian relief mission in Africa, Asia or the Caribbean, using Canadian money and their own, less capable troops. There are only a few countries which have sufficiently capable military forces to fight and win the tough battle in Kandahar. Should we shirk our ‘Responsibility to Protect’ just because our soldiers, our comrades are making the supreme sacrifice to make the place safe for the development which everyone desires? Would that be consistent with Canadians’ values? Ruxted thinks not.

So, M. Dion and Mr. Harper, first things first: please help Canadians to understand that before the new version of a Marshall Plan - The Afghanistan Compact - can be implemented and before Canadian troops can be brought home, we must, first, win the military battle against the Taliban and its allies. That may take quite some time. It is a worthy task. Canadians are amongst the fortunate few who are up to the challenge.


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Edward Campbell on :


According to an article by Campbell Clark in the 21 Feb 07 Globe and Mail, M. Dion and his caucus have hammered out a compromise position: the Liberals will support staying in Afghanistan until 2009.

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