It has become a fashionable manoeuvre for Western political leaders craving escape for their military missions to Afghanistan - quit the battlefield but leave behind a token training force “to help the Afghan National Army” better defend themselves and their civilian population.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has become a strutting clotheshorse for this line of political camouflage, reversing his promise that Canada's military mission would come to a complete end next year.
Yet Harper has failed to explain who, exactly, might command a larger, more fearsome Afghan National Army in future years.
Will it be Karzai & Company, the graft-ridden shell of a government in Kabul? Or the Taliban, urged on by their sponsors in Pakistan’s military establishment?
Or, as seems inevitable, will the ANA eventually splinter along ethnic, tribal and geographic lines, pouring lethal fire on a broader civil war? The prospect of a descent into chaos looms larger with each new revelation of corruption in Kabul and skulduggery from Pakistan’s ISI.
Harper's aides indicate that 1,000 military trainers and support staff will remain in Afghanistan when Canadian troops leave their front line positions in Kandahar in the spring. To avoid unpleasant questions, Harper insists that he needn’t bother discussing his volte-face with Canada’s elected parliamentarians.
With good reason.
No doubt some enterprising MP would ponder aloud why Canadian taxpayers should tip still more treasure into the pockets of the Karzai regime’s shady ministers, not least those of the incompetent drunkard who heads the ANA, Defence Minister Rahim Wardak.
Wardak's son Hamid, regular visitors to this site will recall, is the greediest of Afghan-American carpetbaggers, a shameless parasite who continues to profit from the Pentagon’s misdirected largesse.
Far from helping the Afghan people, Stephen Harper’s consolation strategy will further debilitate Afghanistan’s weakest flank: the illegitimate regime that persists in enriching itself behind the walls of Kabul’s Presidential Palace.
“The international community’s message has lost its weight, its credibility among the Afghan people,” says Abdullah Abdullah, who challenged Hamid Karzai in last year’s discredited presidential election.
“They’ve washed their hands of the democratic process," he tells Skyreporter. "They’ve given up on ensuring that good government will take root in the country, and that’s a huge mistake.
“It will only make the current Afghan government appear even more irrelevant, and that will encourage the insurgency.
“So this is the vicious circle. It’s like working inside a building, trying to put everything in a tidy manner, and yet you don’t know when the roof will fall in.”
There’s no sign that Harper and his NATO counterparts will let these facts stand in the way of a good fudge.
Forget that after nine years of Western aid and armament the ANA is still incapable of standing alone against the Taliban and other Pakistan-based fundamentalist groups.
Forget the rising death toll among Afghan civilians, and the haemorrhaging of purloined international aid money.
No government spins propaganda faster and more furiously than a Western democracy in full retreat.
So for Canada it’s goodbye Kandahar, hello to a bit part in a whole new civil war.