Friday, November 19, 2010

What would a debate on the Afghan mission accomplish?

There has been a fair amount of negative reaction to the decision of the government to extend the Afghan mission and their assertion, with the support of the Liberals, that no debate is necessary in the House.

My original reaction was just as negative but after thinking about it for awhile I am now wondering if it is such a big deal.

Many have argued that such a debate is necessary to assert the supremacy of Parliament. While I agree with such a sentiment I would point out that Parliament began its descent into irrelevancy under Trudeau and every government since then continued its descent with the current government taking it to extremes.

Further, even if we eventually have a Parliamentary debate and a subsequent vote we all know that Stephen Harper will make certain that such a debate is in the form of a non-binding motion which they will use to reinforce their position if they win the vote and ignore if they lose. So, really the interests of Parliamentary supremacy would not be served by such a debate and vote.

I have argued before that the true test of the actual Supremacy of Parliament will come after the current paranoid government is removed from power and we see how its successor deals with Parliament. On that score the actions of the Liberals in this case have disappointed me.

Looking at the situation on the ground, not much has changed. The Taliban is still winning the war in Afghanistan. The Karzai regime is still incompetent and corrupt and they only control Kabul. The rest of the country is still ruled by warlords who are still financing themselves and their warbands with drug money.

Here at home the war is still not very popular but that unpopularity has not really been galvanized into an actual anti-war movement. Canadians do not really want to be there but at the same time they are not clamouring for the troops to be brought home either. Further, much of the chattering class is still firmly behind the war as witnessed by the claims that the agreement between the Conservatives and the Liberals was "bipartisan" and by the fact that none of the MSM have made a real effort to analyze the implications of the proposed new assignment.

So, in the end any Parliamentary debate on the new assignment would just degenerate into jingoism, false patriotism and generally useless BS just like the last "debate" we had on the Afghan mission. No really important questions would be answered or even discussed and Canadians would eventually just tune it out and have their belief that our Parliament is useless further reinforced.

Further, do not mistake the hooting of the Bloc and the NDP as a serious desire to debate this new assignment. They merely see a an opening for gaining some political advantage.

Finally, when all is said and done, the decision on whether Canada remains in Afganistan depends of Barack Obama. He is now focusing on re-election in 2012 and part of that effort will be the removal of troops from Afghanistan before November 2012. The US may not remove them all by then but they will remove a large proportion of them and when that happens the pressure from Canadians on our government to remove our troops will be irresistable, regardless of who is in power. I would expect the Obama Administration to begin making serious noises about withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan next summer with the buildup of pressure on our government to correspond to increased momentum of that withdrawal going into 2012.

All of this talk about Canadian troops remaining in Afghanistan until 2014 is bunk. The draw down of Canadian troops next summer will be the beginning of a process that will probably end no later than the summer of 2012.

I am not surprised by the decision to keep Canadian troops in Afghanistan after 2011. Anyone who really believed that Canada would pull its troops out of that country next summer, as promised, is naive in the extreme. While I am disappointed that the Liberals have decided to go along with this decision that disappointment is the result of what the decision might mean about how a future Liberal government treats Parliament. I am not really disappointed that there will be no Parliamentary debate because I do not believe such a debate would really accomplish anything useful.


Blogger marie said...

Probably nothing ottlib as the Media will merely report what they want without getting off their duffs and report facts instead of repeating the Reformatories talking points. maybe to remind Canadians who actually talked about training the Afghan people months ago . Maybe to remind Canadians that Harper squashed that idea months ago in 2007, 2008 etc. Just my thoughts on the question.

November 25, 2010 2:50 PM  

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