Sunday, January 27, 2008

Manley report wrong: Margolis

Eric Margolis, journalist and author of a book on Afghanistan (War at the Top of the World), reacts to the Manley Report:

January 28, 2008

The report on Afghanistan delivered by the Manley Panel to Canada’s government last Monday was deeply flawed and most disappointing. Its totally predictable findings could have been written without the panel of instant Afghan experts wasting millions of taxpayer money.

This whitewash was designed to provide political cover for the Conservative government of PM Stephen Harper, which has faithfully followed the Bush Administration’s party line on Afghanistan. PM Harper has hung his political hat on the failing war in Afghanistan. By threatening to quit the conflict if NATO does not provide more troops, the Manley report provided the government with a handy escape hatch if things go terribly wrong in Afghanistan and the 2,500 Canadian troops there are forced to cut and run.

The Manley report provides the latest doleful example of the opposition Liberal’s pathetic failure to demand Ottawa answer tough questions about the growing mess in Afghanistan. Canada’s opposition has done even worse than the Democrats in Washington. ...

Most disturbing, the report claimed continued military operations in Afghanistan, which had so far cost 79 Canadians dead and untold billions, were necessary to `enhance’ Canada’s international influence. Two days later, another Canadian soldier died in action ...

In Europe and Asia, most people regard the Afghanistan conflict as a 19th century-style colonial war over future oil pipeline routes, and NATO’s role there the result of severe arms-twisting by Washington. That’s why most NATO troops are kept out of combat. ...

... Every bombed Afghan village breeds new enemies for Canada.

Ottawa is hiding the full truth about Afghanistan from Canadians. Its flag-waving media has further obscured the facts. When did one last see a report filed from the side of Taliban and its growing number of allies? The North American media has done as lousy a job in reporting Afghanistan as it did Iraq.

The report’s claim that Afghanistan’s US-imposed regime is `democratic’ is absurd. CIA `asset’ Hamid Karzai was installed by Washington and is kept in power by US troops and a stream of cash payoffs to drug-dealing tribal chiefs. His rigged `election’ was supervised by US troops and bought with $100 bills.

Afghanistan’s so-called `national army’ is made up of US-paid mercenaries. The `army’ does not need more training, as Manley claims. It needs loyalty to a legitimate national government – which does not exist.

Half of Afghanistan’s population, the Pashtun tribes (the source of the Taliban religious movement), has been largely excluded from political power. Until included, there will be no stability, never mind democracy. But Washington and Ottawa, have painted themselves into a corner by so demonizing Taliban and making enemies of the Pashtun (half of Afghanistan’s population), that overt negotiations with the movement or its growing number of allies is impossible.

Ominously, the Afghan war is steadily spreading into Pakistan, threatening the kind of `mission creep’ seen in Vietnam. Meanwhile, Canada is hypocritically backing Musharraf’s ugly dictatorship in Pakistan while claiming to be fighting for `democracy’ in Afghanistan.

The Manley report also soft-soaped government corruption. It ignored the 800 lb gorilla in Kabul: senior government officials up to their turbans in the heroin trade. ...

Most important, Manley’s report completely ignored the biggest problem of all. Canada has no political objective in this aimless war beyond making high-ranking Ottawa officials feel self-important at NATO meetings.

The Karzai regime, which rules only Kabul, would not last a week without western troops. There is no prospect of national political consensus until Taliban and its allies are brought into the process. ... (link)

If the Afghan conflict is a vital matter of national security, as Canada claims, then maintaining a mere 2,500 troops in Afghanistan is no more than a gesture that wastes the lives of its soldiers. If fighting Taliban is that important, then Canada should mobilize and send 100,000 troops ...

Canada is not being ennobled by this sordid, ugly, drug-fueled war, as Mr. Manley wrongly believes. ...

No comments: