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Experts comment on the report's recommendations
Description: MICHAEL BYERS - "The most striking thing for me is the second last paragraph of Mr. Manley's introduction - 'We like to talk about Canada's role in the world. Well, we have a meaningful one in Afghanistan.' That language is remarkably similar to the concluding paragraph in an article he published in Policy Options magazine last October.
Date: 23 January 2008
Author: Michael Valpy
Source: The National

MICHAEL BYERS

"The most striking thing for me is the second last paragraph of Mr. Manley's introduction - 'We like to talk about Canada's role in the world. Well, we have a meaningful one in Afghanistan.' That language is remarkably similar to the concluding paragraph in an article he published in Policy Options magazine last October.

It strikes me he has come to the same conclusions using almost the same language in a piece he published as recently as October.

This is my principal problem with him being appointed as chair of the Afghanistan panel. He was so publicly on the record ... and he quite clearly hasn't changed his mind one iota, and I say this as someone who is conscious that I would have been an inappropriate appointment to the panel precisely because I've been on the record very publicly with my views. It's like appointing a person to a jury in a criminal trial who has already expressed a clear opinion on the guilt or innocence of the accused party.

 

This is supposed to be an independent panel, taking an objective, clear-eyed, fresh look at the situation, and this is a repeat of his previous position. He had already formed his views."

Michael Byers holds a Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at University of B.C.'s Liu Institute.

JANICE GROSS STEIN

"He's shone the spotlight on the really grave problems in international co-ordination - the lack of co-ordination between NATO, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Afghan National Army and the extraordinary poor co-ordination among international donors.

These are issues not normally talked about and he's shining the spotlight on them.

I read his report as having not only one condition - which is 1,000 troops, the battle group - I read his report as saying if we don't fix all these problems both internationally and nationally we cannot be effective. So I think that part is a very valuable contribution.

We need a serious, major international co-ordinator. We need a seriously regional diplomatic and political strategy.

He's also damning in his indictment of the UN, which is an important point. It has a very small office in Kabul. It has a very skilled representative on the ground, [former Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan] Chris Alexander, but fundamentally the UN is absent. Afghanistan is a UN mission subcontracted to NATO. Where's all the UN involvement on the ground?"

Janice Gross Stein is director of University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies.

LEWIS MACKENZIE

"I think it's probably the best synopsis that I've seen of why we went there, what we've been doing, what we're doing now and what we might have as a strategy in the future.

It puts the ball squarely in the Prime Minister's lap, which is good, because so far ministerial pleadings and editorial pleadings for NATO to live up to its obligations have fallen sort of flat.

And I can't help but think that the hardball that's being played here [in the Manley report] with the additional resources demanded for the Kandahar area as a precondition [for Canada staying] will move that item to the top of the agenda in Romania in April [at the NATO heads of state and government meeting].

With the knowledge that there's some wiggle room here.

Because let's assume, as I anticipate, that no other NATO country fesses up, then the additional 3,200 [promised U.S.] marines of which 2,000 are available for combat operations coming to the south could be seen to be meeting Canada's requirement [for additional troops from NATO]."

Major-General Lewis MacKenzie (ret.) established and commanded Sector Sarajevo as part of the United Nations Protection Force or UNPROFOR in the former Yugoslavia in 1992.

PAUL HEINBECKER

"I like the emphasis on diplomacy. I very much think we have both an interest and the standing to be pushing on the diplomatic front.

The relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan is obviously very important. It's horrendously complicated and fraught with dangers, but I have the impression the Pakistanis haven't done as much as they could have, and I think we need to be pressing them.

If you look at the Americans and the British in particular, their main preoccupation - especially the Americans - has been al-Qaeda. The second preoccupation has been stability in Pakistan and the fact of the nuclear weapons. And the third - and I think some distance down the list - has been the relationship between the Pakistanis, the Pakistan intelligence service, and the Taliban and the support given to the Taliban by those people.

So when you get into a situation where the Americans have to make a decision, our highest priority comes third on their list and I think we have to be pressing them and pressing the British for a more aggressive stance."

Paul Heinbecker is Canada's former ambassador to the United Nations and distinguished fellow at CIGI.

Source: The Globe and Mail

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