Yesterday on a trip to Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he believed forces deployed in southern Afghanistan (Canadian, British, Dutch) did not know how to combat a guerrilla insurgency. He also drew contrasts between the success of U.S. troops fighting in eastern Afghanistan and the escalating violence in the country’s south near Kahandahar where the Canadians are.

Gates made these remarks on the day Canada’s seventy-seventh soldier was killed. In fact, Canadian soldiers are getting killed at roughly three times the U.S. rate in combat in Afghanistan. Canadian military officials say this is so because they are carrying the fight to the Taliban.

Gate’s remarks sparked outrage at NATO, in London. Holland and in Ottawa. In Holland the Dutch government called in the U.S. amabassador for an explanation. In Ottawa, Mr. Gates called Defense Minister Peter MacKay to express his « regret and embarrassment. »

But even if this attempt at damage control is able to contain the brouhaha in the short term, many military officials feel the damage to the alliance and its war in Afghanistan may be lasting. How anxious, for example, will other countries be to pour more troops into southern Afghanistan?

After all the efforts to soft-pedal Mr. Gates’s comments the blunt force of his statment stuck: that the NATO allies, whether willing to fight or not, are ill prepared for counterinsurgency operation.

Does Pentagon Chief Robert Gates has any business criticizing Canadian soldiers?

Will this criticism further reduce support for the Afghan mission here in Canada?

Should we end our Afghan mission in 2009?



  1. 1
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Mr Gates has shown the full imperial disdain of his administration toward all that is not « pure laine American ». With Mr Bush it has always been his way or the highway. Our troops were sent in under a U.N. approved mission to clear Afghanistan of Talebans and Al Qa’ida, under American command. As usual when things did not go as they had foreseen, they took their toys elsewhere and dumped the whole thing on NATO.
    Canadian troops stayed there on a reconstruction and army and police training mission. We were supposed to insure security in Kabul. How did we ever end up in Kandahar?
    I guess Canadians albeit disapproving of the fighting mission still support our troops and would agree on staying beyond 2009 for a non-combatant mission. That of course does not mean that shots would not have to be fired in self-defence but not in a hunting party.
    We just can not cut and run as the Americans did in Vietnam. To them we may just be bloody colonial cannon fodder but we can hold our own.

  2. 2
    Alex Thomas Says:

    If I recall correctly, Canadian troops were taking casualties in the face of German resistance, while the American « liberators » were still mustering on the beaches at Normandy. The Yanks didn’t show their corn-fed farmboy faces in Europe until 1917, and 1944 respectively, while us cheesebacks were spilling our blood there from nearly Day One.
    Tell Gates to shove it up his 911, and bring our boys home.
    Of course, the Taliban are crazy and evil, but it’s not OUR job to put them down. It’s the job of the Afghanis that are NOT crazy and evil…if you can find any. The Taliban are to Afghanistan what the Bolsheviks were to Russia in 1917, and the Nazis were to Germany in 1933: a small, vocal, armed and insanely fanatical group that has the rest of the population scared too shitless to think, « Hey, there’s five of them, and five hundred of us, WTF, plant ’em! »
    The Taliban are the children of the Mujahideen, the Afghani resistance that, backed by covert American supply of weapons and ordinance, made the Russians realize that it was simply not worth it. The Taliban are the unintended consequence of American covert action. Buzzards come home to roost, as it were. What makes it OUR problem, anyway? Waitaminnit…I am beginning to see…Osama Bin Laden = 911 = Al-Quaeda = Taliban = World Terrorists = Conspiracy Against the US = Commies Under The Bed = Call the World Police = INVADE!
    Tell Edgar Bergen and Mortimer Snerd…I meant to say Cheney and Bush…to fight their own battles. Bring our boys home. That is, unless they strike oil. That’s a whole nuther gallon of gas.
    My name is Alex Thomas. I am CANADIAN!

  3. 3
    Chimera Says:

    « …Gates said…forces deployed in southern Afghanistan…did not know how to combat a guerrilla insurgency. »

    My question is: Does Gates know how? If he does know how, tell him to suit up and get in there and do it instead of yapping off. And if he doesn’t know how, tell him to shut up and quit yapping off.

    I really hate it when administration puppets try sounding like they actually know what they’re talking about. It would be funny if they weren’t in a position to get soldiers killed with their stupidity. And it’s not just Gates. It’s also people like Taliban Jack, here in Canada. Those troops over there are not toy soldiers that civilians get to play with because they were frustrated as children!

  4. 4
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Satellites and offshoots of empires traditionally did the bidding of the master. Up until Britain joined the EU, Canada supported and participated in pretty much every single armed conflict Britain engaged in.
    85% of Canada’s trade is with the U.S. Face it, Canada, you are beholden to the U.S. Participate in their wars just as you participate in their trade, just as you did with Britain.

  5. 5
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Should we also fly the American flag and vote for your next president?

  6. 6
    Alex Thomas Says:

    We should not end our mission in Afghanistan in 2009. We should end it NOW! This is not a peacekeeping mission, this is a search-and-destroy mission, and Canadian troops are not search-and-destroy troops. American folly is not worth Canadian blood.
    To compound the folly, Harper has imitated Mr. Snerd, and sent in our boys undermanned and underequipped. He has sent in our boys on a bear hunt, loaded for squirrel. Brilliant, like mud, it is.
    Too bad there is no mechanism in place to round up those politicians and appointees, suit ’em up and put ’em on point. If THEY get killed, whoa, the average IQ of the country just went up a fraction of a decimal.
    Considering that Mortimer’s attention span makes the average TV commercial look like a viewing of Battleship Potemkin (stop me before I sub-reference again!) do we send our over-extended, underpaid, under-equipped and overwhelmed troops to Iraq next? If it does not end now, when and where will it end?
    You know the definition of insanity. You’ll find it in the dictionary, right under Dick Cheney’s picture.
    My name is Alex Thomas. We have met the enemy — in the mirror.

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