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Norman Spector

Jean Chrétien's war (II) Add to ...

Adam Radwanski's chronology is correct: the announcement that Canada would ramp up operations in Afghanistan preceded Jean Chrétien's announcement that Canada would not back a U.S. invasion of Iraq. However, this does not change my view of why, in February of 2003, he made such a heavy commitment of Canadian ground troops in Afghanistan:

Here's Jeff Sallot's report in The Globe and Mail of March 18, 2003, which correctly distinguishes between Mr. Chrétien's decision to support or not support a U.S. attack on Iraq, and the altogether separate decision whether to send Canadian troops to participate in a ground operation in that country:

"With the United Nations sidelined, a Canadian compromise proposal in tatters, and a U.S.-led attack on Iraq almost certain, Mr. Chretien was forced to say that his government will not support its closest friend and ally in a new gulf war without UN backing.

The upshot is that Ottawa and Washington are parting company in the most serious global-security dispute since Canada sat out the Vietnam War and welcomed U.S. draft evaders seeking refuge. …

Mr. Chretien said, "We are with [the Americans]on terrorism and terrorism is in Afghanistan."

That's a distinction Mr. Chretien stressed again yesterday, noting that hundreds of Canadian troops will be going back into Afghanistan this summer.

The decision to deploy the Canadian Forces to Afghanistan has a couple of political benefits for Ottawa. Washington welcomed it, and it also effectively swept aside the option of sending any significant number of Canadian troops on an Iraq mission.

Aides say the Prime Minister became increasingly concerned last summer that the Bush administration would move against Baghdad without UN approval."

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