Wednesday, January 23, 2008

John Manley's Afghanistan Panel Report And The Historic Mission of The Left

From my column today in The Tyee:

. . . The Afghan people want democracy, they want to control their own destiny, and they want peace, security, and jobs. They're fed up to the teeth with all the savage misogynists and gunmen and religious fanatics who persist in terrorizing them. They don't want the Taliban back. And they want us to stay until we've finished our work there.

Inconveniently, this completely contradicts the fashionable caricature of the Afghan people as incorrigibly reactionary and irredeemably priest-ridden basketcases who want nothing of democracy or modernity and want Canadian soldiers the hell out, fast.

It's something that Manley's panelists also noticed. "Whenever we asked Afghans what they thought ISAF or Canada should do," the panel report states, "there was never any hesitation: `We want you to stay; we need you to stay.' ”

This is terribly inconvenient for all the "troops-out" polemicists and their similarly isolationist paleoconservative chums who have so effectively framed Canada's public discourse about Afghanistan to date.

But it is a fact, nonetheless. And no less inconvenient for the "anti-war" left is the fact that the Afghan people are waging a liberation struggle. They're fighting imperialism - of an Islamist kind. They're fighting for democracy, for literacy, and for the rule of law, and against barbarism, obscurantism and oppression.

Just ask them.

This truth is especially inconvenient for the left, precisely because this struggle is what used to be called the historic mission of the left.

Was on about all this last night on Rob Breakenridge's World Tonight (Calgary's CHQR) as well.

Here is the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee submission to the Manley panel. The panel report is here.

Here are the founding members of the Solidarity Committee. Any similarity between that list and the Canadians who signed the Euston Manifesto is not purely coincidental.

The submission to the panel from Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan is here.

The Senlis Council response is here.

This is a perfect illustration of the difficulty Afghans are up against (as are Canadians, but in a different way).

In the Toronto Star, Chantel Hebert neatly sums up the predicament facing Canadian voters who care about Afghanistan. The main choice is between "a prime minister whose management of a defining foreign policy file has been found wanting and a leader of the opposition whose plan for its future has been dismissed as half-baked by one of his own elder statesmen."

Here's something for all you conspiracy theorists: The Manley Report Was An Inside Job. I see my old comrade Mike Byers is finding it handy for his purposes, and I'm sure it will provide enormous assistance to all those whose method of avoiding unpleasant facts is to simply change the subject.

Rosie DiManno: No retreat, no surrender. Christie Blatchford: "In other words, this is worth fighting for, and not just in that shattered country over there, but in this one."

I was going say something smartass about the subtle pattern emerging here: women talking sense on the subject and men talking out their arses - with the exception of such men as Mark Collins, who keys in on the guts of the report. But something wrecked it for me, a thing that is also really funny: After warning yesterday that ISAF's "Christian/Crusader heritage" will provoke more jihadist attacks in Afghanistan, today Green Party leader Elizabeth May cautions against characterizing internationalist intervention there as "a clash of civilizations or, worse, religions."

This is completely unrelated, but it also made me laugh.

Required viewing:

Elevating the debate in Canada about our role in Afghanistan will produce a kind of cacophany at first, but bad songs have to be drowned out by good songs. This is not required viewing, but it sure illustrates the point nicely: Play the Marseillaise. Play it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


For the most part I weep for the Left - they just don't want to get the world as it is, not as it should be. Where you went "wrong" as a Lefty is something I don't care to know, but than gawd you did.

Keep up the great work. Tens of thousands of Afghani lives depend on it and if the "west" can't help here then any hope of helping in Africa is just a pipe dream.

The ghosts of the Macs & Paps are with you.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Aye and aye, the Mac-Paps.

Thanks Fred.

5:12 PM  
Blogger kurt said...

Thanks, Terry. Fully concur.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

"...all those whose method of avoiding unpleasant facts is to simply change the subject"--to the usual suspect:

Darfur: my record of what Mr Manley said:

"...the Sudanese government doesn't want us and such a mission would be a combat one anyway."

Should you want to know the realities about the UN mission for Darfur, rarely covered in the Canadian media, follow the comments here.


7:00 PM  
Blogger Wet Coaster said...

The Anti-war movement has been hijacked by the politically correct police. For them there is no such thing as a good fight. Not now not ever. WWII was not necessary (I am told it was really for economic and geopolitical imperialistic purposes). Pearl harbour was a US initiated conspiracy (according to Kevin Potvin et al)The 1967 war was for imperialistic land grab by Israel, the Israeli war of independence was an orchestrated to "ethnically cleanse" the region, 911 was a conspiracy for the neocons to take over and finally Afghanistan is yet another imperialistic intrusion.

Sometimes it's necessary to fight he good fight so that the mindless goose-stepping PCers have the freedom to protest whist blowing the foam off their decaf/half cap with sprinkles cappuccinos!

It's not about left or right it's about doing the right thing. And for once Canada is. Noe it's time for the rest of the "free" world to step up to the plate.

Thanks Terry for the inspiration!

8:31 PM  
Blogger Blazingcatfur said...

Doing the right thing? Wet Coaster just saying the word "Right" is cause for banishment in some circles, you should know better;)

Excellent post Terry.

5:18 AM  
Blogger Wet Coaster said...

You're right Cat. Oops! I did it again! (with apologies to Britney Spears):)

9:41 AM  
Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

The Mac-Paps ?
Are you seriously imply that the Afghan situation is similar to Spain or that Western troops are the moral equivalent of the Mac -Pap volunteers?
Or that the Karzi government is the equivalent morally or other wise of the Spanish Republicans ?
Wow thats just absurd.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

"The Mac-Paps ? Are you seriously imply that the Afghan situation is similar to Spain or that Western troops are the moral equivalent of the Mac -Pap volunteers?"

Now that I think about it, yes and yes.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

'Afstan: A "misjudgment of historic proportions"'


6:05 PM  
Blogger brian platt said...

It will be interesting to watch what Dion does. I think there will be tremendous pressure on him from within the party to alter his stance, especially from the majority of MPs who backed Ignatieff's leadership bid.

He's already opening himself some wriggle room:

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion on Thursday reiterated his party's position on the Afghan mission -- that Canada's involvement in combat must end in 2009 -- but added his party is "open to debate."

1:36 AM  
Blogger brian platt said...

Ah, reading the above post, I see Terry already beat me to that link!

1:40 AM  

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