Monday, February 12, 2007

The Canadian Senate report on the Afghan mission

The Globe and Mail reports today on a report by a Senate (yes, Canada has a Senate) committee reviewing Canada's involvement in Afghanistan. A quotation from the article:

Speaking to media at the report's release, Mr. Kenny and Senate defence committee vice-chair Michael Meighen said the public debate in Canada was made more difficult by the radical contrast between the two nations.

“We're talking about a medieval society that has a very different attitude about democracy than people who have grown up taking civic classes,” Mr. Kenny said.

Canada's presence in Kandahar was making life more perilous for people in that region, the report states, and is compounded by the civilian death toll and lack of development assistance on the ground.

“Afghanistan is only remotely connected to the modern world,” it says. “Anyone expecting to see the emergence in Afghanistan within the next several decades of a recognizable modern democracy capable of delivering justice and amenities to its people is dreaming in Technicolor.

“Are Canadians willing to commit themselves to decades of involvement in Afghanistan, which could cost hundreds of Canadian lives and billions of dollars with no guarantee of ending up with anything like the kind of society that makes sense to us?”

Somehow that looks like the kind of question that answers itself. Nonetheless, the report (in the executive summary) talks about improving the odds for success. Here's one realistic (!) suggestion:

to effectively stop Taliban infiltration, the Government of Canada, with
its NATO partners and Afghanistan, [should] establish a defensible buffer zone in
Afghanistan on the Afghan side of its border with Pakistan.

Here's the whole report and the executive summary.

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