Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

This could be an interesting year, in general as well as for Canadian politics.

There may be a Federal election this year; barring a sudden increase in Neo-Tory popularity, it will be time for the Liberals to force the next election.

My guess is that the issue of whether or not to extend the mission in Afghanistan will be the one to trigger the fall of the government, especially if Harper should obstinately hold fast to his desire to extend the current mission to 2011.

If he proves to be more pragmatic, then Harper will likely take heed of the growing unease the Canadian public is feeling towards our current role, and the level of the burden Canada is shouldering in Afghanistan.

One factor will be the results of the non-partisan panel led by John Manley to examine and provide a report on the future of Canada's mission. If they propose continuing the mission, even in a different role such as providing training and aid rather than combat force, then it may be hard to refute their recommendations.

On their findings, I'm going to predict the final report will be less black and white than the government would like. While there has been progress on the ground, the situation in the region is complex and dangerous, all the more so with the recent accusations levelled at Iran, and along with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

We may have to face the prospect that even though the mission is worthy and necessary, the position occupied by our forces, trying to rebuild Afghanistan in a pro-Western image, is untenable; history has shown that getting into Afghanistan is easy, but this doesn't mean that ultimate victory is assured. Then the question may become: How much are willing to risk losing?

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