Friday, April 27, 2007

A Fortnight to Forget

Stephen Harper hasn’t had many bad days since becoming Prime Minister but, boy, the last two weeks have been tough ones for him.

The rough patch all started last week with the taxpayer funded stylist turned psychic fiasco (she really should have seen it coming). Sure, it’s not a big deal, but it’s one of those quirky little mini-scandals like Romanian Strippers which gives the opposition parties a guaranteed joke in every stump speech from now until the end of the next campaign.

Then there’s been the environmental file which was going to be a headache no matter when it came to a head. John Baird’s Martin-esque hyperbole probably discredited some very legitimate economic concerns surrounding the Liberal Kyoto plan. Having the Tory plan leak out in advance (possibly breaking Canada's securities laws) didn’t help matters at all, especially since it led to a rushed release. As for the plan itself? Well, take a look at the less than enthusiastic response it has generated.

Worst of all, the Tories took a big hit on Afghanistan, which is guaranteed to be an issue during the next campaign. The Globe's front page story on blacked out torture documents was bad for optics, regardless of who edited the documents. The week-long game of "deal or no deal" left opposition leaders, pundits, and probably quite a few Tory Cabinet Ministers confused. It's unclear when this "deal" was signed, if it was signed, who negotiated it, what it entails, if it changes the status quo, or who knew about it when.

O'Connor himself has been crippled beyond repair and paying homage to Paul Martin's famous escalator scrum, by doing an elevator scrum, likely wasn't the best way for him to announce this deal. At the very least he could have let Peter McKay know beforehand...

As for the fall-out, well, just take a look at the CTV wire story and count the number of times "contradiction" and "incompetence" appear. For a government that prides itself on decisiveness and messaging, this has certainly been a week Harper would love to put behind him.

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42 Comments:

  • You forgot the fact that the Flames were also eliminated.

    By Blogger Ian, at 6:29 PM  

  • Can't a government rig the Stanley Cups these days? What is the point of power if you can't use it for important things?

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 7:51 PM  

  • My sense is that Canadians are likely more concerned with the psychic hairdresser than with detainee issues.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 7:51 PM  

  • Hmmm,

    Lot's of laughs here. How about calling an election right now to really wipe the smile off harper's face?

    There may not be a better time than now.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 7:59 PM  

  • The hairdresser as silly as it was is really not an issue for me. The environment and Afghanistan are. Now I realize that we as Liberals did a lousy job on the environment, but that doesn't mean Harper should do an equally lousy one. Sure the plan is better than nothing and I agree Kyoto targets probably aren't reachable, but at least we could get a lot closer than Harper intends to take us.

    As for Afghanistan, I think this will hurt him more than anything. Canadians are not pacifists like some like to believe, but they have to feel the country poses a real threat before they will fully get behind a war and with Afghanistan that is not the case. World War II off course was totally different since a real threat did exist then.

    By Blogger Miles Lunn, at 8:21 PM  

  • Thanks for not writing partisan hackery Calgary grit abd being balanced and fair however I don't think Liberals can claim the high ground after 13 years of inaction under the pirate and Paul Martin. This plan sounds resonable without destroying Canada's economy and Alberta's oil patch which environmentalists seem keen on doing.

    By Blogger Emil Vargas, at 1:05 AM  

  • By the way, I challenge you to watch the documentary "Hot politics" by Frontline on PBS. Go to pbs.org and go under news and views and then Frontline. You can watch it online. Its pretty facinating. It shows bipartisan reluctance to do anything about climate change which seems to mirror what happened in Canada until Stephane Dion was elected leader of the Liberal Party. Maybe Al Gore's movie changed everything. Its weird that it was an issue in the 1992 election and Bush 1 went to Rio to sign an agreement but greenhouse gases went way up under Clinton and Gore and then George Bush lied when he said he wanted mandatory emission cuts and then flip-flopped. But he does that alot anyway and has turned out to be the worst President I think the U.S. has ever had.

    By Blogger Emil Vargas, at 1:14 AM  

  • Emil

    “Maybe Al Gore's movie changed everything.”

    It’s possible that you don’t follow the news. The IPCC issued its fourth report. From wikipedia

    “Climate Change 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is the fourth in a series of such reports. The IPCC was established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”

    Al Gore is a politician/activist. The IPCC is the real deal. I suggest you catch up on the subject.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 1:37 AM  

  • ian; Harper's a Leafs fan anyways...so maybe "bad month" would be a more apt description.

    jimtan; Despite this, I think it would be rash for the opposition parties to bring down the gov. I think the Liberals need time and, despite these stumbles, Harper would probably still win a spring election.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:53 AM  

  • >>I think it would be rash for the opposition parties to bring down the gov. I think the Liberals need time and, despite these stumbles, Harper would probably still win a spring election.<<

    If the opposition does not bring down the government over it's Clean Air Act, then they've lost all credibility on the issue. (Assuming Canadians are paying attention while they sit in their gas guzzling SUV's in a Tim Horton's Drive Thru for twenty minutes and then drive on the Deerfoot through gridlock for an hour to and from work.)

    This is very simple in my books. The opposition has been foaming at the mouth with "all Kyoto... all the time" rhetoric. If they don't bring down the government, they have no credibility on the climate change file.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 4:36 AM  

  • I think this is a manufactured crisis. Everyone who wants Harper to go down is taking a shot. The problem is that the folks that I talk to day in and day out aren't paying attention. There is no way that the majority will demand more strict emission regulations. Anyone who thinks that the majority gives a rats ass about Taliban scum is deluded. It may not be politically correct to say but most understand that we are there to kill them...not kiss them.

    By Blogger Dante, at 8:16 AM  

  • This is going to help Mr. Harper and embarrass the crap out of the Liberals and possibly the Globe and Mail

    Liberals knew about tortured detainees as far back as 2003 - who knew?

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 9:07 AM  

  • jimtan is 100% on this.

    there will never be a better time to call an election.... do it!

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 11:09 AM  

  • dante

    "It may not be politically correct to say but most understand that we are there to kill them...not kiss them."

    Utter nonsense. Written by someone who doesn't understand diplomacy, and certainly not about the military use of force. This is some civilian who’s writing in the comfort of his home

    The point of soldering is to keep the killing and damage to a minimum. You win by intimidation. Diplomacy has failed when the fighting starts. You would prefer to flank your enemy, cut his supply line, and compel him to retreat or surrender.

    War has to be kept contained and conducted within limits. The WW2 is an example of total war where human beings disgraced themselves and spawned new evils. WW2 led to the Cold War. Cold War conflicts include Vietnam and the Russo-Afghan War. From the latter, we have 9/11, the Iraq invasion and the current civil war in Afghanistan.

    In Afghanistan, we must avoid total and protracted war. In Chechnya, total war means that the rebels continue to hold out years after the Russian invasion. It’s a lesson that the brutal and experienced Russians are unable to subdue this small country (15,000 km2) and tiny population (1 million).

    Most Afghan villagers have dozens of relatives, clansmen and friends. Killing one guy generate hate and revenge. It’s doesn’t matter that this fellow was trying to kill Canadian soldiers. You will lose a war against the insurgency when the locals are against you.

    A western army is very expensive. The rebels fight at a tiny fraction of the cost. Western armies will lose a large protracted war because it is too costly to maintain the numerical superiority against insurgents operating in their backyard.

    Anyone fool could be a general if soldiering is merely about killing.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 11:57 AM  

  • calgarygrit said

    "Harper would probably still win a spring election."

    Actually, the interesting thing about this election is that the LPC doesn’t have to win the most seats. It only needs to win enough seats to be the dominant partner in a shaky coalition. Harper cannot claim to be the government even if he still has 115 (likely) or 135 seats (worse case). The opposition has to unite against the CPC on just a couple of issues.

    And, the LPC only needs to stay in power long enough to implement Bill C30 and undo the damage that the CPC has done. That said, the LPC will try to stay in power with popular budgets.

    The downside is that the LPC and Canada will be stuck with Dion as PM. That’s enough to give me pause for thought. But, what’s the alternative?

    Look at you guys. You’re already whipped. You have not recovered from the scandals and 2006 defeat. You need to get back in the saddle. And, a popular issue like global warming is godsend.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:13 PM  

  • Jimtan,

    except your party has no crediblity on the issue and implementing Kyoto would destroy Canada's economy. You seem to forget Ontario has alot of coal plants and even Dalton McGuinty is too much of a pussy to come up with his own green plan. He wants the feds to do it for political cover. I hope he goes down in October and maybe the lottery scandal will do it.

    By Blogger Emil Vargas, at 12:41 PM  

  • "Utter nonsense. Written by someone who doesn't understand diplomacy, and certainly not about the military use of force. This is some civilian who’s writing in the comfort of his home"

    A pretty accurate description of the average Canadian voter, as dante was pointing out.

    By Blogger Candace, at 1:02 PM  

  • jitman said:
    >>The point of soldering is to keep the killing and damage to a minimum. You win by intimidation.<<

    I'm a former infantry soldier with 1PPCLI - the role of a soldier is to close with and destroy the enemy. Period.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 1:06 PM  

  • jimtan; I'm not sure a three party coalition would work. A Liberal/NDP coalition, sure. But it would be hard to justify bringing the Bloc in as well.

    As for the Afghanistan issue, if the perception is that the Tories are bungling the file and can't get their stories straight that goes into general competence, even if Canadians don't care about the treatment of Taliban prisoners (and I think once words like war crimes and Geneva convention are tossed around, people take notice).

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:31 PM  

  • "Anyone who thinks that the majority gives a rats ass about Taliban scum is deluded. It may not be politically correct to say but most understand that we are there to kill them...not kiss them."

    actually, anyone who thinks the majority of 'canadians' thinks this way is deluded. the great majority of canadians support human rights and the rule of law. only the 20% of conservative blowhards thinks in such primitive terms. how radically uncivilized.

    By Blogger canuckistanian, at 2:20 PM  

  • Jimtan

    where to start.

    Lets begin with:

    "Most Afghan villagers have dozens of relatives, clansmen and friends. Killing one guy generate hate and revenge. It’s doesn’t matter that this fellow was trying to kill Canadian soldiers. You will lose a war against the insurgency when the locals are against you."

    This may be true but there is hate and revenge that was generated by the actions of 911. Ignore it if you choose but the bloodlust is real. My point was that the majority of Canadians will not weep over the fate of the Taliban.

    You made the comment :"Utter nonsense. Written by someone who doesn't understand diplomacy, and certainly not about the military use of force."

    I would submit that "YOU" are the one who is clueless. I didn't even mention military conduct on the field but you felt a need to set up a straw man argument to demonstrate your great knowledge of military engagements.
    Although I'm not in the habit of being baited by logical falicies, I'll bite for this one time.

    Much of what you said makes sense to me but I tend to follow sun tzu's philosophy. Once fighting has begun, war should be left to the Generals. Political influence should not come to play once hostilities have broken out. You only serve prolonging the fighting (good soldiers know how to win quickly). The bullshit political opposition is opportunistic and it weakens our common efforts to end the fighting as quickly as possible.
    Regardless of how you feel about Iraq, it is a clear example of how not to do things. After choosing hostility, had the Bush administration allowed its Generals to properly fight the war, it would not be as it is now. In short...the surge was likely the right thing to do (to win militarily) but too late.

    Supporting the troops means trusting that as Canadians, they will do the right things in doing this nasty piece of work. They don't need arm-chair jerk-offs telling them how to do their jobs.

    By Blogger Dante, at 2:33 PM  

  • canuckistanian said...

    [snip]

    actually, anyone who thinks the majority of 'canadians' thinks this way is deluded. the great majority of canadians support human rights and the rule of law. only the 20% of conservative blowhards thinks in such primitive terms. how radically uncivilized.

    Ok. Just continue advocating to the Liberal Party that they should take up a policy plank on Taliban human rights. When Harper rips Dion a new one during the election debate for caring more about the Taliban that the little Afghan girls who would be doomed under Taliban rule, don't take too long figuring out why the Libs get clobbered in the ensuing election.

    By Blogger Dante, at 2:42 PM  

  • Ok. Just continue advocating to the Liberal Party that they should take up a policy plank on Taliban human rights

    So human rights can just be invalidated by attaching a political term to them?

    That seems kinda reminiscent of other regimes in history.

    The fact is the Cons have lied to Canadians point blank several times on this file and its disgusting. Canadians do care if war crimes are being committed in their name while their government is openly lying to them. Anyone who doesn't realize that is totally out of touch. Taking the 'terrorist lover' line of Bush isn't going to work well in Canada but the Cons are more than welcome to try it out for themselves.

    The fact they want to run an election on breaking Canada's international commitment to Kyoto is baffling as well. What kind of precedent is this going to set in Canada's current climate of minority governments for the forseeable future? Everytime a new party scrapes out a minority they can just ignore our agreements based on the fact a different party signed on? What is this going to do for Canada's credibility?

    I'm ready to see the Cons given the boot but the opposition should be careful, most Canadians are not in the mood for an election, they like that there is somewhat of a stalemate right now. If an election is triggered, it must be made clear that it is because the Cons are not willing to compromise with the majority of Canada's elected representatives.

    By Blogger Emerys, at 3:01 PM  

  • I think the whole prisoner torture fiasco might just blow up in the Liberal's face. After ranting in question period all week, it seems the Liberal's were aware of these allegations years ago, yet still signed the transfer agreement. You can find the whole article on National Newswatch.

    "Former Liberal Government Knew About Torture
    La Presse reports former Liberal government was warned by Canadian diplomats in Kabul that torture was being practiced in Afghan prisons as early as 2003. In spite of these warnings, the Martin government decided to sign a prisoner transfer agreement with the Karzaï government, in December 2005... MORE...

    By Blogger paulsstuff, at 3:32 PM  

  • So Canuckistanian, your opinion on the Liberal Party breaking the Geneva Convention?

    By Blogger paulsstuff, at 3:33 PM  

  • Emerys said...

    "So human rights can just be invalidated by attaching a political term to them?"

    They shouldn't but they are.

    "That seems kinda reminiscent of other regimes in history."

    No. You cannot compare this to human rights attrocities committed by Nazi's et al. Degrees matter as does context. Let me remind you that the allegations have yet to be proven. If they are, there has to be a pattern of systematic violations.

    I am puzzled about one thing though. Why have we not seen any trials of Taliban charges with crimes against humanity. Why has there not been any call for such trials by those who are so willing to hurl accusations at our Canadian troops. I can guarantee that there are a lot of Canadians asking the same questions. I can also guarantee that should the accusations be revealed to be trumped up, that the Liberals will pay in the polls.

    It is high risk politics to pursue this. The advice on this file has not been good and is not a winner.

    By Blogger Dante, at 3:44 PM  

  • Canadian voters have NEVER cared about international relations, and suggestions like "lets bring the prisoners to Canada" are hardly selling points (never mind that the Liberals are equally culpable).

    I personally don't see what the big deal is anyway. Afghanistan is engaged in an internal conflict, and is dealing with domestic insurgents in the same manner that many countries do. The war in Afghanistan is an internationalized civil war, not an ordinary war.

    As for global warming, I honestly believe that the Canadian public will not vote for a party with a plan able to accomplish our Kyoto goals by 2012. The economic costs of such an approach will be too high, and that corner of the electorate is too crowded. If the opposition fights an election on global warming, global warming will become the "free trade" of 2008.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 3:47 PM  

  • Why has there not been any call for such trials by those who are so willing to hurl accusations at our Canadian troops.

    I have to wonder if you have even been following this story? The abuses have not been commited by the Canadian troops.

    By Blogger Emerys, at 3:53 PM  

  • Canadian voters have NEVER cared about international relations

    That demonstrates a genuine ignorance of Canadian history. 'International relations' is probably the primary reason why the Conservatives have historically had trouble in Quebec.

    I personally don't see what the big deal is anyway.

    That is clear and it is consistant with your position on Kyoto and the Geneva convention. But it shouldn't be hard for the opposition parties to frame the Cons as the party which dishonours Canada by breaking international agreements both concerning human rights and the environment.

    Fearmongering on Kyoto is only going to play to the Cons hardcore base. Most Canadians recognize we signed on and want to see us work towards our obligations. The chicken little message ignores that there is economic opportunity in getting in on the ground floor and with some creativity Canada can show real leadership.

    Canadians have never been kind to minority governments that fail to acknowledge the democratic will of most Canadians, just because we have more parties, I can't see this changing.

    By Blogger Emerys, at 4:14 PM  

  • "I have to wonder if you have even been following this story? The abuses have not been commited by the Canadian troops."

    Umm how about from:
    http://thetyee.ca/Views/2007/04/27/WarCrime/
    ...The letter, a copy of which is posted below, asks the Prosecutor to investigate whether Canada's two most senior military officials committed war crimes by allowing the transfers to take place and by not stopping them when credible reports of torture surfaced.

    Are YOU following the story?

    By Blogger Dante, at 4:30 PM  

  • "That demonstrates a genuine ignorance of Canadian history. 'International relations' is probably the primary reason why the Conservatives have historically had trouble in Quebec."

    Where do you get this bullshit from? I'm getting tired of typing.

    You are wrong again. So wrong I would suggest you read a bit about Quebec history. Don't start citing international events on the Plains of Abraham. Try starting at the Quiet Revolution

    "Canadians have never been kind to minority governments that fail to acknowledge the democratic will of most Canadians, just because we have more parties, I can't see this changing."

    I would think this was true in every democracy. Kind of a self evident truth...wouldn't you say?

    By Blogger Dante, at 4:43 PM  

  • sean said

    "I'm a former infantry soldier with 1PPCLI - the role of a soldier is to close with and destroy the enemy. Period."

    Actually, Canadian soldiers have done well as peacekeepers. Did you ever serve as such? The Canada army is not doing well in the current role in southern Afghanistan. Hillier wants to send more and better tanks against guerillas.

    Compare that to the British campaign in Malaya where General Templeton had a 10:1 superiority and coined the phrase "winning the hearts and minds".

    The Taliban are winning the hearts and minds. The average Canadian soldier doesn't speak the language, won't recognize a Pushtun from a Tajik. Close with which enemy?

    Canadian officers depend on interpreters, Afghan officials and the Afghan intelligence service. What's their agenda?

    Are you going to arrest everyone who helps the rebels? Are you going to blast every village that resists? Are you going to destroy the opium crop of some small farmer? Is soldiering merely about killing?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:22 PM  

  • Are YOU following the story?

    I get it, you are following the story, your just trying to be Rovian. Well good luck with your acrobatics, trying to make this an attack against the troops.

    Its not our troops that are committing the abuses, but yes, under the Geneva convention, our policy of handing over prisoners to forces which use torture does make our troops liable for charges of war crimes.

    You are wrong again. So wrong I would suggest you read a bit about Quebec history. Don't start citing international events on the Plains of Abraham. Try starting at the Quiet Revolution

    Maybe you have a reading disability, the Quiet Revolution is hardly a starting point when the statement was

    Canadian voters have NEVER cared about international relations

    And you hardly have to go back to the Plains of Abraham to show this. You should try reading about the last hundred years of Canadian history, you just might learn something..

    By Blogger Emerys, at 5:30 PM  

  • Candace said

    “A pretty accurate description of the average Canadian voter, as dante was pointing out.”

    The average Canadian isn’t interested in killing anyone. The average Canadian wants peace for Afghanistan, and for every Canadian soldier to come home alive.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:40 PM  

  • Jimtan wrote:
    >>Actually, Canadian soldiers have done well as peacekeepers. Did you ever serve as such? The Canada army is not doing well in the current role in southern Afghanistan. Hillier wants to send more and better tanks against guerillas.<<

    Peacekeeping is one of a plethora of roles that soldiers can be tasked with. However the PRIMARY role of an infantry soldier is to close with and destroy the enemy. It is hammered into every recruit who goes through training at the battle school in Wainwright Alberta.

    Hillier wants to send more resources to support the operational requirements of the theater that our troops are currently deployed in. The democratically elected Government of Canada under a mandate they received from voters on January 23, 2006 deployed and tasked the CF with this operation. It is not peacekeeping.

    The Canadian military is carrying out it's operational commitment under the auspices of NATO. This is a NATO operation. Canada is a member of NATO. Whether the operation is successful or not depends on a number of factors, however I would suggest that perhaps the most useful way to gauge the success of the mission is to talk with the troops who are on the ground. It is my understanding that Canadian troops believe in the mission and strongly support it, including the method of operation, tactics and finally, the deployment.

    >>Compare that to the British campaign in Malaya where General Templeton had a 10:1 superiority and coined the phrase "winning the hearts and minds".<<

    Winning the hearts and minds must come from government of Afghanistan. However, a good way to win the hearts and minds of civilians is to ensure they Taliban can't come back. Another good way is to ensure that Afghanistan is secure. In order to make Afghanistan secure, Canadian soldiers must engage the Taliban and provide security until such a time as Afghan forces are able to do the job on their own. Whether or not that happens today or tommorrow is a matter for the politicians, not the soldier on the ground.

    >>The Taliban are winning the hearts and minds. The average Canadian soldier doesn't speak the language, won't recognize a Pushtun from a Tajik. Close with which enemy?<<

    Prove it.

    If you don't know what "close with the enemy" means, you probably should cease debating me on the topic because it's obviously way over your head.

    >>Canadian officers depend on interpreters, Afghan officials and the Afghan intelligence service. What's their agenda?<<

    Canadian Forces have made remarkable progress in working with Afghan officials on the ground at the village level. There is still factionalization and tribal crap that exists in the government, time will tell whether that can be resolved. What we do know is that Afghan civilians who live in the operational theater where Canadians are deployed are grateful for our presence.

    >>Are you going to arrest everyone who helps the rebels?<<

    Everyone that can be found.

    >>Are you going to blast every village that resists?<<

    I don't believe Canada has blasted any village in Afghanistan. Kindly refer me to the locations of these villages that Canadian soldiers have blasted.

    >>Are you going to destroy the opium crop of some small farmer?<<

    Nope.

    >>Is soldiering merely about killing?>>

    When required, yes.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 6:00 PM  

  • Dante said

    “"It may not be politically correct to say but most understand that we are there to kill them...not kiss them."

    “I didn't even mention military conduct on the field but you felt a need to set up a straw man argument to demonstrate your great knowledge of military engagements. “

    You said that we are there to kill them. Where would our soldiers kill them if not in combat? Should we kill them in drinking contests in the bars of Kandahar?

    “My point was that the majority of Canadians will not weep over the fate of the Taliban.”

    Actually, Canadians are more concerned about the fate of Afghan civilians than about the Taliban. We should kiss the Taliban if it ensures the future of Afghan children.

    What’s the problem with that country? Karzai wants to make peace with the local Taliban, but he doesn’t control the NATO war machines or his own army. The NATO forces can fight the rebels, but can’t offer a political solution.

    Do you begin to understand why NATO is losing?

    “Much of what you said makes sense to me but I tend to follow sun tzu's philosophy.”

    Interesting! Let me offer you a Chinese parable.

    Once, there was a king who was a great general. He would win every battle. But, his arrogance was insufferable. His enemies kept fighting him. His allies turned against him. But, he was a great general and won every battle, BUT the LAST.

    What happened in the last battle? Do you see the relative roles of diplomacy and the military? We are not in Afghanistan just to kill them. Winning can cover a range of definitions. Sometimes, you take what you can get.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 6:14 PM  

  • sean said

    "What we do know is that Afghan civilians who live in the operational theater where Canadians are deployed are grateful for our presence."

    Who told you that? Was it the opium farmers?

    BTW, I can tell a funny story about a firefight between the Dutch and some villagers. If you are interested?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 6:54 PM  

  • >>Who told you that? Was it the opium farmers?<<

    No @@hole, it was soldiers who have been on the ground in Afghanistan.

    You're out of your element Jimtan, go back to your textbooks, son.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 8:06 PM  

  • sean said

    "No @@hole, it was soldiers who have been on the ground in Afghanistan."

    Ohhh! So, who told them?

    BTW, do you want that story? It is entertaining in a grim way.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:00 AM  

  • Dante said

    “The bullshit political opposition is opportunistic and it weakens our common efforts to end the fighting as quickly as possible.
    Regardless of how you feel about Iraq, it is a clear example of how not to do things. After choosing hostility, had the Bush administration allowed its Generals to properly fight the war, it would not be as it is now. In short...the surge was likely the right thing to do (to win militarily) but too late.”

    More utter rubbish. Let me offer this critique of your proposition that nation building is about military operations.

    It is true that politicians should not ‘interfere’ in military operations. Stalin respected his General Staff (after 1942) whilst Hitler repeatedly overrode his generals.

    Nonetheless, generals only win battles. It is the political/diplomatic decisions that win wars.

    In 1940, Britain was left to fight alone after the surrender of France. It was Churchill (who was not the Prime Minister) who decided to fight on regardless of the fact that the BEF had left all its hardware and firepower behind in France. He rallied his nation on the basis of British tradition, not on the basis of military logic.

    In 1941, the American administration decided to Lend Lease to Britain and the Soviets. They (while not at war) made a political decision to interfere in Europe. That decision was a crucial factor in the counterattack of the Soviets from 1943.

    It is also true that generals should not interfere in political decisions. Truman fired MacArthur because the general was trying to instigate an invasion of mainland China. What would have been the consequences of that?

    In Iraq (like Afghanistan), there was a separation of political and military decision-makers. Bremer decided to fire the Iraqi police and army. He passed the job to the American army that was unsuited for the role.

    The disaster in Iraq must be blamed on absolutely wrong political decisions. Any surge would be useless unless you are willing to commit hundreds of thousands of troops for many years. The Americans do not have this capacity. Therefore, Iraq was already ‘lost’ in 2003.

    Compare with General Templeton in Malaya. The British appointed a general as High Commissioner. That united the political and military commands. The general had 10:1superiority but still emphasized political goals.

    In Afghanistan, the martin and harper governments have made a MacArthur-type mistake. They allowed Hillier too much latitude. Michael Byers believes that Hillier was playing a double game. Making promises to NATO while hiding his intentions from his political master.

    How are you going to win in southern Afghanistan when military (NATO) and the politicians (Karzai etc) are not on the same page?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:09 PM  

  • jitman wrote:

    >>Michael Byers believes that Hillier was playing a double game. Making promises to NATO while hiding his intentions from his political master.<<

    It's official. From the sheer volume of your comments, you clearly have an agenda that goes far beyond having a rationale discussion about Canada's role in Afghanistan. I am not going to argue with you, you have a right to your opinion. A right, that is protected by the good men and women of the CF, I might add.

    I will close by quoting from Maclean's May 7/07 edition.

    "One doubts if the human rights groups really care if their demands are impractical. The goal of most critics of the Afghan mission is not to provide more Canadian assistance, but to remove our presence all together. The more alleged problems and logical impossibilities that can be heaped at the feet of our military, the easier it becomes to argue for the abandonment of Afghan citizens to Taliban thugs. Staying and winning is much tougher than cutting and running.

    Small successes are easier to overlook in Afghanistan than the challenges, but success stories to exit. In the World Bank's most recent report on global poverty, for instance, Afghanistan was singled out as the country with the best record at improving access to potable water. Given that has been a key focus of Canadian reconstruction efforts, improving the lives of Afghans in this way is the kind of achievement all Canadians can take pride in. As we should with the rest of our efforts to restore peace to that battered country."

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 1:51 PM  

  • I'm completely confused by the government on "deal or no deal" (well put, CG). I'm really disappointed in their incompetence on getting the facts right - or even at least some consistent "facts". I choose Harper over Dion on competence and efficient decisive action - but that magic ingredient is missing in Harper, and his team, on this one.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 10:08 PM  

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