Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Who is it playing political games here?

As Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe threatened to bring down the Cons with a non-confidence vote in the spring if the Afghan mission is not "rapidly and profoundly" retooled to focus more heavily on reconstruction instead of fighting, Harper stood in the House of Commons on Tuesday and said :

"The only problem here is the political opportunism of the leader of the Bloc Quebecois . . . He's just playing political games on the backs of our soldiers.''

Really? Remember this?

Harper on CBC- TV Sept. 18 2006 :
"I can tell you it's certainly engaged our military," the Prime Minister told CBC. "It's, I think, made them a better military notwithstanding — and maybe in some way because of — the casualties."
Harper added that Canada's current role in Afghanistan is "certainly raising Canada's leadership role, once again, in the United Nations and in the world community."

Busted, Steve. Buying yourself some world class prestige - on the backs of our soldiers.

And then we get this complete red herring, given that Duceppe is calling for more construction, not less from International Co-operation Minister Josee Verner with her little school girls routine :

"I'm thinking especially about the women. It's out of the question for me to return them to the darkness. We know what sort of horrific regime they lived under.
Little girls go to school today -- which they could not do when the mission started in 2001."

Newsflash, Josee :
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on March 6 2006 International Women's Day, :
"From fear of terrorism, from threats of the enemies of Afghanistan, today as we speak, some 100,000 Afghan children who went to school last year, and the year before last, now do not go to school."

And Karzai is a guy heavily invested in having us stay.
See, no one's asking you "to return anyone to darkness", Josee. We'd just like to stop propping up whoever is bombing the shit out of them.

Malalai Joya, 28 year old female Afghan MP addressing students at McGill this past September :

"Canada must have its own policies in Afghanistan, and stop supporting fundamentalist warlords."
Canada, said Joya, must "prove that it is a friend of the Afghan people." To do that, it must "act independently of US war policies," she said, adding that, "as long as Canada cannot act independently of the Pentagon," it will be inevitable that Canadian troops will die."
According to Joya, "the US is not concerned with the major causes of terror in Afghanistan--that is why my people do not consider them as liberators."
"All justice-loving people are calling for trials for the warlords," she said, noting that the Karzai administration--with US approval--"promotes war criminals to higher posts,” most recently the police force. The majority of seats in Afghanistan's parliament are occupied by "some kind of warlord," who is "doing crimes under the name of Islam."

Duceppe : "What we need is a rebalancing so that in three years we don't end up with a Baker report on Afghanistan, like we've got for Iraq now.''

Exactly.

8 comments:

Dave said...

Great post Alison!

Olaf said...

Dave,

Great post Allison

I disagree, predictably enough.

See, no one's asking you "to return anyone to darkness", Josee. We'd just like to stop propping up whoever is bombing the shit out of them.

Who are you referring to? Who is propping up the Taliban? I think the point she is making is that without NATO forces, the Taliban will be back into power. And what is the reason that less girls are going to school this year rather than last? It's because the Taliban is lighting their schools on fire, right?

Can you say with a straight face that if NATO troops leave, and we focus all our attention on reconstruction, that you don't think the Taliban will take the country over again?

I don't get the idea that if we focus on reconstruction more, all the problems will be solved, the Taliban will allow this reconstruction to take place and not try to kill those engaged in the reconstruction.

Dave said...

I understand what you're saying, Olaf, but at what point does the mission plan get opened up and a general points at the page that says "Tactical Assumptions" and realize they don't have them right?

If Harper wants to posture himself on the world stage he might consider telling the US to keep the CIA out of the NATO commanded areas, thus eliminating the problem of Karzai firing regional governors, beefing up the force to remove the need to rely on the warlords, (and eliminate them), then recruit and deploy a massive reconstruction force.

If he's not willing to do that he should seriously undertake a review to determine if the current effort will lead to anything but a popular-supported Taliban.

Shorter message to Harper: Shit or get off the pot and quit speaking in platitudes.

Olaf said...

Dave,

Point taken. And I agree completely that the effort needs to be bolstered, both in providing security (through NATO forces but more importantly, through a popular and well trained and well paid Afghan army) and in providing reconstruction.

I just categorically reject the idea that Canada and NATO should remove its forces from the South, and instead deploy a massive reconstruction force with no security whatsoever. I think we need more NATO/Afghan forces along with more reconstruction and aid. I don't really see how you can have one without the other.

Dave said...

through NATO forces but more importantly, through a popular and well trained and well paid Afghan army

NATO would be nice to have but most members have made it clear that they are not playing that game. Whether they've enunciated it or not, most view high-intensity combat operations in southern Afghanistan as:
A. Pointless;
B. A problem the US created and can therefore fix;
C. Aiding and abetting the Bush adventure in Iraq by relieving US forces of the job at hand in Afghanistan.

As for the Afghan army, I've stated this before: The average Afghan soldier is illiterate. (Over 80% cannot read). Turning that kind of individual into a soldier is more than a little difficult; turning him into a special forces operator (which is what's needed) is a task so monumental I can't imagine who might attempt it.

Given that NATO is staying away in large numbers and the Afghan army would not be able to stand-to independently for at least another 12 years, the imperatives have to change.

I fear that the chance to actually win the support of the average Afghani has long past. There are also issues over food which has been cut off from the poorest regions and the fact that Canada's latest "reconstruction" effort had very little to do with making life better for the locals.

Alison said...

Olaf :
Me :See, no one's asking you "to return anyone to darkness", Josee. We'd just like to stop propping up whoever is bombing the shit out of them.

You : Who are you referring to? Who is propping up the Taliban? I think the point she is making is that without NATO forces, the Taliban will be back into power.

I hardly know where to begin, Olaf. I can only imagine that the quotes I provided from Afghan member of parliament Malalai Joya are so much at odds with the fairy tale Afghan rescue operation story so popular in the national press that they made no sense to you at all.
My mistake.
Here is a more recent and complete explanation from RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. One page - won't take you two minutes to read it.

As to your points - What is this obsession with fearing our creature the Taliban? Nearly half the Afghan government is Taliban. US-installed ex-UNOCAL employeee President Karzai is himself ex-Taliban. The worst of the rest are the Northern Alliance warlords who are receiving billions, Olaf, billions of US dollars a year to grow opium and further repress the Afghan people. AND THE AFGHANI PEOPLE KNOW THIS. The bullshit battle for hearts and minds is over, Olaf, everywhere but in the US/Canadian press.

Tell me again why we are wasting the lives of Canadian soldiers to prop up this mockery of a rescue mission whose sole purpose is to provide a cover for US colonialist ambitions.

I weep, Olaf, for our wickedness.

Anonymous said...

Easy, girl, easy. It's slow work turning this one around but it's coming. You're doing a great job here.

scout said...

you have such great patience with youth, alison, thank you.

Blog Archive