Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tories and Grits hardly differ

On the Liberal and Conservative motions on the Afghanistan war:

National Post
February 22, 2008

Afghan plan carved in paper

Don Martin

... Last week's four-page Liberal motion on conditionally extending the Afghanistan mission was countered by a four-page Conservative motion released yesterday that would pass for a photocopy.

There is no measure of mission success or failure in either motion. Only a firm 2011 date for a retreat to somewhere else is up for discussion. ...

At most there are three ... variances of little significance.
- Soldiers will down weapons and start packing on either Feb. 1, 2011 (Liberals) or Canada Day that year (Conservatives).
- The six-month process of knocking down tents and loading up equipment will be completed and Canada's spot on the Kandahar Air Field rendered an empty patch of dirt and gravel by either July (Liberals) or December, 2011 (Conservatives).
- The troops and their equipment will either be relocated north into safer provinces or out of the country entirely by the end of 2011. ...

Yet you can parse every syllable in the motion and it's clear nothing will change on the ground for the next three years. ...

What makes both motions worth less than the paper they're printed on is that four years represents an eternity in military deployments and minority government lifespans. By the time Canada starts its sixth year in Kandahar in 2011, one of the two national parties could have a majority mandate for the prime minister to do as he or she damn well pleases in military matters.

If that person is still Stephen Harper, we will not be leaving on schedule in 2011.

This Prime Minister clearly relishes being a middle-power leader with the capacity to unleash "peace-enforcement missions" at will -- a country no longer ignored as the nation of blue helmets with binoculars for weaponry. ... (link)

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