No More Faux Afghan Village Display in D.C.

Earlier this year, I was pointing out hints that Canada was painting it’s mission in Afghanistan as more of a civilian one and less of a military one (here, here, here, here and here).

Here’s yet another sign.

Earlier this month, we heard/read news that Canada was going to set up a mock Afghan village at Canada’s embassy in Washington, D.C. to educate American decision makers about Canada’s role in Afghanistan.  A lot of media ran with the fact that there was going to be a small, controlled explosion to simulate an IED.

Next, we hear/read there will be no explosion or gunfire as part of the display.

Now, we read that “the village component of the Afghanistan forum has been dropped,” in the words of the Embassy spokesperson.

Note, also, the progression of spokespersons.

In the “we’re doing the mock Afghan village” story, we hear from a military official:

“If this works the way I want it to, more Americans will know what Canada is doing in Afghanistan,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas Martin, a military attaché at the Canadian embassy.

In the “no more boom-bang” story, the key quote is from the Minister of National Defence’s office:

“The Canadian defence minister decided not to include the IED blast in its program or do anything else to scare the general population, spokesman Dan Dugas said in Toronto.  “I don’t think it’s required to make loud noises on the Mall to show people what the Canadian Forces are doing in Afghanistan.” Dugas said. “We’re doing a fabulous job and at a cost. And I think it’s sufficient to remind Americans of our contribution to this international mission without having to set off pyrotechnics.” “

Finally, who gets to drop the “no more village, period” news?

“I can confirm that the village component of the Afghanistan forum has been dropped,” said Jennie Chen, spokeswoman for the embassy.

According to this staff directory, Ms. Chen is listed as “First Secretary (Public Affairs) and Spokesperson.”  I’m guessing (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) that the title suggests she works for the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Certainly reinforces what the Prime Minister is quoted saying this past week:

“Canada will be transitioning from a predominantly military mission to a mission that will be a civilian humanitarian development mission after 2011.”

doesn’t it?

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