I hope I can be forgiven, but this cartoon (which I clipped from today's edition of the London Free Press) was just too good not to share. Like most political cartoons, I find it to be a rather obvious over-simplification of the matter, but to be honest, I don't think it is terribly far from the truth.
The recent news of Canada's six latest combat deaths has only increased the cries for Canada's withdrawal from Afghanistan. To be perfectly fair, Mr. Layton and the NDP are not alone however, as far as I can tell Layton is the only one calling for Canada's immediate withdrawal. The Liberals are simply demanding that Canada's mission not be extended past 2009, to which we have already committed (Click Here
for details). But even then, the Liberal leader may still leave the door open for Canadian soldiers to continue serving in less volatile areas of Afghanistan and/or in more of a supportive role rather than the combat role they are now playing.
Let us not forget that just a few months ago, the NDP actually teamed up with the Conservatives to vote down a Liberal motion in the House of Commons urging the government to give notice to NATO that it would not be extending the mission past 2009. Why the unlikely alliance? Because it did not call for the immediate withdrawal of all troops.
Now don't get me wrong, if Jack Layton feels that Canadian soldiers are getting killed needlessly it is his duty to speak up, but it kind of bothers me that this may just be sending the wrong message to the enemy. Since Mr. Layton's cries seem to be loudest whenever there is a Canadian death in Afghanistan, the message he appears to be sending is that if enough Canadians are killed, sooner or later we will give in.
Mr. Layton is also quick to point out that "Students of history will know that all major conflicts are resolved, ultimately, through peace-oriented discussions. . . . And that's what needs to happen here." (click Here
for details) Well as it just so happens I am somewhat of a student of history and I have news for him. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain held some rather interesting peace-oriented discussions with his German counterpart Adolph Hitler. It may surprise Mr. Layton to learn that although these negotiations appeared to assure that "there will be peace in our time" (according to Chamberlain's famously ironic words), ultimately they did not go so well, and the Munich Pact failed.
Mr. Layton was right about one thing though, ULTIMATELY the ensuing conflict between the Axis countries (Germany, Italy and Japan) and the Allies (the U.S.A., The Soviet Union, and the British Commonwealth countries) was ended through peace-oriented discussions. Unfortunately what he seems to have failed to realize is that the Axis did not seem too interested in peace until we started starving their populations by blockading their ports, carpeting their cities with firebombs, and slowly but surely defeating and eliminating their armies in the field. Japan did not surrender until the allies dropped not one but two atomic bombs on them! The Germans fought on even as Soviet troops and allied bombers leveled their capital city!
Need a more recent event? No problem. The 1973 Treaty of Paris was signed by the Americans and the North Vietnamese (among others) in an effort to end the Vietnam War. The idea was to effectively turn Vietnam into another Korea. A seemingly perpetually divided country, split between communists and capitalists. It seems that the Communists had other ideas, as they invaded yet again in 1974 (unsuccessfully) and then again in 1975, only this time the Americans had ultimately had enough. The Canadian navy was sent to South-Central Asia to mop up the humanitarian catastrophe and rescue the "Boat People" as they fled the new communist regime.
I am not trying to say that we need to resort to World War II tactics of bombing cities and starving countries. The only point I am trying to make here is that during any conflict, either side is likely to score a victory every now and then, or at the very least manage to inflict casualties. I can even see his point that if we are taking casualties in a war that we should not be fighting, we probably should withdraw immediately, but this country's elected body has already voted on staying until 2009. The fact that we have taken casualties since then has not changed this. It is not as if we are fighting against a group of innocent kittens here.
We should not be pulling out of Afghanistan because of the rising body count, and we should not be fooled into insincere negotiations. If World War II taught us anything, it is that the only negotiations for peace that can be counted upon, are those in which our enemies have a very strong interest vested in obtaining peace, and that a defeated enemy is much easier to negotiate with.