MONTREAL – The sooner Canada gets its troops out of Afghanistan the better because the mission is a waste of lives and money in a doomed cause, one of Canada’s most eminent diplomats told a Montreal conference Sunday.
“The bottom line is that we will not prevail in Afghanistan,” Robert Fowler told the Liberal party’s Canada 150 conference. “Once we understand and accept that reality it is time to leave, not a moment, not a life and not a dollar later.”
Fowler also charged that the Liberal and Conservative parties are contributing to turmoil in the Middle East and fostering international terrorism by pandering to Jewish voters in Canada with blind support for Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His words carry weight considering that in his time Fowler has been a foreign policy adviser to three Canadian prime ministers, deputy minister of national defence and Canada’s longest-serving ambassador to the United nations. More recently, as special UN envoy to Niger, he was kidnapped by Al-Qa'ida in December 2008 and held captive in the Sahara for 130 days.
He said that in using foreign policy exclusively for domestic purposes and “scrambling to lock up the Jewish vote,” Canadian politicians are selling out our widely admired and long established reputation for fairness and justice in the Middle East and disqualifying us from using Canadian diplomatic skills to forge a durable Israeli-Palestinian peace and thereby deny Islamist jihadists one of their most cherished rallying cries.
“I have no reason to love Islamic extremism or terrorism of any stripe, but I do deplore the abandonment of of our hard-won reputation for objective analysis and decency as a result of our reckless Middle Eastern posturing.”
He said it seems that anyone who presumes to acknowledge this is immediately labelled anti-Semitic, just as anyone criticizing the “Afghan folly” faces accusations of being disloyal to our troops.
“I guess we are supposed to presume that the allure of jihad will inexorably dim as Israel builds ever more settlements in illegally occupied territories in contravention of a myriad of international judgments and hope that 10 million Palestinians will just forget about it and decide that being homeless and stateless and living for a fourth generation in impossibly squalid refugee camps is an outcome that they’d just better suck down and accept.”
On Afghanistan he said that it is difficult to rationalize or understand what the Canadian mission can accomplish, what with the Taliban gaining in strength and reach day by day.
“They say look at the number of little girls we have put in school – at a cost of 146 Canadian lives and an incremental cost of $11.3 billion. My, think of the number of little girls we could put in school throughout the Third World – particularly in Africa – with that kind of money. And without having to kill and be killed to get that worthy job done.”
He said it appears that our goal in Afghanistan is to colonize the country and replace its culture with ours, a mission impossible for which the Taliban know Canada lacks the resources and dedication to accomplish.
“They understand enough about our attention-deficit addled politics to know that we simply do not have the heart for a long-haul, casualty-heavy, intense, brutal, no-holds-barred struggle in which none of our vital interests are engaged.”
Fowler also delivered a brutal take on the moral and policy failings of his Liberal hosts, saying the party has lost its way in policy terms and is in danger of losing its soul with its pandering to special interests. These he suggested, include not only the Jewish vote, but also accommodation of Sri Lankan and Sikh extremists.
“It seems the Liberals today don’t stand for much in the way of principle. I have the impression they will endorse anything and everything which might return them to power and nothing which won’t, whatever the merits of either.”
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff nevertheless gamely shook hands with Fowler at the conclusion of his presentation.
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