The "third way" posting on Afghanistan (October 17) describes the polarized debate on the question of Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan:
"The Prime Minister leads the charge for staying the course. Canada is at war, he says, and we don't cut and run - we will stay in this war until the job is done. NDP Leader Jack Layton leads the call for withdrawal. It is the wrong mission for Canada; it is a war with unclear objectives and it can't be won."
The posting goes on to look at some recent proposals and arguments that point to a third option or approach:
"So here are the main elements of an emerging third option: pull out of the south; redeploy to the north in support of training and provincial reconstruction teams; substantially increase non-military aid; review the strategy, objectives, and tactics used by the NATO-led ISAF; and re-open the political process in pursuit of a more inclusive and representative political order for the entire country."
Since then, an October 27 letter sent out by Mr. Layton elaborates a position for the NDP that looks a lot like the "third way":
- "Give notice that Canada will withdraw from the search-and-kill combat mission in Kandahar."
- "Work with NATO partners, the Afghan government, and other affected parties to find a political solution through capacity building and a comprehensive peace process.
- "Focus Canada's role in Afghanistan on humanitarian aid, reconstruction and development, with appropriate security measures."
A focus on humanitarian aid, reconstruction, and development, assisted by appropriate security is elaborated in a recent press kit prepared by Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (available along with other excellent resources at www.w4wafghan.ca ), a Calgary-based NGO that has been working with Afghan women since 1996:
"Afghanistan needs an international security force, adhering to internationally recognized human rights standards, for a period of at least ten years. This force should have the following main objectives:
- To provide security and stability for all Afghans;
- To facilitate safe provision of basic services such as education, clean water, and healthcare;
- To create an environment where Afghans can take on reconstruction and development activities on their own terms; and,
- To ensure the security needs of women and girls are met, which include protection from sexual violence, trafficking, rape, and other security threats commonly face by Afghan women."