Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The other guy who should have been in Kandahar

Prime Minister Harper (still get a shudder typing that) has been rallying the troops in Kandahar. Canada has 2,200 personnel (including a barber) in Kandahar province, which is kinda like South Armagh but more mountainy (real ones, not what we call mountains in Ireland).

Harper's rhetoric is still Republican-esque so he uses lame Bush catchphrases which is pretty dumb as it just gives people an excuse to ignore the message and, well, shoot the messenger. The usual stuff "God bless Canada", "we won't cut and run", etc. etc. It is pretty impressive though that (a) he flew in on a Herc - which I suppose is less risky than a Sea King but not by much and (b) he overnighted with the troops. Bet the travelling handlers just loved the accomodations.

The point of the title is following on from a comment I left on talk talk talk, which was that the guy who should have been with him is Paul Martin, Prime Minister when the troops were committed to the operation. He should be reminding the troops and the country that he was the one who sent them there and explained to them why that was necessary. Martin could also remind the Liberals who are apparently worried about "escalation" of the strategic decision making his government made in sending the troops out - interim leader Bill Graham (then defence minister) could weigh in too... they did think about it before right?? Harper could then tell them why it's right for them to stay.

Then they could ask Jack Layton what problem he had with that, especially when he was supporting the Liberal Government at the time... but that was when he was more interested in how much pork spending he could extract from Ralph Goodale.

Parliamentary debate is all very well (or in the case of Question Time, pretty appalling) - I agree with Rick Mercer when he said Harper's speech was worth 1,000 speeches on Canadian soil.

To be honest, when I read the Star's special section on Sunday, I thought to myself that surely some of the objections to the mission would subside with this excellent piece of journalism. Two Toronto Star journalists doing a piece which took up the entire Ideas supplement, closely following Capt. Schamuhn and Lt. Greene in their meetings with village elders. I learned that Lt. Greene had previously suffered a concussion due to an attack on the armoured vehicle he was travelling in. Then came the attack which left him gravely injured. (MP3 of the radio calls after the attack).

Greene, now a Captain (he had been awaiting promotion at the time of the attack) has been returned from Landstuhl to Vancouver, apparently he is improving but largely in a drug-induced coma. linked Rex Murphy's Viewpoint from the CBC website. Here's Murphy's conclusion:
Two governments and two prime ministers now, one Liberal and one Conservative, have signed off on this U.N.-authorized, NATO-led mission. We may discuss, refine, and articulate the cause we're serving, but it's past the moment to debate the cause itself. If we wish to have a debate, we must end the mission. A debate on the validity of the mission cannot be subsequent to the decision to undertake it. That's a question that goes to honour when, as there are in Afghanistan, lives are at stake.
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