Former Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Manley, expressed concern recently in a published article that he felt the Government wasn't quite living-up to his keystone recommendation to be more open about the Afghan War.
You'll recall that at Prime Minister Harper's request, Mr. Manley chaired a panel of distinguished Canadians which reported last February on the future of Canada's commitments in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan. The report's 3 main recommendations were: More transparency about the mission; additional troop commitments from NATO; and better equipment for the Canadian contingent.
Despite mounting evidence that we've just about failed on each expectation: Based on that report, in March the House of Commons extended our military efforts in Afghanistan until February of 2011.
In addition to the almost 100 personnel dead, Canada's other cost of this war is the mounting number of the injured casualties coming home with missing limbs, disfigurements and psychological scars. I found it telling that in the media's coverage of the 1000 strong convoy of supporters along the "Highway of Heroes" last weekend from CFB Trenton to Toronto, the veterans in wheel-chairs and the others who bear the "scars of war" appeared well sheltered from public view. Shame!
Although couched in diplomatic language, the reality of the Afghan War is that it is being lost. That doesn't appear to be our government's view...at least officially. But yesterday in the hand-over of Command for the international force in Afghanistan, the man in charge for more than a year, General Dan McNeill, made it crystal clear. His words, no doubt chosen with great care, were that the war against the Taliban is "under-resourced". By how much? Well, when General McNeil took over command in February 2007, there were 33,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan. There are now 53,000 and he says that is insufficient. In fact, General McNeill told the BBC that if counter-insurgency guidelines were being followed, 400,000 troops would be needed in Afghanistan. Pity!
After 15 months, General McNeill takes his leave from Afghanistan by handing-over command of the NATO International Security Assistance Force to American General David McKiernan....name sound familiar? General McKiernan was in charge of the ground attack that toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Lord knows how well that went!
To quote Jack Nicholson in the 1992 blockbuster movie, A Few Good Men: "You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns.".....pass the ammunition!