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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kabuki Theatre 

Act One:
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, reinforcing an ultimatum over Afghanistan, told U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday that Ottawa would withdraw its military mission next year unless NATO sent in more troops, officials said . . . Harper said on Monday he accepted the recommendations of an independent panel that urged Canada to end the mission unless NATO provided 1,000 extra soldiers and Ottawa obtained helicopters and aerial reconnaissance vehicles.
Act Two:
NATO is urging Canada not to pull its troops out of Afghanistan's dangerous Kandahar province.
Alliance spokesman James Appathurai says the defence organization will find the additional troops for southern Afghanistan that Ottawa is demanding.
Act Three:
Harper told reporters yesterday "the (Manley) panel has made a clear case that there cannot be a definitive timeline placed on when NATO will have finished the job in Afghanistan and when Afghans are able to take responsibility for their own security and we agree. However, Canada's contribution should be reviewed, at minimum, in the context of progress on the benchmarks the panel has advocated, and within two to three years' time."
Harper pledged to lead a diplomatic 'full-court press' with allies to ensure Canadian soldiers get the help that will allow them to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely.
Somehow, the Harper promise that the mission in Afghanistan wouldn't be extended unless Canadians supported it has morphed into the Harper promise to "ensure Canadian soldiers get the help that will allow them to stay ... indefinitely".
How did that happen?

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