rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Liberal-Conservative coalition strikes again: Hundreds of troops to stay in Afghanistan post-2011

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

The Globe and Mail and other outlets are reporting comments by Defence Minister Peter MacKay that the Conservative government is 'considering' keeping hundreds of troops in Afghanistan after the 2011 pull-out date as 'trainers'.

"Mr. MacKay said the government would likely make a decision in the coming weeks in the run-up to the Nov. 18 NATO leaders' summit in Portugal.

Mr. MacKay stressed that any such mission would take place out of Kandahar province, where fighting is fiercest and would be 'behind the wire' — military parlance for non-combat mission.

NATO has identified a shortfall of about 900 troops to conduct training and Canada is mindful of those requests, the minister said.

Mr. MacKay finished three days of hosting foreign politicians, diplomats and academics at the Halifax International Security Forum.

NATO's future in Afghanistan was a top topic of discussion, with many foreign participants wanting to know what Canada's plans are in Afghanistan post-2011.

Mr. MacKay said Canada's post-2011 role would respect the Parliamentary motion that calls for an end to combat operations by next summer."

In other words, MacKay and the Conservatives have no plans to even seek a parliamentary rubber stamp for extending Canada's troop presence. And even if they did decide they needed to take it to the House of Commons, they would likely have no trouble getting it passed.

That's because what MacKay said in Halifax really isn't news. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff announced the 'training mission' policy back in June, speaking to the Empire Club at Toronto's Royal York Hotel:

"I'm very concerned that once the combat mission ends, and I believe the combat mission should end, and should end completely in 2011, we will walk away with the job undone. And we will look back and ask, ‘What was that about? Did we let ourselves down? Did we let our allies down? Did we let Afghanistan down?

I think there is a place for Canada to commit to a training role, to train the military, to train the police. What were we there for in the beginning? It was to enable the Afghans to defend themselves. It's not our country, it's their country. The whole purpose of our engagement in that country was to enable that country to stand on its own feet and be self-sufficient. We're not yet there. Are Canadians content to walk away with the job half done?"

Chalk up another one for the Liberal-Conservative coalition.

Although some news outlets reported MacKay's comments over the weekend as a 'surprise', it's been clear for some time that the country's two traditional ruling parties would come to an agreement like this to continue Canada's role in the occupation of Afghanistan post-2011. The lack of outrage and public debate speaks volumes to the timidity (and sometimes complicity) of the rest of the parliamentary opposition.

Now that MacKay has made the government's plans crystal clear, social movement organizations and civil society in general should be loudly echoing the words of former Afghan MP Malalai Joya, delivered on a recent speaking tour in Canada:

"...Harper is saying that Canada will stay to do 'training' of troops of puppet Karzai regime. We Afghan people don't need any more 'training' from Canadian government after 2011. We Afghans don't want any more bombing after 2011. We Afghans don't want any more torture by NATO and Afghan puppet forces. We Afghans don't want any more occupation by NATO. Instead of staying after 2011, it is better that Canadian troops leave sooner, leave now."

Note: For anyone unconvinced that leaving hundreds of military 'trainers' constitutes ongoing warmaking and participation in the occupation of Afghanistan, please see Vietnam.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.