Sunday, April 4, 2010 | Categories: Episodes
Interviewed by host Rex Murphy on the April 4, 2010, program
"Should Canada continue to play a strong role in Afghanistan after 2011?"
Rex Murphy's introduction to the April 4, 2010, program:
"Should Canada continue to have a strong role in Afghanistan after 2011?"
Today we want to talk about Afghanistan. Canada has committed to pulling out its troops next year. But some NATO allies would prefer Canada stay.
This week U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton created a stir on a visit to Ottawa for a meeting of G8 foreign ministers. In an interview she mentioned she is not happy Canada is withdrawing and would prefer the troops stay and fight.
"But I'm not going to sit here and tell you we're happy about it because ... that wouldn't be telling you the truth. We'd love to have Canada stay in this fight with us. But again, you know, you've got your own considerations and we respect that."
The British foreign secretary David Miliband echoed Hillary Clinton's remarks. Both countries have boosted their troop presence in Afghanistan. The U.S. dramatically so ...President Obama pledged an increase of 30-thousand soldiers to try to speed up an end to the conflict.
As far back as the last election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said there will be no role for Canadian troops in Afghanistan after 2011 and the opposition parties have fully supported that view. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff repeated this week that "the Canadian combat mission must end in 2011." Also this past week, former diplomat Robert Fowler in a speech to a Liberal conference said Canada should get out of Afghanistan because Canadians are not prepared to pay the price.
"The bottom line is: We will not prevail in Afghanistan," Fowler said. "We are simply not prepared to foot the massive price in blood and treasure, which it would take to effectively colonize Afghanistan -- the least fortunate country in the world -- and replace their culture with ours, for that seems to be what we seek, and with the Taliban share that view."
Polls suggest a large majority (more than three-quarters) of Canadian favour an end to combat. So, unless anything changes Canadian troops will not remain there past next year.
However, all that said, there is growing pressure for some Canadian troops to remain and to take up a non-combat role in support and training. Polls suggest there is greater public support for that option. In Parliament while the official party positions are for full withdrawal, there are many MPs who would like to see Canada continue a support role in Afghanistan. Liberal leader Mr Ignatieff has himself expressed support for a non-combat role. Some say it should be debated in the House but at this time it is not planned.
What do you think? Is it time for Canada's soldiers to get out of Afghanistan? Should some stay and focus on training and development work? Some NATO allies would prefer Canada stay and fight, does it matter what they think? What are the prospects for success in Afghanistan? What does success look like? If Canada ends its combat role and continues in another capacity ...would you accept that other countries take on the combat responsibilities?
Today we'd like to get your views on the Afghanistan mission, particularly whether you see Canadians getting out of Afghanistan in 2011 as the right thing. First do we get out entirely - or, just end what is referred to as the "military component" of the mission. Do we stay on to help in reconstruction of that country - its ongoing efforts in education, road building, infrastructure?
Do you think this issue should be debated in Parliament? Are you happy with the leadership you are getting from Parliament on this issue?
Our question today: "Should Canada continue to have a strong role in Afghanistan after 2011?"
I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 137 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.