Monday, May 05, 2008

Now I'm Glad Obama had to get rid of her--is he?

by Ken Houghton

Via Rob Farley at LG&M, ousted Obama advisor Samantha Power discusses Canada's role in the Afghanistan/Iraq CF:
Canada has been quietly embroiled in one of the most revealing political and international-security debates since the end of the cold war. It's a debate critical to the future of NATO. And its outcome may tell us a lot about the fate of the U.S.'s struggle against terrorism.

At issue is Canada's military role in Afghanistan. Canada is one of 26 NATO countries in the International Security Assistance Force, which is attempting to stabilize Afghanistan and neutralize the Taliban and al-Qaeda. But Canada is one of only a handful of NATO countries that have embraced the task of actual war-fighting. The Canadians, who have 2,500 troops on the ground, have suffered 82 fatalities, a death rate that is higher than the U.S. military's in Iraq. In an increasingly two-tiered NATO alliance, Canada occupies the fighting tier, alongside the U.S., Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The real Coalition-of-the-Willing(-to-sacrifice-their-citizens).

She then notes that the Canadian citizenry is Rational:
The Afghan war had broad public support in Canada in 2002, but is now seen as one front in George W. Bush's hugely unpopular "war on terror."...Having taken few casualties in the past half-century, Canadians have found it jarring to watch flag-draped coffins return to what can feel like a very small country. A public that has long seen its military as innocently patrolling the peace has had trouble adjusting to its forces engaging in a full-fledged, unconventional war.

We now see why pictures of coffins are not broadcast in the United States.
Perhaps most important, Canadians do not see the Afghan conflict as directly relevant to their own security. Al-Qaeda has never staged an attack on Canadian soil. And although 24 Canadians were among the victims of 9/11 and terrorists were planning to blow up two Air Canada flights in the British terrorism plot of 2006, Canadians worry that fighting alongside the U.S. will increase--not decrease--the risk that they will become a target.

So they have no national security interest—even if we are dumb enough (as Power apparently is) to conflate Al-Queda with Afghanistan and Iraq.*

But Power is thrilled because the Canadian government didn't listen to its voters.
A recent poll showed that 47% of Canadians wanted their soldiers to leave Afghanistan immediately, and only 17% supported maintaining a combat role....After a heated and long-overdue domestic debate, the Canadian Parliament last month voted to keep its soldiers in Afghanistan until 2011--with the provisos that Canadian forces be reinforced by 1,000 troops from elsewhere and that Canadian forces concentrate less on combat and more on training Afghan security forces.

Power disingenuously concludes that "When finally consulted in earnest, Canadians concluded that the financial and human costs of the mission were in fact worth bearing, at least for now."

And then she gets to her point, sort of:
The U.S. alone can't succeed in Afghanistan. But Canada's example shows that even our closest allies need to be convinced that the fight is theirs too.

I'm not generous enough to conclude that "alone" and "But" were added by an editor. So how does she plan to convince them?
NATO rules should be rewritten to ensure that countries that invest disproportionate military and financial resources (as Canada has done) should have some of their costs subsidized by the alliance. If a government does not want to send its troops to fight, it should still be obliged to contribute funding and civilian expertise, which remains in short supply.

Since Scott and Hilzoy want to get all hyper, again, about Clinton's 2002 vote—even though it's not so different from Obama's public positions—maybe they could explain the difference between Power's pitch and John McCain's Hundred Years War.

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Hi Ken.

Spot on.
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