May 17, 2011 – The South Asia News has reported the death toll of foreign soldiers in Afghanistan during 2011 reached 171 as a roadside bomb in Southern Afghanistan killed a NATO soldier last Sunday; a soldier whose nationality was not released by military spokesmen.
-Meanwhile, the death of Osama Bin Laden should have been a successful culmination of eight years of international force being applied in the quest for justice; instead it was a perfect example of everything that the growing majority of the world’s population despise about forceful military intervention.
Pakistani intelligence, for example, felt “out of the loop” and declared that the “unilateral” action by the United States against Bin Laden had caused a breakdown in trust over security cooperation. In a ten-hour parliamentary session on Saturday, Pakistani lawmakers adopted a unanimous motion to review all aspects of their relationship with the US and urged the government to cut the NATO supply line through Pakistan if there is no change in the NATO drone bombing which has caused unacceptable amounts of Pakistani and Afghani civilian casualties. The use of force with impunity is the biggest double-standard that the US and its “coalition of the willing” impose in Afghanistan and beyond – much to the detriment of any good faith that the world might still hold waiting on the West. Goodwill Ambassador John Kerry will be in Pakistan this week to try to soothe tensions.
In his Cairo Address, Obama called on the Arab World to renounce violence as a practice and to use the examples of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela as role models for achieving success. Here is the problem: How can Obama call on the Arab World to resolve problems through non-violence and then expect to have US diplomacy taken seriously anywhere in the world when the US operation against Bin Laden is seen and applauded, by US government officials openly, as an assassination?
The attitude of vengeance killing displayed by the US operation on Bin Laden is absolutely contrary to the change in the US for the better that Obama had represented to the rest of the world. In fact, a capture mission, with the intended purpose of using a legal framework against Bin Laden as a precedent to show the world – in action, not words – that current world justice is obtainable through due process, would have won more hearts and minds throughout the world then any amount of soldiers or drone attacks. Unfortunately to indicate how low the global reputation of the Empire has sunk, it wouldn’t be surprising if the US was unable to pursue legal action against Bin Laden, as was the case with Saddam Hussein, because they didn’t have any evidence to convict him.
The Nuremberg Trials held to hold the Nazis to account after WWII were based on the human understanding that justice had to be obtainable through non-violent means to be sustainable. That is what the United States has failed to show the world that it is capable of doing – being sustainable through non-violence. The majority of the world is no longer interested in justifications for violence, only that it comes to an end.
The killing of Osama Bin Laden cannot even be justified as a means to an end because it’s a week after the assassination took place and the foreign soldiers are still in Afghanistan. The latest chapter of US military actions began in Iraq in 2003 on the basis of two things: Find the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and get Osama Bin Laden. The WMDs were a lie and Bin Laden is now dead – what is the US’ next excuse for invading and occupying the rest of the world? Protecting the people in the Arab World and Latin America who are revolting against the dictators that the United States imposed? No wonder Obama preached non-violence in Cairo. The majority of the world is no longer interested in excuses – it’s time to turn off the direct feed military trough from the public purse.
-Creating foreign addicts to US monetary aid is nothing new for American foreign policy, only maintaining this dependency while simultaneously claiming that Afghani independence is the measure for when we leave is a new low. This week, the white knights from the World Bank – International Development Agency – unleashed another 15o million dollars of baksheesh on Hamid Karzi’s Afghani government. The money was given to the Afghani government in the form of two separate grants – 100 million for irrigation and water-development, while another 50 million to develop the Telecommunications and IT sector. Any foreign involvement in Afghanistan which revolves around created dependency and not self-sufficiency for Afghanis is maintaining a perpetual occupation which is killing Afghani civilians and bankrupting American civilians.
-Despite the negative world view and declining coalition support, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on Sixty Minutes Sunday night displaying remarkable optimism about US operations in Afghanistan. Gates claimed that the American offensive had driven the Taliban out of the populated areas and had set the stage for a “possible reconciliation”. That may be true with regards to the Taliban, but the reality on the ground in Afghanistan is that after 8 years of almost zero regard for Afghani civilian life by NATO and other foreign operatives, less than 10% of the armed resistance is comprised of Taliban. Over 90% of the current armed resistance to foreign occupation is comprised of Afghani citizens – farmers and city-dwellers- who are doing the exact same thing me and you would be doing if a foreign army invaded and occupied our country and cities.
-Remarkably, Gates suggested that Bin Laden’s death might enable “reconciliation” with the Taliban because the leader of Al-Qaeda would no longer be able to interfere with possible negotiations. The Taliban, fiercely independent, have always viewed Al-Qaeda as foreigners no different from NATO or the Soviet Red Army with regards to their imposition on Afghani self-determination, which is the reason that Bin Laden was forced out of Afghanistan by the Taliban and had to seek refuge in Pakistan. If the United States has dragged its feet and the public’s wallet for five years before considering the negotiation proposals originally made by the Taliban back in 2006, the Secretary of Defense had best come up with a better excuse then Bin Laden. The greatest deterrent to negotiations is and has always been NATO’s disregard for Afghani civilian life.
-Earlier in the day, NATO apologized for the death of a 12-year old girl and said it was investigating injuries to four other Afghani civilian girls, all under age 16. According to the Afghani provincial governor, the 5 girls were collecting firewood at the time of the attack. These incidents occurred in Kunar Province over the weekend, while in Nangarhar Province last week two children were also killed during night raids by US forces, causing angry civilian protests during which another young boy was killed. In March of last year, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan apologized, while President Obama expressed “deep regret” over the deaths of nine Afghani children, killed in an airstrike, who had also been collecting firewood.
Canada’s Role in Afghanistan – May 17, 2011
-Interesting that there was little to no discussion about anything involving Afghanistan during Canada’s recent election campaigns, it’s almost as if there was some sort of conspiracy of silence (politically it’s referred to as a “gentleman’s agreement”). That would never happen in an open, transparent democracy like Canada would it?
-Now that the election is over it is apparently fair game to discuss Afghanistan once again – and the newly-anointed opposition NDP firmly led the way.
NDP defense critic, MP Jack Harris announced last week that thousands of documents relating to Afghani prison visits, interrogations and diplomatic overtures should be made public immediately. There are reasonable grounds to suspect that the Canadian government and its field operatives knew or should have known that battlefield prisoners taken by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were being abused. That would implicate Canada in war crimes and violate international humanitarian laws.
In fact, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Louis Moreno-Ocampo said just before the Canadian election that he will investigate the war crime allegations against Canadians in Afghanistan if Canada won’t. Moreno-Ocampo explained that Canadian officials are not immune to prosecution if there is evidence – “We’ll check if there are crimes and also we’ll check if a Canadian judge is doing a case or not . . . if they don’t, the court has to intervene. That’s the rule, that’s the system, one standard for everyone.”
Opposition defense critic Jack Harris added to the calls of fellow NDP MP Thomas Mulcair in demanding a full public inquiry into Canada’s involvement in Afghani detainee torture and abuse.
-The CBC reported last September that Canada`s defense department had secretly began a “major inquiry” into actions and violations by Canadian special forces soldiers in 2008. Allegations were raised by one of the unit`s members which seriously implicated colleagues within the unit as well as the entire task force.
The initial probe looked into the mistreatment of detainees by Canadian forces between 2005 and 2008. No charges were filed, however before the election there was a follow-up, broader investigation on-going – the defense department has declined to comment.
The question that is on the minds of Canadians right now is that if two criminal investigations were launched by military police to probe the connection between Canadian special forces and the alleged improper killing of Afghanis, then why hasn’t there been a full public inquiry called to investigate the stigma of war crimes that is hanging over all Canadians internationally?
Obviously there was enough of a concern raised by the Canadian people to have the then-minority Conservatives release several box-loads of censored documents on the matter. That may have been enough to placate some people but it hasn’t cleared Canada’s international reputation and it is still leaves doubt in the mind of Canadians to the morals and values of their own representatives. This mess is so entrenched in the operating system that nothing less than a full public inquiry will restore faith in Canada’s honesty.
The Weekly Update into the Afghanistan Situation and Canada’s Role in Afghanistan have returned and are published every Monday (new day!) at www.jeeroburkhan.wordpress.com