Michael's Dispatches

Canadian Prime Minister Ready to Throw in the Towel in Afghanistan


10 September 2008

Canada PM: Troops home from Afghanistan in 2011

TORONTO (AP) — Canada's prime minister vowed Wednesday to pull troops from Afghanistan in 2011, the first time he has said Canadian forces will leave the country.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that Canadians do not want to keep soldiers in Afghanistan beyond then and that 10 years of war is enough.

"You have to put an end date on these things," Harper told reporters during a breakfast briefing. "We intend to end it."

Click Here to read the entire story by Rob Gillies 


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    TomInVan · 13 years ago
    How about, "Canadian PM vows to achieve reasonable stability in Kandahar in 2 years"?

    "Throw in the towel" is a rather harsh and perhaps knee-jerk characterization of a plan whose details have not been illustrated or announced and probably won't be for at least a year-and-a-half.

    Also note that the "10 years of war is enough" statement in the article is the reporter's editorializing, it is not something that Harper said. A somewhat better version of the story can be found here: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=782446

    I wouldn't be surprised to see Harper announce a major surge (by Canadian standards anyway) after he is re-elected to achieve the Coalition's goals in Kandahar by 2011. Also, given his government's large investment in and restructuring of Canada's special forces (Special Operations Forces Command), it wouldn't be surprising to see a significant contribution by Canadian SF in Kandahar and elsewhere in Afghanistan post 2011, perhaps in a bit of a role-reversal with Australia.

    Keep in mind that Harper orchestrated some brilliant domestic political maneuvering to extend the Canadian mission from 2009 to 2011 in the first place. He has a history of promising little and delivering much.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Paul S. · 13 years ago
    Time...the gift our enemies wish most from us.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Brian H · 13 years ago
    It occurs to me that this might be an attempt to put the Fear of Dog into the Euros who have been so mushy in their A-stan deployments for the whole decade. He had previously challenged them and demanded more participation and risk-sharing, and got nada.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Freedom Now · 13 years ago
    I'd prefer that our allies stay, but they have done a great job so I wish them all the best.

    They made a reasonable committment and thats all we can ask for.

    I hope that when the time comes we replace them with Iraqi troops.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Viking · 13 years ago
    Being a long-time reading of this website, I'm disappointed in the choice of headline. As pointed by TomInVan, PM Harper worked hard to get the mission extended to 2011, when the opposition was pressing hard for a 2009 deadline. So saying that he is ready to 'throw in the towel' seems grossly unfair, and frankly points towards a hasty conclusion without an understanding of the background.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kelly C · 13 years ago
    With a quote like "you have to put and end date on these things," how are people not supposed to infer that they are giving up? It sounds like "we'll give you maybe 2 more years and then if there isn't victory I'm going home". Here, on this 7th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I am reminded that the WTC was originally attacked 8 years before. So, it would seem that the enemies of democracy and decency have much more patience than we do...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kelly C · 13 years ago
    But I didn't get as much encouragement as you have from the article you linked.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    TomInVan · 13 years ago
    ...but it makes sense to look beyond the headlines.

    Canada is in the midst of an election campaign with one right-of-centre party (Harper's) up against three left-of-centre parties. By putting an "end-date" on the current mission in Afghanistan, Harper has effectively taken the issue off the table. He can dismiss accusations of "warmongering" for the duration of the campaign. It would be highly difficult for Harper to win a majority government otherwise, and could potentially even result in a Liberal government, which would surely end Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

    About the "end date" issue: does anybody seriously believe that coalition generals don't have mission goals that are time-specific? I'm sure the enemy is very well aware of changes-of-command, troop rotations, etc. Harper is merely announcing the obvious in terms of Canada's infantry deployment. Keep in mind that proportionate to population levels, Canada has suffered 2x as many casualties as Americans in Afghanistan and around -4x as many casualties in terms of boots on the ground. That's some pretty heavy lifting all things considered and it makes sense that they may want to alter their contribution periodically (a luxury the "lesser powers" have).

    So let's speculate on what the "altered contribution" might be (Harper and his defence minister both mentioned "technical" contributions post 2011 in recent days):

    To date, Canada's primary contribution to the Kandahar mission has been infantry and associated engineering (route clearing, etc.) and artillery + a couple squadrons of Leopard 1 and 2 tanks. Also, some JTF2 (special forces).

    Because Canadian/coalition troops sorely lack tactical airlift in Kandahar (thanks for nothing, Europe), Canada is in the midst of purchasing 16 new Chinooks intended specifically for the Afghan mission. They're not about to park them. They've also been outfitting and testing some Griffon helicopters for escort/reconnaissance duties (similar to USMC Hueys).

    I wouldn't be surprised to see a couple of squadrons of Chinook and Griffon escort helicopters deploy to Kandahar in 2010 and beyond, with perhaps a squadron or two of (recently modernized) F-18s rotating in and out Kandahar.

    Also, expect significantly more special forces contributions (as I mentioned earlier, a new special forces regiment has been formed and trained and is likely ready to contribute.

    Sorry for the long post.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Freedom Now · 13 years ago
    The enemies of democracy and decency have much more patience than we do because they have to.

    We have a choice. Some choose complacency or defeatism. Thatƒ??s their prerogative.

    Just like in Iraq our enemies will lose because of their inhumane tactics. It will take time, but such brutality cannot win the war without the kind of overwhelming force that barbaric fascists like Stalin or Genghis Khan had.

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