Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bang heads together or bring 'em home

Mr. Michael Ignatieff
Leader of the Official Opposition
House of Commons,

Dear Iggy,

Re: The giant sucking sound of Afghanistan.

I admit, I'm not a big fan of yours. There is, as Rick Salutin observed, the whole business of your being a fashionable intellectual camp follower, providing literate, urbane cover for the grossest violation of everything that Nuremberg stood for.

Nevertheless, you are here as the New, More Streetwise and Reformed Iggy, Leader of the Official Opposition, a Canadian who can wield both official languages with style and effect, the literate answer to Don Cherry. Speaking as an ordinary private citizen, I am extremely grateful that you are here, given the rhetorical wasteland of the last several years.

Obviously, the economy is on your mind; that would be the horrendous crashing noise. But don't let that obscure the horrible sucking sound of Afghanistan, an undealt-with problem that won't conveniently go away until 2011. I point out some obvious facts, which seem to be getting trampled in the rush to deal with, say, the auto industry.

1. Afghanistan is draining money we don't have out of the Canadian economy, conservatively 5 times as much as the projected auto industry bail out, with absolutely no chance of repayment or having a viable industry as a result.

2. There is no plan for Afghanistan. The Manley Report is a prevarication.

3. Canadian soldiers continue to die in Afghanistan, and nobody knows why. All official explanations are transparently wrong.

4. You have the votes to bring down the government.

5. Something is terribly wrong with NATO, and by extension, the United Nations Security Council that is rubber stamping ISAF. NATO operates in secret, always bad news, and cannot agree among its own members what it's doing in Afghanistan. If it had its act together, somebody could explain it to us, and all its soldiers would run the same risks as ours.

You don't have to be Winston Churchill to figure this out, Iggy, and a lot of Canadians feel the same way, including most of Quebec. We need a debate, a real debate, in the House of Commons, but there's nothing stopping Canada from banging heads together inside NATO right now: we're their friends, we've more than paid our dues, and anything less than brutal honesty from Canada is a gratuitous insult to our own soldiers.

There's no doubt you have the brains for this job. The question is, do you have the soul and the balls?