That was then, this is now
Stephen "Mucho Macho" Harper in 2006:
"Your work is about more than just defending Canada's national interests. Your work is also about demonstrating an international leadership role for our country."
Harper told the troops they have the support of the Canadian people and government on what he called the country's most challenging deployment since Korea.
"There will be some who want to cut and run, but cutting and running is not my way and it's not the Canadian way," he said, to a round of applause.
and from the same month, back in Ottawa:
A debate on whether Canadian troops should be in Afghanistan would put the troops in danger, and any attempt to pull them back would be a betrayal, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Harper, speaking after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, stressed that the previous Liberal government committed the troops to their Afghan mission, which has proved deadly in recent weeks, and that the Conservatives will honour the commitment.
"I'm saying that Canadians don't cut and run at the first sign of trouble," he told reporters. "That's the nature of this country, and when we send troops into the field, I expect Canadians to support those troops." He repeatedly rejected the idea of a debate and said his government will not make decisions based on opinion polls.
"I understand the frustrations," he said. "Perhaps the previous government should have had a vote on the deployment, but that was not their decision. The decision was taken and we can't change our opinion when the troops are in danger."
He did not say why a debate in Canada would put soldiers at risk in Afghanistan, but he stressed it is "a very dangerous mission. "It's not the intention of this government to question the particular commitment when our troops are in danger," he said. "Such a debate or such a lack of strength by any of the political parties in Canada will merely weaken the resolve of our troops and will even put our troops in even more danger."
Nietzschean ubermench that he fancies himself, he even thought that the occasional dead soldier was a good thing for the military, since anything that didn't kill them all, only made them stronger - though to be fair, Harper's attitude in this regard is hardly limited to the Canadian military.
But what is this? What light through yonder seive-like cranium breaks?
Stephen "Bring'em Home" Harper March 1, 2009:
Canada PM says West won't beat Afghan insurgency
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Western forces alone won't defeat the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, and that the U.S. must have a viable exit plan before asking other countries to do more there.
OTTAWA—Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Western forces alone won't defeat the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, and that the U.S. must have a viable exit plan before asking other countries to do more there.
"Frankly, we are not going to ever defeat the insurgency," Harper said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN. "My reading of Afghanistan history is that's it's probably had an insurgency forever of some kind."
Canadian and other NATO troops have made some gains against the insurgents over the years but those gains are not irreversible and the overall success has been modest, Harper said.
"What has to happen in Afghanistan is we have to have an Afghan government that is capable of managing that insurgency," he said. If a foreign power is perceived as the source of authority, "it will always have a significant degree of opposition," he said.
You might have thought of that 100 or so lives ago, Steverino. You are finally conceding that our prescence there was pointless all along, just as the Americans are preparing to double their numbers there and possibly try for something other than a stalemate. Well timed sir!
I guess that now that you've abandoned the sunken costs argument ("we can't ever leave or our soldiers will have died in vain") we can expect the knuckle-draggers at SDA and the kill'em-all-and-let-God-sort'em-out caucus of the Blogging Tories to follow in lockstep and tell us about how they've been against the war all along and what Wanda Watkins can do with her grief. Someone should have stapled this to the PM's forehead a year ago. I guess you don't support the troops after all. Or could it be that those who have been saying the best way to support them is to bring them home were right after all?
As usual, Dr. Dawg says it better.