Monday, February 11, 2008

Opinion: 2011? Supporting our Troops?

As we come close to the end of Canada's military role in Afghanistan, the war drums are on again to continue the occupation longer. The Canadian combat operations are set to end in Afghanistan in February 2009, a year from now. Due to this Stephen Harper is on the warpath to extend combat operations until 2011. He has stated after that, the operations would be handed over to Afghan security forces.

Yet, this would indicate that slowly the country is getting more stability. This is not the case. Even in Kabul considered one of the safest regions suicide attacks have started, which is a tactic that up until recently was rare in Afghanistan even if a widely used tactic in Iraq. Norway has actually had to evacuate their embassy recently in Kabul [1] due to terror threats. Plus Canadians are having more and more people come home in body bags.

In a letter I sent to former Minister of Defence Gordon O'Conner when the combat mission was extended in May 2006 to continue to February 2009, one of his major statements was "When terrorists attacked the United States on 11
September 2001, 24 Canadians died. We must do all that we can to tackle the
terrorist threat to our national interests before Canadian lives are lost again." [2] In total so far 79 Canadians have died in Afghanistan which by my count is much higher. The numbers are concentrated in the last few years however with 37 deaths in 2006, 30 in 2007 and 4 so far just this year.

According to a recent Strategic Counsel poll [3] more Canadians think that Canada is in Afghanistan because, the United States wants them there. More Canadians think their foreign policy is less independent then 50 years ago and that the US is the thing most influencing foreign policy. Plus according to their July 2007 study [4] Most Canadians (59%) oppose our troops being in Afghanistan.

Lets bring our troops home, go with public opinion, and not see any more destruction of our military or the death of our soldiers.

[1] http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/003200802111653.htm
[2] Personal Email Sept 27, 2006
[3] http://www.thestrategiccounsel.com/our_news/polls/
2007-12-10%20GMCTV%20Dec%206-9%20final.pdf
[4] http://www.thestrategiccounsel.com/our_news/polls/
2007-07-16%20GMCTV%20July%2012-15.pdf

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