Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dissenting views on the war

First, David Orchard's bombastic rebuttal to the war party:

The New Conquistadors
Canada in Afghanistan

... The terms used to describe our occupation and ongoing war are remarkably similar to those used over a century ago by colonial powers to justify their ruthless wars of colonization. ...

Today, we are involved in a "mission" in Afghanistan to "improve" the lives of women and children, to install "democracy," to root out corruption and the drug trade.

Waging war with bombs and guns is not helping women or installing democracy. It is, however, strengthening the Afghan resistance - hence our increasingly shrill cries for more help from NATO.

The U.S. is involved in a similar "mission" in Iraq. So far, over a million Iraqis - many of them children - have died ...

The toll of dead, wounded and displaced for Afghanistan is not being published.

The deadly effects of radioactive, depleted uranium (DU) ammunition being inflicted on both countries (some originally from Saskatchewan) haven't begun to be tabulated or understood, let alone reported back to us. The idea that bombing the population will improve the lives of women and children could only come from those who have never experienced war. ...

Over the past decade, however, Canada has bombed Yugoslavia, helped overthrow Jean Bertrand Aristide's democratically elected government in Haiti, is occupying Afghanistan and now, we learn, is getting involved more deeply in the U.S. devastation of Iraq. ...

What gives the rich, powerful, white West the right to wage unending, merciless wars against small, largely non-white, Third World countries? ... Canadians, as a matter of policy, are not informed of the number or types of casualties we have inflicted.

The modern concepts of "humanitarian intervention" and the "duty to protect" which seek to override international law and national sovereignty are, in this writer's view, simply 21st century terminology for colonization. ... (link)
(N.B. The above was published in the Hill Times newspaper, Monday, February 25. See here.)

Now, turning to the latest article by Inter Press Service writer and frequent contributor to Toronto's Now, Paul Weinberg:
Some Say Afghan Mission Is in the Wrong Hands

TORONTO, Feb 26 (IPS) - As Canada's parliament debates whether to extend the country's mission in Afghanistan beyond next year's withdrawal deadline, some peace advocates and conflict resolution experts say a U.N.-led mission is the best bet to negotiate a peace settlement involving all of the major parties in the ongoing civil war.

Walter Dorn, a Canadian professor who has been a training advisor for the U.N. department of peacekeeping operations, told IPS that ... a U.N.-hosted force in southern Afghanistan could be deployed to provide security during a period of negotiations for a peace settlement. Such a force should, he said, include troops from Muslim countries so as to make the mission less of "a [U.S. President] George Bush-initiated operation that looks to locals like an invasion."

While Canadians could play a civilian administrative role, he believes their soldiers -- of whom there are currently 2,500 deployed in Afghanistan -- would have to be excluded from any potential U.N. force because their presence in a NATO combat force in the field has already tainted them as biased toward one of the sides in the civil conflict.

"In fact, U.N. forces would be more effective on the ground, because they will have more elements of impartiality. They are not the enemy, and obviously, it would require a large number of soldiers to protect themselves, but I think they would be seen as less of a target than the NATO force," he said. ...

"I find it a curious thing that there is such silence in the Manley report on the question of reconciliation," said Ernie Regehr, a senior adviser at Project Ploughshares. He and a number of others who offered insights into the panel can't fathom why the idea of negotiations with insurgents -- beyond Afghan President Hamid Karzai's few initiatives -- has so little traction.

"When the panel does mention reconciliation, what they are really promoting is a kind of amnesty, discussions with those elements in the Taliban that reject violence," he said. "But that is not a serious attempt to deal with people who have genuine grievances against the current order."

The fact is, Regehr said, one of the things that makes Taliban recruitment in the south possible is that "there is not a social stigma against joining the rebels, because the feeling is that the government is not theirs in any event."

He and his colleagues say the people governing Afghanistan largely represent the Northern Alliance ...

[Peggy Mason, a former Canadian ambassador for disarmament:] "This is the opposite of where we should be going," Mason responded. "NATO cannot do this. NATO commanders who really understand know that the answer is to get NATO back into the U.N. blue helmet game because an integrated mission is the only way you can get the military strategy subordinated to the political one." (link)


Marjaleena Repo said...

Why"bombastic" referring to David Orchard's article on our Afghanistan "mission"? "Bombastic" in one dictionary stands for "high sounding, pompous language," in another as "high-flown, inflated, pretentious." You'll find very little pompousness or pretentiousness in Orchard's op-ed piece, merely straight talking, from the heart.

Dave Markland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Markland said...

My apologies. I thought 'bombastic' meant something like 'relentless and confrontational'.

In any case, I think we agree that Orchard's moral argument should be widely heard and pondered. Then acted upon, of course.