". . . Afghanistan is a long way from home, but the issues we are addressing here – building democracy, reducing poverty, fighting terrorism, celebrating pluralism – matter for the entire world. . . We must build a successful alternative there in order to defeat extremism and terrorism everywhere. . .
"We will continue to support the brave men and women of the Canadian forces in their valiant efforts to secure and stabilize the volatile southern region. Thanks to their efforts, the fragile peace that reigns over most of the country has been extended to large parts of Kandahar province.
"Now it’s time to consolidate those security gains on the ground and use them to advance reconstruction, because the long-suffering Afghan people desperately need hope for a better future for their families and communities. . .
"Today our government is deepening Canada’s commitment to Afghanistan with a major infusion of new trust funds to accelerate the reconstruction and development process. The majority of these funds will support proven Afghan national programs. . . also nurture economic growth. . .
". . . our government is consolidating and enhancing the security gains Canada and our allies have made in Afghanistan. . . . with our troops continuing to expand the secure areas in the Kandahar region, and with our deeper commitment of aid for reconstruction and development, I believe we all have very good reason to be optimistic that progress will continue in the coming year."
Corruption in Afghanistan: The elephant in the room, Jean MacKenzie, Global Post, April 15, 2011
". . . I wish that the media had shown the same resolve when Karzai waffled earlier this week about Kabul Bank, and how the losses — according to some reports, totaling nearly a billion dollars — are just as much the fault of the international community as they are of those who engineered them.
"The Afghan president went so far as to suggest that the international firms who failed to spot and stop the shareholders of Kabul Bank be prosecuted alongside the perpetrators.
"Had the consultants given better advice, hinted Karzai, those in charge at Kabul Bank, who included his own brother and the brother of his vice-president, would have known better than to grant themselves huge unsecured loans to speculate on luxury property for themselves in Dubai; they would never have traded on their high-level government connections to escape scrutiny; and, of course, they would have faithfully returned the money they had so cavalierly squandered.
". . . Karzai-bashing is “a dangerous game” in a climate where voters and taxpayers have a diminishing appetite for the war in Afghanistan. Bad news could easily tip the scales in favor of calls for withdrawal.
"So, in order to keep the home front happy, the international community collaborates with the Afghan government to downplay the scale of the problem.
" 'They are more than complicit,' fumed one international consultant. 'They are co-conspirators.'
"Afghanistan is now tied with Burma for the dubious distinction of Second Most Corrupt Nation in the World, according to Transparency International’s latest index. Only Somalia ranks lower . . .
". . .In my own experience, which encompasses nearly seven years in Afghanistan, corruption ranging from almost the unbelievably petty to the truly dangerous has been an almost daily factor of existence. . ."
We can’t eliminate the danger in Afghanistan: Harper, Allan Woods, Toronto Star, April 16, 2011
"Harper pitched the end of Canada’s decade-long combat mission in the country and the new three-year training mission as a relatively secure means of helping the Afghan government defeat the Taliban. But several recent attacks, including one at a secure compound that will reportedly house Canadian soldiers in the years to come show that “you can’t eliminate the danger,” Harper said on the campaign trail Saturday.
". . . In the 2008 election campaign, the Conservative leader committed to a full withdrawal of Canadian forces from Afghanistan by this year. But he reversed course last fall with the support of the Liberal party. . . "
Expected cost of Afghanistan Mission, 2001-2011: $11.3 Billion plus veterans' costs, Government of Canada
The incremental cost of the mission in Afghanistan to the Government of Canada from 2001 to 2011 is currently estimated to be approximately $11.3 billion. This includes estimates for mission close-out costs, but excludes post-2011 costs for veterans’ disability and health care.
Canada's Afghan mission could cost up to $18.1B, Parliamentary Budget Office, CBC, Oct 9, 2008,
". . . Canada has spent $7.7 billion to $10.5 billion on costs related to its mission in the past six years, and may spend $13.9 billion to $18.1 billion by the end of the 2010-11 budget year, according to The Fiscal Impact of the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan tabled by parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page on Thursday.
"However, a lack of government consistency and transparency has made the figures difficult to estimate, and they likely understate the full costs of the mission, the report says."
Veterans wanted dead, not alive, ombudsman charges, Toronto Star, August 18, 2010
". . . 'I was told … that it is in the government’s best interests to have soldiers killed overseas rather than wounded because the liability is shorter term,' [Fired Veterans' Ombudsman Col. Pat Stogran (ret)] said.
"For the former Canadian commander in Afghanistan, it was a revealing answer to a stunning problem. The government’s treatment of soldiers and Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers who have sacrificed their limbs, mental health and lives for the country was a question of dollars and cents.
"In some cases, said veterans who joined Stogran at a news conference Tuesday, Ottawa is even using tax dollars to avoid paying compensation to veterans. . . "
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