Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Compare and Contrast

Covering the very unsexy Afghanistan war today on my radio program I began by reporting what Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance said on Monday night on his return to Kandahar where he was in command. “Although we’ve been in Afghanistan for a long time, and in the south since 2006, we really did not have the forces necessary to defeat the enemy using counterinsurgency tactics at the time.” But that's all changed now with Obama's surge in troops for Afghanistan and now the allies do have what’s needed for “enduring progress.”

 Did you get that? You see all this time we've had Canadian soldiers fighting and dying in a situation that they could not win so, unbeknownst to Canadians, they have essentially just been in a holding pattern all these years. But now, with the extra troops the Americans are providing to the southern battlefields, now victory is on the way!

It sure sounds like bunk after eight long years of Canadians doing their part on behalf of their American and NATO allies, but who am I to dispute the General's assertions? So let's hear what Robert Blackwill, who was Condolezza Rice's deputy as National Security Adviser in 2003 to 2004 has to say. The Telegraph reports that he will use a speech at the International Institute of Strategic Studies think tank in London on Monday to call on President Obama to make drastic changes in the war's objectives. He believes the surge will likely fail and that, "The Taliban are winning, we are losing, They have high morale and want to continue the insurgency. Plan A is going to fail. We need a Plan B."

Indeed the do, as there are reportedly now 1,000 soldiers deployed for every one of the estimated 100 al Qaeda operatives now believed to be based in Afghanistan, and it's costing the US $100 billion dollars a year. Even General Petreus is reported as having said on ABC News that success over the insurgency could be another 9 or 10 years away. This presents us with the obvious question of, do any of the allies have the stomach to wage war in Afghanistan for that much longer and what exactly would a plan B look like?

As for Canada's part in all this, by 2011 at least $18 billion dollars of taxpayers money will have been sunk into the war ($1500 per person) and is the reason Canada has essentially abandoned its' 50-year commitment to UN peacekeeping. Some estimates of the total costs to Canadians by 2011, when the private costs to families and community of lost and injured soldiers are factored in, as being as high as $28 billion.

So, exactly why was General Vance trying to paint such a rosy picture? Who in hell believes him, and why doesn't the Canadian media challenge his assertions?

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