I did not say that I thought Stephen Harper is a weenie. I did give a hint or two. Specifically, I think Harper could have done more or less. True, the current parliamentary resolution says that Canadian Forces would no longer be doing combat in Kandahar, so doing training in Kabul is not prohibited. Whether it warrants a new parliamentary motion passed is something about which Phillipe Legassé has far more to say (and check out his tweets today as well).
But what I am referring to is that Harper has basically said, no, we (see, I can identify with Canadians!) will leave Kandahar and all of the relationships and valued added behind and go somewhere safe and fill out NATO's requirements in the least risky way. We still don't know what kind of training the CF will be doing (insert Bill Murray's "Army Training, Sir!" from yesterday's Stripes video), but it might be basic training (reading maps, shooting guns, whatever). It will not be out in the field with the Afghan National Army. And that is the weenie decision.
When Canada was going out the door, I was hoping that it would keep a commitment to some of its efforts--the OMLTs and Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar. This would have meant a number somewhere near the one being bandied about now, but would have meant the following:
- There would be a significant risk of casualties although lower than the past several years.
- The relationships and lessons learned over the years would be maintained.
- Canada would still be doing some heavy-lifting that NATO needs.
- and, yes, probably a vote in parliament would have been unavoidable.
I guess that is why folks in Montreal think I am a hardliner. Oh well.