Monday, February 18, 2008

Afghanistan: Progress, Canadian Style

Don’t worry, everything is rolling along as planned in Afghanistan. Our troops are winning hearts and minds, they’re rebuilding, they’re defeating the insurgency.
Well, there’s the small matter of Canadian soldiers beating the hell out of Afghan detainees, then covering it up and then, once it’s discovered, of stalling the investigation for more than a year. And then there’s those massive bombings.
As was noted by Amir Attaran, an Ottawa law professor who blew the whistle on the abuse, "When the military is investigating the military, which is inconvenient for the military, is it any wonder that the military rags the puck?"
In fact the investigation took so long to get started that they can’t even track down the detainees any longer. And the Afghan they hired to do so was assassinated by insurgents. Probably nobody else will be applying for his job.
Nor can they go to the medical records of the detainees, many of whom were treated by Canadian doctors. Why? Oops, it seems that the medical records from that time period, well, they just disappeared.
Can you believe these guys?
Well, then, no wonder the Tories don’t see the big deal in handing detainees over to the Afghan authorities. The Tories don’t discriminate – hell, if torture and abuse are good enough for us, well, it ought to be good enough for the Afghans police.
Small problem though, Kandahar’s head torture master, Governor Asadullah Khaled, just fired somewhere between 100-250 police for corruption. Or, maybe it has something to the assassination attempt on his life and the growing power of the Taliban in and around Kandahar. The firing was done without notice, even to Canadian troops, who found out by surprise.
If it was an attempt to eliminate a Taliban base inside the police then it failed to dampen the vigour of the insurgent movement. Within a two day spread two enormous suicide bombs killed a total of perhaps 150 people, including the “auxiliary police commander”, ie. warlord, of Kandahar along with 35 of his men who were watching a dog fight. With potentially 125 people dead, this was the largest suicide bomb attack in Afghan history.
The Taliban have been having a lot of success in recent months eliminating important political figures inside Afghanistan, it seems.
Then on Monday, insurgents struck again, with a suicide car bomb attack on Canadian troops that killed 35 civilians. The Canadians, it seems, were warned that there was a suicide plot afoot and that they should stay on their base until local police rounded up the attacker. But the Canadians refused to heed the warnings – six of them, in fact - and now the governor, Khaled, is none too happy with the Canucks.
Tory Defense Minister, Peter MacKay, has responded with the usual Tory line that everything is good and that the Taliban are on the run, saying that the bombings didn’t indicate any increase in Taliban activity. He better hope not because last year was already a record year for suicide bombings in Afghanistan.
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