I have been unable to form a good opinion on the Afghanistan mission so far. I believe most Canadians are in the same situation, because if either the “stay” or “leave” sides were favoured by any significant margin we would have already had an election.
Some good thoughts are here: The Liberals purported Afghanistan amendments look reasonable. and My particular reasons for voting no to the Cons motion on Afghanistan
I’m not in favour of Canada being part of a war we didn’t start and against a country that didn’t attack us. I do agree that if left alone the terrorists may eventually attack Canadian interests, but conversely I believe that being part of a military occupation of a Muslim country will only make that happen sooner. Further, I would only believe Canadian interest may eventually be attacked, were Canada not in Afghanistan, if we were actively supporting US foreign policy in other, non-military, ways. I am not at all a believer that the terrorists want to attack “the West” just because they hate our freedoms. Their reasons are well-known but unfortunately ignored in the media and political rhetoric.
I could be in favour of a missions similar to that proposed by the Liberals, where Canada is in more of a peace-keeping role. However, in some ways that seems naive. If the reality on the ground is that the Taleban are actively growing in strength and will be attempting to re-take the country militarily, I don’t see how this option is reasonable. This option would eventually lead to a position where Canadian troops are outnumbers, overpowered and run out of the country, depending if other countries are staying on the offensive. So, we would be leaving our fate in the hands of the other countries, in a sense.
Lastly, what would a full withdrawal lead to? Assuming other countries followed suit, Taleban re-take full control of the country. This isn’t really in anyone’s interests, especially not the vast majority of Afghanis.
I think the real answer, which probably isn’t politically realistic, is that all the NATO members in Afghanistan need to act under a common plan and strategy as opposed to each nation trying to decide independently the role of their troops. To me it feels counter-productive to leave troops there but declare they’re no longer eligible for the role played by most other troops. Commit to working in unison to get the situation as quickly as possible to the point where a peacekeeping role is feasible.
Alternatively, pull out all the Canadian troops. I think it’s difficult to predict if this would be in Canada’s long-term interests. However, moving to a peace-keeping role prematurely feels like a political maneuver by those who want withdrawal but don’t have enough votes for it.