Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dying to protect a pipeline

Gordon Prather on the reasons behind the wars that are killing our soldiers and impoverishing our citizens.

We die and go broke. The oil companies and their enablers make big bucks.

Regime Change Rationales by Gordon Prather

Quoting Eric Margolis in an article:

"Meanwhile, according to Pakistani and Indian sources, Afghanistan just signed a major deal to launch a long-planned, 1680 km long pipeline project expected to cost $ 8 billion. If completed, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline (TAPI) will export gas and, later, oil from the Caspian Basin to Pakistan's coast where tankers will transport it to the west.

"In 1998, the Afghan anti-Communist movement Taliban and a western oil consortium led by the US firm UNOCAL signed a major pipeline deal. UNOCAL lavished money and attention on Taliban, flew a senior delegation to Texas, and also hired a minor Afghan official, one Hamid Karzai.

"Enter Osama bin Laden. He advised the unworldly Taliban leaders to reject the U.S. deal and got them to accept a better offer from an Argentine consortium, Bridas.

"Washington was furious and, according to some accounts, threatened Taliban with war.

"In early 2001, six or seven months before 9/11, Washington made the decision to invade Afghanistan, overthrow Taliban, and install a client regime that would build the energy pipelines."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stop killing the Taliban

Stop killing the Taliban – they offer the best hope of beating Al-Qaeda
By Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Times

".....All hope was buried in a cascade of hypotheticals. Victory would be at hand “if only” the Afghan army were better, if the poppy crop were suppressed, the Pakistan border sealed, the Taliban leadership assassinated, corruption eradicated, hearts and minds won over. None of this is going to happen. The generals know it but the politicians dare not admit it. "

"...[T]hose who still support the “good” Afghan war reply to any criticism by attempting to foreclose debate. They assert that we cannot be seen to surrender to the Taliban and we have gone in so far and must “finish the job”.

This is policy in denial. Nothing will improve without the support of the Afghan government, yet that support is waning by the month. Nothing will improve without the commitment of Pakistan. Yet two weeks ago Nato bombed Pakistani troops inside their own country, losing what lingering sympathy there is for America in an enraged Islamabad. Whoever ordered the attack ought to be court-martialled, except it was probably a computer. "

"Seven recent books on relations between Al-Qaeda and the Taliban ...[s]cream one policy message: do not drive Al-Qaeda, set on crazy world domination, into the arms of the Taliban, set only on Pashtun nationalism. Do everything to separate them. Western strategy has done the precise opposite."

"...The Taliban’s chief objective is not world domination but a share of power in Afghanistan. While they cannot defeat western troops, they can defeat Nato’s war aim by continuing to build on their marriage of convenience with Al-Qaeda, which supplies them with a devastating arsenal of suicide bombers. "

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Soldier playing "quick draw" in Afghanistan

Spotted this today:

Charges dropped against soldier over alleged ‘quick draw’

“The Canadian military has abruptly ended court martial proceedings against a soldier from CFB Trenton, Ont., who was charged with playing “quick draw” while serving in Afghanistan.

Cpl. Sterling Strong was charged in 2007 with three counts under the National Defence Act after allegedly refusing to stop playing “quick draw” in his sleeping quarters at the Kandahar airfield.

…The military hasn’t given a reason for why the charges against Strong were dropped.”

Playing “quick draw”? What the hell are they? Kindergarteners?

And then my grab-bag mind reminded me of this case.

Dear god. If they are related, they can’t just let this drop.

Canadian soldier’s body on its way home

“The body of a soldier [Kevin Megeney] from Nova Scotia began its trip home from Afghanistan on Wednesday, while investigators
continue to probe how his death occurred at Kandahar Airfield.”

A doctor serving in Afghanistan wrote about it without disguising the soldier’s identity and in detail.

Completely thoughtless. Hope he learned something from it, but probably not. Probably thought he could do a M.A.S.H. type thing out of it, with him in the leading role.

Canadian Controversy Over Mother Jones’ Article of a Doctor’s Account of Cpl. Megeney’s Death: The Editors Respond

“This 7,000 word diary of Dr. Patterson’s time serving at the military hospital at Kandahar Air Field culminates with a scene in which Dr. Patterson (a Canadian) is on call when Canadian Cpl. Kevin Megeney, who’d just been accidentally shot by another soldier in his own tent, was brought in to the ER. Cpl. Megeney arrived unconscious, his pupils fixed and dilated. Dr. Patterson and the other doctors at hand tried to do what they could—including opening his chest with a “clamshell incision”—but the bullet had entered his heart.

“…The controversy started when the The News—a community paper that serves Pictou County, Nova Scotia, where parts of the Megeney family live—reported that George Megeney, Cpl. Megeney’s uncle, was upset that Dr. Patterson described the methods used to try to save his nephew, and did not disguise his identity…”

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dead soldier's father says "the war is stupid"

The latest soldier to die in Afghanistan, Captain Jonathan Snyder, fell down a well during a night training patrol for Afghan soldiers. They probably knew the the countryside better than he did. Although the Canadian military is trying to put a good spin on this, saying that he saved other soldier's lives during an undefined firefight, there is no good way to put this.

His father said it best. "The war is stupid."

I agree, Mr. Snyder. It isn't worth the life of your son and the grief it has brought to your family and his girlfriend.

I don't know why we're there either.

I'm very sorry he had to lose his life.

Cdn soldier dies after falling into Afghan well; father says 'war is stupid'
By Murray Brewster, THE CANADIAN PRESS

"...The soldier's father, David Snyder, told The Canadian Press from his home in Penticton late on Sunday that his son was a "sensitive, intelligent, tough young man who loved his job and loved soldiering."

The grieving father said he supported his son and the Canadian military, but not Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

"The war is stupid. Maybe it's necessary at times, but there's all sorts of things to consider.

"I ask the members of Parliament 'Is it worth the sacrifice of their children' " asked the father, adding that his ultimate question is "Why are we there?"

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Canada's New Defence Chief - everything the U.S. wants in the Canadian military

Since NATO is interested in constructing a railway in Afghanistan to move stuff around more cheaply, Canada's new Chief of Defence Staff has the necessary qualifications from the time he was fighting in Iraq.

From the United States Army News Service:

Golden spike finishes Iraq’s national highway

"The golden spike ceremony was patterned after one in Utah 135 years ago when the world’s first transcontinental railroad was joined in Promontory Point. The ceremonial driving of a golden spike completed the final link of the railroad on May 10, 1869, joining the U.S. Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

The golden spike ceremony for the Iraqi highway was performed by representatives of both Iraq and the coalition. Maj. Gen. Walter Natynczyk, deputy commander of the Multi-National Corps–Iraq, hammered the railroad spike into the center of the pavement with a representative of Iraq’s Ministry of Housing and Construction."
When Canadian opposition parties objected to a combat role in Iraq for Canadian soldiers, did he care? Not according to Scott Taylor, who interviewed him for Esprit de Corps and Macleans Magazine in March 2008.

"When III Corps began shipping out to Iraq in January, Natynczyk, 46, was part of the troop rotation. He is now based in one of Saddam Hussein's former presidential palaces in Baghdad, where he is the coalition's deputy chief of policy, strategy and planning, helping direct the movements of U.S., British and Australian troops."...

Question: When it was announced in November that you would be here, opposition parties in Ottawa objected, questioning how Canada could oppose the war yet deploy a senior officer. How do you feel about that?

Answer: I take orders from the Canadian government. The Canadian government sent me to Fort Hood, bottom line, to show in a tangible way the close affiliation between the U.S. and Canada. The Canadian government approved my deployment, so from my perspective there was no controversy. The instructions to me were clear: "move out" -- and as a soldier I complied....
Q: Personally, do you feel the intervention was justified?

A: That's way above my pay scale to speculate. But I am incredibly impressed by this country and its potential for the future. What I can say is that I believe we're making a contribution. There's a heck of a lot of people who will have a better life and a better future because of what we're doing here today.
Ah, yes, didn't that work out well.

But never mind. He's very popular with the American military, which is, of course, all that matters.

Natynczyk promotion to CDS popular with U.S. commanders

"...Four years ago this spring in Baghdad, Natynczyk was working in a room cluttered with computers and maps in one of Saddam Hussein's many palaces within the Green Zone, which is the huge cordon sanitaire that the U.S. military has carved out for itself near the heart of Baghdad. Other than a red Maple Leaf flag patch on his left shoulder and his Canadian army summer khaki, there were not many traces of Canada to be seen in his office."

...In his new job, Natynczyk also will be consulting with Gen. David Petraeus, who runs the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan as the commander of CENTCOM. Natynczyk and Petraeus, who is widely tipped as the next leader of all U.S. forces, also served together in Iraq."
That's telling...that there were "not many traces of Canada to be seen in his office." To tell you the truth, there are not many traces of Canada to be seen in the upper echelons of the Canadian military these days either.

And working with Petraeus? Someone once said that his main accomplishment was getting out just before the situation he'd presided over collapsed completely, like leaving town just ahead of the sheriff and his posse.

And this is what Admiral Fallon thought of Petraeus.

[CENTCOM Commander Admiral William] Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickens**t" and added, "I hate people like that,"

...[Fallon] demonstrated his independence from the White House when he refused in February to go along with a proposal to send a third naval carrier task force to the Persian Gulf, as reported by IPS in May. Fallon questioned the military necessity for the move, which would have signaled to Iran a readiness to go to war. Fallon also privately vowed that there would be no war against Iran on his watch, implying that he would quit rather than accept such a policy.
But Natynczyk did do a favour for Harper's government. He ran interference for Harper when the Afghan detainee abuse scandal was going through hearings. You scratch my back, eh?

But even when Jean Chretien was in office, he denied that any Canadians were in combat roles in Iraq.

"Prime Minister Chrétien says Canada isn't at war with Iraq. But he conceded that some Canadian soldiers could be with U.S. and British troops inside the country. "It's possible," he said, "but they are not in combat roles."

On January 24, 2006, Governor General Michaëlle Jean awarded him the Meritorious Service Cross.

She recognized Natynczyk "for his outstanding leadership and professionalism while deployed as Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Corps during Operation Iraqi Freedom

"From January 2004 to January 2005, Major General Natynczyk led the Corps' 10 separate brigades, consisting of more than 35,000 soldiers stationed throughout the Iraq Theater of Operations. He also oversaw planning and execution of all Corps level combat support and combat service support operations.

"His pivotal role in the development of numerous plans and operations resulted in a tremendous contribution by the Multi-National Corps to Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, and has brought great credit to the Canadian Forces and to Canada."
The Governor General, of course, has no role in deciding who gets medals for what. They come from the Prime Minister's office, in this case, the war-loving Stephen Harper. So first you decorate the general, and then you propose him for CDS and say "Look! He's a decorated general."

He did leak the story, though, that Harper's visions of military glory were going to cost Canada a lot more than he'd first said. Maybe Canada had other plans for its money. Never mind. He won't open his mouth again. Harper sat on him but good, and when Harper sits on someone, they stay sat upon.

"Lieutenant-General Walter Natynczyk, vice-chief of the Defence Staff, said the military would spend between $45-billion and $50-billion on planes, combat vehicles, ships and fighters under the Canada First Defence Strategy, the Conservative government's plan for the military that was originally released Monday without comprehensive details."
It seems that Harper and Natynczyk are really close buds, though, since they traveled to Afghanistan together. Nothing like warfare and bloodshed to really bond people.

In 2006, Natynczyk traveled with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Afghanistan and CTV said they developed a close bond.

"...Natynczyk told reporters the Iraq posting taught him "techniques and procedures are exactly the same and the risks are identical" to those Canadian troops in the NATO mission face in Afghanistan."
Excuse me, but if the techniques and procedures are exactly the same in Iraq and Afghanistan, aren't we going to get exactly the same result - military hegemony, debt or bankruptcy to fund the never ending war, more death of Canadian soldiers and Afghan civilians, and a permanent garrisoning of Afghanistan?

The hypocrisy of it all.

Canada is a member of "...CW-HUSH - Coalition of the Willing to Help but Unwilling to be Seen Helping."

Canada’s secret war in Iraq by Richard Sanders.
by Richard Sanders

But after all, this is what it's really all about.

National Legion of Merit to Natynczyk from the DefendAmerica website

For an overview of what NATO is really all about, here's Bill Blum's latest newsletter.

And a bit of light relief.
Canadian Tire flyer today "2-week gigantic tool sale."

Unfortunately, Harper and his government weren't on the block.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Canada's muddled mission

Canada's Muddled Afghan Mission

by Neil Kitson

"...Afghanistan has cost about 80 Canadian lives and a lot of money. There's no end in sight, the Liberals have no discernible position, and the Conservative government says we're there so that little girls can go to school without fear. The truth: the world forgot about Afghanistan after 1989 (apart from the admirable Ottawa Convention), the country is still impoverished, Canadian involvement there is made up on the back of an envelope Rick Hillier got from the Pentagon, and nobody has a clue how to end this disaster."

"...We have recently had a "debate" in the House of Commons about the Afghanistan "mission," a debate conspicuously lacking all the right questions, namely: What are we doing there? What is the goal? Why is it worth Canadian soldiers' lives when other NATO countries don't believe the whole enterprise is worth dying for, whatever that enterprise is? The "debate" is in fact about when "it" will end, whatever "it" is. The Liberals started "it," Harper's pushing "it," Hillier's ready to die for "it," but nobody knows what "it" is."

Monday, March 03, 2008

This is an expert that Harper should listen to.

Afghan citizen and expelled MP Malalai Joya had this to say on

She is a real expert on Afghanistan, not the people on the cobbled together "bipartisan" panel that issued the Manley report. Funny - Manley ran screaming from a suggestion that he would be nominated as the super-envoy for Afghanistan. Wonder why? Too dangerous for you, John? It's OK for young soldiers, though. Leading from behind, just like Harper.

But would Harper listen to an actual Afghan citizen and elected member of the Afghan parliament? I doubt it. And there's the fact that she's a woman. We all know what Stevie thinks of women.

"The great people of Canada should know that today our people in Afghanistan are not looking at their soldiers as any different from U.S. or other NATO troops. For our people, all of them are the same because, unfortunately, for seven years they have followed the footpath of the U.S. You cannot bring values like democracy and human rights by supporting the sworn enemies of these values."

"...There is no question that Afghanistan needs a helping hand. But our people are now saying, if you do not support or help us, it would be better that you leave Afghanistan so that people here can fight against their enemies who are in power themselves."

"But we don't only want the withdrawal of these foreign troops. We also want the withdrawal of the warlords and the Taliban. We want disarmament of these criminals and we want support for democratic parties."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A constitution not worth dying for

This is what Canada and NATO soldiers are fighting and dying for.

We know, of course, that big business is really after the oil and mineral rights, and they're using the military system to clear the way.

This doesn't sound like an idea of a system I'd want anything to do with.

"Nowhere is the Afghan conundrum more clearly illustrated than in the case of Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh, the 23-year-old journalism student in northern Afghanistan who has been condemned to death for blasphemy.

“...Justice will be done,” President Hamed Karzai assured the Secretary of State when she brought up the matter at their meeting in Kabul on February 7.

...This was interpreted as a tacit promise to ensure Parwez’s freedom. But for those who have spent a significant amount of time in Afghanistan, the wording was ominous.

...Based on past performance, we have little guarantee that the Afghan concept of justice will be something we can easily recognize or live with.

...What is at stake here is more than the fate of one young man. The world should not ignore the fact that Parwez’s arrest and imprisonment were not an aberration.

...The case, instead, is a symbol of the central contradiction at the heart of the Afghan judicial system, and a worrying sign of the direction in which the country is heading.

...Six years later, it is obvious that we have made a serious miscalculation. The constitution that was to be a milestone on the straight road to democracy contains within it a time bomb that could make cases like that of Parwez Kambakhsh increasingly common.

...Article Three of the Afghan Constitution reads “In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.”

...This one sentence negates all of the ensuing high-sounding rhetoric that guarantees freedom of religion, expression and the media. If the Ulema, or Council of Religious Scholars, is allowed to interpret Islam as it wishes, then almost any act, utterance or publication can be deemed a criminal offence.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Training Afghan police

Maybe the Afghan police should be trained not to do this.

Three Afghan National Police officers were sent to prison Saturday after being found guilty of gang raping a 12-year-old boy and his father.

Or maybe Canada should just get the hell out of there.

Friday, February 22, 2008

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

Out of the mouths of babes - or the Afghan Minister of Mines and Resources (and he's no babe, believe me).

I guess this is really why the Harperites and the Hilliers of this world are trying to extend the "mission" in Afghanistan - greed, greed, greed.

Afghanistan sitting on a gold mine

"Significant deposits of copper, iron, gold, oil and gas, and coal - as well as precious gems such as emeralds and rubies - are largely untapped and still being mapped, Mohammad Ibrahim Adel told AFP.

"...And they promise prosperity for one of the world's poorest countries, the minister said, dismissing concerns that a Taliban-led insurgency may thwart efforts to unearth this treasure.

"...In five years' time Afghanistan will not need the world's aid money," he said. "In 10 years Afghanistan will be the richest country in the region."

Can we have our soldiers and our money back - now?

Scientifically ignorant leadership

Thanks, Stevie. You're doing a hell of a job.

A CBC report on an article from the journal "Nature" about Canada's ignorant leadership.

"Science has long faced an uphill battle for recognition in Canada, but the slope became steeper when the Conservative government was elected in 2006," the journal said in an editorial titled "Science in Retreat."

"...The journal notes last month's government order for Environment Canada scientists to route all media enquiries through Ottawa for an "approved" response and the cabinet's failure to attend a reception for Nobel Prize winning Canadian scientists last week in Ottawa.

"...The journal says leading Canadian scientists must be better public advocates for scientific funding and support, adding the possibility of an upcoming federal election could "lead to a change for the better".

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Calling all Pied Pipers

Juan Cole had this to say about McCain and his hundred years or more war in Iraq on Informed Comment today:

McCain is the Pied Piper of Hamelin; he'll be glad to get rid of your rat problem, but at the price of making your children disappear.
McCain could be replaced by Manley and his illustrious panel, Harper, McKay, Hillier or anybody else who thinks that extending the Afghanistan "mission" will do anything but increase the bloodshed and destruction.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Captions, please.

From the Toronto Star today, this picture accompanying Thomas Walkom's article on the future of the Canadian military in Afghanistan.

It shows Stephen Harper with a couple of mascots at the Quebec "Carnaval".

A couple of captions come to mind:

"Who's the fat white guy with his thumb up and the weird grin on his face?"

"That's Stephen Harper. The other one is Bonhomme Carnaval."

Or the alternative answer:

"That's Harry the Horse's other half."

Friday, February 08, 2008

Military Keynesianism sinking Canada

"Five million behind me and ten million more to go..." (with apologies to James Taylor).

"Canadian troops fired more than 4.7 million bullets at insurgents over the last 20 months in Afghanistan, according to new statistics released by the military."

"...[B]ut a top general warns Taliban insurgents based in the mountains around Kandahar are reading articles in the Ottawa newspaper on a regular basis and that the military has to be careful about what details it releases.
Apart from Taliban militias sitting up in the mountains reading Ottawa newspapers as a concept I simply can't wrap my head around, I suggest that Canadian soldiers and their overlords should spend a little time doing the same for Afghan newspapers and websites. No Pashto required - loads are written in English.

Makes a "good" case for muzzling the Canadian press - not only are the Taliban in the dark, but so are Canadians. Hmmm...nice twisted logic here.

"...[A]ccording to an e-mail from the Defence Department, for the period between April 2006 and December 2007, troops fired more than 2.9 million rounds of 5.56-mm ammunition, the standard bullet used in Canadian rifles.

Troops fired more than 1.6 million rounds of 7.62-mm machine-gun bullets and more than 115,000 rounds of .50-calibre machine-gun ammunition during the same time frame.

Canadian tanks fired 1,650 shells and the army's artillery guns used up more than 12,000 rounds during fighting."

A little military Keynesianism anyone? Chalmers Johnson on militarism as the basis for an economy, in this case, the U.S.

"... by military Keynesianism, I mean the mistaken belief that public policies focused on frequent wars, huge expenditures on weapons and munitions, and large standing armies can indefinitely sustain a wealthy capitalist economy. The opposite is actually true.

...[T]his sum of staggering size (try to visualize a billion of something) does not express the cost of the military establishment to the nation as a whole. The true cost is measured by what has been foregone, by the accumulated deterioration in many facets of life by the inability to alleviate human wretchedness of long duration."
That's the thing to think about - what has been foregone, the accumulated deterioration in many facets of life.

Let's not help spread this empire

Why is Canada supporting the U.S. in any of its foreign policy goals? Is this what you want to see all over the world?

And this is why there should never be any question of handing Afghan prisoners to either Afghan authorities or the U.S. when they operate like this.

The administration and those now running for the next U.S. emperor's job are resolutely and militantly Christian. If they are, then they must believe that their god is a just god. They should be trembling in their $1000 shoes.

As for me, I think there is no god and the events of the universe are basically meaningless. That's the only explanation for the likes of the Bush cartel and their huge military gaining precedence in the world. That's the only explanation for Harper and his gang of liars, crooks and incompetents holding power in Canada.

It's a human's job to try to put some order and infuse some meaning into what is basically chaos.

So, let's kick Harper and his band of jeering sycophants out on their incompetent asses. The U.S. should do as it wishes, of course, but I'm sick to death of hearing all their emperors-in-waiting going on about their plans to "change the world". Mind your own bloody business, guys, clean up your own mess, and then open your eyes and take a look at what you've done.

Robert Fisk: Torture does not work, as history shows

The Americans are just apeing their predecessors in the Inquisition
"Torture works," an American special forces major – now, needless to say, a colonel – boasted to a colleague of mine a couple of years ago. It seems that the CIA and its hired thugs in Afghanistan and Iraq still believe this.
There's much more to read, in Robert's Fisk's clear, compassionate, and truthful report. All the things Bush and Harper and their lackeys aren't.

They just can't shut up, can they?

Longer troop deployments urged

Last month, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates frayed tender NATO nerves by suggesting some allied troops in southern Afghanistan come up short in the battle against insurgents.

Now the senior U.S. commander on the ground in Afghanistan has elaborated on the theme, saying that six-month deployments such as those undertaken by Canadian soldiers lack the longevity to get the job done American-style.

Are they kidding here? Getting the job done American-style. Uh-huh. They're doing a bang-up job in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just look at the peace and prosperity enjoyed in the areas where the U.S. has full sway.

I don't suppose they even see the irony in this next bit.

Praising the "absolutely amazing" progress in U.S.-controlled sectors of eastern Afghanistan against the struggles encountered by Dutch, British and Canadian troops in the south, McNeill contrasted the elongated 15-month rotations of American troops against the six-month rotations that are the norm for Canadian soldiers.

American soldiers are coming back from the optional wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan with horrific injuries, PTSD, depression and who knows what else. Homelessness among returned veterans is approaching Vietnam era standards. They are killing others and themselves at a record rate when they do return. Maybe other countries don't want to destroy their citizens and civil society in this way, to help the U.S. spread all over the world like an oil slick.
"They probably are not as well-endowed by their governments as U.S. soldiers are. Some of them don't have the same level of pre-deployment training."
The families of U.S. soldiers are sending them body-armour because the stuff they get from their government is sub-standard. They send them cans of silly string to help find trip wires for roadside bombs. I guess the Pentagon doesn't have the silly string manufacturers on their payroll. They have also had to take ever-lower level recruits and cut short their training to keep the troop numbers up. This crap is unbelieveable.
"But he also suggested that NATO should consider the idea of U.S. forces taking charge of the southern command, where the Taliban insurgency is strongest."
So they could drop bombs on them from a great height, the U.S. strategy of choice. Civilians, women, children blown to atoms? No problem. We got them Taliban but good, yee-haw! What they don't get is that the Taliban are civilans who want the western types the hell out of their country.

Not born yesterday

And if you believe this, I have some beautiful waterfront property in Florida that I'd like to sell you.

Won't torture prisoners, Afghans promise Canada

Canada was assured by a senior member of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government on Friday that the handover of Taliban prisoners in Kandahar can resume without the fear of torture.

The pledge came from Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, who was attending a two-day informal meeting of NATO defence chiefs.

"All the necessary actions which were required have been taken by the Afghan government," he told reporters as the meeting broke up.

"So I think they can resume without being worried."

Sunday, February 03, 2008

NATO is a treaty on wheels...

From Bill Blum, fighting against useless wars of aggression since the 1960's.

Let's hope Canada gets out before it's crushed by the wheels. Rick Hillier can go on fighting in Afghanistan if he wants to, but not on my dime.

NATO is a treaty on wheels -- It can be rolled in any direction to suit Washington's current policy

Have you by chance noticed that NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has become virtually a country? With more international rights and military power than almost any other country in the world? Yes, the same NATO that we were told was created in 1949 to defend against a Soviet attack in Western Europe, and thus should have gone out of existence in 1991 when the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact expired and explicitly invited NATO to do the same. Other reasons have been suggested for NATO's creation: to help suppress the left in Italy and France if either country's Communist Party came to power through an election, and/or to advance American hegemony by preventing the major European nations from pursuing independent foreign policies. This latter notion has been around a long time. In 2004, the US ambassador to NATO, Nicholas Burns, stated: "Europeans need to resist creating a united Europe in competition or as a counterweight to the United States."

... It is presently waging war in Afghanistan on behalf of the United States and its illegal 2001 bombing and invasion of that pathetic land. NATO's forces free up US troops and assume much of the responsibility and blame, instead of Washington, for the many bombings which have caused serious civilian casualties and ruination. NATO also conducts raids into Pakistan, the legality of which is as non-existent as what they do in Afghanistan.

... The paper also declares that "Nato's credibility is at stake in Afghanistan" and "Nato is at a juncture and runs the risk of failure." The German general went so far as to declare that his own country, by insisting upon a non-combat role for its forces in Afghanistan, was contributing to "the dissolution of Nato". Such immoderate language may be a reflection of the dark cloud which has hovered over the alliance since the end of the Cold War -- that NATO has no legitimate reason for existence and that failure in Afghanistan would make this thought more present in the world's mind. If NATO hadn't begun to intervene outside of Europe it would have highlighted its uselessness and lack of mission. "Out of area or out of business" it was said."

What are these people smoking?

I think these people must be sampling some of Afghanistan's most profitable output.

Taliban contained, NATO says

NATO says the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is not spreading and that 70 per cent of the violence last year occurred in only 10 per cent of the country.

NATO spokeswoman Lt. Col. Claudia Foss told a press conference in Kabul today "It is becoming increasingly clear that the insurgent movement is being contained."

Her comments follow some more pessimistic assessments of the situation in Afghanistan.

An independent study warned last week that Afghanistan risks becoming a failed state because of deteriorating international support and the growing Taliban insurgency.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Afghan journalist update

More about the young Afghan journalism student who has been sentenced to death for "insulting Islam" :

In Afghanistan, meanwhile, analysts and media rights advocates say the harsh sentence was delivered at the behest of powerful local figures, as an indirect form of retribution against Kaambakhsh’s brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, a reporter who has written extensively on human rights abuses in the north.

Sentence was passed at a summary hearing held by the lower court for Balkh region on January 22, at which Kaambakhsh was offered no chance to speak, and had no legal representation.

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

Now...this government and it's principles sound like something worth fighting and dying for.

"Afghanistan's Senate has issued a statement lauding the death sentence against a local journalist found guilty of insulting Islam.

The statement, signed by Senate Chairman Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, also condemns attempts by outsiders to have the sentence annulled, calling it "international interference."

...He was charged after printing an article he found on the Internet and distributing it to journalism students at Balkh University.

The article asked why men can have four wives but women can't have multiple husbands."

Meanwhile, NATO wants Canada to continue sending troops to kill and die in Kandahar. Well, of course it would.

"NATO thinks Canada is doing a very important and valuable job in Kandahar," Appathurai told reporters. "We hope Canada will find a way to extend the mission."

Canadians do not wish to extend the mission, of course, but Stephen Harper is not in the position of minority prime minister to carry out the wishes of Canadian citizens but to carry out his own wishes using other peoples lives and money. He seems to forget that he is our representative, not our king. And he represents only a third of us, maybe less.

But considering what NATO's plan for the world is, it's not surprising Harper is on board. A recent "manifesto" from some of NATO's best warmongers sounds like Orwell meets Dr. Strangelove.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a "grand strategy" to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a "first strike" nuclear option remains an "indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world".

To prevail, the generals call for an overhaul of Nato decision-taking methods, a new "directorate" of US, European and Nato leaders to respond rapidly to crises, and an end to EU "obstruction" of and rivalry with Nato. Among the most radical changes demanded are:

· A shift from consensus decision-taking in Nato bodies to majority voting, meaning faster action through an end to national vetoes.

· The abolition of national caveats in Nato operations of the kind that plague the Afghan campaign.

· No role in decision-taking on Nato operations for alliance members who are not taking part in the operations.

· The use of force without UN security council authorisation when "immediate action is needed to protect large numbers of human beings".

So, as far as I can tell, it calls for pre-emptive nuclear war against whomever a "majority" of NATO participants decide is worth vapourising to protect its "civilization". No one is allowed to disagree or abstain from such slaughter. The opinion of the citizens of such countries simply don't count. If you don't fight and bomb, you have no say in what happens. And forget about UN authorization. NATO knows what's best and what's worthy of blasting from the face of the earth.

Sounds like Iraq all over again.

Include me out.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Training with Americans - that should work.

Fighting American wars - one Canadian soldier at a time.

That's right - let's pay our soldiers to go and fight for the Americans. Now that's what Canadians stand for - U.S. military imperialism all over the globe. Canada - home of the mercenary. I'm so proud.

"Despite the government's official position abstaining from combat in Iraq, Canada has dispatched yet another top general to the command group overseeing day-to-day operations for the US-led occupation and counterinsurgency war...Matern is the third Canadian general to serve in the command group of Operation Iraqi Freedom as part of an exchange program that places Canadian Forces officers in leadership positions in the US military. His deployment is part of a three-year post with the US Army's 18th Airborne Corps, based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina."
So we're going to send our soldiers to train in Texas to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. With the Americans' outstanding success in Afghanistan and Iraq so far, that sounds like a wonderful plan. What the hell is going on here?
Meanwhile, 42 Canadian tanks and armored personnel carriers left Edmonton last week destined for Fort Bliss, Texas to participate in pre-deployment training exercises with the US Army before a summer rotation in Afghanistan. A Department of National Defense press release characterized the training as "massive," with more than 3,000 Canadian soldiers taking part in Exercise Southern Bear.
How much Canadian oil is being shipped south to the U.S.? If we weren't destroying our air and water to ship it south, we wouldn't have to import from Iraq, would we? But then, the U.S. owns Stephen Harper and would rather import from Canada - the willing doormats of the Americans - than the risky Iraq.
There are also economic interests in Iraq itself. The April 2007 Iraq Reconstruction Report lists Canada as the fourth largest importer of Iraqi oil. Industry Canada records that total Canadian imports from Iraq have risen from 1.06 billion dollars in 2002 to 1.61 billion dollars in 2006, making Iraq second only to Saudi Arabia as a Middle Eastern source for Canadian imports.
Warrior ethos - what the crap is this guy talking about?
Col. Bill Buckner of the 18th Airborne told the Ottawa Citizen. "We're the home of the airborne and the special operating forces, so he fits in very nicely to this warrior ethos we have here."
But at least we know why Stephen Harper bought those "slush breakers", the new frigates that were supposed to protect our northern border. We'd always be ready to protect American interests in the Persian Gulf.

As well, Canadian frigates continue to operate alongside the US aircraft carriers in the Arabian Gulf that are a primary staging platform for bombing raids in Iraq.
So not only are we taking part in a disastrous war in Afghanistan, we're also taking part in an illegal war in Iraq.
Though approximately 93 percent of the coalition troops in Iraq are American, the US has long been keen to emphasize the multinational component of a war that former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan described as "illegal."

I believe it's called putting lipstick on a pig, General Devlin.

Major General Peter Devlin, a Canadian Forces officer currently operating as deputy commanding general in Iraq, recently told the Washington Post that the effect of the multinational element is in bringing "greater legitimacy to the effort here in Iraq."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Peace and Martin Luther King

As Canada's New Government and Mr. Harper await the results of the Manley Report which will recommend that Canada stay in Afghanistan for another three years - after all, his hand-picked panel could hardly come out with any other result - I think about some words from Martin Luther King Jr. on his day.

From Juan Cole's "Informed Comment":

They are talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal.

We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.

All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.

...' More recently I have come to see the need for the method of nonviolence in international relations.

Although I was not yet convinced of its efficacy in conflicts between nations, I felt that while war could never be a positive good, it could serve as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force. War, horrible as it is, might be preferable to surrender to a totalitarian system.

But now I believe that the potential destructiveness of modern weapons totally rules out the possibility of war ever again achieving a negative good.

If we assume that mankind has a right to survive then we must find an alternative to war and destruction.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Robert Gates, ¿por qué no te callas?

Can nobody in the U.S. administration say anything without inserting both feet in their mouths up to their considerable asses?

"In comments reported Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times, Gates said that while U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan are doing a terrific job, he is concerned that NATO allies are not well trained in counterinsurgency operations."

Now, he says NATO troops are doing a wonderful job.

Wow! Gee, Mr. Gates! Thanks!

"Gates made the remark a day after Pentagon officials acknowledged he has concerns about the allies' ability to battle an insurgency in Afghanistan."
..."Our NATO allies are playing a significant role, particularly Canada and the United Kingdom and the Dutch. This kind of role, even with the addition of our marines, will remain essentially the same."
Oh, you mean getting killed at a rate higher than any other forces there, and then getting slagged off by the U.S. Defence Secretary?

If you don't mind, I think we'll pass on that one.

These asinine remarks came close to the sixth anniversary (April 18, 2002) of the date when U.S. pilots dumped bombs on Canadian troops on night exercises on the ground in Afghanistan and killed four of them and wounded a further eight. Nice work! Canada's first casualties in the war, and the U.S. did it.

Then they killed another one in September, 2006. Dropped a bomb on him too.

And they've been finishing off the British troops, too.

As far as I know, the Dutch have escaped the U.S. bombs - so far, anyway.

As far as Canadian expertise goes, they had this to say:

"I think our allies over there, this is not something they have any experience with," he told the Times.
First of all, Mr. Gates, I think the number of your allies is diminishing by the minute.

Your NATO "allies" might do a bit better if you'd stop blowing them up.

And as far as our success with counterinsurgency: "Pentagon officials acknowledged he [Gates] has concerns about the allies' ability to battle an insurgency in Afghanistan."
By the way, how's it going in Iraq, eh?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The 'Good War' Is a Bad War

From John Pilger, on the selling of the war in Afghanistan as the "good war".

The women of RAWA know what's going on and have been trying to tell the world since 1977.

"...Rawa is the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, which since 1977 has alerted the world to the suffering of women and girls in that country. There is no organization on earth like it. It is the high bar of feminism, home of the bravest of the brave."

"...Rawa's understanding of the designs and hypocrisy of western governments informs a truth about Afghanistan excluded from news..."

"We, the women of Afghanistan, only became a cause in the west following 11 September 2001, when the Taliban suddenly became the official enemy of America. Yes, they persecuted women, but they were not unique, and we have resented the silence in the west over the atrocious nature of the western-backed warlords, who are no different. They rape and kidnap and terrorize, yet they hold seats in [Hamid] Karzai's government. In some ways, we were more secure under the Taliban. You could cross Afghanistan by road and feel secure. Now, you take your life into your hands."
So, are we helping RAWA? No, Canada is officially supporting the government of Karzai. Ninety-five percent of the money being spent during this stupid war is going on military expenditure, five percent on aid.

And are we fighting terrorism? Nooooo...we're supporting another one of the U.S.'s pre-planned wars of imperialism.

"...The truth about the "good war" is to be found in compelling evidence that the 2001 invasion, widely supported in the west as a justifiable response to the 11 September attacks, was actually planned two months prior to 9/11..."

"...Acclaimed as the first "victory" in the "war on terror," the attack on Afghanistan in October 2001 and its ripple effect caused the deaths of thousands of civilians who, even more than Iraqis, remain invisible to western eyes. The family of Gulam Rasul is typical. It was 7.45am on 21 October. The headmaster of a school in the town of Khair Khana, Rasul had just finished eating breakfast with his family and had walked outside to chat to a neighbor. Inside the house were his wife, Shiekra, his four sons, aged three to ten, his brother and his wife, his sister and her husband. He looked up to see an aircraft weaving in the sky, then his house exploded in a fireball behind him. Nine people died in this attack by a US F-16 dropping a 500lb bomb. The only survivor was his nine-year-old son, Ahmad Bilal. "Most of the people killed in this war are not Taliban; they are innocents," Gulam Rasul told me. "Was the killing of my family a mistake? No, it was not. They fly their planes and look down on us, the mere Afghan people, who have no planes, and they bomb us for our birthright, and with all contempt."
Day after day, Canadian papers report that even more Taliban have been killed. Sometimes they put in the proviso that they may be "suspected" Taliban. Not one has the courage to write, "We don't know who the hell we're killing, but the Taliban must be recruiting awfully young these days. Those three-year-olds can be dangerous."

"...these days the dead are described as "Taliban"; or, if they are children, they are said to be "partly to blame for being at a site used by militants" – according to the BBC, speaking to a US military spokesman."

So, why are we fighting, killing and dying?

"...Various fables have been spun – "building democracy" is one. "The war on drugs" is the most perverse. When the Americans invaded Afghanistan in 2001 they had one striking success. They brought to an abrupt end a historic ban on opium production that the Taliban regime had achieved. A UN official in Kabul described the ban to me as "a modern miracle." The miracle was quickly rescinded. As a reward for supporting the Karzai "democracy," the Americans allowed Northern Alliance warlords to replant the country's entire opium crop in 2002. Twenty-eight out of the 32 provinces instantly went under cultivation."
Right. Making the world safe for warlords, opium and the American hegemony.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Oh, what a funny war! (part two)

Chalmers Johnson isn't very amused by funny wars either.

The historian who brought us Blowback, Nemesis, and other tales of American imperialism, Johnson gives us the history behind the war in Afghanistan, the "freedom fighters" armed and trained by the U.S. to fight the Soviet Union, then dumped when no longer useful, who turn on the U.S. and anybody daft enough to side with them.

See the funny side of it yet? Neither do I, and neither did he.

This line will stay with me for a long, long time.
"What to make of the film (which I found rather boring and old-fashioned)? It makes the U.S. government look like it is populated by a bunch of whoring, drunken sleazebags, so in that sense it's accurate enough."
Our mission in Afghanistan?

"...One of the severe side effects of imperialism in its advanced stages seems to be that it rots the brains of the imperialists. They start believing that they are the bearers of civilization, the bringers of light to "primitives" and "savages" (largely so identified because of their resistance to being "liberated" by us), the carriers of science and modernity to backward peoples, beacons and guides for citizens of the "underdeveloped world."

And what is going to be the outcome? Maybe the original story can tell us.

"...we are told by another insider reviewer, James Rocchi, that the scenario, as originally written by Aaron Sorkin of "West Wing" fame, included the following line for Avrakotos: "Remember I said this: There's going to be a day when we're gonna look back and say 'I'd give anything if [Afghanistan] were overrun with Godless communists'." This line is nowhere to be found in the final film."
So where has all this fighting, dying, and endless military expenditure gotten us?

"...Today there is ample evidence that, when it comes to the freedom of women, education levels, governmental services, relations among different ethnic groups, and quality of life -- all were infinitely better under the Afghan communists than under the Taliban or the present government of President Hamid Karzai, which evidently controls little beyond the country's capital, Kabul."
But don't take my word for it. You can either listen to the historian or you can listen to Tom Hanks.