Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter MacKay has rejected calls for a debate on the Afghanistan mission by the NDP, saying "the country must rally behind its troops without reservation". He also said the length of the mission will be decided by the generals, and our troops are there to help the war-torn country rebuild.
Liberals must not allow such US-style dismissal of military strategy by the Opposition to continue. Before the Conservatives can jump on the "support-our-troops" bandwagon, Liberals must remember it was us who decided to contribute in greater numbers to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Currently, the rules of engagement are being changed, and there are consequences for Canada. These consequences are to be debated in Parliament by the representatives of the people, our MPs. Peter MacKay is therefore wrong to dismiss calls for such a debate by the NDP.
I happen to know many friends who are in the Canadian Armed Forces, and can testify they are some of the most decent folk I know. I also happen to know that the Canadian military is well trained in hostile environments, and do NOT subscribe to the shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality. I also support their mission in Afghanistan, where they helped overthrow a brutal oppressive regime that exploited its citizens falsely under the name of Islam. Such a regime was a blight - a cancer - on the body of Islam and I was glad it was removed. I have full confidence in the capabilities of our men and women in uniform. However, there are ramifications of engaging the Taliban in greater offensive battles.
First, it leads to increased casualty rates of our troops. If our troops are going into pitched battles, they need to be properly armed, trained, insured, and protected. It is Parliament's job to ensure this happens, and debate failures that result in deaths of our soldiers.
Second, our mission makes Canada a target for terrorists. As a Canadian Muslim, there is nothing more frightful than the thought of a terrorist attack on our native soil. Parliament needs to debate if the government is doing enough to protect our citizens.
Finally, it extends the length of our mission. Parliament decided to place troops there till 2007. If the length of their stay is to be increased, and the nature of their mission changed, Parliament needs to debate those changes.
Such is the proper way to "support our troops". Leaving important decisions solely to generals is not the sign of a good government. Peter MacKay is thus wrong to dismiss calls for a debate on our Afghan mission.
Tags: Canada Afghanistan