Sunday, October 07, 2007

Afghanistan...Spinning Doesn't Move us Forward

Listening to some of what these two had to say today, it's clear that the war being fought in Afghanistan is a political "tool" for the con's. Do all parties try to capitalise on it? Yes, but who is actually getting the facts and looking at this situation as it deserves to be studied?
The NDP are completely off the mark. They do nothing more than react to polls and have designed their unachievable goal based on little else. The party that claims its concern is human rights, is prepared to stop defending them in Afghanistan by pulling our troops out, now, with no reasonable strategy to keep those who are attacking those very rights at bay.
That said, I think the war in the south is largely a vicious circle. There is an unending supply of sympathisers coming over the border of Pakistan and that's growing. That tells me our approach is wrong and it must be re-thought.
Bernier and Oda, good grief, completely out of touch, as is this current government with most things.
“The territory is more secure today here in Kandahar than it was a year ago,” he said.
Last year there were many attacks, he added.
“Those attacks have diminished,” Mr. Bernier said. “It's still difficult. I saw that it's still difficult. But the situation has greatly improved.”
A recent review by the UN Department of Safety and Security described the situation in Kandahar as “volatile.”
Across the country, 2007 has been the bloodiest year since the Taliban was ousted from power in a U.S. invasion six years ago.
So far this year, there have been an average of 525 violent incidents a month, compared with 425 last year.
It's one thing to lie to Canadians, as they do daily, but it's quite another to say these false statements in the country that is living, day to day, with the reality. When confronted by the local press in Afghanistan, who asked about recent attacks in Kabul, one for instance that occurred as they arrived, they continued to say, Afghanistan is safer. Evidence speaks to the contrary, but why get mired in fact?
Everyone and everything, tells us what is true, but the con's deny truth, as is their want. The Conservatives may want to push water uphill, but the debate, the real debate is of course being missed. Are we serious about helping this country? Are we serious about protecting rights and most basically, do we really understand what the people want?
The south of Afghanistan is quite tribal. Many are not interested in a democracy. Is our aim to convert them? If that is the case, we'll be there a very long time. The fact that we respect "our system", is obviously not enough to convince those who reject it. So, are we keeping out, or pushing back, the very people who the inhabitants want? Agree or disagree with that particular desire, (you do remember Imperialsim), how does democracy play out in this scenario? We are forcing many to adopt what they don't know and therefore don't want.
I do think our forces are good at PR. I think we far excel the US, but I don't think they have enough support with them, literal support, non military people with them.
Have you heard of Turquoise Mountain? A simple approach, no? Pride.
What we are doing is telling some that they mean nothing, their opinion means nothing, their history, their culture. Think about that at home. Think about how we are now making reparations to our native groups. Think people.
We are doing this wrong and the con's, as this article points out, are using this war in the most despicable way.
But the government seems to be pushing its own agenda and not listening to Canadians who want answers, said Francisco Juarez, a former military reservist who refused to serve in Afghanistan and now is active in the peace movement.
Juarez said what started as a mission ostensibly launched on humanitarian grounds and to protect national security interests has morphed into a war designed to retool the Canadian military and serve national economic interest instead.
As is said, this has become about Canada, not Afghanistan. This is the brilliant statement that came from Bernier's mouth today.
“John F. Kennedy said to the Americans: ‘Don't ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,”' Mr. Bernier said.
“Now, today, I'm asking Canadians, ‘Don't ask the Afghan government what it can do for us in Canada, but what we Canadians can do for the Afghan people.”'
Sir, all I can say is, "You are no Jack Kennedy". Nor is your leader and the sooner Canadians realise your deceitful stance, the better.


decoin said...

When is the world going to realize that Canadians do not give a Philadelphia Flying fig about the people of Afghanistan. Abandon Afghanistan NOW! Abandon it! Troops out NOW! I DEMAND it!!

Steve V said...

"Bernier moved from one military machine to another during his tour Sunday, clapping his hands together like a kid in a candy store.

"So, what do you have here?" Bernier asked as he moved from a Nyala RG-31 with a remote control gun to a LAV-3 armoured vehicle.

Bernier and Oda both donned flack vests and helmets, took rides aboard an immense twin-rotor Chinook helicopter and quizzed soldiers about the workings of the military and its machines.

But outside the small talk, the ministers stuck to prepared statements and left tough questions to high-level civil servants.

The visit included about a dozen carefully staged photo opportunities, a couple of funding announcements and just a handful of questions about affairs of state."

Hopefully Coderre does something more constructive.

sassy said...

… do we really understand what the people want?” how can we when we have not asked the question?

Historically and sadly, as with much aid, the donors, as well meaning as they are (politics aside here), speak for instead of listen to the recipients. More recently the most successful aid projects have been developed in tandem with local grass roots organizations and utilizing in-kind contributions, thus raising 1) the level of success and 2) the chances of sustainability.

It is no accident that we hear so little about/from CIDA and so much about the military. PMSH has marginalized aid as he continues to focus of “war”.

Excellent post KNB . Have you read Rory Stewart’s book, "The Places in Between"? (your Turquoise Mountain link) I have not but definitely will, very soon.

knb said...

decoin, when you learn to spell in Canadian terms, perhaps, just perhaps you'll be listened to. Outside of that, your comment is uninformed and inane.

Steve It's not over yet. I share your hope.

Sassy, Thanks. No I haven't read the book yet, but I am looking forward to it. I've watched him being interviewed for a few years. Fascinating guy, insightful information.

To be honest, I'd love to see a conversation between Stewart and Dion. I think that could be very productive.

Ryan said...

I'd like to defend the NDP's position, which you will find clearly defined, here:

It clearly states a withdrawal from the counter-insurgency mission, to refocus them on peacekeeping and humanitarian aid. This is not an unachievable goal. Additionally, if the mission has turned into something morally questionable, wouldn't it be the right thing to do if we did it right away rather than later? To quote John Kerry on Vietnam, "how do you ask a soldier to be the last one to die in Vietnam?" How do you ask a soldier to be the last to die in Afghanistan if the mission is morally questionable? And the NDP isn't even asking for withdrawal from the country, either.

I enjoyed your entry on the conservative media, and methinks that this is, yet again, a case of that media distorting the values of progressive political parties. I think you'll find that New Democrat voters and Liberal voters have plenty in common. My problem is that it seems to me that many LEADERS of the Liberal Party seem to have more in common with the Conservatives.

I really wish we could get along, without the Liberals simply saying that New Democrats should vote Liberal to defeat the Conservatives.

Enjoy the blog, by the way. Keep up the good work.

knb said...

ryan, thanks for your comment and let me say at the outset, I think a much better strategy would be to unite. Not literally, but the current "partisan" division is not good.

With respect, Layton and all of his rep's on TV, spend more time cutting down the Lib's than they do the con's. I know Jack wants to hold the "opposition" position, but this is not the time in my opinion.

Wouldn't it be better to be the "left" voice against the middle? Keep that view in check? To be honest, as a left leaning Lib, I'd be happy to have him keep us honest. He only has a shot at that if he takes down the Con's.

He'll look like he's doing that with his vote on the Throne Speech, but to go on and on about the Lib's, imo, is futile.

I don't suggest that the NDP vote "with" the Lib's. I just think the incessant attacking will not stand your party in good stead. For the record, I have voted NDP in various elections.

I don't agree, that in the current climate, Lib's have more in common with the Con's. I do agree that Harper has swung "left", in an effort to pacify, but it's a phoney stance.

I know where Jack wants to be and I don't blame him...that's his job. At this point in history, I think he's doing the country a disservice.

Just my view, but I'm grateful to have yours too.

I hope you comment more often.

Ryan said...

I agree wholeheartedly on the subject of attacking the Liberals. I wrote a couple letters to the NDP leadership a few months ago about it.

It's having adverse effects, I think. Rather than necessarily pushing left-leaning liberal voters to the NDP, it's pushing right-leaning liberal voters to the Conservatives. Unfortunately I think the NDP might be taking advice from a PR firm. Ick. Then again, I think the Liberals deserved every bit of criticism the NDP heaped on them. So I'm conflicted. But you're right. Layton really should have stood up to Harper, too. Harper is the real enemy.

My problem I guess, and I think I articulated it poorly, was that the Liberal party has pushed to the right since the Chretien years. I won't get into that, because I'm sure you've heard it.

knb said...

Interesting Ryan. Yes, I'd say Martin was to the right of Chretien, but that was a pretty short lived experience.

Dion is not that and that is my problem with Jack painting him with that brush.

Be the Liberal adversary, but be honest about it. That is what Layton has lost imo, with this tack. He's lost honesty. It will indeed hurt the Lib's, but it won't help the NDP either, imo.

I'm glad we agree on this; Harper is the enemy. If we could find a way to express that, as parties, without hugging in public, we'd both do well, :).