New Wells column, with schnitzel

My full report, from the print edition, on last week’s Munich Security Conference.  I like to think it’s all pretty interesting, but here’s an excerpt that, perhaps, stands out:

And where was Canada in all this? Not absent, for the first time in a while. Defence Minister Peter MacKay showed up in Munich, making him the first Canadian cabinet minister to attend since the Conservatives were elected in 2006. (Liberal foreign ministers John Manley and Bill Graham both used to attend in their time.)

MacKay is said to be campaigning for the job of secretary-general of NATO, which Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is slated to vacate later this year. Such campaigning, if it takes place, is done sotto voce; European sources interviewed by Maclean’s could not come up with any reliable list of candidates. One senior NATO source said MacKay is highly regarded in the organization for his blunt talk, but as a Canadian with a short CV he has a long way to go in convincing people he can navigate the Byzantine relationship between NATO and the European Union.

Appearing on the same panel as Holbrooke and Petraeus, MacKay pitched Canada as a determined ally that is already implementing the sort of well-coordinated, “whole of government” approach to military and civilian intervention in Afghanistan that the Americans hope to lead.

“We have more to do,” MacKay said, quoting Robert Frost: “Miles to go before we sleep.” He added, “I don’t think we can ever abandon the effort, to have more countries, to have more effort on the ground, until we tip the balance.” And to make sure nobody had any question of his steadfastness, he concluded, “As a country that believes very strongly in this multilateral process, Canada remains very committed.”

What he did not mention, not once, is that the commitment runs until 2011 and that Stephen Harper insists Canada’s military deployment in Afghanistan will substantially end then.

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