Thursday, August 30, 2007

Harpers War II

Over the past year I have been called on the rug by pro war commentators on my blog posts claiming that Canada's 'new' military operations, by the 'new' Canadian Government, in Afghanistan since the 2006 election, are Harpers War. They like to claim this was merely a continuation of previous Liberal Government policy. Yeah Right.

This is not a quote from a left wing peacenik.....If the shoe fits....


After remaining silent about Afghanistan throughout the 2005-2006 election campaign, Harper made his feelings known on the day after the election. “We will continue to help defend our values and democratic ideals around the world – as so courageously demonstrated by those young Canadian soldiers who are serving and who have sacrificed in Afghanistan.”

The attention on Afghanistan by the new Harper government was intensified with his surprise visit in March 2006. The destination for a new prime minister’s first international visit is important. It highlights the key priority for Canada’s foreign policy. Most prime ministers select New York and Washington to show the importance of Canada-US bilateral relations. However, Harper went to Afghanistan. The symbolic values of this trip cannot be overstated.

In the midst of the heavy fighting, Harper both extended and expanded Canada’s mandate in Afghanistan. In the process, he made it clear that he was taking ownership of the operation. On May 17, 2006, Harper pushed a motion through the House of Commons to extend Canada’s participation in ISAF, which was due to expire in February 2007, until 2009.

Stephen Harper had very little international experience, or even interest, before becoming prime minister. In his previous political jobs within the Reform Party, National Citizens Coalition, and Canadian Alliance, his focus was on reforming Canadian federalism, reducing the size of government, cutting taxes, and eliminating the government’s deficit and debt.

The party platforms of the Reform Party, Canadian Alliance, and the merged Conservative Party, were weak on foreign policy. Nevertheless, starting with the formation of the Reform Party in 1987, its members were clear on two key foreign policy principles: better relations with the United States and a stronger Canadian military. These two themes cropped up over and over again in their attacks on the Liberals. An example of the intertwining of these two issues was a major speech delivered soon after Harper became leader of the Canadian Alliance. Harper argued that “for nine years the government has systematically neglected the Canadian forces and undermined our ability to contribute to peace enforcement and even peacekeeping operations, including recently our premature withdrawal from Afghanistan

Harper’s foreign policy ideas started to crystallize during the debate about Canadian participation in the US-Iraq War. Many of his comments on Iraq would foreshadow his actions in Afghanistan.

In his speeches on Iraq, Harper touched on a number of themes that would become important with respect to Afghanistan. First, Canada should support its allies. Canada went to Afghanistan in support of the United States, the United Nations, and NATO – its most important bilateral partner and its most important multilateral alliances.
And of course Harper was backed up in his war mongering by the DND and Chief of Defense Staff Hillier, another Republican in Conservative clothing.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, there was a debate over the precise military role of the Canadian Forces. While there were elements in DFAIT that wanted Canada to play a “traditional” peacekeeping role, the CF wanted “to get into the fight.”Eventually, the CF, in combination with the civilians in the DND, got what they wanted when the Chr├ętien government deployed the 3 PPCLI to Afghanistan in October 2001. That initial deployment did much for the morale of the CF. The Commander of Canadian ground troops in Afghanistan would later brag that Canadian participation in the war “established our credibility in the coalition. Canada had been tainted with an image of being blue-hatted peacekeepers, and I think…the aggressiveness and tenacity that the troops showed…dispelled the myth…we were like a pack of rabid pit bulls in satisfying the coalition’s end state.” Since then, the CF, especially under Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier, has consistently lobbied for greater combat responsibilities in Afghanistan. Kirton has identified a wing of the Canadian military that had trained with the Americans and wanted “to do some real war fighting.”They were led by Hillier who had served as the first Canadian Deputy Commanding General of III Corps, US Army in Fort Hood, Texas from 1998-2000.
I rest my case.

Conclusion
This paper has argued that the operation in Afghanistan has become Mr. Harper’s war. In part this was due to timing. Harper took over as prime minister at the same moment that Canada was taking on much more demanding tasks that would involve greater combat responsibilities. When ISAF launched Operation Medusa, its spring 2006 offensive against Taliban forces, Canadians naturally associated the fighting with the government of the day. However, Harper, through his rhetoric and his actions, made sure that there was no mistake; ownership of the mission was with him. He wanted Canadians to hold him responsible.
Unfortunately due to recent deaths of Quebec soldiers War Monger Harper was less than effusive about his war in a recent speech in La Belle Province. Le silence est d'or



See:

Harpers Body Count

Harpers Constituency

Harpers War

Heil Hillier, Maintiens le droit

Joined At The Hip

Harper War Monger




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