No clear answer is forthcoming

Staff ~ The Amherst Daily News
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It's a little more than a year before Canadian troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan. That could turn into a long year and some odd months considering the growing sentiment about strategy, change in strategy and exit strategy.

Add to that the court of public opinion that shows more people with concerns and questions about Canada's role in the beleaguered country. The latest, an Ipsos Reid survey, found that about half of 1,300 surveyed want Canada to return to its longtime service as peacekeepers.

Our opinion -

It's a little more than a year before Canadian troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan. That could turn into a long year and some odd months considering the growing sentiment about strategy, change in strategy and exit strategy.

Add to that the court of public opinion that shows more people with concerns and questions about Canada's role in the beleaguered country. The latest, an Ipsos Reid survey, found that about half of 1,300 surveyed want Canada to return to its longtime service as peacekeepers.

President Barack Obama has made reference to the lack of clear objectives in the mission. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's comments to CNN from last March have recently been resurrected. Harper said the war won't be won just by staying in the country and that he has doubts the insurgency can be defeated.

Senator Colin Kenny, a supporter of the country's military, has been in the news lately with his own assessment. Most famously, he dared compare the mission to Vietnam, which angered some people.

Kenny is now questioning something that hadn't been questioned before. The senator is saying western countries involved in Afghanistan have yet to consider reconciliation among the country's various fragments as a possible course. In other words, discussions with the Taliban would be a necessary part of any exit strategy, the head of the Senate defence committee argues.

If the insurgency indeed cannot be defeated, as the prime minister and many others have suggested, that turn in strategy sounds more unavoidable.

The Ipsos Reid poll also revealed that many Canadians feel the western countries should stay the course in Afghanistan, fearing the damage that could befall the Afghan people with any pullout. Thus it's clear there is a wide range of views on the subject.

The questions and concerns will continue. Kenny is quite right in saying honest debate on the issue is needed. When no one has a clear idea of a solution, all options need to be considered.

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