Friday, February 08, 2008

Deconstructing The Motion

On Afghanistan that is:
Government Motion – Seeking to Continue the Mission in Afghanistan


whereas the House recognizes the important contribution and sacrifice of Canadian Forces and Canadian civilian personnel as part of the UN mandated, NATO-led mission deployed in Afghanistan at the request of the democratically elected government of Afghanistan;

This is we call the "mom and apple pie" portion of the motion. Who would dare to hate the troops? Hell, the Tories love the troops so much that they are willing to sacrifice more of them in defence of a regime that tortures people and condemns journalists to death.

whereas, as set out in the Speech from the Throne, the House does not believe that Canada should simply abandon the people of Afghanistan after February 2009; that Canada should build on its accomplishments and shift to accelerate the training of the Afghan army and police so that the government of Afghanistan can defend its own sovereignty and ensure that progress in Afghanistan is not lost and that our international commitments and reputation are upheld;

This is the first of many finger wags at Stephane Dion. I guess that's what you get for abstaining on Speeches from the Throne. I like the last bit, which I call the "My penis is bigger than yours", statement.

whereas in February 2002, the government took a decision to deploy 850 troops to Kandahar, the Canadian Forces have served in various capacities and locations in Afghanistan since that time and, on May 17, 2006, the House adopted a motion to support a two year extension of Canada’s deployment in Afghanistan;

I am not sure the Tories want to remind voters that we started with 850 troops in Kandahar, have moved up to 2500 and are asking for a 1000 foreign troops on top. That sounds like a slow escalation rather than an improving situation, over time. The last bit is just a shout out to the Iggy/Rae.

whereas the House welcomes the Report of the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan, chaired by John Manley, and recognises the important contribution they have made;

Why wouldn't the Tories support the Manley panel? They were hand picked to recommend an extension of the mission and dutifully complied.

whereas their Report establishes clearly that security is an essential condition of good governance and lasting development and that, for best effect, all three components of a comprehensive strategy — military, diplomatic and development — need to reinforce each other;

Interesting there is no mention of Manley's criticism of the government's communication strategy. Very strange.

whereas the government accepts the analysis and recommendations of the Panel and is committed to taking action, including revamping Canada’s reconstruction and development efforts to give priority to direct, bilateral project assistance that addresses the immediate, practical needs of the Afghan people, especially in Kandahar province, as well as effective multi-year aid commitments with concrete objectives and assessments, and, further, to assert strong Canadian leadership to promote better coordination of the overall effort in Afghanistan by the international community, and, Afghan authorities;

Very carefully worded. The government is "committed to taking action". That's like me saying I am committed to shovel the snow. Am I shoveling the snow? No, but I am committed to shovel the snow. It is a perfect action without motion statement.

whereas the results of progress in Afghanistan, including Canada’s military deployment, will be reviewed in 2011 (by which time the Afghanistan Compact will have concluded) and, in advance, the government will provide to the House an assessment and evaluation of progress, drawing on and consistent with the Panel’s recommendations regarding performance standards, results, benchmarks and timelines; and

whereas the ultimate aim of Canadian policy is to leave Afghanistan to Afghans, in a country that is better governed, more peaceful and more secure;

I call this the government's Kumbya moment. No time lines given you will notice. But there will be pie in the sky, by and by.

therefore, the House supports the continuation of Canada’s current responsibility for security in Kandahar beyond February 2009, to the end of 2011, in a manner fully consistent with the UN mandate on Afghanistan, but with increasing emphasis on training the Afghan National Security Forces expeditiously to take increasing responsibility for security in Kandahar and Afghanistan as a whole so that, as the Afghan National Security Forces gain capability, Canada’s combat role should be commensurately reduced, on condition that:

Again very carefully worded "expeditiously" (meaning someday maybe). It is a wonder the Tories didn't say "As the Afghan National Security Forces stand up, we will stand down". Too bad really. It is a wonderful turn of phrase.

(a) Canada secure a partner that will provide a battle group of approximately 1000 to arrive and be operational no later than February 2009, to expand International Security Assistance Force’s security coverage in Kandahar;

With just a thousand good men and true, we will vanquish our enemies. Remember Thermopylae!

(b) to better ensure the safety and effectiveness of the Canadian contingent, the government secure medium helicopter lift capacity and high performance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance before February 2009.

I think this was added by Petey. He just loves those UAV's. They are just so cool. Steve, being the indulgent father figure that he is, just could say no to those puppy dog eyes.
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  1. Verbiage aside -- and I agree, it can get too cute by half -- really, the issue is this:

    Renew the mission for two years w/ the conditions Manley set, yea or nay, with nay leading to an election.

    Seeing as the Liberals are sticking to their guns and saying no combat role after 2009 (and the NDP and the Bloc are opposed, full stop), I see no way of bypassing this disagreement.

  2. Yes Ben it is that simple, but this government can't sell it that way and it really, really wants to sell it. This is about marketing something that Canadians don't want to buy.