Is Hillier Out Of Line?
Date: Thursday, February 22 2007
YES! Hillier is sounding more and more like the US Ambassador to Canada! 4Canada
Chief of defence is playing a highly unusual public role in promoting the mission in Afghanistan, even bypassing the defence minister to deal directly with the Prime Minister
Feb 20, 2007 04:30 AM
Canada's mission in Afghanistan is failing and Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier deserves much of the blame.
Since becoming Canada's top soldier two years ago, Hillier has pushed the politicians hard. At his own swearing-in ceremony, he criticized Paul Martin for underfunding the military; one month later, he browbeat the Liberal cabinet into volunteering troops for a combat mission to Kandahar.
Then-prime minister Martin and his ministers assumed Canadian casualties would be limited. So far, 44 soldiers have lost their lives. Hillier, the professional upon whose expertise the politicians relied, should have explained the real risks to them.
The Martin government also assumed Canada would contribute to the combat mission for a limited time only. But Hillier changed his tune shortly after Stephen Harper was elected: "From NATO's perspective, they look at this as a 10-year mission, right? Minimum. There's going to be a huge demand for Canada to contribute over the longer period of time."
Hillier promised Martin that the combat mission would not preclude Canadian participation in UN peacekeeping missions elsewhere. He's since broken that promise, ruling out troops for Lebanon and Darfur on the basis that Canada is fully committed in Afghanistan.
We're experiencing a serious case of "mission creep."
Under Hillier's leadership, Canada's role in Kandahar has morphed from a "provincial reconstruction team" made up of soldiers, diplomats and development personnel, into a "battle group" supported by Leopard tanks.
Hillier has also used language that may have placed ordinary Canadians at greater risk. Foiled terrorist plots in Toronto and London were reportedly motivated, at least in part, by anger at the presence of Western troops in Afghanistan.
Characterizing the enemy as "detestable murderers and scumbags" can only exacerbate the situation. It also makes the jobs of diplomats and politicians more difficult, as they search for the inevitable, negotiated peace.
Hillier has even compromised this country's commitment to international law.