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Afghanistan: What Does it Serve Canada? PDF Print E-mail
Peace News
Friday, 03 March 2006 12:57

Afghanistan: What Does it Serve Canada?

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Five Canadians were injured, one "seriously," today when their convoy was struck by a suicide attacker driving a bomb-laden car outside Kandahar, Afghanistan. The incident comes as Prime Minister Stephen Harper engages in an increasingly vitriolic Ottawa shooting match over the legitimacy of 'Operation Enduring Freedom' and only days after the death of Corporal Paul Davis in an auto accident. Davis was the second Canadian killed in the Kandahar redeployment. Nine Canadians have been reported killed in Afghanistan since 2001, four of those in the infamous "friendly fire" U.S. bombing of an active target range.


What Does it Serve Canada?

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
March 3, 2006

Just a year ago, while holding the Defence portfolio, the now nominal leader of the Liberal party, Bill Graham went on a ghoulish public relations tour, warning every rubber-chicken devotee who would listen about the coming Canadian casualties. The effort seemingly designed to "soften up" a public already dubious of Afghanistan. That unease was magnified today by Canadian Forces honcho, Rick Hillier who says Canada could expect to be in Afghanistan for at least a decade, or more. Hillier is the shoot from the lip General who marked his arrival on the Aghan scene last year, talking tough as George W. "Bring 'em on!" Bush, who last week lamented in the national press the too-dumb public's failure to grasp the vital importance impoverished, distant, hopeless Afghanistan poses Canada, and why a "decade, or more" military occupation is its duty.

This past week, Stephen Harper too sputtered across the front pages, outraged that "any Canadian" would challenge the country's commitment to "its men and women in uniform, etcetera ..."  That commitment has deepened with Canada's leadership ascension of Nato's ISAF mission in the Kunar, centre of Taliban activity. Until recently, Canadians had it relatively easy, based at Camp Julien, outside the capital, Kabul. But, that all ended last year, when Defence Minister Graham, addressing another banqueting gaggle of camp followers, pronounced Canada's improved military, apparently equipped with a spanking new set of marching orders; orders bearing an unmistakable echo.

What Graham outlined, and Stephen Harper is executing, is the end of Canada's "traditional" Peacekeeping role. Today, Nato, not the UN is where Canada's foreign "commitments" are drawn up. Brussels, not Ottawa decides where, when, and how many of Canada's soldiers will take the field. As for why, it depends on who you listen to. But, the most scarifying question, a query naturally left untended by the "mum's the word" media, is the question gnawing at the conscience of, according to a Globe & Mail poll, at least 62% of Canadians is: "What?"

Just what will Canada be doing?

Will it look like what America is doing in Iraq? Or, will it look like what Israel is doing in Palestine? Will it look like Gaza? Groszny? Llassa. Or, perhaps it will be another Port-au-Prince, with countless Somalia-like instances of random torture and murder thrown in.

Yes. Port-au-Prince where blue-helmets kick in the doors of the poor, pouring hundreds of rounds of automatic rifle fire, and a shock grenade, or two into and through where the tarpaper-shacked populace cowers in terror sounds more the future of Canada's Afghanistan Mission. Besides the ludicrous notion Afghanistan bears any threat to the security of Canada; and, ignoring the situation, worsening after four years of liberation from the despotic religious zeal of the Taliban regime, is commiting thousands of soldiers for years sound reasoning?

Can history teach us anything?

Following the aerial destruction of Afghanistan's military and infrastructure, the infantry started collecting prisoners. Thousands were bagged and tagged in the manner now made familiar through Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the long list of other chambers of horror located, seemingly, everywhere. The least fortunate we know of being those finding
themselves at Shebarghan Prison. Thousands of men, rounded up in village sweeps by U.S. forces, were sent on a death journey across the wastes of Afghanistan, crammed into unventilated semi-trailers.

Three thousand souls now inhabit shallow graves in the desert beyond Shebarghan, a crime left largely unaddressed yet. And, now in the news, revelations Bagram Airbase still hosts facilities at least as gruesome as those in Guantanamo, or Iraq.  Kandahar, now under titular Canadian control, too has an airbase, and attendant prison/torture centre. Will Canada, a willing supplier of prison/torture fodder until now, also oversee the America's prison methodology?

Shall Canadians become further mired with a demented president bent on a program the scope of which even the bravest dread mention? How long before Canadians serve picket duty in Iraq, or Iran?

George W. Bush is even now busy lighting fires. He's today reported in Pakistan, following his jaunt to India, where he pledged U.S. nuclear technology. Something of more than passing interest to bitter India foe, Pakistan, and regional rival, China. Some analysts warn this is a move promising a renewed nuclear arms race. Bush's stop in India brought hundreds of thousands in protest. In Pakistan there was a suicide bombing attack that killed a high-ranking American diplomat, and three others.

Canada's facade of independence is now its only hope of side-stepping the American march to self-destruction. When America falls, Canada will too be economically wounded, but how much worse for the nation should it now abandon its soul to only forestall the inevitable American demise?

The Canadian rabble is finally rousing to Afghanistan, as reflected in some major media. The country's most influential newspaper, The Toronto-based, Globe & Mail, picked up the gauntlet last week, promising to run a "talking to Canadians" campaign to gauge public opinion. A campaign they maintain necessary due to Parliament's failure to adequately debate the issue.

In the meanwhile, Canadians are at grave risk, and as Minister Graham told all who'd listen last Spring:

It's to be expected.


Chris Cook is a contributing editor to PEJ News and host Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. His writings are also featured at Chris Floyd's Empire Burlesque. You can check out the GR Blog here.

You can contact the author at: pej.info.ca

Last Updated on Friday, 03 March 2006 12:57

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