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Norman Spector

Afghanistan or Congo? Add to ...

Yesterday, the Ottawa Citizen reported in its line story that the Canadian Forces have "quietly begun angling to take command of the UN's largest peacekeeping mission."

According to CanWest's Matthew Fisher, the Congo mission "could be headed by Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie … Gen. Walter Natynczyk … has already begun talking up an African mission at the 'town halls' he regularly holds with troops in Canada and overseas. In recent months, troops of all ranks in Afghanistan have mentioned Africa as the place where Canada's army and air force are most likely to deploy to next."

Today, from behind its Internet firewall, Le Devoir is reporting that Canada has already received an unofficial request from the UN - last fall - to send our troops to Congo. And, in an interview with reporter Alec Castonguay, the NDP's foreign policy critic, Paul Dewar, says that his party would support such a mission.

With U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "publicly calling for Canadian troops to stay in Afghanistan past next year," we may at last have the kind of substantive defence and foreign policy debate in Parliament that we didn't get before our forces were deployed to their deadly Kandahar mission. With the New York Times reporting today on growing friction between the Obama and Karzai administrations, that debate can't come too soon.

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