Oct 21, 2007 04:30 AM
Do ordinary Afghans want Canada to stay in Kandahar until the Taliban is defeated?
Initial reports of an Environics survey released Thursday suggest the answer is a strong yes. “Majority of Afghans want foreign troops to stay and fight” was The Globe and Mail‘s headline.
Analysts argued that the poll results, based on interviews conducted last month in the war-torn country, would bolster Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s efforts to keep Canadian troops fighting in Kandahar past February 2009.
But when the poll is examined more carefully (it’s available at http://erg.environics.net), its findings become far less definitive. Indeed, it is not clear that they provide solace to any of the politicians now debating Canada’s Afghan mission.
First, let us be clear about what the survey did not find. It did not find that a majority of Afghans want foreign troops to stay and fight. It did find that a majority of those polled approved of the “presence of foreign countries” in Afghanistan.
But that term “presence” included everything foreigners are doing in the country, from aid to business to soldiering.