Afghanistan: Mission Impossible

Posted: September 28, 2007 in Uncategorized

Michael Byers, one of Canada’s outspoken critics of the war in Afghanistan, will be speaking in Winnipeg next Thursday.

Date: Thursday, October 4, 2007
Place: Club Room, Hotel Fort Garry
Time: 7 PM
Admission: A suggested donation of $5 to defray expenses has been requested by the sponsors.
Sponsor: Peace Alliance Winnipeg

Dr. Byers’ work focuses on the interaction of international law and international politics, especially with regard to international organizations, the use of military force, the law of the sea, human rights and Canada-United States relations.

He is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books, Toronto Star and Globe and Mail, and is the author, most recently, of Intent for a Nation: What is Canada for? (Vancouver/Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, June 2007).

He holds a Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, where he also serves as a faculty member at the Liu Institute for Global Issues. Prior to July 2004, he was a tenured Professor of Law and Director of Canadian Studies at Duke University. From 1996-1999, he was a Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University.

Here is an excerpt from a recent article Byers wrote for the Globe and Mail:

“… Travelling through Europe this month, I’ve been struck by how national debates in different NATO countries take place in isolation from each other. Many Germans, for instance, assume Canadians support the counterinsurgency mission in southern Afghanistan. Similarly, many Canadians assume the 3,000 German soldiers in relatively safe northern Afghanistan aren’t going anywhere soon.

“In fact, 54 per cent of Germans think their soldiers should be withdrawn. In the Netherlands, 58 per cent want the 2,000 Dutch troops brought home by next year. Even in Poland, where the government strongly backs the mission and none of its 1,100 soldiers have been killed, a staggering 78 per cent oppose the Polish presence in Afghanistan.

“Governments have fallen because of their support for the mission. In Italy, Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigned in February after losing a Senate vote over a foreign policy that included keeping 1,800 troops in Afghanistan. Although he was asked to form a new government, Italy’s commitment to the mission remains tenuous at best.

“Other governments are teetering on the edge . . .”

Including ours. Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe has repeatedly threatened to topple the government unless there is a clear mandate to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by February 2009.

In my view, 2009 is not soon enough. But toppling this government is an appealing prospect. Maybe it will help speed up the process of getting Canada out of one of America’s dirty wars.

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