Friday, February 1, 2008

Harper Steps Up Pressure On NATO Allies

I didn't post on it yesterday but I'm sure most of you know by now anyway; Jack Layton has been telling reporters that Canada and our international coalition isn't strong enough to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and so we need to run away. I know it sounds like I'm giving the story Conservative spin but that's nearly a direct quotation.

According to The Star, this is Layton's official position on Afghanistan:

The Taliban cannot be defeated by international troops and there's no point continuing to fight an unwinnable war in Afghanistan.

What a noble man. As the story mentions, it's clear that Layton is thinking about the next election and trying to corner the market on the anti-war vote by painting himself as the only true coward of the three major parties. Dion, who has been characteristically back and forth on the mission, says that he at least supports the troops as long as they're there whereas Layton's policy calls for a complete and immediate withdrawal from the country.

His logic is flawless: lets engage in tooth and nail warfare in a foreign country full of terrorists for a couple of years, wait until the country's deeply entrenched in violent conflict, and then leave before any real progress has been made to watch them sort out the mess themselves. And the NDP are the party of compassion? What about the Afghani men and women who don't feel like being slaughtered by the Taliban, Jack? Got any compassion in that great big heart of yours for them?

On the other hand, Harper has been glorious as always and has been stepping up his pressure on major NATO allies to supply 1,000 more troops for the Kandahar region in southern Afghanistan. Reportedly, he talked to President Bush about it for 20 minutes yesterday and he's calling British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today.

The National Post reports:

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper escalated diplomatic pressure on Canada's NATO allies yesterday, warning Britain's Gordon Brown that Canada will end its combat mission in Afghanistan next year unless the military alliance supplies 1,000 more troops for southern Afghanistan.

For the second consecutive day, Mr. Harper pressed a major Canadian ally to step up cooperation, calling the British Prime Minister the day after he delivered the same message to U.S. President George W. Bush in a 20-minute telephone call.

Mr. Harper briefed both leaders on last week's report of the independent Manley panel and its core ultimatum: Canada will end its combat operations in Kandahar by February, 2009, unless its allies provide another 1,000 troops and much-needed military hardware.

"Without that, Canada's mission will end in a year's time," said a statement from Mr. Harper's chief spokeswoman Sandra Buckler.

The Prime Minister has been aggressively defending the mission since the Manley Report was released and he's made it clear that he's sticking to his guns regardless of dissent from the NDP and, to a lesser extent, the Liberals. Layton and Dion seem to think the key to the next election will be the anti-war, or at least the soft-on-the-war, ballot but as things get better and better in Iraq, popular opinion should swing around towards creating stability in the Middle East just in time for the next Canadian federal election.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is next on Mr. Harper's call list, before he moves on to tougher challenges such as the leaders of Germany and France.

NATO is supportive of the Manley report and has pledged to help Canada find the support it needs to keep its 2,500 combat troops in Kandahar.

Britain will also get a firsthand briefing today when its Foreign Office Minister, Kim Howells, visits Ottawa for meetings with Defence Minister Peter MacKay and senior Foreign Affairs officials.

Story from Bourque News

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