The compromise position is to stay in Afghanistan under the current mission mandate until February 2009. Harper’s proposed surge strategy, more troops more equipment, is not a compromise solution; it is an escalation. I fail to see how anyone could imagine that it is not just more of the same, more of a failed strategy on into an indeterminate future.
Certainly, to those in Ottawa, the Manley report must seem a refreshing change of tone in comparison to the barrage of insults and emotional rhetoric that has substituted for argument to date on the part of the Conservatives. But then again anything is better than the jingoism and simple minded pro-any-war statements Harper has made over the last two years. Though I appreciate the Conservatives’ decision to begin speaking like adults, I am not sure it merits special praise, and it should not alter the Liberal policy. The facts have not changed from a week ago. The security situation is deteriorating, NOT improving, and the end game realistically does not involve the eradication of the Taliban but rather a negociated settlement with them.
I would have the international community move toward the end game sooner rather than later, although, with regard to the current aggressive NATO tactics, Canada has done much more than its fair share. If hunting the Taliban is indeed worth continuing, then other NATO nations should be more than willing to step up.
Ending the current mission in February 2009 honors our international commitment while striking a fair compromise position amongst the larger part of public opinion. Maybe not everyone gets exactly what they want, but democratically it should do.