Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Darfur vs. Afghanistan?

Gordon O'Conner's recent comments have added an interesting dimension to the Afghanistan "debate." He tells us that we have the military resources to remain in Afghanistan indefinitely (somewhat chilling rhetoric) but are unable to commit any ground troops to a humanitarian intervention in Darfur. We are now presented with a tangible cost that our foriegn policy must sustain if we are to continue in Afghanistan. That is, of course, beyond the human cost of loss of life that we already face .

It feeds into an already existing debate on activism in Darfur, as well. Today's London Free Press dug up some relevant comments made by failed rookie Liberal candidate Glen Pearson. Glen Pearson - if I may sidetrack for a moment - is one of the great living Liberals. His CV includes serving as a firefighter for 28 years, founding the London Food Bank, consulting with all levels of government on poverty issues, and founding the organization Canadian Aid for Southern Sudan. Pearson travelled often to the Sudan. He build a YM/YWCA nearbye and was personally involved in freeing slaves - one of which he adopted as a daughter.

He was defeated in London-Fanshawe by New Democrat Irene Mathyssen, whose CV includes 'good at being po-mo cynical about stuff' (paraphrased).

Pearson has argued that the presence of Western/UN troops in the Moslem country would generate a tremendous deal of ill will. He questioned the willingness of either Russia or China to allow the Security Council to initiate such an intervention with an appropriate number of troops. Instead, he suggested that Canada and other Western Nations become active in promoting health care, in policing, and in providing technical support for thhe troops of the African Union.

So can effective aid reach Darfur if it isn't shuttled in militarily? If not, does this affect the way we conduct our foreign policy elsewhere. It'll be interesting to see how some leadership candidates respond to this challenge. Ignatieff, for example, has been vocally supportive of the Afghanistan mission. However, a human security agenda seems also to be central to his platform. How, then are the two reconciled?

- Mike (SCG)


Blogger Steve said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:46 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

If the troops of the African Union can be effective than such cultural considerations are paramount, but I believe even Romeo Dallaire has changed his mind on this, saying they cannot stop the killing or some such thing (after initially saying the opposite-so a quote saying that doesn't really clear this up unless really recent).

I would guess that Ignatieff's stance could be in line somewhat with his comments on Afghanistan, that we are not helping if we build hospitals and they are burned down the next night, etc. I think the two doctrines are reconcilable. If that seems impossible I suppose clarification would be needed. Though intervention is far too complicated to try and seriously comment on for me here; there is so much that needs consideration that one sentence is bound to need a dozen qualifiers which makes for quite the read. Still, if someone is particularly gassed up about it and thinks this is weak, I'm sure I can respond soon enough.

Still, I agree it would be very nice to hear from the leadership candidates about this.

1:48 AM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

I certainly think support for the two initatives are reconcilable and logical. What I'm curious to see is if we are talking one or the other in practical terms, which should take precedence.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Ah yes. Let's hear something contendors.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Sholdice said...

I talked to Glen on the weekend at an event in London. Jane and him are going back to Darfur in September - they truly are saints.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Sholdice it'd be good to hear more from you

2:09 AM  

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