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Unintended consequences

A few fascinating paragraphs from a New Atlanticist piece on Qatar, the “new Dubai.”

The emir and his government chief, strategic thinker Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, who is both prime minister and foreign minister, and the national security staff see all their many accomplishments in dire peril should Israel decide to bomb Iran. From Iran’s nearest missile batteries to Qatar’s LNG port at Ras Laffan is only 100 miles.

“Two missiles on LNG loading docks as a supertanker takes on a full load,” said one ranking Western diplomat and Qatar “is out of business.” So Qatar endeavors to maintain “cordial” relations with what is perceived to be a military regime now in power in Tehran. Its Northfield cornucopia abuts, even overlaps, with Iran’s claim.

— de Borchgrave, Arnaud.  “Is Qatar the New Dubai?New Atlanticist, 5 March 2010.

This holds true for most Persian Gulf nations, their core economic assets are within easy reach of Iranian military forces.  Unless America is prepared to deploy a considerable number of assets to defend allied economies up and down the Gulf, this is one reason why Israeli air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities are simply never going to happen.

The other interesting angle is also one of unintended consequences:

There was also an emerging consensus that Iran had welcomed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and that Iranian officials in the Gulf were privately rooting for George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004. One Iranian official was quoted as saying, “America got rid of our worst enemy and turned Iraq over to Iranian influence.”

On balance, I believe getting rid of Saddam Hussein is a net positive, for both American and Iraqi peoples.  Getting rid of Saddam so that Iran would emerge as the dominant regional power was probably not what the Bush Administration (nor its opponents) ever had in mind, though.

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Nuclear strategies: India vs. Pakistan

One of the reasons I enjoy reading the gentlemen at ArmsControlWonk is that they consistently have decent open-source analysis grounded in realistic assessment of weapon (and development) capabilities.  It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s probably the best online information you can find in a non-classified source.  Although the authors and I are surely on opposite ends of the political spectrum, they do not (usually) go in for easy, empty platitudes.  I may not always agree with their prescriptions, but they do go to some pains to help one comprehend the methods by which they reach their conclusions.  Generally speaking, their writing tends to recognise that nuclear weapons exist for a number of rational reasons, are likely to continue existing as long as those reasons exist, and the only way to actually achieve deterrence and non-proliferation goals is to address the underlying security issues in a realistic fashion.

Earlier this week, Mr. Michael Krepon posted a note at ArmsControlWonk about Indian nuclear strategy, quoting extensively from a book (Crafting peace in Kashmir: through a realist lens, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2004) by retired Vice Admiral Verghese Koithara, Indian Navy.  The admiral’s brief but insightful discussion of the realities driving Indian and Pakistani nuclear strategy is worth thinking about.

The nuclear strategies of both countries emphasise deterrence, but there is a fundamental difference between the two in that Pakistan’s strategy is aimed at deterring a conventional threat from India, while India’s is aimed at deterring a nuclear one from Pakistan. Since a conventional confrontation is easier to develop and must almost invariably precede a nuclear one, Pakistan’s deterrence has to function much more actively than India’s.  This has an impact on force structure, force posture, and the relationship between conventional and nuclear strategies.  As the conventional military balance continues to shift in India’s favour, Pakistan’s reliance on its nuclear capability will increase and so will its effort to lower the nuclear threshold.  Thus Pakistan’s strategy is likely to emphasize not just ‘first use’ but ‘early first use’ in the coming years. The big problem for Pakistan is that not only is the conventional military balance in India’s favour, but so is the nuclear one.  Pakistan was able to maintain conventional operational parity with India for many decades, but is now losing ground rapidly.  Much the same is going to happen in the nuclear field.

— Koithara, Verghese (VADM, IN).  “Nuclear Danger.” Crafting peace in Kashmir: through a realist lens.  New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2004.  p. 113. [Emphasis mine]

Worth reading both the ArmsControlWonk impressions and, for more detail, the chunk of the “Nuclear Danger” chapter that Google Books excerpts.

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Ne penitus misera patria deleretur nomenque Romanorum

“the unfortunate fatherland should not be erased to the end”

The Roman Bridge Abutment On The South Side Of The River, originally uploaded by TyB.

Britain appears to be agog that President Obama has not explicitly backed their country’s claim to the Falkland Islands in its never-ending territorial dispute with Argentina.

Washington refused to endorse British claims to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands yesterday as the diplomatic row over oil drilling in the South Atlantic intensified in London, Buenos Aires and at the UN.

Despite Britain’s close alliance with the US, the Obama Administration is determined not to be drawn into the issue. It has also declined to back Britain’s claim that oil exploration near the islands is sanctioned by international law, saying that the dispute is strictly a bilateral issue

…“We are aware not only of the current situation but also of the history, but our position remains one of neutrality,” a State Department spokesman told The Times. “The US recognises de facto UK administration of the islands but takes no position on the sovereignty claims of either party.”

— Whithhell, Giles.  “US refuses to endorse British sovereignty in Falklands oil dispute.” The Times (of London), 25 February 2010.

Even the left-wing Manchester Guardian is aghast that the United States is not backing its historic ally:

Washington’s neutral policy and its failure to uphold automatically the right to self-determination is fuelling the already widespread suspicion that Obama’s America has more respect for its enemies than its friends.

…If the dispute became serious, [British] diplomats are certain that Obama would back Britain, and most Latin American governments would quietly applaud him.

I am sure they are right, but I am equally sure that Obama’s critics are not all wrong however much they overdo it. There will not be a second Falklands war this year because the Argentinians know we would defeat them. But if not over the Falklands then on some other crisis, Obama will have to make up his mind whether he wants to be a liberal president or to follow the worst rather than the best traditions of neoconservatism and hold that basic principles can always be sacrificed for the sake of a usually deluded view of the American national interest.

— Cohen, Nick.  “Obama should back our claim to the Falklands.” Manchester Guardian, 28 February 2010.

South American nations are falling into line behind Argentina, of course, and this—combined with studious US neutrality—has upset the British.

I cannot say that I am overly surprised, though.  This president has demonstrated clearly, from his first few meetings (or lack thereof) with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, that Britain (and Europe) are yesterday’s news, worth little thought and expenditure of energy.  It should likewise be obvious to observers of United States foreign policy and defence that isolationist sentiment has risen, as it has historically whenever the American economy enters a prolonged period of contraction.

Given that the United States has issued its Honorian rescript and told the foederati to look to their own defence, one wonders why the tribes of Europe refuse to do so.

I am not an apologist for the president’s foreign policy, but there is admittedly a certain logic in re-orienting US relations so that its energies get spent primarily in its own hemisphere and in Asia, where future superpowers are developing.  Historical ties aside, this picture does not look good for Europe.  It is a continent awash in economic, financial and social troubles, unable to come to grips with home-grown radicalism, and unwilling to adequately fund its own defensive forces.  At the very least, it does not appear logical to tie America’s fortunes to that of its slowly drowning European cousins.

The real problem arises because in previous eras, America’s isolationism was underwritten by the existence of the British Empire, which continued to expend its treasure and resources keeping sea lanes open and international trade flowing, maintaining national borders of competing regional states, and so on.  Today’s American empire is itself isolationist, and a world without a global superpower ensuring security of trade and stability of borders is a recipe for increasingly predatory behaviour amongst rival nation-states.

Still, this is the world to which the Obama Adminstration has set its course, and it has not been delinquent in signalling such to its many allies and client states.  Is it the fault of the president that no one seems to take him seriously in this regard?  Or is it the fault of those who receive the message, but cannot quite bring themselves to believe its contents?

It is time for Britain, and Europe at large, to understand that they really are on their own, however unpalatable that might seem.  America’s focus has shifted elsewhere.  You must look to yourselves for your own defence.

Category: Foreign Affairs  Tags:  2 Comments

PLA officers favour economic offensive against US

Imperialism and all reactionaries are paper tigers, c.1965 (Stefan Landsberger's Chinese Propaganda pages)

There’s nothing wrong with a nation’s uniformed officers musing about possible moves and counter-moves against strategic competitors.  Nor is there anything instantly objectionable about an industry lobbying its national government to take action against the objectionable policies of a major trading partner.  Even the best of friends may, at some point, end up in a bitter war of words or trade (cf. Canada, softwood lumber).

But in China, where industrial titans can also be uniformed officers in the PLA, those off-the-cuff, thinking-out-loud musings seem a lot less innocent.  Especially when it is coming from the men responsible for developing the PLA’s senior leadership.

The calls for broad retaliation over the planned U.S. weapons sales to the disputed island [Taiwan] came from officers at China’s National Defence University and Academy of Military Sciences, interviewed by Outlook Weekly, a Chinese-language magazine published by the official Xinhua news agency.

The interviews with Major Generals Zhu Chenghu and Luo Yuan and Senior Colonel Ke Chunqiao appeared in the issue published on Monday.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) plays no role in setting policy for China’s foreign exchange holdings. Officials in charge of that area have given no sign of any moves to sell U.S. Treasury bonds over the weapons sales, a move that could alarm markets and damage the value of China’s own holdings.

While far from representing fixed government policy, the open demands for retaliation by the PLA officers underscored the domestic pressures on Beijing to deliver on its threats to punish the Obama administration over the arms sales.

“Our retaliation should not be restricted to merely military matters, and we should adopt a strategic package of counter-punches covering politics, military affairs, diplomacy and economics to treat both the symptoms and root cause of this disease,” said Luo Yuan, a researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences.

“Just like two people rowing a boat, if the United States first throws the strokes into chaos, then so must we.”

Luo said Beijing could “attack by oblique means and stealthy feints” to make its point in Washington.

“For example, we could sanction them using economic means, such as dumping some U.S. government bonds,” Luo said.

— Buckley, Chris.  “China PLA officers urge economic punch against U.S.”  Reuters | US, 9 February 2010.

China is free to pursue its own national interest, of course, but it’s hard to see how the interests of an autocratic corporatist state can long coincide with those of a mature democracy.  One might even say that it is hard to imagine how tighter integration of the Chinese and American economies will lead to anything other than increased conflict.  It is not as if both nations are headed in the same direction, reaching for the same goals.  One is a young lion, anxious to test his growing strength and expand the horizons of his autonomy; the other is an old lion, struggling to maintain the fading status quo.  They will inevitably end up in conflict; one can only hope that it does not become a contest of arms.

Thus it is probably also a good time to remind our southern neighbours of this:

There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

— Washington, George.  Farewell Address, 19 September 1796.

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Count the cost

Master Corporal Serge St-Aubin (front) and Corporal Adam Valiquette (rear) are greeted by local Afghan children as they patrol through the village of Teymurian. (CF Combat Camera / Master Corporal Matthew McGregor, Image Tech, JTFK Afghanistan, Roto 8)

The Globe & Mail‘s Douglas Bland asks Canadians to consider all of the implications of withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011:

Canada-U.S. relations: The maintenance of co-operative relations with the United States is Canada’s vital national interest. What are the likely security, defence and economic impacts of withdrawal in 2011?

Canada-NATO relations: Would a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan negatively effect Canada’s diplomatic and economic relations with the Atlantic alliance and the European Community generally?

The Taliban and other foes: Will a Canadian withdrawal embolden Taliban leaders and weaken the Afghan government, endangering subsequent humanitarian effort in the country?

The Canadian Forces: No one knows how much the Afghan mission will eventually cost Canada. But government officials do know that staying will cost many more billions, eating into budgets for other policies. Leaving will save something. Is the government actually willing to sacrifice the Afghan commitment (and its defence policy aimed at rebuilding the Canadian Forces) in order to reduce the deficit?

Canada and the UN: Will withdrawal from the UN mission in Afghanistan risk forfeiting our credibility as a leader of the “Responsibility to Protect” concept?

Canada’s place at the table: When Afghans eventually (and inevitably) decide to negotiate an accommodation among their country’s many factions, does Canada expect to have influence if we have abandoned the country?

— Bland, Douglas.  “Afghanistan: After 2011, then what?Globe & Mail, 7 January 2009.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the citizens of a nation generally do not have a realistic idea of how their nation is viewed by foreign policymakers.  One of the most interesting things revealed in General Rick Hillier’s recent book is that our long service in the Balkans under the UN flag inadvertently undermined NATO’s perception of our fighting worth.

Contrary to the popular perception at home—where we were seen as comforting the afflicted, boldly doing what others would not do, garnering respect around the world—allied political and military brass saw a Canadian Forces that was sclerotic, ill-equipped and micromanaged by Ottawa to the point where it could not be usefully employed in a fluid tactical environment.  When UN forces in-theatre needed troops to put into action on short notice, Canada rarely got the call.  NATO commanders in the Balkans (Hillier included) avoided tasking CF units because they knew that Ottawa’s approval would take weeks to obtain, when the fight would be over within days or even hours.  When we did get the requisite approvals in time and went into combat, our logistics train could not keep us supplied and armed, and we had to beg, borrow and steal from better-supplied UN outfits.  As we strove to make a difference in the world and increase Canada’s prestige and influence, and despite the ultimate sacrifice of dozens of good Canadians, we accomplished the opposite.  Not because UN missions are inherently unworthy, but because our allies got to see firsthand how our combat potential was paralysed by bureaucracy and lack of political will back home.  The Canadian public did not realise this (because the message traffic had obviously remained internal to DND and PMO), but Canada’s reputation at the policymaker level suffered; our allies saw that we meant well, but could not be counted on to deliver.

This had consequences for Canada in Afghanistan, too.  Some NATO allies (Britain is the only one I can remember offhand) were initially quite determined to keep Canadian forces out of the Afghan mission, because the perception was that we would once again field an ill-equipped contingent that would be hamstrung from taking part in operations by tortoise-like micromanagement from Ottawa.  This perception has been reversed due in part to the sacrifices of our men and women, naturally; but also due to hardworking CF brass like Generals Hillier and Natynczyk, and the willingness of our political leadership—and here I include Paul Martin, Bill Graham, Stephen Harper, Gordon O’Connor and Peter MacKay—to attack the bureaucratic sclerosis and allow our Canadian Forces to be more flexible and agile.

Whether one supports continued action in Afghanistan or not, the reality is that this fight has increased Canada’s visibility, influence and prestige at the top-tier political level; which is, on balance, a good thing.  Stronger influence helps a nation pursue its national interest and get results.  Withdrawing before the Afghan government is independently viable risks summoning the recently-dispelled impression that once again, Canada means well but can’t be counted on to deliver.  This would not be a positive development for our nation, and Canadians should be under no illusions about how such a move will be viewed by allied governments.

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General Hillier on the future of NATO

NATO had yet to articulate a clear strategy for what it was doing in Afghanistan.  It failed to operate as one cohesive block in dealing with Pakistan, greatly diminishing its ability to affect what happens in that country—which, by the way, affects everything in Afghanistan.  In short, Afghanistan has revealed that NATO has reached the stage where it is a corpse, decomposing, and somebody’s going to have to perform a Frankenstein-like life-giving act by breathing some lifesaving air through those rotten lips into those putrescent lungs, or the alliance will be done. Any major setback in Afghanistan will see it off to the cleaners, and unless the alliance can snatch victory out of feeble efforts, it’s not going to be long in existence in its present form.  As Dr. Barney Rubin, an internationally renowned expert on Afghanistan, said, “NATO is condemned to success in Afghanistan.  Anything else will be the end of the alliance.

— Hillier, Rick [General, CF]. A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War.  Toronto:  HarperCollins Canada, 2009. p. 477. [Emphasis mine]

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Intelligence Review, c1946

The Kings of Saudi Arabia and Egypt flanked by the Crown Prince of Iraq, the Presidents of Lebanon, Syria, and the heir of the King of Yemen. Cairo, c1946.

The Islamic world, in the judgment of the Military Intelligence Division of the U.S. War Department, circa 1946.  Simultaneously fascinating and depressing that the estimate of intelligence professionals sixty-four years ago is just as relevant today.


With few exceptions, the states in it [the Muslim world] are marked by poverty, ignorance, and stagnation. It is full of discontent and frustration, yet alive with consciousness of its inferiority and with determination to achieve some kind of betterment.

Two basic urges meet head-on in this area, and conflict is inherent in this collision of interests. These urges reveal themselves in the daily news accounts of killings and terrorism, of pressure groups in opposition, and of raw nationalism and naked expansionism masquerading as diplomatic maneuvers.

The first of these urges originates within the Moslems’ own sphere. The Moslems remember the power with which once they not only ruled their own domains but also overpowered half of Europe, yet they are painfully aware of their present economic, cultural and military impoverishment. Thus a terrific internal pressure is building up in their collective thinking. The Moslems intend, by any means possible, to regain political independence and to reap the profits of their own resources. The Moslems intend, by any means possible, to regain political independence and to reap the profits of their own resources, which in recent times and up to the present have been surrendered to the exploitation of foreigners who could provide capital investment. The area, in short, has an inferiority complex, and its activities are thus as unpredictable as those of any individual so motivated.

The other fundamental urge originates externally. The world’s great and near-great Powers cover the economic riches of the Moslem area and are also mindful of the strategic locations of some of the domains. Their actions are also difficult to predict, because each of these powers sees itself in the position of the customer who wants to do his shopping in a hurry because he happens to know the store is going to be robbed.

In an atmosphere so sated with the inflammable gases of distrust and ambition, the slightest spark could lead to an explosion which might implicate every country committed to the maintenance of world peace…

The Present Estimate

If the Moslem states were strong and stable, their behavior would be more predictable. They are, however, weak and torn by internal stresses; furthermore, their peoples are insufficiently educated to appraise propaganda or to understand the motives of those who promise a new Heaven and a new Earth.

Because of the strategic position of the Moslem world and the relentlessness of its peoples, the Moslem states constitute a potential threat to world peace. There cannot be permanent world stability, when one-seventh of the earth’s population exists under the economic and political conditions that are imposed upon the Moslems.

— United States.  Department of War.  “Islam: A threat to world stability.” Intelligence Review No. 1, 14 February 1946. [Emphasis mine]

There are ten pages of analysis in all, you can download and read the entire document from the Federation of American Scientists, or download an excerpt of only the ten page Islam report from The Company.

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Trust, but don’t verify

Source: englishrussia.com

Image source: englishrussia.com

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) will expire tomorrow—December 5th, 2009.  Expiring along with it is the decades-old inspection and verification regime, which gave both US and Russian anaylsts a high degree of certainty about the capabilities and disposition of each others’ nuclear forces.

US and Russian negotiators are, apparently, working on a bridging arrangement until a new treaty can be drafted, but it’s worth remembering that the old treaty took over a year (429 days) to ratify after it was submitted to the Senate on July 31st, 1991.  There will be a lengthy gap between the expiry of START I and the ratification of any new follow-on treaty.

The expiring START treaty, signed by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and President George H.W. Bush in 1991, required each country to cut its nuclear warheads by at least one-fourth, to about 6,000, and to implement procedures for verifying that each side was sticking to the agreement.

The legal basis for the procedures, including inspections of nuclear facilities, also will expire Friday. Both sides are expected to allow each other to continue them until a new deal is in place.

The State Department said this week that it believes the two sides can keep some of the verification procedures in place through an informal political agreement that is not legally binding.

Meanwhile, negotiators still are grappling over verification procedures for the new treaty, which have become the final sticking point preventing a deal.

The Obama administration would welcome a quick conclusion to demonstrate an improvement in U.S.-Russian relations and to gain momentum for other arms control and nonproliferation goals. Washington also is looking for cooperation on issues including reining in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. However, Russia has fewer incentives for an immediate deal.

— Butler, Desmond.  “Few concerns as US-Russian nuclear treaty expires.” Associated Press, 04 December 2009. [Emphasis mine.]

It will probably be easier for the United States to continue as-is without a formal agreement in place; Russia on the other hand has laws (the Law on State Secrets) that appear to require an international treaty in order to permit the declassification and release of secret data to other nations.  A decent high-level examination of the potential hurdles on the Russian side can be found in a series of posts (1, 2, 3 and 4) at the Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces blog, written by Pavel L. Podvig, Russian defence analyst and author of a number of books on Russian nuclear forces.

IRONY ALERT: It is also worth remembering that President Barack Obama will formally receive the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10th, 2009.

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Elegy for Afghanistan

At first light, the Leopards from “C” Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadian) fire on a building containing an arms cache and material for the manufacture of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).  The Combat Team from Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) “C” Squadron is giving armoured support to the American forces and is preventing the insurgents from escaping from the village of Mushan toward the East.  (CF photo / Master Corporal Jonathan Johansen, JTF-Afg)

At first light, Leopards from “C” Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadian) fire on a building containing an arms cache and material for the manufacture of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). “C” Squadron is giving armoured support to American forces and is preventing insurgents from escaping from the village of Mushan toward the East. (CF photo / Master Corporal Jonathan Johansen, JTF-Afg)

When the history of the Afghan war is written, future historians will look back on this time and wonder how the world’s richest and most powerful democracies had such a difficult time countering what is at heart one of the human race’s most unappealing and weak ideologies.

The answer may well be that we saw fit to kill its adherents and drive them from the field, but made few attempts to win converts to our own cause and ideology—both at home and abroad.  Indeed the failure of NATO governments to make any concerted effort at generating popular support will be rightly seen as an epic blunder; a treasonous double-cross of the men we have sent to fight.

Now it appears that our sympathy and efforts there have peaked, and from this point forward they will decline.  Reporting from Afghanistan, Michael Yon paints a bleak but insightful picture of the country’s unpleasant situation.  I have abridged it significantly, but please read the whole thing:

We are losing popular support. Confidence in the Afghan and coalition governments is plummeting. Loss of human terrain is evident. Conditions are building for an avalanche. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the military commander in Afghanistan, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates are aware of the rumbling, and so today we are bound by rules of engagement that appear insensible.

…Enemies are strengthening. Attacks are dramatically increasing in frequency and efficacy. We are being out-governed by tribes and historical social structures. These structures are – and will be for the foreseeable future – the most powerful influence upon and within the political terrain. “Democracy” does not grow on land where most people don’t vote. The most remarkable item I saw during the Aug. 20 elections was the machine-gun ambush we walked into.

The coalition is weakening. While the U.S. has gotten serious, the organism called NATO is a jellyfish for which the United States is both sea and prevailing wind. The disappointing effort from many partners is best exemplified by the partners who are pushing hardest: The British are fine examples.

The British landed in Helmand province after someone apparently vouched that Helmand would be safe, and they believed it. Helmand is today the most dangerous province in Afghanistan.

…Germans had deployed to one of the safest areas in Afghanistan yet today they are staggered by Taliban punches. Berlin is brittle and apt to quit. Smart money says the Germans crumble from any significant role by 2011.

Canadians will quit in 2011. Canadian soldiers have earned respect, but their NATO-partner government has empowered our enemies by quitting at a crucial moment. This likely will be remembered consciously and subconsciously in future dealings with Ottawa.

Other fine partners, such as the Dutch, who have fought well, plan to downsize right when we need them most. The Dutch need to stay in this fight and increase their efforts. We need them.

The key partner in redirecting Afghanistan should be the Afghan government. Yet Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s corrupt narcocracy is widely disrespected by Afghans and increasingly combative with the coalition. We are pouring support into a government that we don’t want, and many Afghans resent.

…In this unprecedented moment, dozens of the world’s most notable nations have focused on helping one land, yet Western sympathies for Afghanistan already have peaked.

While an Afghan avalanche is poised, our thoughts are growing cold. This is it. Either we will begin to show progress by the end of 2010 or, piece by piece, the coalition will cleave off and drift away, meaning 2011 will begin the end to significant involvement in Afghanistan.

— Yon, Michael.  “The Greatest Afghan War.”  01 October 2009.  [Emphasis mine]

Canadians of course live in a bubble of their own making, a fantasy world where no action or inaction on our part can cause any loss of esteem or respect for the nation elsewhere in the world.  Our national mythology says we ascended into heaven with St. Lester in 1956, and have since been seated at the right hand of the UN, sifting the wheat from the tares.

In reality—outside the bubble of Canadian public opinion—our allies will remember this as the time we insisted on helping, but ducked out before the contest was decided.  Not a proud moment in our history.