Doing Enough, The Canadian Way
A few days ago Ruxted suggested that there are two views of Canada the world. Here were offer our thoughts about who exemplifies the “little, timid Canada” point of view and what they have to say. We also offer our own, distinctly minority, position and proposals.
Earlier The The Ruxted Group wondered if “increasingly, NATO is less and less a useful 'cornerstone' for Canada and, more and more, a stumbling block.” Now it is reported that the Taliban may be exploiting NATO’s operational divisions – the divisions which, in part, led to Ruxted’s comment. NATO’s inability to share the burden, Canadian political partisanship and a public disinformation campaign combine to create a real question for Canadians: "are 'they' doing enough? and haven't we done enough?"
It is increasingly difficult for the Canadian government to persuade Canadians that the sacrifices, the supreme sacrifices, made by our best young men and women are ‘worth it’ when France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the core of NATO’s European base, refuse to share the burden of bringing security, which is an absolutely essential precursor to any useful development, to Southern Afghanistan.
Canadians are being fed two conflicting but loosely related theories:
Polemicists like Linda McQuiag tells us that there are no good reasons to go to war in Afghanistan, we are only holding the US bully’s coat while it beats up on innocent Muslims; and
Politicians like Jack Layton say the war is unwinnable – the Europeans understand that and they are working on development in regions where they can win; so should we.
Neither is true:
Linda McQuaig is wrong. One does not need to be an apologist for American policy, and Ruxted is not, to understand that Ms. McQuiag is viscously anti-American and that she long ago abandoned any pretence of objectivity in her compulsion to blame George W Bush for everything; and
Jack Layton is wrong. As Ruxted has previously affirmed, we can win the war against the Taliban and its fellow travellers and, by so doing, weaken the radical Islamist movements.
To go further: The Europeans are wrong, too. They are being toadies because of fear of their own growing Islamic minorities and because they want to secure their sources of oil.
But the disinformation coming from Canadian politicians, journalists, academics and busybodies raises questions that trouble good-hearted Canadians.
What are we doing there? Why are so many of our best young people being killed in that poor, war ravaged, far away land?
The United Nations asked us to go to Afghanistan and fight the Taliban. Here’s exactly what the United Nations Security Council said in Resolution 1444 (2002): “the Security Council calls upon Member States to contribute personnel, equipment and other resources to the International Security Assistance Force”. Anyone, a political leader like Jack Laytona so-called journalists like Linda McQuaig, an academic like Prof Michael Byers (University of British Columbia) or an anti-military busybody like Steven Staples (ceasefire.ca) who suggests that the mission in Afghanistan is anything but a legitimate UN mission is distorting the truth – lying might be a better, simpler word.
How can we win?
Victory will come when, and only when, the people of Afghanistan – all of Afghanistan – are able to make their own social and political choices ( many of which we may not like very much) in their own ways (which we may not find at all liberal or democratic). That is something they can do only when they have (relative) security. That’s our role: to help the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) bring security to the hostile Southern region, including Kandahar province. We are winning by:
Helping the ANA and ANP in safeguarding the people, farm-by-farm, village-by-village, town-by-town – going two steps forward and one back, sometimes over and over again until the Taliban retreat to their home-base in Pakistan; and
Bringing aid and development – which can only happen when security works – to the people so that they can see that their lives are better under the lawfully elected government of Afghanistan than it would be under some medieval, theocratic dictator.
Why can’t we do less fighting and more ‘helping?’
Right now, despite what politicians like Stéphane Dion and Jack Layton say, aid cannot be delivered without a strong, aggressive military force. The NGOs that whinge the most from their safe hotels in Kabul, up there with Europe’s military tourists, are not doing work in Kandahar because even with a tough, aggressive Canadian military presence they are afraid; it’s not yet safe enough for them. Withdrawing combat troops is only going to allow the Taliban to resume their savage rule and undo the development that has already been undertaken. The region will not get safer, unless we equate the ‘peace of the dead’ with security. The Europeans are not coming to replace us in the combat mission; they are afraid, too. Those who say “bring home the combat troops, shift the focus to aid” are either: too stupid to be re-elected or cited in the media as ‘experts;’ or lying to Canadians.
Why would these well known people lie?
Ruxted can only conclude that people like Layton, McQuaig and Staples are the political commissars of a larger, older anti-capitalist faction which used to owe its ideological allegiance to some sort of ‘socialist international’ which aimed to make us all economically equal – poor and miserable, perhaps, but equal, all the same. These people have identified the United States as the ‘Great Satan’ – the fountainhead of robust, productive, modern capitalism and they can only pray that any and all enterprises in which the US engages will fail. That means they want the US to fail in Afghanistan, which means they want Canada to fail, too, along with NATO and the United Nations. That’s right: Michael Byers and Steven Staples, who profess to want Canada to go back to ‘traditional UN peacekeeping,’ want the UN to fail in Afghanistan. It demonstrates the bankruptcy of their position of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” because they have all befriended the Taliban, the people who are killing Canadians. There are others, like Stéphane Dion, who are trying to score partisan points by opposing now what they approved two years ago – they are using the troops as props in their political campaigns. They ought to do better; we suspect they will not.
But, hasn’t it been long enough?
By the standards of ‘great’ wars like World War I or II Afghanistan is already ‘long’ at 5½ years for Canada. But, as thoughtful soldiers like Canada’s Lieutenant General Andrew Leslie have been teaching this is not one of the ‘great’ wars – it is a new kind of war and it is likely the work of at least a generation. Afghanistan is suffering from a lack of skilled and educated professional people, and that situation won't improve until the six million children going to school today graduate from college or university. Unless the security situation is stable enough for them to graduate and begin working as doctors, engineers and technicians in Afghanistan, then there will be no long term and sustainable rebuilding of Afghanistan, only a series of band aids ready to fall off. That alone is reason to continue enforcing the UN mandate for another decade or more. If the Government-of-Canada can screw up its courage and find the will to tell Canadians some unpalatable truths then Canadians will be willing to keep a small force (2,500± soldiers) in Afghanistan past 2009, maybe past 2019, and we may have to send similar forces to other poor, dirty, fly-blown, dangerous places on similar, thankless, missions.
But, haven’t we done enough?
That brings us back to the top. Sure, we’ve done a lot – a whole lot more than most. Overall ISAF has contributed to, inter alia an 18% reduction in infant mortality, six million children going to school (and rising), and a 10% growth in the Afghan economy. Canadians, specifically, have built schools, dug wells, built roads and, slowly but surely, helped the local leadership to re-establish their traditional, Taliban free, systems of local governance.
When the UN called we answered. Should we now pack up our riches – and we are rich and fortunate, too, blessed, even, especially compared to Afghanistan – and go home just because France, Germany, Italy and Spain are hiding behind the high walls of their national ‘caveats’ so as not to offend their oil suppliers? Shall we be as craven as they? Is that what Canada stands for?
Maybe we’ve done more than most but that must be because we want to be ‘better’ than most – more willing to help those most in need.
So what is the answer? What shall we do?
At the risk of being far out of step with what Canada’s political, academic and journalistic ‘elites’ think, perhaps with what most Canadians think, right now, The Ruxted Group has a prescription.
It’s time to stop looking towards either the USA or Europe for examples of how to conduct our foreign policy. Neither has much to teach us. Let’s consider our own values and our own ideas and ideals and shape our own policies. Let’s not be ‘anti’ anyone or anything. Let’s be ‘pro Canada’ and let’s do what’s right for Canada and the world.
Let’s stay in Afghanistan until the job is done – even if that means we’ll still be there after 2019.
Let’s expand our armed forces so that we are ready and able to go when, not if, the call comes to help in some other hell-hole.
Let’s tell soft-on-terror politicians, knee-jerk anti-American journalists and academics and anti-military busybodies to buzz off because they don’t represent Canada’s values.
Let’s stand up, square our shoulders and do enough, the Canadian way.