While it is significant that Canada will end its combat role in Afghanistan next year [unlike the U.S. commitment until 2014], it is disheartening that both the Conservative and Liberal parties have agreed to stay in a “training” role indefinitely.
The Liberal leader, former Harvard hawk Michael Ignatieff, has chosen to support the extended Canadian role without the consent of his party. Ignatieff broke with American progressives to support the invasion of Iraq, and wrote a New York Times op-ed [May 2, 2004] defending sleep deprivation and keeping prisoners in disorienting hoods as “acceptable” forms of “coercive interrogation.”
Despite the strong presence of the New Democratic Party [NDP] and Parti Quebecois [PQ], Canada is hobbled by a pro-war minority government led by Conservative Stephen Harper, which is propped up by the Liberals on Afghanistan.
Its role as handmaiden to the Pentagon continues to put Canadians at risk. Their casualty rates may decline sharply [the present death toll is 152] but the country will remain on the target list for potential terrorist attacks. In addition, the deepening of the unpopular alliance with the U.S. requires diminishing of open processes of decision-making.
The new U.S. policy, to be announced by President Obama in Lisbon tomorrow, will lash NATO countries to four more years of combat in Afghanistan while attempting to train the Afghan army and police to take their place.