Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Time Traveling Headline

This blog had a headline of:   "Canada’s attention begins to turn away from Afghanistan"
 I responded with snark via twitter: "Begins??? Try late 2008."   What I mean is that in the aftermath of the 2008 extension of the mission from 2009 to 2011 (setting the deadline the Canadian mission in Kandahar), the Prime Minister and pretty much most of the Canadian political system turned its attention away from Afghanistan.  The media lost most of its interest with no big fire burning in Ottawa. 

Yes, the folks in DND, DFAIT, CIDA and the rest continued to monitor the operations and adjust as things changed on the ground (ok, DND adjusted, the rest still focused on the targets set in 2008 even as the Canadian Forces operated over smaller hunks of territory with the influx of American troops).  But Harper largely avoided talking about the mission.  Parliament was only focused on the detainee issue and not much else even though one could have imagined criticizing the mission itself, its goals, the strategies needed to reach the goals and so on.  The parties really did not address the mission that much, and the intervening election largely ignored Afghanistan as well. 

To say that Canada's attention is turning away now after being out of Kandahar since July (yes, a brief up-swell in attention to mark the end of the mission there) ignores that the Canadian political system largely saw the 2008 extension as the end of their responsibilities.  It set a clock on the mission, not to be altered no matter what was happening on the ground. 

This headline is like one in the US in 2003 saying that the US is no longer paying attention to the Balkans when that pretty much happened shortly after the end of the bombing campaign in the summer of 1999 or perhaps early in September in 2001 when South/Central Asia suddenly became a priority.

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