Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Oh, what a funny war!

From Counterpunch, a scathing review by Stanley Heller of "Charlie Wilson's War", or how to make war funny and appealing now that Iraq is yesterday's news.
"...Imagine, they made a funny movie about how the US helped turn Afghanistan into a killing field...To be sure it was the Soviets who did most of the killing...Yet the evidence is that the US government wanted the Soviets to invade and did what it could to provoke it."

But wait... it gets even funnier.
"Mike Nichols who directed the movie had very little to say about the fact that the weapons we [the U.S.] gave the mujahadeen ended up being used in a long and bloody Afghan civil war once the Soviets left and that the mujahadeen/warlords mutated into the Taliban and al-Qaeda."
And Canadians are killing and being killed to try to wipe out the U.S. creation.
"...This movie glorying in our "triumph" in Afghanistan fits well in Washington's current climate where Democrats fall all over themselves saying Iraq was a mistake, but we should be sending more money and troops to Afghanistan. Sure, we really need to sacrifice more American lives for a warlord "Northern Alliance" government that is so hated that the Taliban is making a comeback."
And this is the government that is telling Canada how important it is that we keep troops there forever to keep it in power.

I'd rather listen to RAWA (Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women).
"..Instead of defeating Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Gulbuddini terrorists and disarming the Northern Alliance, the foreign troops are creating confusion among the people of the world. We believe that if these troops leave Afghanistan, our people will not feel any kind of vacuum but rather will become more free and come out of their current puzzlement and doubts. In such a situation, they will face the Taliban and Northern Alliance without their national' mask, and rise to fight with these terrorist enemies. Neither the US nor any other power wants to release Afghan people from the fetters of the fundamentalists."
But is Stephen Harper listening? I doubt he's ever heard of RAWA. Besides, what would they know? It's their country, their history and their future. It is therefore best decided by puffy white conservative guys in Canada.

Not too surprising though. He doesn't care much for the welfare of Canadian women either.

And he wonders "whether Canada really gets Afghanistan".
"...Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he is uncertain whether Canadians at large understand the importance of remaining involved in Afghanistan..After demoting Gordon O'Connor from defence to the revenue portfolio as part of a broader cabinet shakeup, Mr. Harper seemed to get a firmer grip on the direction of the war, enough for the Conservatives to boldly suggest in their fall Throne Speech that Canada should remain deeply involved in Afghanistan until 2011...In June, a Canadian Press-Decima Research survey found 67 per cent of those asked believed the number of casualties in Afghanistan is unacceptable when weighed against the progress that made in reconstruction and keeping the Taliban at bay in Kandahar..."

Oh, we get it, Stevie. You'll do what you want, "punch above your weight", ignore the wishes of most Canadians and more people will die.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Couldn't have said it better myself...

From the Harper Index

I think the Harper government is one of the most loathsome, mean-spirited, self-serving gang of rogues I've ever witnessed.

...Harper's a different breed. He's a nasty fellow who stealthily dismantles small programs over time, thereby eroding and ultimately washing away some of our cherished programs.

Now I'm SURE we're doing something wrong

Praise from the Liar-in-Chief and his cohorts doesn't warm the cockles of my heart, I'm afraid.

"President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised Canada and other allies Thursday for their combat roles in Afghanistan while saying the U.S. administration is worried NATO countries will eventually tire of the mission and leave."
I'm afraid I'm still not too sure I know what this mission is. What are we doing there, again?

"...Canada also wanted to know whether more U.S. troops would be available for Afghanistan as they leave Iraq. The response was that it won't happen in the short term; a point U.S. Defence Minister Robert Gates has been making."
Sorry, but you're on your own. Afghanistan is important for the U.S., but just not important enough to send soldiers. NATO countries can die for the U.S. war, and should be PROUD to do so.

"...Earlier in the day, Bush mentioned the Canadians - along with the British, Dutch, Danes and Australians - at a news conference, thanking them for their "contribution of shooters, fighters, people that are willing to be on the front line."
Hey, what happened to humanitarian intervention, schools, women's rights, all that stuff? (Don't worry - I never believed that snowjob anyway.)

"It's a dangerous mission but it's a mission that we're proud of," said Bernier, noting the Conservative government is hoping to stay longer.
Most Canadians aren't proud. They're angry, confused and sad. And the Egyptians already told us what the Conservative government has in mind. Anybody who doesn't have their head buried in the sand or up their own fundament knows that this is Stevie's War, and he won't let anyone leave while there's still a man standing.

"...Rice called Canada "an extraordinary partner" making an "invaluable and effective" contribution to what is an "absolutely essential mission ... crucial to the future of the United States, Canada and all civilized nations."
The only one Rice is worried about is the U.S., and she's done such a wonderful job so far, Americans are terrified. When did Canada become a U.S. colony? Praise from Condoleezza Rice makes me acutely uncomfortable.
"... It was the United States that was attacked on Sept. 11th..."
She's starting to sound like Giuliani - the Sept. 11th mantra, over and over and over...

And - oh, yeah - Afghanistan did not attack the U.S.

"...Canada also raised concerns about U.S. rules that prohibit military manufacturers from employing dual nationals and foreign-born citizens on American projects in Canada."
This could be a good thing. Why should we be manufacturing the materials of slaughter?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Does Harper read Egyptian newspapers?

Has Stephen Harper accepted what the Egyptians already know? (Bold typeface is mine.)

"Thirty-eight countries have supplied troops to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force but most of them, including those from Germany and France, are precluded by their governments from combat operations. Different national contingents have different rules of engagement.

Troops from the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, Canada, and Australia have been engaged with the Taliban in the southern provinces. However, public support for the troop presence is not strong in those countries apart from the United States. The Netherlands just committed to keep its troops in Afghanistan till 2010 only after a contentious public and parliamentary debate that threatened to break up the governing coalition.
But here's something interesting. We're committed until 2010? When did Harper go to parliament to debate this, as he promised to? (Ha! Promises! I'm not deluded enough to believe any promises that come from the secretive New Canadian Government.)

...Dutch troops will definitely pull out in 2010, and the Canadians and Australians may well follow suit.
It's wonderful to have to read an Egyptian editorial to find out what's happening.

Child soldiers in Afghanistan

Another reason for not handing over people captured in the field to Afghan authorities. Children are being recruited by government forces, Afghan police and militias who support them, and private security companies. They are sexually abused, used for hard labour, or sent to fight.

The Taliban use children to fight or carry out suicide missions.

AFGHANISTAN: Child soldiers operating on several fronts

KANDAHAR, 19 December 2007 (IRIN) - Children are being recruited and in some cases sexually abused by the Afghan police and/or various militias that support the police, as well as by private security companies and the Taliban, according to human rights and provincial officials.

...Some children are recruited for military and non-military purposes by local militias who are paid by the government to supplement the fledgling ANP in volatile southern provinces. However, due to lack of proper monitoring and accountability mechanisms, and the informal nature of the auxiliary forces, the use and abuse of child soldiers remains undocumented.

"Children are used for different purposes," Noorzai said. "The majority of them experience sexual abuse, others do all kinds of jobs such as cooking, cleaning, day patrols and even fighting," he said.

...Under-age males have also been seen working for private security companies, particularly in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, said a senior government official who insisted on anonymity.

...Afghan officials also accuse the Taliban and other anti-government elements of deliberately using children for various military and illegitimate purposes. The Taliban use boys as foot soldiers and force children to engage in violent acts, they say.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Torture? Mais non, we know nothing about it (part deux).

Sounds like a plan to me, but I don't think they meant it that way.

A top military commander says in a sworn affidavit Canadian troops would have to quit fighting the Taliban if they could not hand prisoners over to Afghan authorities.
Maybe they shouldn't have been so gung-ho to charge in there, then.

..Although Canada is waging its biggest war effort in more than half a century, the 2,500-soldier commitment to Afghanistan has only a limited capacity to hold prisoners temporarily. That is by design. "The Canadian Forces has no capacity or ability to hold detainees other than for transfer purposes," says Gen. Deschamps, an air force general who once commanded the Camp Mirage logistics base in the Gulf.
Doing the right thing, only after they've been found out, as usual.
..Despite intensive follow-up inspections, arranged by the Harper government only after The Globe and Mail published harrowing detainee accounts of torture and abuse in Afghan prisons, a significant number of transferred prisoners still say that they have been tortured after transfer.
This whole thing makes me sick.

And it's 1,2,3...what are we fighting for? (part quatre)

Khalilzad, Karzai and the "government" of Afghanistan - is this what young Canadians are dying for?

Khalilzad and the Gangs of Afghanistan

by Bahlol Lohdi

In an article last year, The Economist wondered how an inept individual like Hamid Karzai had managed to obtain the post of president of Afghanistan. The answer is found in the development of the relationship between Zalmay Khalilzad and Hamid Karzai.

...The period between the signing of the Bonn Accord and the installation of a transitional government in Kabul should have been used to effect a similar process, distancing the Afghan mujahedeen warlords and their criminal gangs from the levers of power.

...Unfortunately, the various loya jirgas, or "grand assemblies," attended and choreographed by Khalilzad as George Bush's special representative, instead of bringing forth the required apolitical, technocratic regime in order to begin the country's physical and social reconstruction, only served to entrench the status quo set in Bonn.

...The Afghan government is now widely described as being made up of various competing mafia groups.

...The relationship between Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Kabul, and Karzai, the Afghan president, was described in graphic and cringe-making detail in a New Yorker piece. And though it accurately portrayed the Afghan "leader" as a servile and ridiculous moron whose every action was being choreographed by the American plenipotentiary, it was a gratuitous insult to Afghan national pride.
Too bad Canada didn't have the "understandable reluctance" to pour lives and money into propping up this corrupt regime.

...But with the British military failure in Helmand, and an understandable reluctance by many NATO allies to expend blood and treasure to ensure the survival of a kleptocratic regime, Karzai's mantle of power began to look increasingly threadbare.
So, our soldiers are still fighting "Taliban", killing "Taliban", and getting killed, while our glorious leaders have known for a long time that it was a waste of time.

...a giant step forward was taken when it was admitted that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem. The British trumpeting of their preparations to "destroy the Taliban," thus "securing the back end of the country" and reordering things in Kabul so that it would "cut the mustard," and their subsequent rude awakening from such neo-imperial dreams, at least served this useful purpose.
Now, could we stop with the "punching above our weight" crapola from the Harper crowd?

..A final assumption that must be discarded, before moving on to consider the factors essential for a viable political solution, is the shibboleth that conflates NATO's future survival with that of its success or failure in Afghanistan. From the shrill and persistent vocalization of this meme, one would think that the NATO acronym stands for North Afghanistan Treaty Organization!
I wondered about that, too. Karzai and his pontificating about how thankful he was that Canadians were dying to keep him and the rest in power. I couldn't believe my ears.

Time to go, as quickly as possible.

...Unfortunately, the presence of Western forces on Afghan soil has become part of the Afghan problem and therefore can no longer be considered part of any future solution. Despite the ridiculous claims of a deluded Afghan ex-minister while in Canada, the Afghan civilian population neither appreciates nor forgives being bombarded, even by mistakenly dropped "friendly bombs."
I'm not sure who he's speaking about here - perhaps Malalai Joya. I don't remember her saying the Afghan people were happy about being blown up, but maybe I missed something.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Going the wrong way up a dead-end street

I wonder if it's a gift or does it have to be learned.

I'm talking about the Harper government consistently backing the wrong horse, or whatever metaphor you might want to use.

"Critics at the Bali climate change conference are lumping Canada with the U.S., which they say is refusing to commit to deep emissions reductions, thereby hijacking the conference."
We are lumped in with the U.S., thanks to the Harperites and their forelock-tugging to the almighty Bush administration. Harper backed the invasion of Iraq, he thought the mining of southern Lebanon with unexploded cluster bombs by Israel was a "measured response", and now he thinks that backing Bush in his destruction of the planet is a good idea.

"There is a wrecking crew here in Bali, led by the Bush administration and its minions. Those minions continue to be the governments of Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia and others," said Jennifer Morgan, of the Climate Change Network."
Canada is a key part of the dispute, Chao said. On Thursday, Environment Minister John Baird told members Canada is feeling first-hand the effects of climate change, but said the proposed targets are impossible for Canada to achieve.
Of course we can achieve them, but the oil and gas business might take a hit, and the major polluters would have to put some of their gazillions in profit into cleaning up their act. Can't have that. Profit is king, and they paid to get this government elected. They OWN it.
The plan being proposed by Baird would reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 regardless of what comes out of the Bali conference. But the reductions would be from 2006 emissions levels, instead of 1990 levels, which many nations agree is a good starting point for emissions reductions.
"So right after this speech, Bangladesh's representative came out to call Canada's position immoral, dishonest, working against the interests of the planet and working against the interests of individual Canadians," Chao said.
I'm glad to see the rest of the world hammering the Canadian delegation. Do they know that they only represent a little over a third of Canadians? And that's whom they're protecting. The rest of us can just drown in their effluent or choke on their emissions.
"The members, on learning that Canada was trying to set targets at 2006 levels, said that Canada was being misleading and trying to undermine the trust of the talks here among nations," Chao said.