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Hearing reports out of Kabul, most Canadians feel shame and disgrace over how poorly we apparently evacuated people on the ground.

A number of these reports, primarily from former foreign correspondent Kevin Newman, claimed that every other country did better than Canada. For instance, according to Newman, while Canada dithered, the French carried out “ballsy” commando operations, rescuing hundreds of evacuees. Twice.

Yet the UK's Sky News, which tracked international numbers, reports that Canada airlifted significantly more evacuees, some 3700, than France’s 2100 (France’s prime minister has since upped their estimate to 2500).

Nor does Newman's claim that every other country did better than Canada hold up.

Table: Non-US Airlift Evacuation Count

* Not participants in NATO's Operation Resolute Support (January 2015-June 2021) Numbers compiled by Sky News.

Only the UK, Germany, Italy and Australia extracted more evacuees than we did, and only Australia and the UK airlifted more per capita of their population. Tellingly, all of them took part in NATO’s 38 nation Resolute Support Mission (RSM), which ran from 2015 through the summer of 2021. Canada, by contrast, has had no military ground operations in Afghanistan since 2014.

In other words, each country that airlifted more evacuees than Canada had better on-the-ground operational capacity, local intelligence, and months to prepare than we did.

The UK, for instance, which still had almost 1000 troops on the ground after the fall of Kabul, began its removal efforts in April.

And of all nations conducting major evacuation efforts, none has committed to accept more refugees than Canada. The UK matches our commitment of 20,000, but over 5 years. Australia has only committed to accept 3,000. Germany will take 10,000. Most EU nations are not releasing their refugee commitments yet.

Undoubtedly there is fair criticism of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) It’s inexcusable how cumbersome and unwieldy our processing management is at the best of times, let alone during a global crisis, when it most needs to be responsive and flexible. Government communications have been poor. Desperate people were left hanging and alone, apparently abandoned, as our last flight out of Kabul left.

But the poor communications and bureaucratic red tape that plagued this effort also struck every other country conducting airlifts out of Kabul. Every one of them was forced to leave deserving people behind, and faces media stories at home condemning their apparent ineptitude.

That's not to make excuses. We should do better. The Afghanistan airlift disaster may not have been of our making, but we must shoulder responsibility where we can. No one is, or should be, cheering anywhere.

At the same time, we have a duty to be fair with criticism, and give credit where it’s due. Our soldiers in uniform and many others put their lives at risk to carry out an astonishingly difficult mission, all the while knowing that terrorists were waiting to attack.

Indeed, even as Western governments warned people away from the Kabul airport, or to leave it immediately due to the threat of an imminent terror attack, many journalists on social media expressed shame and outrage when Canada pre-emptively suspended its evacuation efforts.

When the expected attack came, it killed an estimated 170 people, including 13 American soldiers. Those dead could have been our soldiers, officials and citizens, but for our difficult decision to leave and spare them that fate.

What happened last week is deeply unfair to the many Canadians who struggled heroically to save thousands of lives as a nation fell and a city of 4.5 million people collapsed. Our soldiers should not be expected to showboat gonzo-style through the streets of Kabul, or be blown to bits in a terror attack to earn our respect.

Before the howls erupt on social media, it's incumbent on us to at least fact-check some of the more inflammatory claims. None of the information was secret.

Finally, Biden’s deadline of August 31 will come and go, but Afghanistan’s ongoing humanitarian catastrophe is here to stay. As if the Taliban and now ISIS K were not enough, hunger and possible starvation awaits as many as 14 million Afghans, according to the World Food Programme.

Last week Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas told Der Spiegel that Germany anticipates an Afghan exodus of between 500,000 to 5 million refugees. Given what will surely emerge as yet another humanitarian disaster, perhaps our focus and attention should turn to the fate of the Afghan people as a whole.

Even the ones who never worked a day for us.

The brokenness of our world is not because of the brave who tried to save but couldn't. Our brokenness is the result of a system that long catered to centralized power and where the powerful have discarded their conscience for the sake of power. Power is the drug, the jailor and the destroyer now. So we must be kind to all who still weep for those who suffer, we must comfort whoever, wherever and whatever we can. It overrides winning awards, positions and degrees. We are just fireflies now.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it does seem to me that at no point was it ever reasonably prognosticated that Afghanistan would become a peacefully self-governed country along the lines of western democracy, safe for "modern" women and collaborators with the enemy.
It's odd-ish to me, that once a western state has invaded a country, its own citizens who oppose invasion and/or occupation are not only *called* "insurgents", but are treated in media as such.
Let me ask this: If it so happened that Canada, or part of Canada, was invaded, or bombed ... would those who cast their lot with the invaders/bombers be ... what would they be called? defenders? patriotic? opportunists? unCanadian? betrayers? traitors? infidels?

Now, if you will, just flip that. We understand it well enough in our own context, and would seek justice in our terms, "once it was all over."

People generally have an idea of some sort about what would improve society as they see it, and for themselves. And one way or another, contribute to efforts in that direction.

The real question, to me, is why, when Canada left Afghanistan lo those many years ago, were the individuals whose lives are now in danger offered access to immigration? And if not, why not?

And as for raw total numbers, certainly by now everyone's looked at international Covid stats, and realized there's a difference between total numbers, per capita numbers, and relevant numbers. I'd suggest the relevant number to measure performance against would be the fraction of former "workers for Canada" and family members endangered by that work, are now in a safe country.
It's my understanding Canada doesn't even have a list of individuals who, along with their family/extended family, might be negatively affected by our leaving.
One more case of Canadian, "we came, we saw, we used, we took, we made a mess, we left and we're the good guys: don't forget we're always good guys."

As for your paragraph about how Canadians would react to an invasion on our soil : the word you want to use for those who accept and work with the invaders is "collaborator". That word earned its stripes during WWII from the European resistance movements. It is more or less pejorative, depending on the situation.

Whether or not Canadians are the "good guys" is irrelevant, what matters is COMPETENCE. Politicians appeared to waffle over evacuation. Those tasked with carrying out the belated response may well have been ambivalent - we will not know until the no doubt secret cabinet deliberations eventually become public. It would not be the first time Canada has failed in humanitarian response - owing to politics, ingrained racism. At least this time we did not turn the planes away from landing at our airports. On balance, competence aside, at least in the case of Syrians we stepped up. Perhaps we can do the same for Afghans who manage exfiltration their own. I hope The Federal government is making plans to fulfill this 20,000 people pledge despite our inability to air-lift. There will obviously be refugee settlements from which we can accept asylum seekers - many of them have already been waiting for years.

As to competence, the entire article was about how we were pretty competent, given our resources on the ground at the start. Our incompetence at paperwork back in Ottawa is long-standing, almost a separate issue. ...though on the third hand, our slowness to handing any immigration should be judged in context of our doing more of it (per capita) than anybody. Anybody.

The virtue in the invasion itself certainly depends on the Afghan you ask. Glenn Greenwald has pointed out that every invasion in history had a FEW local fans who called it liberation: just elevate them, vilify the opposition, and it's a 'controversy'.

The simile to compare Afghanistan to would be some SF story where the Nordic countries gain some overwhelming superweapon and decide to invade the United States to bring it social democracy, set up a puppet government with AOC at the head, assisted by VP

...sorry, glitch... assisted by VP Noam Chomsky. Promptly, there's a religious-nut Taliban of evangelical Christians sniping from rooftops and blowing up school-construction sites in Black neighbourhoods; but the urbanites of America are throwing flowers at them. Roughly a quarter of the US would think it was the Apocalypse, a quarter would think it Liberation, and about half would be split on the merits, but totally hating that it was foreigners imposing it, so, not supportive. And not willing to fight for them.

This is fine reporting, as well as a relief to know. Afghanis face continued diminishment of life chances, for families, the aged, children, vulnerable women, and even those young guys who have gone from madrassa schools to be paid employees of an elite leadership of soldiers who fail to qualify as defenders of Islam. 38 million Afghanis. We are 38 million Canadians and we can appreciate our good forture. Helping refugees is one way.

Sandy Garossino is the indispensable Joe Friday of Canadian Journalism: just the facts, ma'am.

Kevin Newman knew what kind of story would arouse his audience, and told that story, with facts assembled to support it. Sandy looked at the facts, and then wrote the story they told.

Sometimes I wonder about the little NO, the Tyee, and CanadaLand being my only paid subscriptions: shouldn't I support a bigger paper, too? Then an event like this happens, and the regular newsies do their expected thing: And Sandy goes for the facts, and tells a story I trust.

Consider my resubscription guaranteed. If I'm pissed at the NO at re-up time for one of their many dumb articles, I'll remember this one.

Thank you for supporting this work, Roy! These stories on our site can't exist without people like you.

Amen to that.
And if you write the Nordic Invasion [SF] book, I'll be sure to buy a copy and recommend it to my friends.

The early propaganda on the Canadians working in Afghanistan was that they were there to help the natives achieve a better life. As we do not have enough Canadians that speak the languages there, they supplied translators and others to make our help possible. Unfortunately their internal social orders were not stable enough to hold against an internal insurrection leading to the need to withdraw help. Somewhat a parallel of the early stages of the 2nd. world war when the UK army was forced back across the Channel. Perhaps in time more peaceful arrangements will evolve, if the incentives for that are adjusted to support a more humane outcome all round.

I mostly agree with your comments. I am sure that we did fairly well in the context of every country involved. International standards are never what journalists publish unless they intentionally want to either embarrass our government or they are ideologically stuck and cannot see anything as good unless done by a government of their liking which is more than ever common. We are all extremely divided and the levels of anger and hate have been well stirred by the so called populist politicians that are nothing but opportunists.
The only comment I have is that it is about time that governments realize that going to war is not any longer just call our troops destroy and come home. The US has created millions of refugees and displaced people around the world but when it comes to the consequences they are rarely there to resolve what they have created. We have to realize that when you decide to go with the US the consequences are difficult to deal with and if we cannot afford them then just do not get involved period.
We now have thousands of veterans suffering from mental issues that are never or are barely mentioned. We now have created refugees in Afghanistan that even a country of our size cannot deal with. Not just financially but culturally.

The fine new news/commentary site, "TheLine" posted quite the aggressive response to this article, and closed off their own comments - just for that one column. They call this article "weak apologia", and ask many sharp questions about Sandy's figure of 3700 evacuated: who are they, are they Afghans, army, what...questions they don't ask about the comparative figures of other countries. Also, Sandy's figures are all at Reuters.com: https://www.reuters.com/world/evacuations-afghanistan-by-country-2021-08...
...and they could just ask Reuters.

Bizarrely, to me (the main reason I'm writing something here, I can't post at TheLine), they go on a long complaint about Sandy's use of evacuations-per-capita, relating our evacuations to those of larger countries. They call it "a totally meaningless metric", and sarcastically wonder if we should normalize statistics by bushels of wheat grown per year. Well, guys, just about every expenditure of public resources is normalized per capita, in economics and war. Germany has over two times our population, two times our tax revenue, two times our resources for airplanes, soldiers, diplomats, paperwork. They did evacuate 5100 people to our 3700, but most economists and public-policy analysts would call their greater resources relevant. The complaint is just baffling.

Between Germany's larger size, and Germany's participation in Operation Resolute Support providing more resources already in Afghanistan, it's like comparing the disaster response, of a town of 3900 to a town of 8300 - which has a hospital; the smaller town saved 37, the larger, 51 - is it because the small town has bad people?

I'm still a supporter of TheLine, but this response was not their finest hour.

Thank you for your analysis of Canada’s airlift numbers. You should also add that our canadian big planes in this airlift had smaller maximum capacity for passengers than some other countries