Canada Slamming Door on Afghan Help Post-2011?

Notwithstanding the confusion regarding what Canada’s doing to be doing in Afghanistan I’ve commented on before, I have decidedly mixed feelings about a new initiative.

Canada announced today that it will make it a bit easier for Afghans who are in danger because they helped Canadians to immigrate to Canada. I’m all for helping those who helped us out.  Complicated?  Perhaps.  Will it drain those who are needed to help rebuild the country in the future?  I don’t think so.  A moral duty to those who helped us?  Yes.

The one phrase that causes me to pause, though, is this one from the news release:

“The program will conclude in 2011 to correspond with the scheduled end of Canada’s combat mission in Kandahar.”

and from the associated backgrounder,

“Applicants may apply under this program until the end of the Canadian combat mission in Kandahar in 2011.

This terminology is further reinforced by the latest quarterly report on Canada’s mission in Afghanistan (PDF):

“Under the House of Commons motion of March 13, 2008, the Canadian military presence in Kandahar is to end in 2011.”

Such wording leaves the door open, if only the tiniest crack, to the potential for a non-combat military presence of Canadian troops, perhaps even outside Kandahar.

If Canada’s decision makers have even the slightest inkling of keeping even the most token number of Canadian troops, even a token number, in Afghanistan, they should plan on getting ZERO Afghan translator, security or “fixer” support after 2011 if they’ll be left to twist in the wind, unlike those getting in before the deadline.

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