Thursday, June 28, 2007

Andrew Coyne: The Afghan Mission's Black Knight

Andrew Coyne is right; there is no way Stephen Harper is going to sacrifice the chance of extending to Afghan mission always popular “political consensus”. He is also right to belittle the Liberals for holding to a policy that is nothing but a political façade.
These are the only things he gets right though. He calls Tom Walkom, no supporter of the Kandahar adventure, a “triumphant defeatist” for believing, wrongly as I just said, that Harper will not extend the mission beyond 2009. This is the rhetorical equivalent of the Black Knight, of Monty Python fame, calling a served limb a flesh wound. According to the State Department the number of attacks in Afghanistan last year was 53% higher than in 2005 and worse the number of people killed and wounded 91% higher. The number of NATO dead in 2005 where 113% higher than in 2004. Coyne might still have faith in mission but that is all he has got. The numbers do not back him up and he has certainly has no right to chide those how do not share his blind faith. All Coyne can do is threaten to bite opponent's knee caps and that is what he has done here.

Coyne continues his jingoistic rant by rhetorically asking what could possibly be gained by abandoning the Kandahar adventure and amazingly concludes that Canada has nothing to gain by leaving.
“And for what purpose? To whose benefit? The Afghans? No, it is quite clear they
want us there. The troops? No, they are equally adamant, in every interview I
have ever seen: they want to be there. Our NATO partners? Obviously not. The
only agenda served by the opposition's demands is the opposition's.”
Leaving aside the cost of mission that is doomed to fail, how about the threat to national unity the Afghan mission holds? A terrorist attack, inspired by Canada 's presence in Afghanistan, revitalize the Quebec’s separatist movement, especially if Quebec is the victim. Currently the Afghan mission is opposed by 70% of Quebecers. If Quebecers die as a result of us being there, the separatists will use it as a reason why Quebecers need their own country with its own foreign policy. Given what has transpired in Ontario, what happened in Spain and Britain, the chances of such an attack or not insignificant.

This is just the latest idiocy from Coyne. When the would be Ontario bombers were arrested Coyne noted on the National that Al Qaeda had long listed Canada as a potential target, that no Western country is immune from attack, and that the arrests were yet further reason for pursuing a more muscular approach in Afghanistan. What Coyne failed to note however was that the would be bombers did not have any connection to Al Qaeda, according to the Crown the accused were motivated by the Afghan mission and the reason Al Qaeda has targeted Canada is because of our presence in Afghanistan. This is the Al Qaeda threat Coyne was referring to.
“What do your governments want from their alliance with America in attacking us
in Afghanistan? I mention in particular Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany
and Australia.” (Subsequently, Al Qaeda twice threatened Canada with terror acts because of Afghanistan. In one of those times, Al Qaeda’s second in command referred to Canada has “second rate crusaders”. ) Only an ideologue of Coyne’s stature would have the chutzpah to use Al Qaeda’s threat related to our presence in Afghanistan as proof that Al Qaeda will attack any western target, as if Switzerland and the US are equally likely targets, and that we should therefore step up operations in Afghanistan.

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