Today, it comes as NO surprise to read the following:
Sources at NATO headquarters in Belgium and in the United States have indicated in recent days that two marine battalions being sent to southern Afghanistan for seven months this spring with specific orders to assist the Canadians are likely to be followed by even more marine battalions in 2009 and 2010. This was possible because the Pentagon has begun to slowly wind down combat operations in Iraq and because the marine leadership has been pressing hard for a bigger role in Afghanistan.
The officer, who did not wish to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about the issue, said U.S. help for the Canadians had been in the works for several months.
“In the works for several months”, which confirms the disingenuous demand. Manley presents the demand, as though Canada’s future participation is contingent, and yet he knew full well that the support was already in the cards. In other words, the threat was a ruse, designed to make it appear as though Canada was hardening its position, Canada would accept nothing less.
The fact that the Manley panel presented the NATO troop increase as an unknown, something to be decided, when the panel knew otherwise, speaks to the fact that this endeavor is nothing more than a public relations exercise. If the panel was honest, it would have acknowledged the reality that plans are already in place to provide Canada with what it requests. Instead, this point is omitted, which projects a false premise, clearly meant for political consumption, rather than an accurate read of the situation. This demand is nothing more than appeasement, present a stance which makes it look like Canada’s continued role is conditional, when really the path is already determined.
Instead of applauding this report, people should be asking why Manley presents a false choice, why he fails to acknowledge that NATO already has plans to do what he “demands”. This disingenuous choice speaks to credibility, speaks to motivations and is intentionally misleading.
Two panel members admit the demand is easily achieved:
In a meeting Wednesday with the National Post editorial board, Mr. Manley suggested it should be relatively easy to muster the additional troops.
"It should be achievable, it should not be that difficult," he said...
Derek Burney, another panel member and former Canadian ambassador, said both the United States and France are likely candidates to provide additional troops. He noted the U.S. last week committed to sending 2,200 marines to southern Afghanistan for seven months.
If just half of those troops were stationed in Kandahar permanently, it would fulfill the panel's proposal, Mr. Burney noted.
Translation, much ado about nothing.