The problem with the Layton view, it has a reckless quality that lacks practicality. Does anyone really see a scenario where Canadians begin immediate withdrawal? Whether you agree or disagree with the mission, it is simply logistically and diplomatically impossible to extract ourselves immediately. Layton denies reality and in turn makes his view look more a stunt, than a careful policy position.
The NDP generally does an excellent job in presenting a united front, but in this instance Layton is faced with a fellow NDP MP quoting Liberals in disagreement:
The Nova Scotia MP represents a military riding and says his own views are more in line with those expressed by Liberal defence critic Ujjal Dosanjh, who said the mission should be refocused but Canadian troops should remain.
“To be honest with you, Mr. Dosanjh got it right the other day when he said just to extend the mission for two years without a proper debate and a plan is wrong, but to do an immediate pullout, or a very quick pullout, is also wrong,” said Mr. Stoffer, his party's veterans affairs critic.
“Without a comprehensive plan, what are you pulling out for? What are you leaving behind?”
Layton's view that the mission is flawed and failing has validity, but his call for withdrawal creates a vacuum that he doesn't reconcile. Layton's view has the ironic effect of ceding the "sensible" path to the Liberals. What conditions can we put in place, what initiatives can we take and what emphasis should we have that will allow Canadian forces to leave? These are the questions many Liberals are asking, while Layton leaves a clear hole for opponents to claim abandonment. The harsh reality, we did commit to Afghanistan, so getting out requires some balance. While Canadians are split over the mission, Layton's view comes across as extreme and I doubt it finds much widespread support.
Layton's inaccurate reading of the landscape puts him on the fringe of this debate and positions the Liberals right in the middle. The Tories are steadfast and stubborn, now the NDP is equally rigid in its view. The real debate about goals, objectives and timeframes resides in the Liberal Party. I don't think Layton thought his postion out, it reeks of kneejerk politics and it cements the NDP position. Politically motivated, I think Layton has miscalculated the general view of Canadians and opened the NDP up for easy criticisms. I say this as someone who agrees that the mission is massively flawed, and in its present form, destined to fail.