Thursday, March 06, 2008

Would Obama ask Parliament to reverse its decision on Afghanistan?

Foreign policy adviser promises additional US troops, but expects Canada to maintain its combat role “as long as it possibly can”

N.B. This post has been corrected.

In case anyone missed Leslie McKinnon’s long piece on Barack Obama on last night’s "National," here’s what one of his foreign affairs advisers, Susan Rice, said about Obama’s hope that Canada would extend its combat mission in Afghanistan:

Rice: Barack Obama has also said that he would add at least two additional combat brigades to the American contribution in Afghanistan.

Reporter voiceover: this would add 15,000 troops: a gift to the Canadian military effort. But Parliament has all but agreed to withdraw from combat in Afghanistan in 2011. This doesn’t sit well with the Obama team.

Rice: And we will look to our allies in NATO to step up their contributions. In Canada’s case, we’d hope very much that Canada would continue and sustain its very important contribution.

Reporter: Continuous combat role?

Rice: Yes.

Reporter: Really. Because you know there’s a big a debate.

Rice: Yes, I understand. I think it’s fair to say that an Obama administration would hope very much and work in partnership with Canada to encourage Canada to continue and maintain its contribution for as long as it possibly can. This is crunch time in Afghanistan

These comments start at about 43:00 min.

Now, I don’t know when this interview was filmed, but by now all the US presidential candidates should know that the House of Commons has passed a motion to end Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan in 2011. Correction: the motion is expected to be voted on this week. My apologies.

Unfortunately, in recent days NDP leader Jack “troops out now” Layton seems focussed on auditioning for an internship in an Obama White House. So I doubt he will be raising the fact that his hero wears combat boots, and would like Canadian soldiers to keep wearing theirs indefinitely.

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