You'd think we'd be well past that sort of question by now, but the organizers of this debate apparently don't think so. At any rate, here's the bumpf:
On Wednesday, April 16, Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee co-founder Lauryn Oates will be debating Stopwar.ca co-chair Derrick O’Keefe. The proposition: “THE CANADIAN MILITARY SHOULD LEAVE AFGHANISTAN AT ONCE”.
This debate is part of the Langara Dialogues series, held at the Vancouver Public Library's central branch.
To all CASC members in or near Vancouver, please come and show your support for the principles of the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee.
Lauryn Oates will be there on behalf of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
WHERE: Alice Mackay Room, Lower Level, Vancouver Public Library, Downtown (Homer & Robson) WHEN: Wednesday, April 16, 2008. 7:30 – 9:00 pm. Doors open at 7:15 pm.
Free admission; seating limited to the first 300.
The debate will be followed by questions from Langara College panelists and a question and answer with the audience.
Meanwhile, a CASC Vancouver press release:
"The Canada Afghanistan Solidarity Committee (CASC) wishes to warn Vancouver-area "peace activists," particularly students, that a demonstration planned for April 17 at the Canadian Armed Forces Recruitment Centre at 1070 W. Georgia is not an "anti-war" demonstration.
"The demonstration is being organized by the so-called Mobilization Against War and Occupation, an extremist group that has been exposed by Macleans Magazine, the Capilano Courier, the 24 hours daily and the Georgia Straight as a bizarre, cult-like group that recruits mainly on Lower Mainland college and university campuses.
"CASC would also like to point out that all informed observers recognize that demands for a withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan – demands described by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon as a "misjudgment of historic proportions" - would lead to a civil war on a scale far worse than the violence currently underway in Afghanistan's southern provinces.
"The only honest "anti-war" position is to support Canada’s military engagement in Afghanistan, undertaken with the consent of the Afghan government, in cooperation with military forces from nearly 40 countries , in a manner consistent with the international doctrine of the "responsibility to protect."
"The demands of withdrawal issued by MAWO and similar groups are simplistic, ignorant, and morally disgraceful.
"CASC members come from a broad diversity of affiliations and perspectives. We are people from the Left, and people from across the political spectrum, New Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives, and people of no particular political affiliation; Muslims, Jews, Christians, and atheists. We are authors, journalists, academics, gay rights activists, student activists, Afghan-Canadians, and feminists. We come affiliated with a variety of different organizations and all kinds of professions. We are united under the premise that we must honour our obligations to the cause of solidarity with the people of Afghanistan."MAWO's position is isolationist, anti-internationalist and objectively favourable to the aims of the enemies of the Afghan people, specifically the Taliban, which is rooted in an ideology of fascism, extremism, misogyny and hatred. Every poll and survey conducted in Afghanistan over the last four years confirms that, in contrast to MAWO's goals the Afghan people support the multilateral security mission Canada is participating in, and look forward to the growth of democracy, development and most importantly, human rights.
"Student activists should not be fooled: MAWO uses "left-wing" language, but its politics represent an affront to the values of the left. For those of us in CASC who identify with the political Left, MAWO does not speak for us. "
For more information, please contact:
Jonathon Narvey, CASC Founding Member Tel: 604.230.2638 or
Lauryn Oates, CASC Founding Member Tel: 604-781-3151
I also notice that the latest disinformation the Vancouver Stopwar people have been spreading is about negotiations with the Taliban (which, of course, it favours) and the questions that never seem to occur to them on this matter are the most obvious ones: Why would the Taliban negotiate with anyone if the NATO-led ISAF forces were simply withdrawn from Afghanistan? Who would the Taliban negotiate with if ISAF troops hadn't secured the election of an internationally-recognized Afghan government in the first place?
Stopwar has also misrepresented the CASC position on negotiations. That position can be found in its submission to the Manley panel, here, as in:
"Much has been made of the prospects for negotiating with the Taliban as a new and imaginative approach to peace in Afghanistan. That prospect must be situated in its factual and historical context.
"Firstly, although the Canadian Forces may negotiate the surrender of armed criminals our soldiers happen to engage, Canada is not entitled to trespass on the sovereignty of Afghanistan by negotiating with illegal armed groups in the absence of Afghan government direction.
"Secondly, the Afghan government, with the assistance of Canada and other of its partners in a United Nations initiative, had already negotiated the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of roughly 56,000 former combatants well before the idea of negotiating with the Taliban came into vogue.
"Thirdly, Afghan president Hamid Karzai has been clear from the outset of his term of office that he is prepared to negotiate with any armed group that is prepared to lay down its weapons. Indeed, President Karzai has engaged representatives of illegal armed groups directly in discussions.
"Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, while there is scant evidence that the Taliban's hard-core jihadist leadership is interested in any such entreaties, Canada can and should demand that the Government of Afghanistan should not under any circumstances contravene its international commitments by "negotiating out" the rights of women in any talks with the Taliban, or in the establishment of any power-sharing agreement."