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Harper And Ignatieff: America’s Errand-Boys for Afghanistan

Posted by on Dec 4th, 2010 and filed under Nation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

By HAROON SIDDIQUI

TWO men, and two men alone, have decided to extend the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan by three more years.

Stephen Harper did not seriously consult his cabinet, nor did Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff consult his caucus. They also cut the Commons out of the loop.

Both are following the precedent of former PM Paul Martin, who in 2005 quietly committed us to the mission in Kandahar.

It seems all three believe that committing Canada to war is too serious a matter to be left to the frivolity of a democratic debate.

But it wasn’t always so. When former PM Jean Chrétien informed George W. Bush in 2003 that Canada would not join the war on Iraq, he acted mostly because Canadians were overwhelmingly against it.

By contrast, Harper (who was then leader of the right-wing Canadian Alliance), wanted to obey Washington. And Ignatieff was already a pro-war American academic. Now the two have come together again, with the Liberal leader perhaps bringing an even greater commitment to the Afghan mission than the Prime Minister.

Harper’s flip-flops — won’t cut and run; won’t stay a day longer than July 2011; okay, will stay until 2014 — are all functions of political posturing. Ignatieff’s position springs from his written conviction that the Afghan war was essential to the Pax Americana.

Regardless of motivation, Harper and Ignatieff have publicly become the eager errand boys of America in Afghanistan.

And much of our mainstream media are their cheerleaders — as they were for Bush’s war on Iraq. Good luck to the two-thirds of Canadians who oppose the Afghan war; they’ll have difficulty finding fair news coverage.

While the Afghan mission’s raison d’être has gone through several reinventions, the main reasons are that it is a necessary part of the “war on terror”; Al Qaeda must be squished, the Taliban must never be allowed back in power; the Afghan people deserve our Western-style democracy, and their women need our “protection.”

But even those who accept the above premises no longer support the mission because it is failing on all of them.

Just as Bush’s war on terror served only to increase terror worldwide, the occupation of Afghanistan has steadily increased resistance and strengthened the Taliban. They now control wide swaths of the country, where they impose their interpretation of Sharia (Islamic) law and decapitate officials cooperating with the weak Karzai regime in Kabul.

In August Time magazine ran a cover that asked “What happens if we leave Afghanistan?” and showing the picture of an Afghan girl whose nose had been sliced off by the Taliban. Yet the editors were blind to the irony that such shocking things are happening now, under NATO’s nose. That’s what happens when the media become an echo chamber of the political establishment.

In this the year of the American surge, with more troops in Afghanistan than ever before, there’s little progress, the Pentagon admitted just days ago that: “Efforts to reduce insurgent activity … have not produced measurable results.”

Not only has NATO failed to provide security to Afghans in Taliban territory, it has yet to stop the inadvertent killing of civilians. Indeed, it is increasing collateral damage in Pakistan by drone attacks — affecting the same Pashtuns on both sides of the border.

NATO cannot defeat the Taliban in the foreseeable future. It has admitted as much. It just wants to ensure that the Taliban do not win. But the Taliban do not have to win the war to win.

NATO has no contact with Mullah Omar. It can’t distinguish between the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistan Taliban, and the many branches underneath. It can’t tell a real Talib from a fraudulent one. It only wants to beat up the Taliban enough to make them lay down their arms, sign on to the Afghan constitution and respect women’s rights.

Yet despite direct and indirect talks — both official ones in Kabul and unofficial ones in Saudi Arabia and the Maldives Islands — not a single important Taliban leader has surrendered.

Meanwhile the world’s largest production of heroin continues, a source of revenue and endless recruitment for the Taliban.

As for the Hamid Karzai government, it remains corrupt and elections continue to be fraudulent.

In reality, NATO is on a treadmill going nowhere. But it won’t admit defeat, least of all US President Barack Obama.

Battered in the midterm election, he cannot afford to give any opening to Republican and Tea Party warmongers. The 2014 deadline will, however, effectively neutralize Afghanistan as an issue in the 2012 presidential election.

Of course, Harper and Ignatieff are happy to oblige … the rest is propaganda.

Courtesy: The Star

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