2006-01-17 22:03:00
Embassy Ottawa
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000137 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/16/2016

Classified By: POL M/C Brian Flora. Reason 1.4 (b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000137


E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/16/2016

Classified By: POL M/C Brian Flora. Reason 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary: Canada lost its first diplomat in fifty
years in Kandahar on Sunday when a suicide bomber killed its
PRT chief and seriously wounded three soldiers. Canadian
officials are resolute in the face of the casualties about
continuing with the mission, but the Canadian public (despite
being warned repeatedly by senior government officials) is
only slowly facing the fact that the current Afghan
deployment is not like the conventional peacekeeping missions
Canada is accustomed to, and could involve sustained
casualties. End Summary.

2. (C) On the afternoon of January 15, a suicide bomber
pulled up beside a Canadian Mercedes jeep that was returning
to the Kandahar base after meetings with local officials and
exploded. The blast destroyed one of the lightly armored
vehicles, known as G-wagons, and damaged a second, killing
Glyn Berry, a 59-year old Canadian diplomat and head of the
Canadian PRT, and seriously wounding three soldiers. Two of
the soldiers remain in critical condition and the third lost
a leg. Three Afghans were killed and ten injured in the

3. (C) The killing, coming on the heels of several other
attacks, was a bit of a wake-up call for the Canadian public,
confirming the very threat that Defense Minister Graham
warned against last November. It brings to nine the number
of Canadians killed in Afghanistan since 2002, and is the
first Canadian diplomat killed in the line of duty since the
1950,s (two in Vietnam and one in Egypt).

4. (SBU) All political leaders were united in showing
continuing resolve in the wake of the attacks. Prime
Minister Martin offered his sympathy and condolences to the
families and said that the mission would continue. &Our
participation in the mission in Kandahar is essential to
establishing peace and security. It,s a nation that,s
struggling to find its way.8 Later he said, &the work
these individuals is doing in Afghanistan is of paramount
importance to Canada and to the international community as a
whole. We will continue our work in Afghanistan, knowing
that Mr. Berry gave his life for the pursuit of peace and

stability.8 Martin also added, &the more that we can do to
establish democracy and institutions and do it in the tougher
parts of Afghanistan, then the more we protect ourselves at

5. (SBU) Conservative Defense critic Gordon O,Connor was
even more strident in expressing support for the Afghan
mission -- &The terrorist came out of Afghanistan and
attacked the twin towers. In those twin towers, 25 Canadians
were killed and in killing 25 Canadians they were basically
attacking us.8 Conservative Leader Stephen Harper affirmed
his support for the mission, saying &Canadians serving
abroad put their lives on the line every day in the name of
freedom and democracy, and for that, we are grateful. This
incident is a reminder that we cannot take our security for
granted -- that those who serve face dangers we can only
imagine.8 NDP Leader Layton stated &it is with courage and
honour that they put their lives on the line to serve our
country and to further the pursuit of peace, justice, and
democracy around the world.8 The incident received
considerable coverage in the Canadian press, with especially
positive personal stories told about the diplomat who lost
his life.

6. (C) Ambassador passed on our condolences to Assistant
Deputy Minister David Malone in a pre-scheduled meeting
today. Malone thanked the Ambassador for his concern and
said he would pass it on to the Minister, who is on the
campaign trail, and convey the Ambassador,s condolences to
the widow. Malone said he had heard of no calls for a
pullback from the Kandahar mission and judging from the
editorial pages of major newspapers, believes the incident
would not weaken Canada,s resolve.

7. (SBU) Editorials this morning were indeed resolute. The
Globe and Mail wrote on &Canada,s Necessary Role in
Dangerous Kandahar,8 suggesting that &Canadians are truly
on the front line between Afghanistan,s preservation and the
topple back into the barbarism of the Taliban.8 The
National Post focused on &The Courage of Our Diplomats,8 a
moving piece about Mr. Berry,s commitment to the mission and
his belief that he was involved in something larger than
himself. The Ottawa Citizen focused on the price for
continued instability for Afghans. In an op-ed entitled
&Afghanistan Needs Us,8 the Citizen said &the 20 Afghans
who died in a suicide attack in Afghanistan yesterday remind
us why out soldiers, police, and diplomats are putting
themselves in danger halfway around the world.8

8. (SBU) There were, however, several voices that tried to
put the choice Canada has taken to participate in the Afghan
mission in more serious terms. Richard Gwyn, writing in the
Toronto Star, says &Afghanistan is the first real war Canada
has taken part in since the Korean War more than half a
century ago.8 He does not shrink from the mission,
suggesting that the Afghan people, unlike the Iraqis, don,t
see foreign troops as occupiers but rather as &strangers
who,ve come to help rebuild their shattered country.8 He
concludes that &we should be there. But we should be there
with out eyes open.8

9. (SBU) Peter Goodspeed in the National Post warns that the
growing Afghan resistance is copying jihadist techniques from
Iraq, leading to more than 20 suicide bombings against
U.S.-led or NATO forces in Afghanistan in the past four
months. &The fighting in Afghanistan, like the original
Islamist jihadist movements it spawned,8 he concludes, &may
now be undergoing a major transformation. . . Afghanistan,s
militants. . .are a younger, more brutal group of jihadists
who have spent the last three years fighting the United
States in Iraq.8 An editorial in the same paper by Dominion
Institute Executive Director Rudyard Griffiths, is, like
Gwyn, supportive of the Afghan mission, but similarly tries
to point out the importance of leveling with the Canadian
people about what they have signed up for. He fears
Canadians have grown accustomed to relatively casualty-free
peacekeeping like the Balkans and may not be prepared for the
upcoming bloodshed in Kandahar, which he describes as &more
like Iraq than the Balkans.8 He suggests that &for Canada,
Kandahar is the 21st Century equivalent of Vimy ridge and the
Suez,8 and Canada should &show the world a new model to
rebuild Afghanistan and win back some of its lost influence.8

10. (C) Comment: Canadians understand the reason for being in
Afghanistan and what is at stake. But there does appear to
be a gulf between the conventional peacekeeper role that
they, for decades, have seen as &right8 for themselves
versus the brutal requirements for success in a place like
Kandahar. Griffith,s thoughts are perhaps most telling,
suggesting that perhaps there can be a Canadian way of
nation-building that provides success without a resort to
&American-style8 aggressiveness; curiously, he does not
suggest what that Canadian style might consist of. More
realistic are the views of people like General Hillier and
Minister Graham, who understand that the Kandahar mission is
going to be a long, hard slog with no short-cuts and a share
of bloodshed.

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