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.