On target? Canada is combatting an insurgency in Afghanistan ... and supporting an insurgency in Libya.
In support of his announcement, MacKay claimed that Canada's extended commitment would "maintain the momentum" of NATO's intervention. I do not blow which war reports MacKay is reading, but from all public accounts it seemed as though President Moammar Gadhafi was far closer to being toppled by the Libyan rebels back in February than he is now, after enduring nearly 90 days of NATO airstrikes.
While the UN resolution only authorized NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, MacKay made it clear that Canada is committed to the unauthorized goal of executing regime change in the country.
In a snapshot glance, Gadhafi seized power in a military coup, and has ruled Libya with an iron fist for the past four decades. This longevity has been affected through the use of oil export cash to support his security forces, and by manipulating the existing tribal rivalries within his country.
There is no doubt that some of Gadhafi's henchmen have a checkered past, including the bankrolling of international terrorism in the 1980s. Since then, Gadhafi has been painted by Western media as the mad Arab "who came in from the cold" and re-established close ties with the West. In fact, it docs not take much effort on Google search images to find recent photos of Gadhafi embracing a host of Western leaders, including Tony Blair, Nicolas Sarkozy and even Canada's own Paul Martin.
During the first Gulf War in 1991, Gadhafi's Libya even joined George Bush Senior's coalition forces to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. As such, Canada was militarily allied with Gadhafi's Libya during that conflict.
However, now that Gadhafi is facing an armed rebellion from rival tribes, Canada is both figuratively and literally (in the form of Canadian NATO commander Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard) leading the attack to oust the Libyan president.
Given as this is the only time in Canada's short history that we have been combatants in two wars at the same time, it seems only natural to compare our premise in Libya with that of Afghanistan.
Since the tampering and corruption of the August 2009 presidential elections in Afghanistan failed to produce a legitimate result, the Hamid Karzai regime, like Gadhafi, has no legitimate democratic mandate.
Karzai remains in power simply because he was the chosen candidate of the US in the first place. The notorious Northern Alliance warlords who constitute Karzai's cabinet are known to have committed numerous war crimes, and some continue to preside over narco-criminal drug enterprises, yet they remain unindicted for the simple reason that NATO needs their authority to run the country.
After nearly a decade of funding, mentoring and equipping the Afghan security forces, they are still estimated to require at least another three years of NATO assistance before they can be considered self-sufficient.
Despite Afghanistan's complete dependency on Western financial and military support, the Karzai government implements Sharia law, including the recently passed controversial "rape law," which allows husbands to demand sex from their wives and to withhold feeding them should they not submit. It also remains a crime punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for a citizen to convert to Christianity.
So, on the one hand, Canada is helping to prop up a corrupt and hated regime against an armed rebellion in Afghanistan, while at the same time assisting armed rebels in their attempt to overthrow a corrupt and hated regime in Libya.
The big difference is that without NATO support, Karzai would not remain in power past sunset on the first day. In Libya, Gadhafi has now managed to cling to power for 90 days against NATO-supported rebels. Obviously not everyone in Libya hates Gadhafi as much as the NATO propaganda machine would have us believe.
Scott Taylor publisher