Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kandahar as a Sign of the Times

“It’s not perfect, but it’s a good news story,” said Lt. Col. John Voorhees of the United States Army’s 504th Military Police Battalion, who commanded the American task force that backed up the Afghan police in Mehlajat.
 The offensive, such as it is, is underway in Kandahar.  A success story when no coalition casualties and few Taliban killed but some folks arrested.  Much delayed, much derided, it seems that ISAF and the Afghan National Army [ANA] are now moving ahead.  Much of this feels a bit familiar although the scope is larger. 

The missing ingredient in the NYT story is ... Canada.  Kandahar used to be Canada's territory, and other countries, including the US, served under Canadians.  Ordinarily, you could chalk up the lack of Canadians in a US news story to the usual American first/only blinders of American media.  But this story actually does indicate something else is in play--the movement of the pieces on the board, including focusing Canadians in some areas of Kandahar with the Americans now leading the effort.  This is normal for NATO operations--that the largest contingents in an area usually lead to that country getting command, especially if it is the US.  Still, Canadians who pay attention to these things might notice that Canada is indeed moving to the side and eventually the rear.  Most Canadians will be pleased by this, but these changes are more than symbolic.  Canadian leadership peaked and is now ebbing. 

My friends will ask what Canada got out of this role, and I guess my conclusion is that they temporarily had a higher profile.  Whether that led to any policy outcomes on other issues in other places closer to Canada's preferred positions than otherwise would have been the case, I am not sure.

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