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.