Thursday, March 16, 2006

Out of Context - or Out of Order?

Disclaimer: What I’m reacting to is possibly the choice of words of the newspaper article's author, and statements taken out of context. If anyone has an actual transcript of the event in question I’d love to see it.

Now that that’s out of the way, a report in the Toronto Star today set off all sorts of red flags:

Prepare for long Afghan stay: Powell

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke in Toronto yesterday at a Canadian-American Relations Conference, and as it appears in the report, and in all other reports I’ve been able to find online, told Canada that it

should prepare for an "extended" military campaign in Afghanistan and not put a time limit on its military stay there...

It’s those words “told” and “should” that set me off - when a non-Canadian "tells" us what we "should" do, my rebellious gene kicks in.

There is an ongoing debate among Canadians as to whether we should be in Afghanistan, and if so, for how long. The current commitment (to NATO) is nine months, and I would like to see a careful, open discussion about our role there weighing risks and rewards and perhaps a Parliamentary debate on whether and in what capacity to continue our involvement, given the nature of our military capabilities and other Canadian priorities.

What we don’t need is a failed American statesman telling us what to do.

I used to have a high opinion of Colin Powell, and even felt reassured in 2001 when he became Bush’s Secretary of State. However his credibility is now zero, for obvious reasons including that infamous speech to the United Nations shortly before the Iraq War began, three years ago.

While looking for another angle on this story, I came across a recent article in Slate Magazine that offers an explanation for the remaining bit of possible actual evidence Powell laid out that day: intercepted phone conversations interpreted as discussions about WMDs. It appears the conversations concerned cleaning up evidence from previous WMD programs, not any current ones.

There was a time when Colin Powell might have been able to be elected the first African-American President of the United States but now, when I hear his opinion of what Canada should do, all I can think to say is, “Who asked you?”

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