Strange Bedfellows

April 25, 2007 at 1:29 am 5 comments

There’s an ancient Greek apothegm that says “the best is the enemy of the good”. This bit of classical wisdom was clearly displayed Tuesday when the NDP teamed up with the Conservatives to defeat a Liberal motion calling for the withdrawl of Canadian troops from Afghanistan by February 2009. While the NDP’s action may please its antiwar “base”, it is almost certainly a strategic and tactical error.

Tactically, because a Commons majority to withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of our current commitment would send a powerful message: our NATO allies and above all the Americans would be on notice that Canada does not intend to spend blood and treasure indefinitely while Afghanistan becomes an Iraqi-style quagmire. The signal would be heard the loudest in the US Congress, where the Democrats are battling President Bush in an attempt to set a deadline — any deadline — for the withdrawl of US troops from Iraq. Several Democrat staffers have assured me that a firm Canadian deadline for Afghanistan would strengthen their own case and would be raised on the floor of Congress. With Tuesday’s vote, Canada has thrown away any chance to influence this crucial American debate.

Strategically, as well, the NDP leadership seems to be blind to the awakening understanding on the political left that splitting the progressive vote three ways hands the Conservatives a majority in the next election. That awakening has prompted the rather bizarre snuggling up of the Greens and the Liberals. But, as Murray Dobbin argues convincingly, a Liberal-Green alliance would not be a progressive one. He sees a bond between the Greens and the NDP as the more natural coupling, even if it goes no farther than a tacit agreement that each party not run candidates in ridings where the other can mount an effective challenge to the Conservatives. 

But Tuesday’s vote suggests that the NDP seems determined to preserve the same the stubborn factionalism that led the French left to self-destruct in the 2002 Presidential elections. By rejecting the Liberal compromise the NDP retained its ideological purity, but in so doing became an unlikely drummer-boy for the Harper – O’Conner militaristic hubris. Jack Layton spoke as though he was trying out for Hamlet: “The time is out of joint: – O cursed spite, / That I was ever born to set it right!“.

In the end, as we know, it didn’t turn out well for the Danish prince.




Entry filed under: Mike Wallace.

Afghan Prisoner Torture Scandal: War Crimes What was Stéphane Dion thinking?

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jim Whitehammer  |  April 25, 2007 at 8:09 am

    Wow, what great piece of pro-liberal shilling.

    So Dion and the Liberal Caucus reverse their position of last year and put forward their own motion to extend search and destroy until February 2009, lets guess whose fault that is supposed to be: the NDP.

    The Liberals got us into this war, and now progressives are supposed to rally around them as the “peace party”? give me a break.

  • 2. OfficialPro  |  April 25, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Wow. Do you guys realize HOW GALACTICALLY STUPID publicly espousing a set pullout date is? That’s like broadcasting to the Taliban “GG, I WANT to lose! Yup you can have this all back, right after such-and-such a date! Go back to torturing women and crushing homosexuals and treating girls like mushrooms, we ain’t goona try to stop you.”

    If you HAVE a set pullout date, fine. BUT DON’T BROADCAST THE FACT. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that even some al-qaeda n00b watching CNN in the caves of Afghanistan will see it and make plans for their triumph.

    BTW pulling out will not endear us to the Taliban. Actually, quite the opposite. Just listen to what Osama bin Laden had to say after the pullout in Mogadishu that inspired the movie “Blackhawk Down.” To us, it’s “being nice”–to them, it’s being a pussy, which means advantage can be taken from it. I’m sorry but that’s the way these people think, and none of your utopian fantasies are going to change it.

    And the people of Afghanistan are going to go WTF why did you leave us in the clutches of these extremist barbarians?! That’ll be an even bigger letdown–one that matters FAR more than any imagined “disappointment” over still being in Afghanistan.

  • 3. verbena19  |  April 30, 2007 at 12:07 am

    Official Pro,

    Afghanistan is a tribal country, made up of clans, of which we have very little understanding. No amount of troops can/will ever change this. Any change in the fabric of Afghan society will have to come from the Afghans themselves as a natural progression, not at the point of our guns or at the urging of their puppet leaders who are mistrusted and disdained by most of the people.. It is not as simple as Taliban=bad, some warlords= maybe good.

    Consequently, it makes little difference whether we stay or leave, except for the mounting casualty count. What Afghanistan needs is reconstruction aid and projects that require peace-builders, healthcare workers, teachers, construction engineers and workers, etc. — civilians — not soldiers. Troops are seen as occupiers and an extension of US imperialism, especially with the US’ Iraq fiasco.

    And do you actually believe that the whole world wants our western-style ‘democracy’ and our McBurger’s and banks?

  • 4. OfficialPro  |  April 30, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Ummm yes I KNOW Afghanistan is a tribal-based society. And I also know that a TON of people turned out for the elections that were held after the Taliban was kicked out of power. Looks like they like this idea of democracy just fine.

    Warlords can be bad or good, but the Taliban is unequivocally, irrevocably, unmistakably BAD. You have to understand this. The Taliban does not represent the will of the Afghani people.

    You seem to miss the point here. We’re not “conquering” Afghanistan. We’re keeping the Taliban from taking it back. In that, it DOES matter whether we stay, or pull out. I’m sure it matters to all the little girls who finally get to go to school. And you forget that reconstruction will be MORE futile than you claim the presence of the troops are, because the Taliban will resurge if we pull out and blow up that nice new infrastructure faster than it can be built. And if we pull out of Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden will see us for the pussies we are, and will be emboldened to attack us. And he doesn’t want to attack us merely for the sake of the United States. No, he wants the entire world to turn to his twisted brand of Islam. Google and read Osama Bin Laden’s letter to the west. You’ll see exactly what is up. And don’t think that you can cozy up to the likes of him by doing anything less than converting to Islam. People with “progressive” points of view are the first to be beheaded by people like Osama. Make no mistake, if Al-Qaeda ever gains a foothold in the Americas, you leftists are the first people he’s going after, for your percieved immorality. And I highly doubt you would willingly convert to Islam to placate him and his ilk, so stop trying to think you can be friends with the guy and his allies. You can’t.

    Make no mistake, we are pointing NO guns at the Afghani people proper. Taliban and alQaeda terrorists do not wear uniforms, so identifying them can be a problem among civilians. Civilians–Afghani or foreign aid workers of some kind–will be LESS able to deal with Taliban suicide bombings if the troops bugger off on them. And how can you claim to know what’s going on in Afghanistan as to how we are viewed? Iraq’s got very little to do with this. And personally, I don’t care if some anti-gay bigot from the Taliban thinks we’re being “Imperialist.” This is not an important point to consider, because this is not the primary motivator of the Taliban; instead, their Wahhabist-style sectarian wrenching of Islam is responsible.

    Not having banks is a bad thing. Economies work much better when banks exist.

    And it doesn’t matter what “the whole world” wants. Of course there’s goona be people that don’t want McDonald’s, but who cares? Those that want it, will keep it and those that don’t, won’t patronize it and McDonald’s won’t stay where they are not profitable. It’s as simple as that. And the motivations for not wanting whatever aren’t exactly what you think they might be.

    And people who don’t want representative government (not a raw democracy per se, but with checks and balances would be closer to what is proper) shouldn’t be listened to. It means they are totalitarians at heart, or are so used to totalitarianism that it’s all they know and they get a Stockholm Syndrome. Which is what I think more than a few “peace activists” get over the terrorists.


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