| Ander Nieuws week 28 / nieuwe oorlog 2009 |
U.S. probing ways to keep Canada in Afghanistan

The Globe and Mail
June 30, 2009
Murray Brewster
Obama Democrats have quietly sounded out power brokers in Ottawa looking for advice on how to convince war-weary Canadians to keep military forces in Afghanistan after 2011.
Conscious of the deep political and public opposition to extending the mission further, American officials - political and military - are struggling to understand concerns and identify the right arguments to make to the Harper government to "keep Canadian boots on the ground," defence sources said.
The United States has not formally - or even informally - requested Ottawa extend the deployment of 2,850 combat troops, trainers and aircrew in volatile and bloody Kandahar, where 120 soldiers and one diplomat have died over seven years.
The questions being asked are meant to lay the groundwork for a potential request, which the administration could make late this year or in early 2010, said a source familiar with the process.
It's unclear whether the U.S. would ask Canada to stay on in Kandahar or elsewhere.
The sophisticated, below-the-radar effort reflects Washington's new approach to dealing with allies, and marks a sharp departure from the days when former U.S. president George W. Bush declared: "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror."
The informal exercise comes as no surprise to seasoned diplomats, who say Canada's self-imposed pullout deadline of 2011, and a Dutch plan to withdraw its troops in July of next year, complicate the U.S.'s long-term strategy in the region.
President Barack Obama has made it clear Afghanistan is the central front in the war against al-Qaeda and terrorism.
Any discussion of Canadian involvement beyond 2011 will likely make Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government squirm because there's no appetite for extending such a costly war.
Contrary to the picture often painted by opposition parties, Mr. Harper is personally opposed to staying beyond the end date and has said privately that if Parliament "hadn't imposed a deadline" on him, he would have done it himself because an "open-ended war is not in the best interest of the country - or the army."
Copyright 2009 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc
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| Ander Nieuws week 28 / nieuwe oorlog 2009 |