It's a looooong way to 2011, baby…

Updated: CTV National News story on Harper’s Afghanistan 2011 pull-out pledge. Read more here in the Sun and Toronto Star, or watch this longer interview on CPAC last night.

Rideau Institute’s response to Harper announcement on Afghanistan, that regarding Canada’s military contribution to the war in Afghanistan, “We intend to end it [in 2011].”

  • Canadians should greet this election promise with some scepticism, since Mr. Harper is likely to say whatever it takes to win a majority. This is an attempt to remove the Afghanistan war from the election campaign. 
  • The end date of December 2011 puts Canada at less than halfway through its mission in Kandahar, which began officially in February 2006, or 30 months ago. Continuing until December 2011 will mean another 40 months of combat in Kandahar. A lot can happen in that time, including, ironically, a potential escalation of our commitment there in the next year following the U.S. elections.
  • Mr. Harper’s new position is trying to address a growing public unease with the war. 61% say that the cost to Canada “in lives and money has been unacceptable” (Harris/Decima Aug. 28-31, 2008). It is unrealistic to expect that Canadians will accept another three years of sacrifice.
  • Instead, Mr. Harper should make a commitment to refocus Canadian efforts to ending the war, not handing it over to the Afghans to fight after we’re gone.

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