Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The incompetence continues

It's been well-known for some time that the Cons don't value intelligence in potential candidates. But is it really too much to ask that their cabinet ministers have at least enough basic understanding of logic to recognize when they're contradicting themselves?

Here's Gordon O'Connor today:
Mr. O'Connor said there is no discrepancy between his opinion and that of Gen. Hillier.

”I never said that the army units would be trained within six months,” he said. ”I said that over the next six months we will get four or five of these battalions to train. And if you check, my words, word by word, I said that at some time in the future we will be able to go into some reserve state. But we don't know how long that is.”

The Canadian troops are committed to remaining in the country until February 2009 and are shifting their focus to the training for the Afghan army, he said.
So what's the problem? (That is, aside from deciding where to start in finding the questions raised by O'Connor's new stance.) Let's go to the wayback machine to see just what he actually said a week and a half ago:
"Over the next four or five months were going to be picking up four or five additional Afghan battalions to train and mentor and get them out into the field," O'Connor said.

We're hoping by the end of this rotation that's going in now, the so called Van Doos rotation, we'll have about 3,000 Afghan army operating within the Kandahar province, and as we train more and more of the Afghan army to carry out their own operations we'll continue to withdraw, put more emphasis on training, and at some stage basically be in reserve."
About the only way one could possibly reconcile O'Connor's current position as to the timing of any "reserve status" with his past one is to assume that there's absolutely no relationship between the training of the promised Afghan troops and the reserve status of Canadian troops. Which in turn would of course make the earlier statement misleading in linking the two.

And O'Connor's rationalization that he never stated that the Afghan troops would be trained within six months seems utterly bizarre given his plain statement that the troops would already be operating by that time. Though I suppose if O'Connor wants to defend the position that Afghan troops should be operating without training by February, he'll likely find an eager opposition ready to tear him apart even more.

It remains to be seen just how much longer Deceivin' Stephen stands behind his embarrassment of the Defence Minister in light of this and other PR disasters. But any faint hope the Cons may have held that O'Connor would figure out how to handle his department has to be diminishing by the day - and at some point, the spillover effect of O'Connor's incompetence has to be seen as more harmful to the Cons than grudgingly admitting defeat.

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