Afghanistan case study



Monday November 30. 2009 - Lead by Director of Canada's World Shauna Sylvester

Afghanistan roundtable 10 am to noon; 1pm to 4pm.

-> Videos will not be permitted during this case study.

 SECTION 1- Hopes and concerns as voiced by the participants in the session.

 -How do we build a Canadian consensus on Afghanistan leading up to and following 2011?


1. Introductions

2. Historical timeline

3. Canadian interests, values, assets in the region


4. Approaches going forward

5. Engaging Canadians - principles and vehicles

6. Recommendations 



premature leaving find a way to do in a positive manner

poorly explained to the public

help build stronger regional interrelationships between countries that we don't have strong relationships with

development and aid structures are not going to be met that were initially promised; remain undeveloped

take over for themselves w/ help from the international community

learn some good lessons

partisan politics will get in the way; including our own and Afghani

exit as quickly as possible; no point of success

will not succeed; no conclusion we can be proud of

apply sufficient pressure to end 

as a country we will not engage nor consider the imperial and colonial repercussions and nation alliances in the region

in the next year and a half; put ourselves in Afghani shoes who want to find a less lethal less destructive arrangement with their opponents and look for a negotiated settlement i.e. Ireland

2006 quote "we have all the watch. they have all the time" -structural and conceptual disconnect

all the progress that is going on is not negated

doesn't appear that any of the political parties want to make the facts public; educate an informed decision in advance of 2011 (road map)

133 ppl and 1 diplomat killed to date

stay involved in some capacity

Canadian and Afghani causalities

developing a dialogue on human rights

perpetual sink hole

lack of dialogue; economically and soldiers are dying - nobody is talking about it (long term plan)

problem of governance being solved in Afghanistan; corrupt

lack of traction for the development effort; the money reaching the ground

having the wrong discussion in Canada i.e. military approach

look for disease not symptom

why is there no Afghani involvement in the force task in Ottawa?

Afghani women and children; achieve goals in the country

lack of understanding; don't know enough

Canadians to keep Afghani need and wants in the forefront

human rights concerns; past and present

that Canadians can connect on a human level with people in Afghanistan

wondering what Afghani people are thinking

interact with the people there; grass roots democracy

not merely reactionary

Canadians paying more attention to history and culture; learn the lessons of counter-insurgency; compromised diplomacy

don't want to see in ten years soldiers clothing etc. on display

Canada will take the experience over the past seven years and decide what we believe is truly important

Afghanistan as a step towards "Canadian foreign policy"

politics around our engagement; don't return to counter-insurgency of the past

focus on the causes

need more dialogue

comprehensive strategy in Afghanistan

Canada isn't talking within the government; semantics

general understanding

focus on development

situation where we cannot need to participate in a place like Kandahar

in the end there will be some sort of result from our expenditure of blood and treasure

Canada will be realistic and decide where its values and efforts can be most profitably placed

leave Afghanistan within 2 years

dialogue will mature in Canada; public opinion

"graveyard of development"

has been excessive and continues to be and does not see a good resolution

so much to still do before 2011


SECTION 2- Timeline

The History of Canada’s Engagement in Afghanistan

The following timeline was created by the participants at the roundtable.  Participants were asked to identify events that were important for them in describing Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan. The line started in 2000 (although participants were encouraged to note events that occurred prior to this date).  After filling in the timeline, participants reviewed each year and provided their views on how to characterize each period.

Notes and Questions (raised by the exercise)

What happens prior to 9/11 is important (Afghanistan is steeped in history and our starting point doesn’t take into consideration the broader historical context)

 -end of the Cold War; continuation of the threat they knew - now in Afghanistan?

 -Afghanistan has become the "epi-centre of the war on terrorism"

 -lightening rod for politics; regional problem / threat - more difficult to combat then the Cold War problem

 -Cold War left a vacuum in international politics; the enemy was collapsing - competing interests needed to find a place to be significant i.e. human security

 -need to give territory to these intangible sources; give physical presence - can't wage a war on terror - but can on Afghanistan


-"strategic crossroad" - "the only thing we learn in that we never learn" - no one has ever succeeded in unifying Afghanistan (externally and internally)

 -we (the 'West') have created the Taliban

 -no evidence that the Taliban occupied any particular space

 -sentiments: pre-9/11 - 2002 - confusion,

-Canadian soldiers there 6 weeks after U.S. President Bush declared War - was called "Operation Enduring Freedom"


1973 – The Shah is ousted

December 1979 – Soviet invasion of Afghanistan


US/CIA provides funds and support to the Mujahadeen (links to today’s Taliban)

Rapid withdrawal of economic aid to Afghanistan as the Soviet’s leave in 1989

Canadian military engineers deployed to the region as part of the Cte-Mine Education capacity (through the ‘80s and ‘90s)


How do we characterize the 1990s for Canadian engagement? 

Mid 1990’s – The Taliban come to power, Pashtun leaders educated in Pakistan madrassas

Sally Armstrong and others start advocating on behalf of women living under the Taliban

1994 McMasters University and Queen’s University (Dr. Seediq Weera) hosted the Afghanistan Working Group – continued throughout the 1990s and 2000s – working on health related projects

Other Canadian organizations like CARE and Oxfam are working in Afghanistan through their regional bodies

Canadians worked with Human Concern International in Afghanistan – Were they training mujahedeen?

1994 United Nations Withdrawal

2000 - 2001

How do we characterize the 2000 to 2001 period

Retaliation for the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole

September 10, 2001 – Ahmed Shah Masood is assassinated

September 22, 2001 – 9/11 – attack on the US

October 2001 – Operation Enduring Freedom Begins with the US and UK leading

October 2001 – Canada commits to join US forces

November – Northern Alliance takes Kabul and the Taliban fall

December 2001 – Bonn Agreement

King Zahir Shah dismissed by US Ambassador as Interim President in favour of Hamid Karzai

December 2001 – Hamid Karzai sworn in as head of the Afghanistan Interim Authority

December 2001 – Canadian military engagement begins under Operation Enduring Freedom (40 Joint-Staff operators sent)

December 2001 – UN agrees to ISAF – International Security Assistance Force

Ahmed Rashid published book on the Taliban


How do we characterize this period?

January – February – Canadian troops (850) formally sent to Kandahar with the US

Canadian Journalists begin to report on Afghanistan after Canadians are deployed (e.g. Carol Off does feature report on warlords)

Greg Matternson starts building schools in Afghanistan (Three cups of tea)

Canada pledges $100 million at Tokyo conference

February – IMPACS (Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society conducts feasibility study for women’s media project; project is underway in the country by September and continues to December 2005 – starts 5 radio stations, a women’s production unit and a biweekly newspaper)

September – Rights and Democracy project on begins focused on women’s rights and empowerment

April 18 – 4 Canadians are killed in “friendly fire” by the US

Conventional forces are sent out for a period but Special Forces remain

June 2002 – Hamid Karzai is elected in Loya Jirga


How do we characterize this period?

Canada opens Embassy in Kabul, Christopher Alexander is the first Ambassador

Canada joins ISAF mission as part of Operation Athena – based in Kabul

National Solidarity Program is started by Canada

March – Canada commits $250 million to reconstruction and development

100,000 people attend the memorial on Parliament Hill on Iraq

Sarah Chase begins to publish articles and analysis on Afghanistan

August – UN extends authority of ISAF throughout Afghanistan

December – Constitutional Loya Jirga convenes

December 17 - Malaila Joya temporarily evicted from the Loya Jirga after questioning the appointment of some of the warlords to the delegation




How do we characterize this period?

January - Loya Jirga adopts new constitution

Doctors Without Borders leave Afghanistan after 5 of their personnel are killed; questions raised about the role of the military in providing humanitarian relief

February - General Hillier is assigned a Commander of ISAF Forces

April – Donors conference in Berlin – Canada commits $250 million in support of the Afghan National Development Strategy

December – Harmid Karzai is elected in the Presidential Elections


How do we characterize this period?

February – Canada decides to lead the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar

September – Parliamentary and provincial elections

SAT (Strategic Advisory Team) started to support Afghanistan government

November – 9 Afghans bombed in their playground by US forces, no comment by the Canadian government – Was there complicity?

December – Canada moves forces to Kandahar

December – Afghan National Assembly convened for the first time in 30 years

Senalis Council starts calling for different approach to “war on drugs” in Afghanistan (Noreen MacDonald)


How do we characterize this period?

January 15 Glyn Berry killed by IED in Kandahar

London Compact signed

Conservative Minority government elected with Stephen Harper as leader

Afghanistan policy team moves to the Privy Council Office and grows in numbers

May – battle at Panjwa – Canadians take prisoners

February – Canadian Forces begin operating in Kandahar

April – Graham Smith reports from Afghanistan

May – Canada pledges $310 million in aid

September – Canada leads ISAF Operation Medusa Mission – moving out from Kandahar

Policy Action Group – Ambassadors from Canada, US, UK, Netherlands meet

“I asked Foreign Affairs, how many anthropologists they had recruited, the answer: none, but the Department of National Defense has some and also many Afghan cultural advisors”


How do we characterize this period?

February – Canada increases aid by an additional $200 million

February – Amnesty International raises concerns about Canada’s treatment of Afghan detainees – concerns over torture of detainees handed over to Afghan prisons

100% Increase in number of civilian deaths

DFAIT research project on integrated peacebuilding led to an awareness of new peacekeeping

December 27 – Benazir Bhutto is killed in a suicide attack in Pakistan


How do we characterize this period?

January 20 – Manley report is released

April 27 – Hamid Karzai is attacked but escapes unharmed

March 13 – Parliamentary resolution to accept primary recommendations of Manley report to extend mission with provision of 1,000 other NATO troops

June - Prison break in Kandahar

June – Paris Conference - Canada commits 1.9 B between 2001-2011 in aid for development and reconstruction in Afghanistan

August – Pervez Musharraf is forced to step down as leader in Pakistan

October - Budget officers report comes out which tries to estimate the cost of Afghan mission; government denies the extent of the cost

Canada announces benchmarks and twenty one indicators for priorities in Afghanistan – releases 1st Quarterly report on results to Parliament and the Canadian public

Canada announces withdrawal of troops in 2011

Two Canadian women working for International Rescue Committee are killed

Afghanistan 360 interactive display on Canada’s role in Afghanistan tours the country as part of government outreach

“Had my first conversation with an Afghan and member of the Afghan-Canadian association”

CIDA announces three signature projects for Kandahar

Resurgence of Taliban in Pakistan

Concerns about corruption in the Karzai government becoming more prominent


How do we characterize this period?

January – CIDA launched Dahla Dam Project in Kandahar

August – new lawyers introduced to curb women’s rights in Afghanistan; women protests in the street in Kabul; some revisions to the law are made

Improvements in Afghan prisons the focus of Corrections Canada

Afghanistan Challenge launched – Canadian model villages

Karzai has warlords and drug dealers supporting his electoral fight

Malailai Joya releases book on Canada tour

SCO Conference in Shadow of International Conference

Increased diplomatic presence in Afghanistan

Very little being said by the Prime Minister or the government about Canada's role in Afghanistan

Karzai asks international forces to stop bombing civilians

Taliban gaining force in Pakistan – new agreement in SWAT valley gives Taliban control

November Presidential election is not pronounced free and fair; major concerns about voter fraud – after negotiation Karzai is confirmed in office

Karzai commits to addressing corruption

Campaign to discredit Stephen Conville – whistleblower on torture of Afghan detainees

December - US about to announce troop serge          

 Canadian Deaths in Afghanistan: (quick count)

 2009- 27

2008- 31

2007- 30

2006 - 37

2005- 1

2004- 1

2003- 2

2002 - 4

 Casualties in Afghanistan: (unofficial source)

Afghan troops killed  [1]



Afghan troops seriously injured  [2]




Afghan civilians killed  [3]



Afghan civilians seriously injured  [4]




U.S. troops killed  [5]



U.S. troops seriously injured  [6]




Other coalition troops killed  [7]



Other coalition troops seriously injured  [8]






Contractors killed  [9]



Contractors seriously injured  [10]




Journalists killed  [11]



Journalists seriously injured  [12]




Total killed in Afghanistan:



Total injured in Afghanistan:





Questions raised throughout the Case Study:

-why did a communist government come to power in a conservative Muslim country?

-is Afghanistan an artificial construct in the first place?

-we try to "territorialize" the 'other' through moral, intangible language

-liberal democracy, based on institutionalizing adversaries, better than consensus-based organizing in the conflict of a grand Loya Jirga? - VP Vardk's idea

-Afghanistan strategic cross roads N.S. / E.W. Outsiders have tried for years to have their way with this area? Alex the Great two British Imperial armies, USSR. No one has ever succeeded. What has changed? Burden of history; "Graveyard of Empires"

-Is colonialism only a physical presence, or is it instead creating the conditions to replicate our political-economic structures under the guise of doing the "right" thing

-What is Canada's grand strategy?

-moral middle power: is this a changed definition of imperialism

-what were the Soviet objectives in Afghanistan?

1. Promoting modernization

2. Promoting government centralization

3. Promoting secular education

4. Promoting women's rights

-"a failed state sometimes means successful tribalism" - in the eyes of tribal’s the state promotes inequality, exploitation, oppression, and the domination of outsiders.

-in 1898 the International Expeditionary Force (IEF) sacked Beijing. NATO is the 21st C IEF

1. Finding progressives from Taliban / warlords to bring information to government

2. Playing hardball with Karzai re: corruption - contradictory = Karzai is promoting this

-is reconciliation with warlords not rewarding former fundamentalist regimes instead of advancing professionalism?


SECTION 3- Values, Interests, Assets




complicated multiculturalism

development / reconstruction 

relationship with the USA


true freedom both personal and self-determination

Canadian security

relations with U.S.

development and security 

Canada is not an empire, it is a colony itself a moral middle power or has the potential to be

belief in Canada as a benign actor in the world

regional security based on human rather than state security

relationship with the U.S.

economic power

lots of resources; i.e. human


equality, justice and compassion

operate as a supportive partner to the U.S.

reputation as "peace-keepers"


multiculturalism and multilateralism (the heart is weak but beating still)

an end to war in the region

in assisting the government of Afghanistan to establish a secure economically sustainable human rights conscious society

diasporas - considerable Afghan-Canadian (Muslim) population

aid? punishment / reward


multilateralism pluralist perspective


human rights and evangelical PM who believes in inevitable holy war in the Middle East 

 trade / economic incentives

poverty of Canadian intelligence on Afghanistan; knowledge, education, experts

multinational approaches to conflict in the world

human right, peace, very low value on Afghan lives

desire to please U.S.A.


WMD non-proliferation

nuclear containment India-Pakistan

gender equality


more Afghan specific knowledge

classical strategists

experience in Afghanistan


desire for peace

complicated multiculturalism

supposedly "controlling" the opium trade  

long history of international involvement until 90s

quality of life for Afghans people


$ NGO and private contractors i.e. SNC-Lavalin

understanding of federalist governance in vast, geographically daunting territory

an electorate that has not studied history


changing the dynamics in Afghanistan that lead to the breeding and fostering of a terrorism threat globally

image / reputation - "brand"


belief in Canada as a force for good  

human rights dialogue as a tool


non-colonial past?
non-engagement in Iraq


belief in Canada as a benign actor in the world


Canada's interests- gain control over Al Qaeda and Taliban threats to carry out terrorist attacks in world including Canada

good offices

relative to Afghans, we have dollars.

the road to rearmament run through Kabul and Kandahar rehabilitate military and soldiers establishment revive that side of Canada's reputation in the eyes of its significant others

 eliminating a "hard" security threat (transnational terrorism)

asset- wealth sufficient to support substitute effort

Canadian values

people to people links to Afghanistan - civil society RAWA MAW etc.

providing assistance to those in need  

containing Iran

9/11 doesn't happen in Canada

sheen of the honest broker (if no longer the quality of one)

assets - $, people, time, spirit 

belief in ourselves as purveyors of "good governance" for the benefit of "others"

energy security through non-Russian pipe lines

over $300 million in humanitarian assistance (food aid, demining)


equality between women and men

human rights, dialogue as a tool

currently 2800 soldiers; 150 civilians

participation of women in electoral process

majority of Canadian's who see themselves as peacekeepers and global citizens

humanitarian responsibility



reputation of Canada in Kandahar

security forces

WOG approach


education available to all; women's rights

governance/rule of law; human rights / DD

supporting the UN Security  Council Mandate and contributing as a member of the international community


Canada as the "bridge" to:

USA and Latin America

Europe via history

Asia-Pacific via our future and demography

freedom of expression  

order and stability  



SECTION 4- Brainstorming approaches

 -scale back combat forces

-demobilize in terms of combat

-increase the emphasis put on the Afghanistan army and police

-concerted effort to identify people that are respected by the Taliban in the country side; Mullahs (stronger / add effort)

-imperative to identify all of the real power players within the country and start thinking about what the future of Afghanistan is going to look like in a year or two when most forces are pulling out

-likely a government that isn't ideal / the West would like; what is likely to emerge (anything less as unrealistic)

-force political players into action

-two countries need to be brought to the table: India and Pakistan

-need to tune up our diplomatic capacity engage regional powers; strategic opening- step up

-"bite the bullet time" - Canada's inability to influence the agenda; get every military personnel out in 2011 and spend the next six months really having Karzai on notice = corrupt warlords; dramatically cut-off funding to just NGOs

-registration of the opium trade – legitimate morphine level

-rehabilitation – reconciliation effort                   

-consolidated effort to engage non-orthodox Taliban; working for them b/c need a job not b/c support the cause

-development and governance at all levels: hardball with Karzai, move to start developing democracy from bottom up district level

-empower the UN; give them the funding under their banner

-referendum in Canada; all political parties propose a stance and then vote

-capacity building; non-military uniforms based on Afghan values

-stay past 2011 – expand literacy training for police  - focused on– education, security (preventative strategy)

-work with other donors to address Pakistan’s social development needs

-Pakistan has a decisive hand on Afghanistan – if any one country could pull off some political solution it would be Pakistan –work intimately with Pakistan to achieve solution (India won’t like it, can’t do it). ISI has agricultural-tribal areas

-we should apologize for taking sides in a war (civil war) only stay there if we can work for both sides – don’t impose our values at the point of a gun; neutrality

-bring people like Malalai Joya to tell us how we should develop our policy on Afghanistan – don’t take attempts to discredit her as serious

-based on logic that you can’t bomb someone then ask them to help

-lobby ISAF fundamental change in our approach to diplomacy

-away from counter-insurgency and peacebuilding approach

-Canadian military involved controlling Afghan borders / experts in arms and weapons – stopping this

-if we pull out we lose having a meaningful discussion on other global issues

-often the rhetoric around getting jobs done and steer back to end goals

-need to also work with China, Russia (as well as India / Iran) have an interest in terrorism

-NATO not the regional power – work Shanghai Cooperative Organ

-join Obama’s surge

-based on Afghani values

-focused on developing education


 -engaging regional players - Pakistan and Shanghai

-development and capacity building - non-military

-development and capacity building - military (training of the army and police)and non-military

-negotiation and diplomacy

-status quo - go the course with where we are at / increase military and non-military process

-realist - recognition of the forces that exist if we want to get out of the area (withdrawal)

-engaging local leaders

-trust the Afghans

-governance - finding a partner we can deal with

-opium trade

-UN - blue helmet forces

-who, what, where, when - necessary resources


-pros and cons






Karzai Leadership Issue


Government of Canada takes a lead on insisting on a democratically elected government, accountable, honest and capable leadership as a fundamental condition of continuing in Afghanistan


Prime Minister – engages with Obama and other NATO nations




Canada, United States, Afghanistan

Necessary Resources

International funding


NATO members as interested parties



-International credibility for Canada.

-Appearance of principle and integrity for Prime Ministers Office

-Plants the seed and beings the dialogue of change

-Creates the prospect of a working government in Afghanistan which is essential for all other initiatives

-Success would increase popular support in Afghanistan

-Harper saves face if pressured to withdraw. Can be principled, not caving to electoral pressure.


-No one listens and we realize how insignificant we are

-they do listen, yet we are out maneuvered by Karzai

-Credibility of continued efforts in Afghanistan if we can’t get rid of him

-Some might say it is a misplaced priority; i.e. not about governance, self-determination etc.


-What if you make grand statements and nobody pays any attention?

-Are we taking on an issue where we aren’t holding all of the cards / control?

-Are we setting up a proposition that we control?

-How are we going to determine who these honest, credible people are?


Governance, development and capacity building



-Mentoring process –expanding it and increasing accountability within the system


-Provincial district leaders

-UNDP- Afghan mentors CIDA


-mixed modules –signature project, education, politics, agriculture

-National / provincial / district

-WOG with NGO, Afghans

-Increased people and resources

-Humanitarian assistance, more action, WFP

Capacity Building:

-Corrections Canada – prison

-Assistance to public administration

-Police, governance


CWOG, Afghanistan, UN, World Bank, NGOs/GOs


2011 +


National and subnational level

Necessary Resources

People, money, 300 million -> 2 billion 2011


UNAMA, NATO, Canadian government, Afghanistan, media



-Impact poverty, improve stability, and increase national prestige; the thing to do.


-Long-term, costly


-Why invest in if it is going down the tubes?

-If you don’t have governance how can you bring them out of severe poverty?

-How are our actions being seen by the Afghani people?

-If we don’t who will?

-Does Canada have the will to undertake this?


Interest in pursuing a diplomatic initiative


Talk? Fight? – approach to meet IR characterized by evil, negative, corrupt; re-connect


DFAIT + OGDO (DND, CIDA, etc.) abroad social partners –NGOs, academics, media, business and Afghani people, social institutions




Afghanistan and all of the regional capitals; and at home

Necessary Resources

Major reinvestment in DFAIT


Media, leaders




-Cost effective

-Opportunity for Canada to demonstrate will of leadership, step-up to the platform, make a difference

-Plays to our strengths (image, reputation, soft power) while minimizing weaknesses

-We can establish negotiations


-Risk of failure

-Not fully prepared, resources not in place

-Lack of political leadership/support

-Strains- pressures of military engagement to peacebuilder

-Regional configuration to Iran, Tehran, India etc.

-identifying and controlling constraints, distrust, challenges


Is the political will there?


Engaging local leaders


Loya Jirga 3+


Community leaders on all sides


Pre-2011 – as soon as possible before next election


Kabul, Kandahar, Major-i-Shorif

Necessary Resources


-Safe place



-Afghan diaspora





-Legitimacy; government, participatory mechanisms

-Better understanding

-Self determinant




-Regional dynamics

-If passed off to an unstable government it could result in violence; bad actors, regional issues, perpetuation of the problems


-Why no mention of parliament?

-There is no homogenous Taliban – many moderates have learned that trying to reconcile is not a possibility so how are we to get them onboard?


Engagement of regional will


-Occupation of Afghanistan

-Global war on terror

-Human rights and women’s rights

-Indigenous notions of governance

-Strategy for peace/reconciliation


-Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, India, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, PRC, Russia, SCO, SAARL




Saudi Arabia (Mecca/Riyadh)

Necessary Resources

-Political will

-A few million dollars

-A powerful of dreams


-Canada, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan; pay and we talk



-Islamic legitimacy


-Building on past successes

-Increased cultural relevance

-Increased reach of aid money


-Overwhelmingly state centric

-Entrenched patriarchy

-No binding ability give to US/NATO presence


-Is NATO willing to engage meaningfully with it colonial/imperial presence?

-Is Canada ready to pursue an independent foreign policy?

-Will an “Eastern” strategy more effective than a “Western”?

-Can we embrace ideas that break with ideological norms and values that we accept as inherently good as a result of the Cold War? Ex. Western liberal democracy, neoliberal economics, proxy warfare for national interests, practice of empire from abroad.

-Will the PRC be willing?

-India’s feelings as a regional hegemon



Withdrawal all military elements NOW


-Canada pulls out all military element out now

-Canada will withdraw from NATO project

-Canada will welcome Afghani government as single actor to train, build, and advocate for


Canadian military





Necessary Resources

Aircrafts to transport home the soldiers


Canadian government and citizens



-End involvement of Muslim world and end appearance of being with an occupational force

-Give Canada an in-depth global vision free of dying; US-NATO street vision


-U.S. will be unhappy; or many no longer be “loyal”

-NATO mixed feelings; bad but “love it”

-No ability to say where and how the government is going to end up in Afghanistan but would associate ourselves with those that would seek our return for non-military help


-what would the U.S. do to us if we did this?

-what is the future role of the Canadian military? Go North?


Policy change in Canada’s support for building human capital


-Overarching plans (McCrystal Report)

-Small scale –making use of Afghan expertise

-Huge diaspora

-Investing in human capital

-Empower both men and women


-Afghan Canadian Council

-Government –fundamental shift in public police; diaspora, local youth, women




Afghani diasporas in Canada

Necessary Resources

Increased resources to fund micro projects in small communities –Ex. community library project for literacy


-Afghanis in Canada and in Afghanistan

-Canadian government






-Will help prevent the possibility of reverting back into a civil-conflict

-Will provide citizens with legitimate means to make a living

-Will enable a smoother transition from international to domestic control of the government and natural resources


-Take decades to achieve these sorts of goals

-Need to build trust with these communities

-Having a lot of small scale projects; more SIDA employees (more bureaucracies)


-Who would pay government civil servants?

-Would the civil servants be representative of the population they are helping?


Status quo or increase military investment


-Helicopters, special forces, LAV, training

-policy change in Canada’s international level strategy in Afghanistan

-Build human capital: education, economic development, literacy, rule of law

-Focus on children: invest in mothers at heart of Afghanistan

-Focus on small scale projects

-Analyze what has work and get rid of what has no


-Afghan diaspora –a lot of expertise

-Afghan Canadian Council

-Blend military and values

-Two premises:

1. We should not be there

2. We should not have military there

-both premises are false

-Canadian operation working under “just cause” in international law

-Who would pay government servants?


Ongoing debate


In Canada and Afghanistan

Necessary Resources

-Military and police personnel

-Money –Ex. to expand ANA and ANP training




-Withdrawing would be worse for Afghanis who believe they are at risk



-Seat at table to influence strategy

-Influence on the ground

-No “moral betrayal” of our supports on the ground

-No domino effect on other countries withdrawing

-Build on work we have done

-Humanitarian continued assistance


-Financial loss



-Public discourse in Canada



-“Just cause” requires just means

-Increase bureaucracy?


-Do we have a winnable strategy?

-If we do, and our NATO allies don’t agree, are we able to sway them?

-Will the continued presence serve as a rallying point?

-Who is letting people stay?

-Do we care more about NATO forces than Afghani people?

-Can we influence partners?

-How much security is needed so that a future government can function without violence?

-What right do we have to break the trust of the Afghani people?










Vehicles to building awareness and achievement:

-Teacher’s education; kits for elementary school


-Theatre and poetry

-Catalyst to get it going? What is the forum that could take the charge? Ex. CIGI

-Forums like this case study at Foreign Policy Camp

-Sponsorship of citizen juries; public and open

-Money to get resources on Afghanistan to the Canadian public; e.g. suburbs, malls, Time Horton’s, Canada’s World

SECTION 5- Principles of citizen engagement that should guide us.

 -What principles should guide dialogue in Canada? Above all do no harm in political initiatives. Need for independence so as not to be contingent upon US needs and pressures. Seek to broaden global participation in resolving basic issues.

-focus on enriching decision(s). Open with clarity on objective for dialogue. EDA's role in the world in the context of Afghanistan.

-long term vision strategy - Canadian and Afghani interests - real policy development

-should be part of a greater discussion on vision for Canada in the world.

-have honest historic context

-what is our humanitarian responsibility? What are the human costs to leaving?

-independent communications of facts - no media / government spin

-a responsibility to properly describe the context that governs our strategy and the geopolitical reality in Afghanistan and the central Asian region to the Canadian silent majority

-truth / facts - stop telling stories, choices must be made available, open forums, explain what we want

-what would an Afghan first foreign policy look like?

-honest non-partisan discussion

-should be considering the collateral damage / outrageousness of our actions; inclusive of Afghan people in and out of Afghanistan

-open, structured, based on fact, forward looking, multi-level government, academics, citizens, means to collate, outgoing, focused towards a discussion

-are our strategic objects different than NATO's?

-meaningful exchanges / genuine dialogue not pre-scripted, open and transparent, inclusive, participatory, honest

-Afghans should have the right to sort out their form of governance without one or more groups imposing their vision by means of military violence

-access to clear, accurate, information, ability to form own opinions

-clear incentive to participate ability to influence, national coverage to capture regional views

-do away with cultural relativism in our dialogues and ask Afghans

-is liberal democracy and neoliberal growth the best way forward?

-propaganda free


-candor without attacks

-we need to explain to Canadians that the global climate has changed. We cannot revert to cold war solutions (i.e. peacekeeping) to post-Cold War problems (i.e. Afghanistan). Canada needs a new role and now is the time to define it.

-recognize that Afghani cultures are almost opposite to ours

-try to see their world from their perspective

-try to see merit in their culture and respect it

-what are our strategic objectives? Do our tactics support them?

-mechanisms for seeking non-aligned non-corporate non-institutionalized non-NGO Canadian citizens

-government funding for democratic gross roots education programmes to disseminate a range of writers regarding Afghanistan issues

-acknowledgement of our Canadian tendency to see the "other" through ethnocentric lenses


-greater cultural awareness, understand the context (history, values, norms, beliefs, collective vs. individualistic)

-independent CMN bureau

-information / education about A; education and being well informed

-what does self-determination for Afghans look like? How do we help them do this?

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Recommendations to the PM:

What is one recommendation you would make to Prime Minister Harper with respect to Canada's engagement in Afghanistan? Participants were asked to provide their ideas in writing by email. 

1. Do not stifle debate or control the message on Afghanistan. When you stifle debate, you make this war about your own personal ideology, rather than the position of Canada as a whole; this is dangerous.

 2. De-militarize, and depoliticize Canada; international policy instruments and approaches; rebalance and give diplomacy a chance by re-investing in the frontier.

 3. Invest in foreign policy development; knowledge, discussion, people on the ground.

 4. Trust Canadians.

This requires some elaboration. If given all the appropriate information, Canadians would make the best and most ethical choice. But the key is 1) how to get the information to them fairly and completely; and 2) how to measure their position accurately.

Regarding 1), it is necessary to give both sides - the pro-mission and anti-Canadian mission perspectives. The government can handle the "pro" side, but the "anti" side must be given to non-government representatives to articulate. This cannot be a biased panel like the Manley Commission - the "anti" side must be represented by strong and credible opponents to the war, and they must be able to present their views without any government editing or censorship. Also we cannot rely on the media to get the message to the Canadian public, because they are not competent or unbiased. 

Regarding 2) we cannot let our Members of Parliament represent "Canadian opinion", because they are partisan and Canadian democracy is too weak to gauge real Canadian opinion through the current party and election process.

What I would propose is the following:

 Two mass mail outs to all Canadians of a debate:

 First, each side presents its major arguments for the "Pros & Cons"

 Second, there is a rebuttal from each side of the others arguments

Then a referendum is held seeking the final position of the Canadian public, and the government is obliged to act accordingly.

I know this is onerous and costly, but war is even more so. I think it is worth the effort, and since I trust Canadians to do the right thing (but not our government), the result would probably be a good one, and Canada can begin to win back some of the international respect we have lost in recent years.

5. Keep all elements of Canadian power engaged in Afghanistan until such time as Afghan resources can replace them.

Canada has a long history, coming up on a century now, of intervention and assistance.  In earlier days this was done under the auspices of being a colony of the British, but since the commencement of the Second World War (in the military realm as a minimum), Canadian governments have decided where and when to use our military power.  As our foreign policy came into its own, with the development of agencies like DFAIT and CIDA, we deployed more and more Canadian resources, beyond the military, to assist where we felt that it was important. 

Succinctly put, there is no more important task or use for the resources we can allocate to Afghanistan.  Their judiciary and corrections service is not functioning to any credible standard; their literacy rate would prevent most Afghans from ever reading this document; their infant mortality rate and rate of death for women giving birth is incredibly high; they lack a police force in anything but name and uniform; economically they are among the poorest, if not the poorest, of any people on the planet; they lack a functioning health care system; their educational system is in tatters and prevents the development of human capacity to advance against the myriad issues they face; their agricultural system cannot feed their populace; they lack heavy industry of any description; their life expectancy is low enough that over half their population is under 15.  They need assistance and Canada has a tradition of giving it, so why would we leave. 

Some would argue that the complexity of the situation is too great, and that the task is too difficult.  I respond by saying that while it is true that there are no easy or elegant solutions, this should not prevent us from trying.  The level of difficulty is not disputed, but Canada needs to do something difficult if for no other reason than to be the global leader that it frequently claims to aspire to be.  

Others would argue that our continued involvement is nothing more than the exercise of a post-colonial form of imperialism.  Perhaps this is true, however, perhaps this modern form is one we can shape to be benevolent, without search for profit, power or exploitation.  The need to modernize, and give meaning to the concepts of R2P, human rights, rule of law, and the export of the values that we hold dear should not be forsaken simply because we will need to confront a culture of tribalism, misogyny, and abuse of those segments of society that cannot stand up for themselves.  If we believe in ourselves as a nation, we cannot walk away when others are suffering under the guise of tradition and convention. 


A last argument will be that enough blood has been spilled, that we should stop now, and withdraw the military and civilian elements we have deployed which have themselves become a nexus for the divergent insurgent forces to focus on.  If the choice is then between deploying less, in an effort to avoid the confrontation and subsequently to achieve less over time, or to deploy more, have the confrontation that must come, and perhaps achieve more, then I will opt for the second course.

I do not debate whether we should change our means and the methodology being employed; there is much merit in having this discussion.  But, I do argue against those elements that would see us adopt an isolationist stance; I do argue against those who would see us deploy a half-hearted effort with questionable ability to achieve; and I do argue against those who would see us withdrawal because of anyone of the excuses listed above. 

Canada needs to be in Afghanistan, as much as Afghanistan wants and needs Canada there.  I therefore urge that you work to keep all elements of Canadian national power engaged in Afghanistan until a legitimate government from that country says that our efforts are no longer required.

6.) Adopt an Afghan-First approach to your Afghan Foreign Policy - first order of business is to pressure President Obama to end his air strikes with their associated killings of innocent civilians.

Scholars, thinkers, and doers, of Foreign Policy have argued in many different ways that foreign policy by construction cannot go beyond the desire to advance a national self-interest agenda.  In order to keep the terms of debate favourable to this thesis, folks have constructed a polarity that pits altruism at the other end of the debate. An Afghan first foreign policy would put the needs of Afghan people (not necessarily the Afghan government) at the forefront of your thinking and strategy going forward. It will require you and your ministers to think far outside the structural limitations of western liberal democracy and tired, failed, attempts at stability and development led by neoliberal strategies.   

Here's a start:

A.)  Work with your NATO counterparts to prevent the continuation of air-strikes. These kill indiscriminately and inaccurately. They radicalize the local population against you. India has fought counter-insurgency wars for 6 decades without using planes. How did they do this? With tremendous casualties that the Indian population have been willing to absorb to achieve their strategic objectives.  If you aren't willing to fight counter-insurgency (which means much higher casualties on NATO's side) then stop fighting, because you are only making life more and more unbearable for Afghan civilians who ought to be at the center of our efforts.

B.) Reclaim a position of admiration in the international community by punching above your weight in diplomacy. Focus your attention on providing space and facilitation for New Delhi and Islamabad to have regular talks about security. Maybe they will tell you to get lost. Be courteous, respectful, and genuine. A stable and secure Pakistan is a point of policy today for India, but policy means nothing next to history, nationalism, and fear. Don't pretend to be an honest, objective, broker - we want India and Pakistan to trust each other because we cannot even begin to calculate the positive possibilities for regional security if they were to work together.

C.)  Hire Afghan civilians and NGO workers from across the country to be advisors and participants in the future direction of Canadian policy in Afghanistan. It is their country, where we are spending our money and lives. We DO NOT want to see any of these resources wasted in the black-hole of ignorance and narrowly defined, short-term self interest. (The Cold War has wasted more than enough time, money, lives, and dreams in these endeavors)

D.) Work with your colleagues and enemies in Parliament towards this effect.  We understand the limitations of our will be very difficult for any opposition party to argue that we should not adopt a policy that would decrease the amount of Afghan civilians killed in the interest of buying increasingly expensive death toys and bombs. While it is of the utmost importance to Mr. Layton, and Mr. Ignatieff who lead this country, it is of no significance to me and many other Canadians who care deeply about foreign policy.  I  do not believe that any major political party would be acting substantively different from how your government is acting right now - illusions to the contrary are little more than partisan nonsense that is offensive to Canada's collective intelligence.  

7. Most foreign policy scholars agree that only narrow national-self interest can be the basis of Foreign Policy.  I challenge you to conceive of Foreign Policy towards Afghanistan that would put the needs and will of the Afghan people (not government) ahead of the strategic self interest of Canada.  History will ultimately leave 20th century geopolitics in the dust.

8. We need a significant catalyst to get the discussion\debate going. Reconstitute the Manley Commission as they already know the turf and could quickly get up to speed. They are credible to the Canadian public and to the two major parties. Give them 3 or 4 months to engage Canadians and produce a report for Parliament. This would surely foster discussion. Such a major national decision cannot be taken without an informed debate/dialogue/discussion occurring.

9. Extend troop presence past 2011 while focusing resources on a mass overhaul of Ministry of Education through restructuring, capacity development, technical assistance and improving accountability in education outcome

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