Monday, February 09, 2009

Afghanistan : Winning hearts, minds, and stomachs

Including stomachs sounds more in line with what Rory Stewart has been arguing for.

The Independent :
"The Obama administration today outlined a new campaign strategy for the war in Afghanistan, scaling back the ambitions of George Bush in a shift which senior officials and diplomats described as a "new realism".

Richard Holbrooke, Barack Obama's new envoy for Afghanistan, General James Jones, the new White House national security adviser, and General David Petraeus, the new commander of the Afghan campaign, all stressed that the US president's policy on the Taliban and al-Qaida would be governed by "attainable goals" matched by "adequate resources".

In the first major foreign policy speech from the new administration, the vice-president, Joe Biden, told a security conference in Munich that the strategic review on Afghanistan under way in Washington would "make sure that our goals are clear and achievable".

Notable by its absence in any of the speeches from the American team was any mention of building democracy in Afghanistan. Instead, the emphasis was on creating sustainable security to try to prevent the Taliban from extending their grip on the country."

Good. I'm resigned to a continuation of US colonialism in Afghanistan with or without a NATO gloss. They can't unshit the bed but if it's not too late they can help change the sheets.

Whose stomachs are involved though?
DFAIT is pleased to boost Canadian companies to get in on the corporate action :
"Canadian companies that had to struggle to get a piece of the U.S. reconstruction of Iraq have been given a chance to avoid that problem in Afghanistan.

The federal public works department has issued a call for construction companies that might be interested in bidding on up to $100 million in upgrades to NATO's main air base in southern Afghanistan.
The United States is footing the bill ...
The work at Kandahar Airfield would involve "improvements to aircraft parking areas, the taxiway and the construction of an ammunition storage depot..."

You telling me there aren't any Afghan construction companies who could benefit from a contract to improve a parking lot?

And will KBR Canada , "with offices in Edmonton and Calgary" qualify?

KBR, formerly Kellogg Brown & Root and owned by Halliburton Co. , has just been awarded a $35 million Pentagon contract despite a $559 million fine for bribery in Nigeria, electrocuting US soldiers due to poor workmanship standards in Iraq, and running shell offices out of Cayman Islands box numbers to avoid paying taxes. Plus the alleged gang rapes and cover-ups among employees.

And reconstruction marches on. Strong stomachs will be required.

1 comment:

thwap said...

yeah, best to stop focusing on "democracy" since that hasn't worked after rigourous application.

Best to focus on security and stabilizing the unpopular government.


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