Monday, July 2, 2007

Canada in Afghanistan as retribution for 9/11 : Defence Minister

This is from an article in the Edmonton Journal in January of this year. Note that O'Connor claims that when the Taliban or Al Qaeda came out of Afghanistan they attacked the Twin Towers. But the Taliban were not directly involved at all! There were Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan but there were no Afghans directly involved. The level of ignorance displayed by O'Connor is astounding but I suppose not surprising.The justification of the mission is often even worse, a series of pious platitudes. Even the Queen joins in. At least it is possible to criticise O'Connor but most of the justification is such that attacking it would be like attacking Motherhood-- perhaps Canadian Values would be a less sexist way of expressing the matter!

Canadian troops in Afghanistan as 9/11 'retribution
' O'Connor: Attack on New York killed 25 Canadians

Andrea Sands
The Edmonton Journal

Sunday, January 21, 2007

EDMONTON - Canada is fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan in "retribution" for the 9/11 attacks that killed at least 3,000 people, including 25 Canadians, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said yesterday.

The hard-hitting comments, which prompted a round of applause from Mr. O'Connor's Edmonton audience, came in addition to the government's usual reasoning about Canada's duty to help the Afghanistan people.

Speaking at a symposium about Afghanistan, Mr. O'Connor said Canadian soldiers are in the country because Afghanistan's democratically elected government wants them there, because Canada has a responsibility to help as one of the world's richest countries and because the war is in Canada's own interest.

"When the Taliban or al-Qaeda came out of Afghanistan, they attacked the Twin Towers and in those twin towers, 25 Canadians were killed. The previous government and this government will not allow Canadians to be killed without retribution," Mr. O'Connor told his audience of roughly 200 people, many of them military personnel.

In an interview after his speech, Mr. O'Connor said the word retribution doesn't necessarily mean punishment.

"What it means is, if our country is attacked, we are not going to stand blandly by and not do anything about it," he said.

"I don't believe the (former) Liberal government would have committed us to Afghanistan had there not been Canadians killed."

Mr. O'Connor's comments come as a fresh contingent of soldiers -- 2,200 troops from bases in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Alberta -- prepare to depart for the war-torn country.

There are about 2,500 Canadian troops stationed in Afghanistan, mostly in the south of the country, where the Taliban is the strongest.

Since Canada sent troops there in 2002, 44 soldiers and one diplomat have been killed.

Canada does not want a Taliban government to regain control of Afghanistan because it would provide fertile ground for terrorism, Mr. O'Connor warned.

"If they returned and took the government, they then would allow terrorist organizations to operate in the country, international terrorist organizations. We believe that."

But Saleem Qureshi, a professor of Middle East politics at the University of Alberta, said the federal government should pull Canadian soldiers out of the country.

The soldiers are doing heroic work, but war carried out by the world's most powerful states will always prompt less powerful opponents to use terrorism, Mr. Qureshi argued.

"Political issues can only be resolved by political negotiations."

The Afghan mission continues to be a controversial topic politically, with the NDP calling for a withdrawal of troops and the Bloc Quebecois demanding the mission focus on reconstruction.

After an emotional debate in the House of Commons, Prime Minster Stephen Harper won a vote last year to extend the mission in Afghanistan until at least 2009.

In a recent online poll by Innovative Research Group -- conducted this month and provided exclusively to CanWest News Service -- support for the Afghanistan mission stood at 58 per cent among Canadians, versus 38 per cent opposed. The numbers were up from a previous poll by the same group that showed 54 per cent in favour of the mission and 42 per cent opposed. The poll surveyed 2,206 Canadians and is accurate within 2.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Spectator Capt. Craig Paterson of 15 Service Battalion in Edmonton said he agreed with the minister's reasoning.

By keeping al-Qaeda members "busy on their own land," it is harder for them to launch attacks here, Capt. Paterson said.

"If we leave them alone and allow them to build up their support and their equipment and their planning, it's just a matter of time, I think, before they will come over here," he said.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2007

Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

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