Friday, February 27, 2009

What price sanity?

Ottawa pegs direct cost 
$11.3 billion
Canadian Press: The incremental cost estimate does not include post-2011 disability and health care costs for soldiers wounded in battle or suffering from post-traumatic stress. The forecast runs considerably less than the $13.9 billion estimate parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page issued last October at the height of the federal election campaign. 

A direct comparison between the figures is difficult because Page's estimate included projection for long-term veteran's benefits and were, by his own admission, a hazy accounting because the civilian agencies refused to co-operate with his investigation. So far, 108 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have died as part of the mission, while roughly 375 troops have been wounded.

National Post: The Department of National Defence has released a counter-insurgency manual that manages expectations for victory, urges troops to understand their adversaries' grievances and pushes for political and social solutions in concert with military force.

'Insurgency is a political problem,' reads the introduction. 'The mere attrition of insurgents is highly unlikely to result in [their] defeat.... Military forces do not defeat insurgencies; instead they create the security conditions necessary for the political resolution of the conflict.'

Prof. [Bruce] Hoffman noted the manual's insistence on understanding the enemy's 'narrative' might be its biggest accomplishment. Defined as a plausible story that illustrates real or perceived injustices and grievances, the narrative could also be described as an uprising's founding cause... Regardless of their origins and their ideology, the manual continues, the grievances can be legitimate, and a 'certain amount of empathy may be justified'...

A common pitfall, it explains, is imposing one's own values on others. 'Such an assumption and situation risks creating or exacerbating the perception that foreigners are trying to impose values and beliefs at odds with those of the indigenous population.'

It also cautions against demonizing or delegitimizing one's foes as thugs, a time-honoured mistake made by former US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and others. 'The classification or dismissal of a nascent insurgency as a criminal or some other movement will only fuel the insurgency through inappropriate responses.'
Image source here.