We can hear the Conservative side saying that is ridiculous, and they are ridiculing me. But it is the truth. That is the reality today. It has been seven years, with the greatest military power in the history of the world, the greatest military alliance in the history of the world, and the situation from a military standpoint, from a security standpoint, is worse today than it was seven years ago.
There is a lot of naiveté. We hear mostly from the Conservatives in this debate, and we heard it again from the last speaker in response to a question, that our allies love us being there. Absolutely they love us being there because it is our soldiers who are dying, not theirs. They are dying at a much higher rate than American soldiers.
We went into this mission with our eyes closed. Our NATO allies did not. New Zealand, Australia, France, Germany, and I could go down the list of 20-odd countries in NATO, all refused to take on this combat mission. They knew what the consequences would be. To be blunt, and perhaps rude and undiplomatic, they were quite happy to let Canada go into Afghanistan. They encouraged us.
I can remember having debates with some of our allies' ambassadors. They said that Canada should stay there; Canada should ramp up; Canada should do more. When I asked them if they were going to do that, if they were going to lift the caveats, if they were going to send their soldiers into the real combat zones, often there would be no answer because of embarrassment, or they would indicate that was not their government's policy.
I want to go down a list of just how naive we were. I accuse some of our military leadership in this regard as well. It is not just our political leadership.
When we sent our soldiers into Afghanistan they were not wearing the right uniforms. They did not have the proper communications equipment. I do not want to say anything bad about our people on the ground because they have done an absolutely amazing job given the circumstances that we, as political leaders, put them in. We did not give them the communications equipment they required and at times they could not even communicate with our allies in the field. The LAVs that we initially gave them were clearly insufficient for the circumstances.
We, the military leadership and the political leadership, had not done any analysis of what we would be faced with there. We ramped up and moved in our tanks, and if this motion passes, we will be moving in helicopters, and frankly, the next thing will be fighter jets. I do not know what will be moved in after that. Will we move in more soldiers? We saw how successful that was with the Russians. Estimates indicate that if it is soldiers that are needed, we may need as many as 400,000 soldiers. Canada has roughly 50,000 to 60,000 in total at best, at any given time, and hardly any of them are engaged in the combat mission.
Where is the leadership? Is the government prepared to continue? We have lost 80 soldiers. How many more have to die? Can anybody in this House seriously and honestly in good conscience and good faith say that by 2011 it will be any different? In that period of time, how many more soldiers are we going to lose? I do not believe that anybody can honestly stand in this House and say that, and those who do are deceiving themselves.
Over the past seven years the situation has deteriorated. It has become worse and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that in the next three years it will get any better.
We hear that we are doing things better for the people of Afghanistan. It is not true. It can be put as simply as that. It is not true. There are food shortages. There is an increase in the drug trade. There has been no significant improvement in the quality of life for the vast majority of people in that country.
There is a central government that arguably controls Kabul, maybe. The suicide bombings have increased there in the last few months. The number of deaths has increased in Kabul in the last few months. At best the central government is controlling no more than 10% of the country, and that is the government Canada is supporting. In the rest of the country, especially in the south, there is no control of anyone, including ourselves. In the east there is hardly any control. The north is controlled by factions, militias and warlords who continue to perpetuate the situation that was there before we went in.
Later today we have to vote on this motion. I have seen absolutely no evidence that would make me conclude that the decision should be an affirmative one on this motion. The NDP has set out the terms of a safe withdrawal of our troops with our continued involvement in Afghanistan. We are not going away. There is Canada's involvement both at the diplomatic level and in the aid area to assist at this point. This is where our strengths are. We believe in assisting in getting some peaceful resolution.
Naiveté is what is always thrown at the NDP. The reality is that we look at what has occurred. There has been a large number of deaths--and I am not speaking of Canadian deaths at this point, although those are tragic enough--I am talking about the thousands and thousands of deaths in Afghanistan as a result of the chaos. Will that continue to some degree? We know that some of it will.
It is my firm belief that if the resolution that is contained in the amendment proposed by the NDP is followed, the consequences will be less severe. There is no question that there will be consequences. The consequences that will flow from our continued involvement in the combat mission and our continued involvement in a course of conduct that leads us nowhere other than to greater chaos will be more deaths and greater destruction in Afghanistan. Therefore, it seems to me that the path set out by the NDP is clear and one which I would urge all members of this House to follow.