Mr. Speaker, I am going to invite all members to introduce themselves to the complete report, “Community Peacebuilding in Afghanistan: The Case for a National Strategy”, authored by Matt Waldman of Oxfam International. I am sure they can find it on the website.
It is important for me not to do an unfair summary of the excellent proposal for what we should be doing instead, and in the very few moments left, I want not to use up my time to respond to the insults that were being hurled by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence during my speech today. Rather I would like to invite him and other members of the Liberal-Conservative alliance for continuing the Afghan counter-insurgency on a very brief tour of defence ministers and military leaders who have shown themselves more willing to face up to the reality of the hazards and the flaws in the counter-insurgency mission.
“Every time you kill an angry young man overseas, you're creating 15 more who will come after you” Who said that? Major General Andrew Leslie, former chief of the Canadian land staff. “I don't think Canada is winning the war, and this war is not winnable”. Who said that? Retired Colonel Michel Drapeau.
Afghanistan is a “textbook case of how to screw up a counter-insurgency”. Who said that? British Captain Leo Docherty. “The situation is deteriorating and...NATO forces risk appearing like an army of occupation.” The Belgium defence minister said that. “One should not try to bury one's head in the sand...the operation is encountering real difficulties.... the situation is not improving.” The French defence minister said that. “If...the international community cannot find a”-- political solution--“...then...we have no moral right to ask our young people to expose themselves to that danger”. Des Browne, the U.K. defence minister, said that.
I could go on. There are others who said much the same. A Dutch military commander said that ultimately, the key to defeating the counter-insurgency is political accommodation, and in Afghanistan, that means talking to the Taliban.
We have no moral right, as was suggested by many of these highly placed, experienced defence ministers and military leaders, to keep sending our young men and women to Afghanistan in a mission that is either going to jeopardize their lives or destroy their health for all time.
We need to get on a path to peace. We have to take the leadership necessary to do that. In doing so, we can regain the respect that countries around the world have had for Canada's traditional role of peace seeking, peace building and peacekeeping in our troubled world.