Fine words this morning from Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga on how Canadians are fighting for a just cause down in Kandahar, and how the rest of NATO should really pitch in. She even invokes her own nation's struggle under Soviet rule:
By joining the alliance, we have declared our commitment to stand firm for the values that were denied us for too long ... the values for which our people now are ready to sacrifice their lives.
Freedom is the dearest thing we can have next to life itself but there are times that lives have to be sacrificed if we want to preserve freedom.
Not only that, this morning's NATO session began with a tribute to the 50,000 troops serving on operations worldwide, including some 30,000 in Afghanistan. Accepting the honour were 26 soldiers representing each of the NATO nations, including one from Canada's famed Royal 22e Regiment, known as the Van Doos.
No word on whether or not cake was served at the ceremony.
Later, in the behind-the-scenes meetings, Canada got gypped.
Several infantry companies, meaning perhaps 500 additional soldiers, have been pledged by the 26-nation military alliance to help out embattled Canadian troops around Kandahar. This is nowhere close to the numbers Canadian PM Stephen Harper was asking for.
Furthermore, a pledge was extracted from France, Germany, Italy and Spain, to deploy the troops they currently have in Afghanistan beyond their usual zone of operation in "extreme circumstances":
The concession did not amount to an absolute guarantee to assist but diplomats said the mood had changed after rising criticism, particularly from Canada, which has been fighting the Taliban and suffering high casualties in Kandahar.
French officials said: "The President (Jacques Chirac) confirmed the possibility, on a case-by-case basis and on request, to send French troops outside their zone if necessary."
Madrid's pledge was more guarded, with a Spanish official saying Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had offered use of Spanish helicopters in exceptional circumstances to help evacuate wounded NATO solders, and not for combat.
Ever get the impression that Canada is being played for a sucker?