Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Karzai to Dion: No Dice

Afghan government rejects Liberal plan for Afghanistan

When Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff met with Afghanistan president Hammad Karzai last week, they must have imagined the outcome would turn out to be a little different than it's turn out.

Table an ambiguous proposal, spout some platitudes, and Dion and Iggy are done here.

Surely, the not-so-dynamic duo must have thought, Karzai would indeed turn out to be a "reasonable" man (in this case, reasonable being a word that means "utterly pliable to the political considerations necessary to impliment a largely infeasible plan").

As it turns out, perhaps Karzai and the Afghan diplomatic corps aren't quite as "reasonable" as Dion had hoped.

In fact, Dion was reportedly advised prior to his meeting with Karzai that any passive mission plan would not be supported by the Afghan government.

Karzai noted that terrorism must be fought "head-on".

Edmonton Center Conservative MP (and former Canadian Forces fighter pilot) Laurie Hawn agrees. "Here's a newsflash, Mr. Dion, the Taliban are not seeking peace but victory over the Afghan people."

"The Afghans do not want a relapse, especially to pre-9/11 conditions," said Omar Samad, Afghanistan's ambassador to Canada. "This type of threat, in the form of terrorism and extremism, needs to be dealt with directly and head-on. That point had been made by the president."

"The events of Sept. 11 serves us well in reminding ourselves that not fighting terrorism head-on can have disastrous consequences for Afghanistan, the region and the world at large," Karzai announced.

Furthermore, Hawn would remind Dion that taking a passive role in Afghanistan is actually contrary to Canadian interests. "It is in Canada's national interest to not let Afghanistan become a breeding ground for terrorism again. Afghans also deserve a chance at the values we enjoy - freedom, human rights, rule of law, opportunity. And, if we abandon Afghanistan to a Taliban fate, who should ever trust us again? Mr. Dion may be willing to accept that. I am not."

While allowing Canadian Forces to take a sabbatical from front-line combat duties may actually be a very good idea, Dion needs to remember that a rotation is just that -- a rotation. Canada would be called upon for combat again -- as it eventually should be.

Dion has done his plan no favours by failing to make a few details available: such as, precisely how long he thinks the Canadian rotation out of a combat role should be. That's a very important detail.

Dion's recent plan represents nothing more than the latest chapter in a pervasive story of double-speaking to Canadians on the Afghanistan issue. That he would take that double-speak abroad to the head of state of a foreign country is a very disturbing omen for Dion's ability to be a statesman.

Fortunately, Hammad Karzai isn't falling for it.

Neither should Canadians.

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