St. Albert, Alta., City Councillor Cam MacKay

We’re still waiting for that apology to Opposition Leader Jack Layton from the Harper Conservatives.

You know, the one they owe him for getting their on-line Tory Rage Machine ™ and their Tame Mainstream Media Auxiliary ™ to label him “Taliban Jack” back in 2006 when the New Democratic Party leader had the temerity to suggest that the so-called NATO coalition should open lines of communication to the Pashtun fighters labelled the Taliban by the West.

Alert readers will recall how Defence Minister Peter MacKay, at the time the minister of foreign affairs, sniped at Layton: “Is it next going to be tea with Osama Bin Laden? This cannot happen!”

The TRM, of course, went much farther, demonstrating with its “Taliban Jack” smear its unchallenged ability, as the famous advertisement on Craigslist put it, to “make up facts,” and use “sarcasm and personal insults” to “score points” and “stir outrage.” (Perhaps I should call this an alleged ad. Can it really be real? I mean, obviously it can, given the vicious creativity of the TRM, but one so rarely sees an admission of malfeasance so crystalline in its clarity that one has to wonder!)

We’ve known since last spring that the U.S. government was talking to the Taliban. However, that information has really gone mainstream in the past two weeks, with the noisy complaints from Afghanistan’s Western-propped President Hamid Karzai about the Americans talking to his foes, and the apparent confirmation of the talks by retiring U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates in the foreign press.

It is reasonable to speculate now that the NATO-Taliban talks were meant to set the stage for U.S. President Barack Obama’s declaration of victory in Afghanistan yesterday and his announcement that 10,000 American troops would be withdrawn from that country by the end of this year, with another 23,000 out by the fall of 2012.

Under the circumstances, U.S. and NATO commanders don’t have much choice but talk to the military leaders of the majority Pashtun resistance to their occupation because it seems highly unlikely the Karzai government could survive without a perpetual Western occupation on the scale of the Soviet attempt to hold that violent country through the 1980s.

And this is not to mention the fact that the United States economy is on life support and can hardly afford the expense of $120 billion a year to prop up the Karzai government in the face of determined opposition from the country’s largest ethnic group.

Anyway, with bin Laden dead at the hands of U.S. commandos — an event that unsurprisingly took place on the territory of our Pakistani ally, not that of Afghanistan — the Americans and their NATO surrogates can stop pretending that the Taliban had anything much to do with the people who plotted the attacks on New York in 2001.

Indeed, the even Postmedia News reported yesterday that there are no more than 75 al-Qaida fighters left in Afghanistan, if there ever were very many.

So, given all this and their steely silence to date, one would think that now would be the ideal moment for the Conservative government and its stooges in the blogosphere to withdraw the offensive “Taliban Jack” slur and apologize to Layton.

MacKay — to whom will likely fall the role of being Canada’s official spokesperson for the NATO talks with the Taliban that he once said cannot happen, a sort of Taliban Pete, as it were — would make an excellent mouthpiece for the still-much-needed apology.

Instead, of course, the Taliban Jack slur remains current in cyberspace — cropping up in hydrophobic comments appearing under on-line newspaper stories about the treatment of Taliban prisoners as recently as last week.

As for MacKay, perhaps he was too busy explaining why we don’t need a judicial inquiry into the handling of detainees in Afghanistan. Anyway, having a majority government means never having to say you’re sorry…

Plus ca change…

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog, Alberta Diary.

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...