It is difficult to retrain one’s sense of wonder at the monumental naivety and blind, destructive partisanship of Ujjal Dosanjh and, I think
a significant part (a majority?) of the Liberal Party of Canada’s caucus. Dosanjh says (See: below) that: ” "This has become almost totally a combat mission. And that was not the intention … We need to sit down with our NATO allies and refocus the mission."
If Mr. Dosanjh actually believes that then he, clearly, did not bother to listen to what his leader (and then defence minister) Bill Graham said when Paul Martin sent troops into the most dangerous part of Afghanistan – have dithered
while all the ‘easy’ PRTs were snapped up by allies. Mr. Graham did the famous body bag
tour – reminding Canadians that the new mission would be much more dangerous than ISAF in Kabul.
Now, Mr. Dosanjh is not a stupid man – one does not get to be a community leader, provincial premier and a federal cabinet minister by being stupid. He is however, it seems to me
, ill informed and poorly advised – which indicates to me that he is a poor leader who can’t pick staff and is too lazy to read his briefs. If he is well informed and has good advisors and listens to them then one can only conclude that he has allowed blind Liberal partisanship to get firmly and completely in the way of his duty
as a public servant.
Here are his comments, from today’s Globe and Mail
, reproduced here under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060804.AFGHANCAN04/TPStory/
Opposition urges review of Afghan mandate
Shift to heavy-duty combat requires talks with NATO allies, Liberal critic says
JEFF SALLOT and CAMPBELL CLARK AND GLORIA GALLOWAY
OTTAWA, CORNWALL, ONT. -- Canada's mission in Afghanistan has turned from peacekeeping to combat and must be "refocused," Liberal defence critic Ujjal Dosanjh said yesterday.
"This has become almost totally a combat mission. And that was not the intention," Mr. Dosanjh said. "We need to sit down with our NATO allies and refocus the mission."
Four Canadian soldiers were killed yesterday in Afghanistan in two separate incidents. Corporal Christopher Jonathan Reid of Truro, N.S., died overnight after a Canadian light-armoured vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. About 10 hours later, three soldiers -- including Sergeant Vaughn Ingram and Cpl. Bryce Jeffrey Keller -- were killed and six were wounded in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Pashmul, about 25 kilometres southwest of Kandahar. The third victim's name has not been released.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor talked about the national sorrow over the deaths of Canadian troops on foreign soil, but both expressed a resolve to continue the fight.
"Today, our forces have suffered serious casualties in Afghanistan. For those who have lost their family or their colleagues, these are always terrible moments. As fellow Canadians, I know that we all share their grief," Mr. Harper said during a luncheon speech he delivered at a hotel in Cornwall, Ont., where his caucus is holding a three-day retreat.
"But what the men and women in harm's way want and need to know in moments like this is that their government and Canadians stand behind their missions. And make no mistake, my friends -- through good times and bad, this government will honour their sacrifice, we will stand behind their mission and we are proud of the work that they are doing."
A poll conducted by the Strategic Counsel last month -- after the death of Canada's 17th soldier in Afghanistan, Cpl. Antony Boneca -- suggested that 56 per cent of Canadians opposed the mission, up 15 percentage points from March. But Mr. O'Connor said yesterday that his government is determined to stay the course.
The recent deaths don't change anything, he said. "Our commitment is till February '09, and we are going to continue in Afghanistan both from an aid point of view, from a diplomacy point of view and from a military point of view.
"It's pretty difficult but the soldiers I know are professionals and they will carry on. They accept the risks and, as I say, every once in a while we're a bit unlucky but we are going to stay the course."
The NDP will try to force the minority government to change its Afghanistan policy when Parliament begins its new session next month.
Dawn Black, the party's defence critic, said "this is a huge issue for the NDP."
New Democrats voted unanimously in the House this spring against a Conservative government motion to extend Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan.
Nothing has changed since to alter the party's view that Canada should not be fighting a counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan to support U.S. policy in the region, Ms. Black said in an interview.
Like the other parties, the NDP extended condolences to the families and friends of the slain soldiers. "This is a terrible day for Canadians," Ms. Black said.
While Liberals are increasingly questioning Canada's role in Afghanistan, the front-runner for the party's leadership said the mission has not changed, despite tragic casualties. "I don't think that in a moment of tragedy, when life has stopped for four Canadian families, that it's an appropriate moment to start re-evaluating the mission," Michael Ignatieff said.
He said that commanders in the field will have to assess whether Canada can reduce risk to its troops, but that he still supports the "broad political and strategic goals of the mission" -- and what has changed is not the goal, but the intensity of the Taliban offensive.
Liberal leadership candidate Bob Rae said that since Canadian troops in Afghanistan are under NATO command, NATO and the Canadian government must assess how the mission is going and whether its goals can be accomplished. Canadian troops went to Afghanistan to help establish rule of law and smooth the way for humanitarian aid, but are now engaged at least in part in counterinsurgency.
"I think that counterinsurgency would appear to be a significant part of what's going on," he said. "We are into that kind of a mission, and I think we really have to have the means to assess the success, the progress, how durable it is, how deep it is."
Amongst the many things Dosanjh and Bob Rae appear to misunderstand is that the Liberal Party of Canada was in power when our 3D strategy
was put in place. The aim is, indeed, to let diplomacy and development do their good works but they cannot even begin, in earnest, until defence
provides them with a satisfactory degree of security – the murder of Canadian humanitarian Mike Frastacky, for the mortal sin
of building a school in which girls might learn, illustrates the point.
It is vital, to our national security
, that we do not cut and run
. We – the big ‘we’, the American led West – helped
the Afghans throw out the Taliban. Now we need to follow up on the Afghan people’s victory, we need to keep the Islamic radicals, our self-declared enemies
, on the run; we must not allow them to set up their training camps and bases in Afghanistan again; we must send a message to all weak, failing and failed states that making a home for al Qaeda and their fellow travellers
will result in a visit from tough, disciplined, deadly Canadian soldiers (and their fellow travellers, too) – with all that implies.
It is time for Bill Graham to replace Ujjal Dosanjh with a a critic
who understands our vital interests, our strategy and the proper, responsible role of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.