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Bush’s ‘surge’ will get more Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan killed; Hello Harper, MacKay?

A rather edgy title, but I’m in an edgy mood today, after reading some things that’s made me post this.

I’ve already written today about the quagmire that Bush is looking to make worse by proclaiming a final ‘surge’ of troops is needed to ‘win’ the war in Iraq. The problem is he is short on available reserves to send, and he isn’t going to institute a draft, and the citizenry of America aren’t going to rush to the Army’s recruiting halls to volunteer, so he’ll need to borrow troops from other theaters, and one of those theaters happens to be Afghanistan.

According to this report, he will be taking a battalion out of Eastern Afghanistan in the next couple of weeks, and this will be happening as the Taliban begin a major offensive and while commanders there are requesting more troops to counter this:

According to Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata and other senior U.S. commanders here, that will happen just as the Taliban is expected to unleash a major campaign to cut the vital road between Kabul and Kandahar. The official said the Taliban intend to seize Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city and the place where the group was organized in the 1990s.….”It is bleak,” said Col. Chris Haas, commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan. “The gains we have made over the past few years are mostly gone, said a bearded Special Operations officer..

The most infuriating part of the whole report is this quote:

Conway said US commanders understand that the Afghan war is an “economy of force” operation, a military term for a mission that is given minimal resources because it is a secondary priority, in this case behind Iraq.

Where are a lot of Canada’s soldiers as part of this NATO operation? Why, we’re in Kandahar – the city that the aforementioned Taliban are aiming to capture and/or cut communications between it and Kabul. It appears while the US ‘surge’ in Iraq is taking place, we’ll be left with what other NATO forces remain there trying to defend the city and keeping the communication and travel routes to Kabul open – in this “secondary priority” mission.

So, I ask this question: besides Peter MacKay proclaiming how everything is nice and rosy and progressing quite fine in Afghanistan, and promising a stern “talking-to” of Pakistan, has he and Harper been doing anything to persuade the US that Afghanistan – and our soldier’s lives and the lives of others – should be more then just “secondary priority”, and that if troops are being taken out of there, other troops from the US or NATO should be brought in to replace them to help Canadian soldiers defend Kandahar from this predicted Taliban offensive?

Here’s what some of our blogging friends south of the border had to say about this “strategy”. First, from Firedoglake:

To sum up, we’re about to have three surges simultaneously. We will surge US troops into Iraq; to allow that, we will surge US troops out of Afghanistan; to take advantage of that, the Taliban will surge all over Afghanistan. Symmetry.
Where are the grownups?

And from The Washington Monthly:

More troops in Iraq will almost certainly not make any noticeable difference there. More troops in Afghanistan might, but they aren’t available because of Iraq. It’s worth keeping in mind that Bush’s resistance to withdrawal in Iraq is likely to lead to the United States losing not just one war, but two. I’m not sure if any American president has done that before.

We may all think Bush’s ‘surge’ is an American matter nothing to do with us. However, his efforts will not only extend the quagmire in Iraq, but I am afraid we’re going to see more Canadian caskets coming home, and all because Afghanistan from the American’s POV is a “secondary mission” to only be given minimal resources. Our soldier’s LIVES are a secondary priority, apparently as well.

Again, I ask what Harper and MacKay are trying to do to implore the US (or other NATO countries, but it’s the US’s primary responsibility since they’re the ones doing the troop withdrawal) to at least give some replacements in the Kandahar area to help defend against an apparently reinvigorated Taliban force, so we can minimize the number of dead Canadian soldiers coming home in caskets (besides I mean mouthing platitudes about Afghanistan, tut-tutting Pakistan, and proclaiming that “they support the troops”).

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20 comments to Bush’s ‘surge’ will get more Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan killed; Hello Harper, MacKay?

  • lrC

    >Sorry, you welcome a major offensive?

    Yes. Fighting under winter conditions won’t make the Taliban’s job any easier. They are better off mounting their major offensives during the peak heat and dust conditions of summer, when the less acclimatized western soldiers wearing body armour and web gear and helmets and carrying heavy loads of weapons and ammunitions are at their most physically stressed.

  • That’s nice of you to quote that Bob, but you’re mistaken if you think you’ll find a Paul Martin supporter here. If you’d bothered reading Prog Blog the past year or so.. you’d know I was no fan of his.

    Furthermore, it was Jean Chretien who made the decision.. and furthermore, it was Stephen Harper who stood up in the House and was the only Party leader who deplored Chretien’s remarks and supported going to Iraq as the US’s lapdog.

  • Bob

    I sure am glad Stephen Harper :em24: stopped Iraq war supporter Paul Martin :em38: from sending troops to Iraq:

    About Martin on Iraq
    13 December 2005

    OTTAWA While Liberal Leader Paul Martin continues to obfuscate his position on Iraq, here are some interesting comments from others on what Martins original position on Iraq was.

    * There is no doubt in my mind that if Paul Martin had been the leader, we would have gone to Iraq with the United States.?? Former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps (Worth Fighting For, 2004, pp. 182)
    * When the Liberal government had to make a decision on Iraq, Mr. Martin did not speak. Those of us on the inside knew that he had been working very hard to get Prime Minister Chrtien to join the Americans in the war.?? Former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps (Worth Fighting For, 2004, pp. 211)
    * Prime Minister Martin said that he was thinking of putting troops into Iraq to help train Iraqi security forces. The very first person to raise objections was Stephen Harper. The Prime Minister ended up beating a hasty retreat and said that the Canadian military trainers would only do their job outside of Iraq.?? – Former U.S. Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci (Unquiet Diplomacy, 2005, pg. 165)
    * I think we made the wrong decision in not supporting them, and were obviously encountering the fallout from that in terms of various aspects of Canadian-American relations, which is not healthy.?? – Former Liberal Defense Minister under Paul Martin, David Pratt, (Hansard, March 29, 2003)

    http://www.conservative.ca/EN/2459/35145

  • >>First, from Firedoglake:

    What a mental infant.

    >And from The Washington Monthly:

    Id love to see Kevins estimate of the situation. What? You mean he didnt do one? Oh, hes a poser. Another red herring.

    And you are who, what, exactly?

    I welcome a major offensive by a footbound army in the middle of winter. Why dont we wait and see what follows all the bluster? Then we can decide whether it is a major offensive. And well learn whether the guys whose job is to estimate the real capabilities of the Taliban have judged correctly the level of force necessary to deal with the Taliban at this time.

    Sorry, you welcome a major offensive? Your staff officers feel the situation is well in hand? I hate to call anybody one of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists but you’re sure as hell writing like one.

    It’s kind of hilarious to on the one hand condescendingly give a Clausewitz lecture but at the same time “welcome” an offensive against international forces in Afghanistan while entire US combat units are being redeployed elsewhere. If you were listening to your own armchair generalship you might hope things stay quiet unless and until the US listens to its own commanders in Afghanistan and sends help.

  • lrC

    >So, lrC, the US is in fact withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. And right before a major Taliban offensive.

    I welcome a major offensive by a footbound army in the middle of winter. Why don’t we wait and see what follows all the bluster? Then we can decide whether it is a major offensive. And we’ll learn whether the guys whose job is to estimate the real capabilities of the Taliban have judged correctly the level of force necessary to deal with the Taliban at this time.

  • Aaron, noone is proposing the US sneak out of Iraq without telling anyone some night. Or at any rate, very few people are. Phased withdrawal will not be pretty and the result will probably be an “80% solution” by default. That sucks, a lot. But there is no way to stop it now, and it will suck a lot 2 years from now if the US stays 2 more years.

    Re: this thread – holy fucking hell, I should have expected this. Goddamn it. Stupid fucking Bush just has to lend Afghanistan one more helping hand, eh?

  • Great post Scott.

    Aaron. Go find a recruiting office. We’ll talk to you when you get back.

  • A pile of :em72: ? Really? You think that if all of the American troops disappeared from Iraq tomorrow, the resultant civil war would produce fewer casualties than if the Americans had remained? Do tell. [If it makes you feel better, preface your answer with “The invasion was all about oil and Haliburton!!!”]

    By the way Scott, I hear that Zimbabwe considers Afghanistan to be a secondary mission. Those bastards, they think the lives of our troops are a secondary priority!!!!!!

  • “Mike: Will more Iraqis die in the short term if the Americans stay or if they leave? At this point, Im convinced that the government will collapse immediately and full-out civil war will result. More lives will be lost than if the Americans stay. Keeping them there in the short-term may just be delaying the inevitable, but its the right decision at this point.”

    This is a good example what I call the ‘body count theory of morality.’ As long as you’re one death lower than you argue would have been, your actions are correct. :em38:

    Aside from that being a pile of :em72:, doesn’t mission success come into play anywhere?

  • I think this is where we see the partisan string. No Conservative is talking about this. Similarly no Liberal was talking about how the French and Germans wouldn’t allow for NATO commanders to use their troops in case of emergencies. Afghanistan has a lot of problems with the NATO allies and the Americans are only one of them. Pakistan is a major problem and most of the other NATO countries would rather build bridges while people blow up bridges they had built a week ago.

    Canadians will die and that is something we have to accept. I have at least eight friends over in Afghanistan and have met so many more. They know the risks they are involved in and so them dying shouldn’t be enough reason for a pull out, its a war, people are expected to die. If we did nothing because of the risk of death, doctors would have never operated on people… so that line of reason is down the toilet.

    As for the Americans pulling out of Afghanistan, absolutely shocking. Considering they criticized the French and the Germans only four months ago for not having more boots on the ground it takes a lot of gaul to withdraw troops from there.

    I however do not see Canadian troops being at risk. Canadians only have so many guns on the ground and they’re all in the south, far away from the supposed eastern attack. Other Canadians are maintaining roadblocks, building roads, and the such. A lot of these jobs they will be vulnerable anyway.

    I think we should be looking at the bigger picture instead of the smaller one, that is, will the mission be at risk… can the mission be successful anymore? This is an American matter that effects Canadians, so I’m wondering whether or not the Democrats will actually say something now that they have the two houses.

  • Well, let us look a the list
    1) Musharaff- For supporting the Taleban, who are directly attacking our soldiers.
    2) Bush- For increasing the heat on the Islamic terrorists and for going into Iraq in the first place
    3) Harper- For not using the former Pakistani Airforce MIG pilot to stop Pakistan from abetting the Taleban Terrorists
    4) McKay- For giving blank threats to Pakistan againsts supporting Taleban, when Canada should issue a serious warning and consider diplomatic options

    Canada needs to give a stern warning to Pakistan or be prepared to lose more of ours.

  • Mike: Will more Iraqis die in the short term if the Americans stay or if they leave? At this point, I’m convinced that the government will collapse immediately and full-out civil war will result. More lives will be lost than if the Americans stay. Keeping them there in the short-term may just be delaying the inevitable, but it’s the right decision at this point.

    Scott: You have to be kidding me. How seriously am I supposed to take you with responses like that? What do you propose be done in Iraq?

  • So, lrC, the US is in fact withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. And right before a major Taliban offensive.

    So, can I expect howls of ‘cut and run’ and cries of ‘Taliban George’ from the Cons on this?

  • lrC

    Speaking of red herrings…

    Short lesson in military terminology: at each level of command, there is only ever one “main effort”. Everything else is secondary. “Economy of Force” is a principle of war in most armies’ canons. If it isn’t your main effort, you always approach it with the minimum commitment of resource you deem sufficient for success. The US’s overall main effort is Iraq. Canada’s overall main effort is Afghanistan. Not everyone shares the same main effort, or has to. Tempest in a teapot for the ignorant – a red herring.

    >First, from Firedoglake:

    What a mental infant.

    >And from The Washington Monthly:

    I’d love to see Kevin’s estimate of the situation. What? You mean he didn’t do one? Oh, he’s a poser. Another red herring.

  • So now back to the real issue at hand: what do our glorious leaders have to say about this mess?

    Remember how hard a time we had getting anyone from NATO to send troops to Afghanistan? Sounds like it could be that many NATO countries don’t want to be canon fodder.

    Who does that make the sucker?

  • Aaron asked:
    [quote comment=”560″]Scott, what do you think should be done in Iraq?[/quote]

    You conservatives are sure good at issuing red herrings. You guys must take a course in it.

  • Afghanistan has always been low priority to Bush despite the true importance to the ‘war on terror’ mission, and thus has long belied Bush’s claim that these wars have been about ending terror.

    I can’t speak for Scott, but what should be done in Iraq is unclear to me. I can say what I’ve been saying sicne before it began: Commit the right number of troops, or don’t go in.

    Truth is, it’s too late to have an effect there. America’s mess in Iraq was handed over to the Iraqi people to deal with a long time ago.

  • Aaron,

    Not that your question is even relevant to Scott’s post, but here is what should be done:

    Get. Out.

    The US should declare victory and complete a total withdrawal in 6 months.

    Bush’s ‘surge’ ought to be going in the other direction – troops should be pulled from Iraq to go to Afghanistan. Finish what they started and maybe catch Osama in the process. At least the could win in Afghanistan.

    Wes Clark said today that the US would need to have well over 500 000 troops in Iraq to even think about turning things around. They should have been used in 20032, like the generals wanted.

    20000 troops will just add targets for the insurgency.

    No matter how many soldiers they send, they won’t win in Iraq. Period. Time to get out.

  • Scott, what do you think should be done in Iraq?

  • […] As Scott Tribe points out, there will be repurcussions for Canadian troops, and the Afghan theatre at large, and I find it highly doubtful that this is a serious concern of the “planners” responsible. I guess we’ll find out with Bush’s much ballyhooed (and much delayed press conference) how much he pretends to care about victory in a war he could have won. […]

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