Saturday, September 16, 2006

When is War Not War

Hey when did we declare war? Well we didn't actually. We are in Afghanistan for a policing operation, reconstruction, allied support, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.
Anything but why we are really there. In an illegal war, an undeclared war, a war parliament did not approve, nor the government officially declare, in fact took pains to deny, that is until today....

"...the fact of the matter is we are fighting a war in Afghanistan - we need to beat the taliban on the battlefield"
Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Also taboo is using the word war.

Afghanistan is considered one of the main battlefronts in the war on terror, but that doesn't mean Canada is necessarily at war.

Appearing before the Commons defence committee in May, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor was asked by a Liberal MP, who was having a difficult time explaining Afghanistan to his constituents, if Canada was at war.

"I don't categorize this as a war," O'Connor replied.

"We are there in Afghanistan to support the legitimate government and to try and create a stable environment, to try and reduce the activity of the various insurgent groups."

After his appearance, reporters pressed O'Connor to explain how Canadian troops exchanging fire with enemy combatants was not war. O'Connor said just because Canadian troops are taking fire does not mean they are at war.

"Police aren't in a war when they're shot at, are they?" he asked reporters staring at them like they were crazy and didn't know what they were talking about. "I don't consider this a war. You take your own definition, that's not mine."

Bullets fly. Ottawa ducks

How Canada slipped into a war our leaders can't -- or won't -- explain

August 25, 2006

The shift of Canadian operations south from Kabul happened in stages. A so-called provincial reconstruction team, combining soldiers, development advisers and Foreign Affairs officers, arrived in Kandahar in fall 2005. But the bulk of the troops, including a battle group, wouldn't follow until after the Jan. 23, 2006, election that brought Harper's Conservatives to power. With their traditional pro-military bent, some might have expected the Tories to be upfront about the army's fighting role. Instead, their tone was more guarded than Graham's had been only a few months before.

Gordon O'Connor, the retired general Harper named defence minister, played down the likelihood of combat. In an interview, he said rather vaguely that the Canadian task force in Kandahar was there "to provide a security environment." What about fighting the Taliban? "Our role is not to conduct combat operations," O'Connor stressed, although there might be some "rooting out of insurgents."

Wed 17 May 2006
Jack Layton's speech on Canada's role in Afghanistan

NDP Leader Jack Layton's speech from today's debate in the House of Commons on Canada's role in Afghanistan.

Mr. Speaker, despite hard won debates, and months of questioning in this House, this government, like the Liberal government before it, has refused to answer the questions we have asked: What is the effective command and control structure? What are the goals and objectives of this mission and how do they meet Canada's foreign policy objectives? What is the definition of success for this mission? And what is our exit strategy?

Mr. Speaker, time after time, I have stood in my place and asked this Prime Minister directly to fully inform Canadians about our role in Afghanistan. And time after time, this Prime Minister has stood in his place and refused to answer these fundamental questions. Instead this Prime Minister has proclaimed in no uncertain terms that if you question the mission, you are against our troops. Well Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear, Canadians will not be lured into this false trap created by the Prime Minister’s borrowed sloganeering.

A tip o'the blog to Buckdog for the tip.

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