Some, like the Star's Thomas Walkom, feel that Harper's words are a tacit admission on his part that the mission is unpopular, generally unsuccessful, and that he will be unable to garner support to extend it beyond 2009. But a few have taken a different stance.
Take Andrew Coyne, for example. In his column in the National Post, he instead offers this interpretation of the PM's comments:
Read the last part of the Prime Minister's remarks: "I don't want to send people into a mission if the opposition is going to, at home, undercut the dangerous work that they are doing in the field." Translated: that's exactly what's happening now."The Taliban", Coyne informs us "read the Western press". Maybe so, but I doubt even the Taliban are depraved enough to read the fish-wrapping we call the National Post. In any case, we are told that the Prime Minister has offered the opposition parties the chance to "grow up". Or at the very least, to explain their rationale for desiring troop withdrawal at the end of the current mandate in 2009. Coyne himself is at a loss to understand troop withdrawal:
And for what purpose? To whose benefit? The Afghans? No, it is quite clear they want us there. The troops? No, they are equally adamant, in every interview I have ever seen: they want to be there. Our NATO partners? Obviously not. The only agenda served by the opposition's demands is ? the opposition's.In his rambling list, he curiously leaves out one important group. Canadians. According to a Decima Research poll released on June 10th:
Only one in four (26%) Canadians feel that “Canada should be willing to extend our mission in Afghanistan beyond February 2009 if that is necessary to complete our goals there.” Fully 67% felt that “we need to do our best to accomplish progress in Afghanistan but that we must stick to that deadline and get our troops out.” This is the majority view in every region, among men and women, urban and rural voters, all income and every age group.
But hey, we're just the voting public. Why should Coyne or Harper care what we think?
Meanwhile over at that other journalistic wasteland, the Sun, Jordan Michael Smith at least takes the time to acknowledge that most Canadians want out of Afghanistan in 2009. But his advice to nearly 70% of his fellow citizens is to be "honest" with themselves, and admit that they are not "internationalists" but rather "isolationists". What the hell "internationalist" means is anyone's guess, but Smith assures us that it is the more noble of the two options. "Isolationists", you see, have no real interests in humanitarian causes. They seek only what is good for Canadians, and thus are "uncomfortable taking casualties in a foreign country with slow, hard-to-measure progress". (Presumably therefore humane "internationalists" such as Smith are A-OK with Canadian soldiers dying for immeasurably small gains). And so, in that time-honoured CPC tradition, he admonishes those who oppose him, accusing them of wanting only "to look after themselves" and of condemning Afghanistan to a "medieval theocracy" (as opposed to the beacon of democracy it's well on its way to becoming).
It's a pity that such drivel finds its way to print.