Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gates Signals Endless War in Afghanistan

Canada should consider extension of Afghanistan mission,
Gates suggests

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates hinted on Thursday that Canada should extend its military mission in Afghanistan past the 2011 scheduled end date.

Gates, who arrived at Canada's main base in Kandahar on Thursday, was asked by a reporter whether Canada should continue its mission

"The countries that have partnered with the United States and Afghanistan here in [regional command] south have made an extraordinary commitment and proportionately none have worked harder or sacrificed more than the Canadians," said Gates, who arrived at Canada's main base in Kandahar on Thursday.

"They have been outstanding partners for us and all I can tell you is has been the case for a very long time, the longer we can have Canadian soldiers as our partners the better it is."
Canada has been a coalition partner in the occupation of Afghanistan since 2001. I think the original idea of going in there was to catch Osama Bin Laden, but mission creep has turned the project into something else entirely. OBL is now in Pakistan if he even exists. One other thing - almost as soon as we got there an American pilot high on speed killed four Canadian soldiers by dropping a bomb on them. Then the US pulled a large number of troops out of Afghanistan and redeployed them to Iraq, making the remaining allied troops' mission much much more difficult.

Most Canadians have no idea why we're even in Afghanistan anymore, and anybody who's looked at the mission would conclude that we've been played by our trigger-happy imperialist southern neighbours. Like Iraq there doesn't seem to be any exit strategy, nor even any conditions defined under which the mission (if, without objectives, you can even use that word anymore) can be concluded.

I think it's fair to ask a few questions. First off I'd like to ask General Gates - if this 'mission' should be extended, why? And for how long exactly? By 2011 we'll have been there for a full decade, with little or nothing to show for it other than the fact that we've driven the Al Qaeda training camps further up into the mountains on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. On the downside we've provided ready-made propaganda to the other side so that those camps will be full of eager new recruits far into the foreseeable future. Heckuva job if you ask me.

I have questions for Canada's leaders too. Whoever they may turn out to be. Do we really want to be perceived by the rest of the world as being the lapdogs of American imperialist ambitions? This strikes me as being an extension not only of the war, but of the long french kiss that Stephen Harper has been applying to George W. Bush's ass for his entire term in office. By the end of January Bush will be gone, and Harper may have left the Prime Minister's Office as well. Is this a legacy we want to keep alive?

I wish I had questions about Barack Obama's intentions in Afghanistan. Sadly, he's made himself clear on that score.
CBC's David Common said Gates comments should not be considered a formal request, but that they are significant because the defence secretary is staying on in that role under Barack Obama's administration. As well, the president-elect has said getting more troops to Afghanistan is a priority.

Gates also told reporters that the Pentagon will move three brigades into Afghanistan by next summer,. the most specific he's been on when he'd begin meeting the requests of ground commanders asking for 20,000 troops.

The extra troops are expected to be deployed to Kabul to secure the capital before moving to Kandahar, considered the epicentre of violence and where most of the 2,500 Canadian soldiers in the region are based.
Should this request ever be formalized, I'm hoping Canada has the good sense to answer, "HELL, NO!!" And I say that as someone who initially supported the idea of going into Afghanistan, ousting the Taliban and pursuing the perpetrators of 9-11. Turns out that like everything else Bush the Lesser has done in the last eight years, the Afghanistan mission was a boondoggle based on a lie.


UPDATE: Here's a news story from today's New York Times that adds another compelling reason to get the hell out of Afghanistan ASAP.

U.S. Forces Kill 6 Afghan Police Officers by Mistake
KABUL, Afghanistan

United States forces killed six Afghan police officers and one civilian on Wednesday during an assault on the hide-out of a suspected Taliban commander, the authorities said, in what an American military spokesman called a “tragic case of mistaken identity.” Thirteen Afghan officers were also wounded in the episode.

A statement issued jointly by the American and the Afghan military commands said a contingent of police officers fired on United States forces after the Americans had successfully overrun the hide-out, killing the suspected Taliban commander and detaining another man. The Americans had already entered the hide-out, a building in Qalat, the capital of the southern province of Zabul, when they came under attack by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades from a compound nearby.

Multiple attempts to deter the engagement were unsuccessful. The Americans, concerned about women and children hiding in the building they had taken, returned fire using small arms and aircraft. After the firefight, the Americans discovered they had been shooting at Afghan police officers. But the deputy police chief of Qalat said the police officers had been in a police station when they came under American fire, which destroyed the station.
Friendly Fire = the most tragic of all oxymorons. This kind of stuff stops happening the day we leave.

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