Our Own MacArthur

Maclean’s (hardly some pinko anti-war magazine) has an interesting bit on how Rick Hillier pushed to have us take on the worst assignment in Afghanistan (so it wasn’t a result of Liberal dithering that we got this assignment) in order to pursue his personal agenda. A sample:

“He wanted a deployment that would get Canada deeper and deeper into the most troubled part of Afghanistan. It was heavy lifting. And it was an initiative that would impress the Pentagon and even George Bush.”

Oh, so we didn’t do this out of concern for the Afghans or because we felt some grand moral obligations. We did this so that we could make friends at the Pentagon! Why would we do that?

“A new consensus, led by DND, was rapidly emerging in Ottawa: Canada, and in particular the Canadian Forces, needed to do something significant for Washington — something that the Pentagon really valued — to compensate for the refusal to participate in BMD.”

In other words the DND felt bad for the Pentagon. The last time I checked we were a sovereign state that does not need to impress the Pentagon. How about just telling the Pentagon that BMD isn’t particularly effective? I mean it can shoot down missiles that it’s told to shoot down in advance, I still wouldn’t bet on it in a real scenario.

But this wasn’t the only reason that Hillier put Kandahar out there as our mission:

“Canadians would be justifiably proud of their government and their military for undertaking a difficult and important assignment.”

Oh swell, a self-esteem boost. The proudest I have been of our government in the past decade was when Jean Chretien declined to participate in the morass of Iraq. We took a principled stance and went against traditional allies like the US and UK. And we were right. It is one thing to undertake a “difficult” assignment, I fear what we have in Afghanistan is an impossible assignment exacerbated by the US fixation with the opium trade.

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