Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Second Coming

The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold:

OTTAWA - The stage is set for showdown, and possibly an election, over Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan.

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world:

Canada has already threatened to pull out its troops from Kandahar province in a year's time if other Nato countries don't contribute more. We must assume that if Britain were to begin to talk about a draw-down, then Canada would carry out this threat. British forces would then be exposed in Helmand and, presumably, would also withdraw. Let us suppose that an angry and abandoned US follows the “lead” offered by its allies, and itself pulls out, leaving itself only an air-to-ground interdiction capability.

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned:

Here are the likely consequences of such a pattern. The Afghan Government would collapse, to be replaced by an overt civil war fought between the Taleban and local governors in the various provinces. A million or more Afghan refugees would again flee their country, many of them ending up in the West.

The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity:

Layton wants a full withdrawal of Canada's 2,500 troops from Afghanistan. Harper has embraced the John Manley panel recommendations for an extension of the combat role on condition NATO sends 1,000 more troops and Ottawa sends more equipment. Dion wants an end to combat activities in a year's time and reassign troops to training and to security activities for civilian protection, development and reconstruction.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Jihadists everywhere, from Indonesia to Palestine, would see this as a huge victory, democrats and moderates as a catastrophic defeat. There would hardly be a country, from Morocco to Malaysia, that wouldn't feel the impact of the reverse. That's before we calculate the cost to women and girls of no longer being educated or allowed medical treatment. And would there be less terror as a result?

We have been here before.

And before, and before:

But the offensive took place against the background of appeasement, culminating in the Munich pact struck by Britain and France with Hitler and Mussolini in September 1938. The republic disbanded the International Brigades and fought on alone.

- William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming.


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