Canadians split on Afghan extension

Afghan National Police trainee finishes an obstacle course. Next stop: obedience training

Canadians are split on the Harper government’s plan to extend Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan reports an Angus Reid Poll released on Monday (Jill Mahoney, “Canadians divided on Afghan training mission: poll,” Globe and Mail, 13 December 2010).

According to the poll, 48% of Canadians support the extension of the mission, while 44% oppose the extension.

Majorities of Albertans and British Columbians support the training mission while Atlantic Canadians and Quebeckers were most likely to disagree with extending the mission.

Sixty-two per cent of Canadians who voted for the Conservatives in the 2008 federal election support the non-combat mission, compared to half of Liberal voters.

The poll also found that 56 per cent of overall respondents oppose Canada’s current military mission in Afghanistan, while 36 per cent are supportive.

U.S. strategy review

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has completed its first major review of its Afghanistan strategy.

According to the White House, “fragile” progress is being made in Afghanistan, and the plan to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July 2011 remains on schedule (Helene Cooper & David E. Sanger, “Obama Cites Afghan Gains as Report says Exit Is on Track,” New York Times, 16 December 2010; see also Alyssa J. Rubin, “Afghan Report Exposes a Split Over Pullout Timelines,” New York Times, 16 December 2010). (Other analyses of the state of the Afghan war are much more skeptical.)

In a sign of how well things are actually going, the administration also indicated that it is planning to step up its “secret” campaign of drone strikes and special forces operations in Pakistan.

Canadian Forces photo

Tags: Afghanistan, Canadian military mission in Afghanistan, Obama administration, Pakistan, Public opinion