Tuesday, July 29, 2008

An exit strategy

Both the Star's editorial board and Linda McQuaig are worth a read in discussing how the U.S. election may affect Canada's role in Afghanistan. But while both seem to look largely at the downside that an increased U.S. focus (particularly under an Obama presidency) might lead to pressure for yet another round of mission creep, it's worth noting that the possibility of the U.S. diverting a large number of troops from Iraq to Afghanistan also presents a significant opportunity for any Canadian government willing to take a stand to end the combat mission.

After all, there doesn't seem to be much disagreement among the NATO countries now involved in Afghanistan that Canada's combat role has left us taking a disproportionate share of the international burden. But the absence of anybody else apparently willing to take over the role now played by Canadian troops has been cited as one of the main reasons for extending the mission rather than seeking to disengage from combat and take on a different role.

From that starting point, a planned influx of U.S. troops which dwarfs what Canada could possibly contribute would seem to offer an ideal opening to ask the U.S. (and anybody looking to win favour with the new American regime) to take over. And while the Harper government obviously isn't about to go in that direction, a renewed prospect of ending the combat mission in Afghanistan might well be enough to help topple the Cons in time to take the opportunity.

(Edit: fixed typo.)

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