Vote for quagmire? Making the war an issue
Stephen Harper would love it if the war in
On Friday evening, as politicos polished up talking points and refined their candidates’ “message boxes,” and as the country braced for a snap election campaign, I watched Peter Mansbridge on CBC’s The National read through some significant poll results on public opinion about Afghanistan. The iconic anchor, such a consistent and loyal proponent of the war effort, seemed almost deflated by the decisiveness of the figures.
When asked by Environics what they thought of
A senior executive at Environics, Donna Dasko, summed things up with an understatement, "So we can see the public is clearly, at this point, leaning against the mission."
With support leaning away from the war, it might not take much more for public tolerance of
Reports of the rampant corruption of the Karzai government, warlord impunity, repression and lack of basic services such as electricity complete the picture of the misery of forced displacement and violence faced by ordinary Afghans.
Mounting public dissatisfaction with the war, rising casualty totals and an almost absolute lack of even token examples of “progress” achieved on-the-ground – it would seem to be the perfect storm to make
There are, of course, a couple of mitigating factors that could help Harper ride out the war’s lack of popularity. First, there is the Liberal Party, who in March of this year joined with the Conservatives to extend the war until the end of 2011. This was a blunder by Stephane Dion, who could have forced an election on the war, but one he may well not have been able to avoid given the pressure from his hawkish leadership rival, long-time
The Liberals’ capitulation on the war, as with so much else, at least clarifies matters. It is quite a stretch to imagine the Liberals campaigning against
The other obstacle to
And that’s where independent media and activism have such an important role to play. When Harper and Dion come to your town, they need to hear the message of opposition to the war loud and clear. And the local candidates need to get an earful at all-candidates meetings.
Without public mobilization and organizing, the poll numbers on the war will scarcely matter and Harper will get a free pass to continue "the mission." This campaign, let’s make sure that
Derrick O'Keefe is the editor of rabble.ca.
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