Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Smoke And Mirrors

The way the Canadian media is playing up the NATO story one would think that Harper, O'Connor and MacKay had actually gotten some kind of commitment from the organization to help out in Kandahar. The truth is of course they didn't get anything of the kind. As the Financial Times reports;Nato officials said that five to eight of the 50 specific restrictions on national troops had been eliminated, making it easier to move soldiers and equipment across different sectors in Afghanistan.

Five to eight of fifty, that still leaves 45 to 42 conditions that can be applied by NATO members NOT to help out. Not much of a commitment. And just to make that point....José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain’s prime minister, and Romano Prodi, his Italian counterpart, insisted that their countries retained the right to decide when troops should be deployed. Mr Prodi said the position of Italy, France, Germany and Spain, none of which station or intend to deploy troops in the turbulent south of Afghanistan, was the same. At a separate press conference, President Jac­ques Chirac said France could consider sending its troops outside Kabul case by case.

And all those extra troops that NATO committed,making Harper happy, well like the Polish troops, its old news, they were already committed to Afghanistan before this meeting.A UK official also emphasised that Bulgaria, Spain and Macedonia were sending reinforcements to the Afgh­an­istan mission. But Nato diplomats acknowledged that the contributions were relatively small and had been decided beforehand.

And don't count on Germany as Der Spiegel reports;

This account of the meeting is surprising, at least at first sight. For weeks, a number of NATO partners -- led by the US, Great Britain, Canada and Denmark -- have conducted a genuine anti-German campaign. Germany has been repeatedly criticized for stationing its troops in the country's north, where they are accused of enjoying a kind of extended vacation, while others are risking their lives in the military skirmishes of the south. But Angela Merkel stood firm in the face of calls for sending German troops to the south. She refered again and again to the good work Germans are doing in the north.

Merkel's position didn't change fundamentally during the NATO summit in Riga. She was the third speaker at the dinner, after British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper. Merkel made it more than clear "that we are well positioned with our mandate and that there is no reason to change that mandate," according to government sources. Merkel had already told NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer that Germany will not send additional troops to Afghanistan.

So Canadian troops are stuck on the frontlines again, taking the most casualities,not because NATO asked them but because Macho Harper and Macho Hillier wanted to play soldier.



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