Monday, March 20, 2006

Afghanistan, Part 2

Paul Heinbecker, quoted in the Hill Times, follows nicely with my previous post on Canada's role in Afghanistan - what it is and what it should be [The Hill Times, PM Harper attaches 'a lot of his political credibility' to Kandahar military operation: MP Kenney]:

Paul Heinbecker, now director of the Centre for Global Relations, Governance and Policy at Wilfrid Laurier University, and former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, suggested that the Conservative government could win more favour for the war by trying to distance the Canadian agenda from the American one, and the hand over of leadership to NATO will help.

"The U.S. has an agenda in central Asia that isn't the Canadian agenda," Mr. Heinbecker said in an interview. "By that I mean strategic relationships in which a refurbished role with India is part of it; also bases throughout central Asia, also pipelines, oil companies. These are part of the U.S. agenda, it's not part of the Canadian agenda. The extent to which you involve yourself as a kind of partner with the U.S. but with different objectives, you risk being confused by others as being part of the U.S. enterprise overall. That's a very dangerous place to be."

Mr. Heinbecker said that Canada's objectives are to help establish a functioning government in Afghanistan, along with economic activity, education, infrastructure, and promote human rights and create stability to avoid the incubation of terrorist activity.
I think giving leadership of the overall mission to NATO would be a positive step. As long as the mission is lead by the United States, I think questions of Canada's role in Afghanistan will be constantly criticized.

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lecentre said...

He's spot on about Canada's role there - rebuilding and fighting terrorists - but he's wrong about taking distance from the US. That's small-time politics to just show we're different. He says it's dangerous to be seen as their ally. We're already being targeted by al-Qaeda and other terrorists anyways, though, so we may as well work with those people who are fighting the terrorists.
Nato leadership would only be good if it brought more troops and resources to fight the terrorists.

Jim (Progressive Right) said...

I think some of the criticism is unfairly targeting the notion that because this is a US-lead mission, it's the US determining the agenda - that is, how much time and effort is spent in reconstruction vs. how much time is spent looking for Osama bin Laden is based on American interests, not Afghanistan's.

I think it's also in the US's best interest as well, to turn the mission lead over to NATO - again, being the lead invader of Iraq cannot help perceptions either.