This paper examines four key Prime Ministerial decisions about Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan since 2001. It is often argued that Canadian prime ministerial behaviour on foreign policy matters can largely be understood by the need to negotiate a compromise between two oft-conflicting demands: the political need to respond to the normative desires of an often anti-American and peacekeeping-loving populace; and the need to accommodate American security demands in order to protect Canada’s vital economic interests. The political story of Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan since 2001 is how easily these two demands coexisted until Canadian casualties began mounting in early 2006. Two arguments are advanced about how this co-existence persisted: Canada’s peacekeeping narrative proved not nearly as powerful and monolithic as is often portrayed; and the impact of past policy decisions on future ones skewed decision-making in favour of a continuation of Canada’s military commitment to Afghanistan.
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