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.