Saturday, March 18, 2006

Afghanistan Means "The Place Where Empires Go To Die"

Thanks to "Moe Szyslak," an American ex-pat and frequent commenter at Eschaton, I picked up this neat and accurate summation of exactly what's wrong with Canadian involvement in Afghanistan. I can add a few more points beyond that, but this is a good primer:

- whatever [might, could, and should have been] is irrelevant. The fact is, for all the rhetoric about peacekeeping, Canadian troops are there as an adjunct to the Americans. Canadians aren't calling the shots -- Americans are.
- Canadians have agreed to give prisoners over to the Americans, almost certainly assuring that some of them will be tortured. Canada is complicit is terrorism.
- Whatever all good Canadians think is going on, the bottom line is that Canadian troops are in Afghanistan to free up American troops to fight in Iraq. Canada, in other words, is at least partially responsible for what goes on in Iraq.

This isn't about "peacekeeping." According to this article in the Toronto Star, "since the mid-'90s, Canadian soldiers have been moving increasingly into what the government calls 'peacemaking' and what others call counterinsurgency — that is, intervening directly on behalf of one side in what, to all intents and purposes, is a civil war."

This is not UN blue-helmet stuff; this is exactly the same as the Allies or the Axis in WWII, except within a nation instead of among several. We're not going in there to prevent the two factions from shooting at each other, we're there to try to prop up the one side over the other.

My question is, since when did nation-building become part of the Canadian mandate?

Worse, we aren't really doing any good. "Our side," such as it is, controls maybe one tiny area in the capital and around it. The rest of the country is a mess of warlords, anarchy, and danger. On top of that, we're seeing lots of deaths of innocent civilians because, as Walkom puts it in the Star, our soldiers "do not, and cannot, trust the very people they are ostensibly there to help. Every pot-maker in a motorized rickshaw — every teenager with an axe — is a potential enemy." So if we don't control enough of the country to actually be putting a stop to the warlords and Talibani, and we can't trust anybody not to be an enemy, and we're only freeing up US troops to go off and perpetrate horrors in Iraq, and we're contributing to the torture of persons innocent or not (no difference, torture is still torture, and still not something Canadians should ever have anything to do with), then what the hell are we doing?!

According to Stephen Harper, we're "staying the course" and defeating the "scum." Of course, framing it as "We're acting as the enslaved Gauls to the US' Romans, propping up the empire on one mad foreign adventure after another" won't actually do any good with Harper; he's cool with being the Canadian Procurator.


Blogger Tim said...

Thanks for this. By and by, I just fired off this email to my local CBC outlet:

Interesting that your weekend coverage of the anti-war protest in Halifax included a two-minute interview with someone opposed to the protest, but not one word from any of the protestors themselves.

Objective? I don't think so-- the vast majority of passerby were supportive of the march and protest. Fair? Your report doesn't even pass the bogus "both sides of the story" test, much less give a fair representation of the protestors.

I expect better from the CBC.

Thanks again, Tim aka Moe

6:44 AM  

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