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Now’s The Day, And Now’s The Hour

A recent report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations ought to cause Prime Minister Harper to hold the line on Afghanistan in the forthcoming Throne Speech.

All three opposition parties in Parliament are demanding that the government agree to withdraw troops immediately or cease combat operations by February 2009. All are, to be charitable, irresponsibly placing their own short-term political interests ahead of the needs of Canada and the world.
In his report, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says that:

1. "Progress, at this key moment, will depend on the international community and the Government of Afghanistan better coordinating their efforts to defeat the insurgency, promote good governance and provide tangible improvements to the lives of Afghans."

2. "Although the expanded International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the increasingly capable Afghan National Army have accrued multiple military successes during the reporting period, the Taliban and affiliated insurgent groups continue to prevent the attainment of full security in a number of areas."

3. "In the poppy-cultivating Provinces of Badakhshan, Hilmand and Kandahar, the State is extremely weak or non-existent throughout much of the countryside, while corruption is endemic in provincial centres."

4. "The successes of the counter-insurgency in conventional battles and in eliminating Taliban and other insurgent leaders are undeniable. If the trends of the past two years are to be reversed, however, a more comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy will be needed to reinforce political outreach to disaffected groups and address the security gaps that allow insurgents to recover from their losses and, with very few resources, still manage to terrorize local populations or enlist criminal gangs to further their goals." 1

Put simply, the Secretary-General is saying: the international community, including Canada, needs to intensify efforts, including combat efforts, so that we can – and, Ruxted asserts, we really can – give the Afghans the capability to win their own counter-insurgency campaign and start rebuilding their own country.

The Bloc Québecois, the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party would all, in effect, stop that. They would risk crippling the Afghans’ democratically elected government, allowing the Taliban to win, and tossing Afghan women and children on to the trash heap of history, all as the price of a few parliamentary seats. "Opportunistic" is a fair description of their foreign policy views. We paraphrase Robert Bolt (author of “A Man For All Seasons”) and say to Stéphane Dion, Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton: ”it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world . . . But for a few seats in Ottawa?”

The Ruxted Group encourages Prime Minister Harper to use the UN Secretary-General’s report as a lever to challenge the opposition to either do the right thing or force a general election. We believe that many, if not most Canadians do not want to abandon Afghan women and children to the misery and degradation of the Taliban. We believe that most Canadians do not want to understand that 71 lives were lost only so Liberal Prime Minister Chrétien could make a gesture of apology to US President George W Bush for not joining in the Iraq mission.

Prime Minister Harper should announce in the forthcoming Throne Speech that Canada will extend our commitment for an indefinite period; that the Canadian battle group in Kandahar will, gradually, be replaced by a stronger Provincial Reconstruction Team and by Canadian combat elements which will be integrated into Afghan kandaks (Afghan National Army (ANA) combat units) and formations to hasten the progress of the ANA towards self-securing Kandahar province; and that the timetable for Canada’s withdrawal will be set by recommendations of foreign affairs and defence officials, in consultation with NATO allies, based on progress in Afghanistan – the more Afghans can do, the fewer Canadians will be needed.

Canada's history is one of people who take on great challenges and win. From building the railways across a forbidding continent in the 1800's, to our military experiences in the World Wars, to Louis St Laurent helping to create the modern UN and international security apparati such as NATO and NORAD, we Canadians have always excelled at doing great things. Afghanistan is the first great challenge of the 21st Century; to leave now would betray our professed support of the United Nations, our allies, and our own history and culture.

As Robbie Burns said, “Now’s the day, and now’s the hour.”


1. See: for the complete text of the Secretary-General's report


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NB Tory Lady on :

Thank you for writing Now's The Day and Now's The Hour - I read it over at Jack's Newswatch A Big thumbs up !!!! I posted it on my blog...and proud to do so.

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