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As I am watching Jack Layton hold up East Timor as a United Nations success story the President of East…

By Jessica Smith , in A podium and a mic Blogs , on February 11, 2008

As I am watching Jack Layton hold up East Timor as a United Nations success story the President of East Timor has a bullet wound in his stomach.

“All too often, we focus on the UN-led peace-keeping missions that did not succeed. Missions in Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia… Consider for a moment the enormous impact that the UN peacekeeping mission had in East Timor. UN efforts there helped to protect a nascent and fragile independent state. With the help of the UN, the Timorese were able to surmount incredible odds – years of violence and repression – and create a largely stable and successful state. There are lessons to be learned from the UN’s failures – but also from its successes. It’s time to apply these lessons to Afghanistan,” Layton said at the University of Ottawa on January 30.

The video and text of this speech is on the NDP website. Following the theme of my last two posts, I am writing about the New Democratic party’s multimedia on Afghanistan.

Watching politicians argue about how to bring about peace in Afghanistan, each taking the other down and none of them offering a convincing argument that peace is possible is heartbreaking. Reading about a Nobel laureate with a gunshot wound and then hearing how his country is model of hope for Afghanistan is worse.

Internet video makes that possible. It has only been about an hour since the attack made the news, and maybe soon somebody of the NDP will take down the speech, or maybe not. Ten days ago East Timor must have been peaceful enough to be held up as a good example, a success story of foreign involvement in a country recovering from successive occupations, but it the peace must have been fragile.

Layton spoke about turning around the mission in Afghanistan from heading into a cul-de-sac of increasing violence and poverty onto a path of peace (his metaphors, not mine).

If we follow his plan for a safe and secure withdrawl and follow a diplomatic solution augmented by UN aid “In ten years the history writers will be recording that there was a turning point in history when the clarion call of Canada was heard. They will be teaching that Canada’s decision provoked a reconsideration of the impasse into which the Afghan conundrum was finding itself increasingly locked,” he said.

I don’t believe him that Canada will be hailed for leaving Afghanistan or that any solution offered by any of our political parties will be successful enough for their to be a discernible turning point toward lasting peace any time soon.