An interesting exchange (I thought it was, anyway)

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Brian Topp Brian Topp's picture
An interesting exchange (I thought it was, anyway)

 

Brian Topp Brian Topp's picture
melovesproles

Cambell's policy preferences for the NDP make it easy to see why he thinks the party has only minute differences with the Liberals.

Cueball Cueball's picture

An "interesting" exchange, to be sure. Unfortunately lacking in any left wing commentary from either person in the discussion. I will do my best to provide some.

All we need to know about Topp's supercilious appreciation of politics is contained here:

quote:

If you aren't, then you are proposing to reproduce the strategic mistakes the United States committed in Vietnam - [b]permitting an undefeated enemy to operate out of safe havens;[/b] incrementally escalating to a new stalemate, at a higher level of violence, without victory. I'm not sure Canada can bring peace to Afghanistan. But as a first step, we can choose not to make tragic mistakes like that.

Topp blithely steps into the arena echoing the post Vietnam war era mantra of the extreme right in the US, by echoing one of its prime "if onlys": "Victory was achievable, but our hands were tied by the lack of political resolve, in the corridors of power, a feckless public and a hostile press corp." Certainly there is nothing in it that suggests the inherent immorality of imposing the "western" will upon others far across the globe. In this mythology, we are, and for ever more, will be right to impose ourselves on others anywhere through military force. This moral imperative is not even questioned -- its just a matter of [i]our[/i] strategy, [i]our[/i] manpower and [i]our[/i] resolve.

This lack of appreciation for the "enemy", in fact lies at the heart of the whole dilema at the heart of the Vietnam war disaster. (Disaster Brian, not "tragedy" please.) Not only are we asked to assume the mantle of this moral imperative without question, but we are not even supposed to consider the enemy as a military proposition in an of itself: Our mistake was "permitting an undefeated enemy to operate out of safe havens." What the enemy does, what the enemy has, how the enemy reacts is simply not even up for consideration, let alone any consideration of the "enemies" moral right to defend their country and their people from outside aggression.

Topp's assertion makes it seem that the US, had it the will and the manpower could simply have walked up to the border of China without risking a potential nuclear conflict with world wide implications, far beyond Vietnam. The fact that the "enemy" beyond the borders of South Vietnam was protected under the shadow of not one, but two mighty nuclear armed powers who had clearly indicated that Vietnam was important to them, simply does not enter into Topp's navel gazing. But that is just reality, "damn the torpedoes", winning is just a matter of playing to win, right?

And this hints at another looming reality that exists in the post-soviet era. The entire US policy post 1990 has been based on the premise that the US is now able to act freely on the world stage, and shirk the unctious "Vietnam syndrome", because it is free of the constrictions imposed on it by competitors that come close to equalling its military power on the world stage.

Aside from that equation, one could simply ask, why does Topp think, based on the clear historical evidence that the US army and its South Vietnamese allies, were incapable of handling this enemy, with the forces at its disposal, in one little corner of South Asia, that it might have succeeded by expanding the battlefield to the rest of South Asia?

Furthermore, its not even true that we "allowed" an "undefeated enemy to operate out of safe havens." The US, in fact, dropped more tonnage of bombs on North Vietnam than it did during the entire strategic bombing campaign of WWII. We litterally flattened North Vietnam.

But ok, it was our lack of resolve that caused our defeat, it certainly could not have been anything to do with a "bunch of backward peasants in black Pajamas", or so the story goes.

A simple point: [i]"An undefeated enemy" is undefeated, and thus makes its own "safe havens" that is why it remains undefeated. [/i]

That is just a basic mistake in this example of one of Topp's trademark "feel good" conundrums, such as the fact that the whole "Vietnam syndrome" mantra of the Right, is precisely the same one that is at the heart of Obama's policy in Afghanistan/Pakistan. The solution to the issue of Afghanistan, according to Obama, is to not "permitting an undefeated enemy to operate out of safe havens", but to take the war to the enemy, by an expansion of the war, which Topp alleges he is opposed to... well, not really...

In conclusion:

quote:

Before committing troops to help continue this conflict, we have a duty - to those troops, and to our country - to ask precisely how further intervention would or could "finish the job." [b]I suggest (as do many others) that at the current level of intensity, it will not finish the job. And that any conceivable level of escalation will also likely not "finish the job" unless the U.S. is prepared to broaden the conflict into the neighbouring safe haven - with the consequences I outlined.[/b]

It's really just a matter of "playing to win", after all Tommy Douglas always played to win. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

The source Layton's recent confusing comments approving the commentary of a British General proposing a new overall strategy in Afghanistan is beginning to come into focus. Could it be that the NDP's inability to crack the 18 PC point in popular opinion in 2008, had something to do with not clearly thinking through policy platforms, and basing them on dubious moral premises, and then making confusing statements?

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]

JimWaterloo

I think that the NDP was lacking a vision for Canada. It does need to go back to it's grassroots for support.

robbie_dee
West Coast Lefty

(deleted post)

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: West Coast Lefty ]

Cueball Cueball's picture

I think that the imperialism [i]if feasible[/i] position being promoted within (by) the NDP is worthy of its own discussion.

Topp:

quote:

[b]Before committing troops to help continue this conflict,[/b] we have a duty - to those troops, and to our country - to ask precisely how further intervention would or could "finish the job." I suggest (as do many others) that at the current level of intensity, it will not finish the job. And that any conceivable level of escalation will also likely not "finish the job" [b]unless the U.S. is prepared to broaden the conflict into the neighbouring safe haven - with the consequences I outlined.[/b]

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]

Fidel

quote:


Originally posted by Cueball:
[b]I think that the imperialism [i]if feasible[/i] position being promoted within (by) the NDP is worthy of its own discussion.
[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ][/b]

Brian is suggesting no such thing. What he has done is point out for Campbell, now advocating for "Liberal" Democrats, is that the U.S. and its Canadian lap dogs are repeating strategic mistakes of the Vietnam war and the futility of the phony war on terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan:

quote:

[i]Are you proposing the conquest and permanent occupation of the Pashtun lands in both Afghanistan and Pakistan? Are you then proposing the necessary follow-on conquest and occupation of the rest of Pakistan? Are you prepared for the permanent deployment of the necessary troops (no doubt dwarfing the U.S. commitment in Iraq) required for this enterprise?

If you aren't, then you are proposing to reproduce the strategic mistakes the United States committed in Vietnam - permitting an undefeated enemy to operate out of safe havens; incrementally escalating to a new stalemate, at a higher level of violence, without victory.[/i]


Topp is saying it's futile. In fact, like the Vietnam war, there is no real U.S. intention to actually "win" in Afghanistan. Russian generals have advised us that it's unwinnable. The only thing left is an utterly insane and immoral war of attrition against an endless army of desperately poor people. The Taliban are not even the NVA or VC in this case. They are a creation of the CIA-Saudis-Pakistanis as are "al Qa'eda"

It's a phony war, and the USSA's economy is largely based on war. Absolute victory is never required or even the goal, only a long and dragged-out, pointless, profitable war. And when it does become politically unviable, their old friends the Taliban will be there to ensure theocratic feudalism displaces social democracy and ongoing suppression of a women's rights revolution began in the 1960s and 70s. War and chaos reign merrily, and that's what matters for capitalist accountants and their month-to-month balance sheets and quarterly profit projection reports to shareholders and SEC. War capitalism is never about ending war. It defeats the purpose.

Cueball Cueball's picture

That is not what Topp said about the Vietnam war. What he said about the Vietnam was is that it would have been winnable, had the US broadened the conflict, but they lost because they failed to broaden the war throughout South East Asia.

quote:

If you aren't, then you are proposing to reproduce [b]the strategic mistakes the United States committed in Vietnam - permitting an undefeated enemy to operate out of safe havens;[/b] incrementally escalating to a new stalemate, at a higher level of violence, without victory. I'm not sure Canada can bring peace to Afghanistan. But as a first step, we can choose not to make tragic mistakes like that.

The whole premise of Topp's statement is based on the same themes as that evoked when the right discusses the so called "Vietnam Syndrome", whic "must be overcome" so that the US may act forcefully and unilaterally on the world stage -- its just a matter of strategic resolve.

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]

West Coast Lefty

It is a good discussion, and I find myself (to my surprise) agreeing with many points from both Les and Brian, such as:

Les C wrote:

quote:

Unless you are content to continue the honourable tradition of being the marginal, ineffective conscience of the nation - and I don't think you are - there are two interconnected alternatives:

1) Enter a period of intense policy renewal to modernize the party and aggressively stake out centre-left political ground to capture disaffected Liberals in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces and potential Conservative/NDP switchers in the Western provinces


This is what we need to do but Les's focus is a bit narrow - we need to capture disaffected Libs everywhere, not just Ontario and Atlantic, Green voters confused by May's strategic voting messaging, and esp young people who didn't feel motivated to come to the polls.

It's clear that we've re-established our 1980's Broadbent base, but it's equally clear that we won't break through the 18-20% ceiling with the umpteenth version of the "kitchen table/working families" campaign next time.

Which brings me to Les' excellent suggestion that:

quote:

The NDP, in pursuing internal renewal, should invite all interested citizens to take part in the discussion. Give young people a reason to get involved in politics. Start a debate about a united left. Sponsor town hall meetings. Develop a method for public input in the policy renewal process. Commission papers. Launch a cross-country "listening" tour. Enlist NDP MPs and ask them to reach out to supporters of the other parties. Capture the agenda, downplay partisanship and emphasize hope. Try to recreate the Obama feeling in Canada by asking everyone to get involved.


I agree with the above but would add a strong internet/Facebook/Youtube/blogging aspect to the renewal process, again to engage young people, with babble itself, as well as the "Blogging Dippers" (or whatever their curent name is) potentially being a key delivery model for this engagement process. Commissioning "papers" and traditional partisan NDP events won't cut it with the Obama generation - truly interactive process and non-staged town hall meetings open to all are what we need.

Let the Libs rip each other apart yet again during their leadership, while the NDP talks about building a progressive movement in Canada. I don't see the focus necessarily as uniting or merging parties (as Brian states, neither the Libs or the Greens seem interested anyways), but rather defining a progressive agenda for the 21st century and building a grassroots movement to mobilize around it, regardless of which party is in power.

But in terms of a future NDP breakthrough, Brian hits it on the head in terms of defining the problem when he says:


quote:

The fundamental barrier to doubling our vote and winning office is trust.

It is generally agreed that our hearts are in the right place. Now we need to persuade that our heads are, too.

So to persuade a winning plurality of voters that we merit their support, we have some work to do on what we have to say:

- Libertarian economics as practiced by the former head of the U.S. Fed are, literally, bankrupt. The whole world can see that a more balanced market economy - with an appropriate role for the public interest, implemented and where necessary enforced through our democratic institutions - is the future. We can lead the discussion of what that needs to look like in Canada.

- Public services will prove their worth during the harder times coming. EI, public health care, child care & child benefits; public pensions, accessible training and education, smart public engagement in economic development. These are not going to look like frills in these times. We can lead the discussion about how to strengthen and modernize these services, and manage them fearlessly and effectively, so that they really work.


While the NDP's problem is winning the trust of a plurality of voters, Brian's tentative policy ideas above unfortunately represent more of the same-old NDP policy wonkese, which has zero resonance outside of party and labour insiders, and some academics.

Brian's last 2 bullets above could be taken directly from any Liberal platform since the 1993 Red Book, and it is that failure of vision and imagination in NDP policy that led in part to the rise of the Green Party as a viable political force, as well as a disaffection of young people and the general public from politics in general ("they're all the same")

Obama ran on simple and dramatic changes in direction for the US - end the Iraq war, health care for all Americans, ending dependence on foreign oil with a new green energy economy - and voters understood it, turnout went up dramaticaly esp with young people, etc.

As I posted in an earlier thread, the NDP's signature achievement is medicare - a radical change in Canada's social safety net based on a totally simple idea - health care is a universal right, regardless of income. It was the federal Libs that eventually brought medicare in nationally - but it would have never happened without the NDP, and if other parties want to steal our ideas and implement them, that is a victory for us as well.

So, what's the new medicare? Ending homelessness in Canada by 2020 would be one idea, a national child care program, restoring our manufacturing base by moving to a zero-carbon auto sector in 10 years, are just a few suggestions. I'm just putting those out as examples, there are many other great ideas that could be used besides those.

A simple, understandable rallying cause such as those suggested above, could serve both as the center piece of the NDP platform, and as a focal point for discussions with other parties under the "East of Lakehead" scenario.

This approach would brand the NDP in a positive way, help to overcome the "trust" issue by being specific as to what our priorities are, and focus our campaign on a positive vision for the future, as Obama did so well in the US.

Fidel

quote:


Originally posted by Cueball:
[b]That is not what Topp said about the Vietnam war. What he said about the Vietnam was is that it would have been winnable, had the US broadened the conflict, but they lost because they failed to broaden the war throughout South East Asia.[/b]

Topp makes a brief reference to the futility of [i]both[/i] warmongering strategies, whether it happens to be: [b][i]"proposing the necessary follow-on conquest and occupation of the rest of Pakistan? Are you prepared for the permanent deployment of the necessary troops (no doubt dwarfing the U.S. commitment in Iraq) required for this enterprise?"[/i][/b]

or,

[b][i]"proposing to reproduce the strategic mistakes the United States committed in Vietnam - permitting an undefeated enemy to operate out of safe havens; incrementally escalating to a new stalemate, at a higher level of violence, without victory."[/i][/b]

Our own Liberal Government of Canada volunteered Canadian soldiers to this U.S.-led "counterinsurgency" effort in the mid 2000's and without any debate about it in parliament. The NDP demanded debate and to know the details of how Canadian troops would be dealing with prisoners captured and who would be handling their detainment and basic human rights. I think it was U.S. stooge John Manley who told the real opposition NDP then that all that was a matter of "national security" which couldn't be divulged to our democratically elected politicians and taxpaying public. Shit-show Liberals!@

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]

Cueball Cueball's picture

BS. The arguement is full commitment or none.

Fidel

[b]Shit-Show Liberals[/b] That's who deserves full blame laying squarely on their shoulders for agreeing to this colonial administrative detail and Crazy George II-led quagmire.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Liberals are one thing. But this a full blown rendering of the extreme right wing militarist justification for an expanded war, tendered softly, with sugar and rhetorical questions.

Fidel

^^^^^^^Disinformation jockey alert!!!^^^^^

Stockholm

If you want to start a thread about whether or not you think the NDP is sincerely, really, actually, beyond a shadow of a doubt against the war in Afghanistan and also whether or not the NDP is really truly retroactively against the Vietnam War - then why not start a thread on that precise topic.

I think that the debate here is on what the future strategy ought to be for the NDP. We have already had enough of these "Certs is a candymint, no Certs is a breathmint" style debates on Afghanistan to choke a horse.

Cueball Cueball's picture

There is already a thread about unifying the liberals in Canada under one banner.

It was Topp who started the thread. He wants to start threads promoting his views, I will respond. The major discussion in the article linked in the OP is Afghanistan, comprising at least half of the discussion points. In fact it is the only issue that is discussed in terms of policy in most of the discussion.

Stockholm

...and Topp is unswervingly defending the NDP position that Canada should get out of Afghanistan - don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Hardly at all. He is saying that Canadian withdrawal is negotiable on the basis of a US policy that includes increased commitment and and invasion of Pakistan, in order to "finish the job".

jrootham

Read it again, he is saying that it is not possible to "finish the job" so we should leave.

I don't reject people who come to the right answers for the wrong reasons.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Having the wrong reasons, eventually leads to having the wrong conclusion, which is demonstrated here:

quote:

And that any conceivable level of escalation will also likely not "finish the job" [b]unless the U.S. is prepared to broaden the conflict into the neighbouring safe haven - with the consequences I outlined.[/b]

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]

Fidel

quote:


[b] with the consequences I outlined.[/b]

It doesn't sound like Brian thinks that even the "consequences" are worth it.

However, Paul Martin and his Liberal Government of Canada thought it was worth it and forged ahead throwing caution to the wind and consequences be damned. Because whatever team Crazy George II said was [b]A-OKAY[/b] aye-aye with our Liberal colonial administrators at the time.

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]

jrootham

I understand the general risk of conclusions following from premises, but strictly speaking, what is happening here is not a logical argument.

Brian is defending a given conclusion (we should not be in Afghanistan) not deriving a conclusion. He is doing that by pointing out that the logical consequences of that are bad, even if you start with imperialist premises.

I really don't see how this is a bad thing.

Cueball Cueball's picture

That might make some sense had he not argued that it was strategic mistakes that made the Vietnam war unwinnable. The essential postulate upon which his thesis is devined.

Tommy_Paine

I listened with interest this morning on CBC radio news when a member of the Liberal Party took a tough and disparaging tone towards Gerard Kennedy's current leadership aspirations. If I was Kennedy, I'd have been highly pissed and looking to break a nose.

Which seems to me to indicate that the Liberals are doing their best to compete with the Conservatives on the center right, and are willing to publically alienate the few progressively minded people left in the party.

I am told that there are genuine progressively minded people in the Liberal caucus. Personally, I don't believe it. I think, given the history of the Liberal party, a Rubicon of the soul is crossed when joining it. But I will suspend my disbelief, and say that the NDP should have no truck nor trade with the Liberals, but should leave the door open to those few I am told exist if they want a progressive political home.

So, unless a "Spearhead the unite the center left movement" includes the use of real spearheads, I see no reason to throw the Liberal anti worker party a life line.

With all due respect to campaign strategists, I think they take their efforts too seriously when it comes to winning and losing. I think strategists who are on the winning side of elections usually think they "won" because of stuff they did, and are probably wrong about it. Conversely, I think losing strategists blame themselves when circumstances dictated that they couldn't have won no matter what they did.

People unelect governments. The best a strategist can to is be in a position to benifit from that, and other factors that come to the fore that are largely out of their control.

There'd be no Barak Obama phenomenon without a George W. Bush [i]and[/i] a fortuitously timed economic melt down.

The NDP strategy seems to me to be one of "bite and hold". It's a winning strategy.

Eventually.

janfromthebruce

Re: Afghanistan and Canadians staying and backing up Obama as Campbell suggested - perhaps Campbell has been in the US too long and thus infected with the "war/US imperialism" mentality. Campbell does work for the [url=http://www.ndi.org/]National Democratic Institution (NDI)[/url], which is a

quote:

non-profit organization working to strengthen and expand democracy worldwide by promoting citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

It also suggests that

quote:

Democracies also promote economic growth more consistently and equitably than non-democratic political systems. It is no coincidence that the world's most prosperous and peaceful nations are also the most democratic. With unchecked power, governments squander resources, resulting ultimately in economic decline. Democracy building programs are, above all, an investment in peace and stability.

I had to chuckle here in that the US is a warmongering nation - although democratic - and has squandered resources, resulting in economic decline.

NDI also has a field office in Afghanistan and Pakistan so Campbell's organization has stake on ensuring that Afghanistan becomes a democracy. That said, I support the talk to the Taliban these days rather than more war.

Perhaps Campbell sees Canada as an extension of Obama's reach of bringing about change and thus needing supporters to back him up.

Incidentally, [url=http://www.ndi.org/about/staff/bios/mena/campbelll.asp]Les Campbell[/url] "joined NDI in 1994 and has directed Institute's programs in the MENA region since 1996" (14 years). Campbell recently authored with Thomas S. Axworthy The Democracy Canada Institute, A Blueprint (Centre for the Study of Democracy, Queen's University, 2005), so not surprised that Campbell a) been influenced by his adoptive home country (like Iggy another Canadian living abroad who agreed with invasion and also torture as ok); and b) sees that left of centre liberals have commonality with NDP (which I also agree). However, I don't see this declining influence and rump of the liberal party having had any real influence on the party in power since Trudeau no matter what they say during their campaigns.

Thus moving from the Afghanistan stance, I agree with this concept whole heartily

quote:

The NDP, in pursuing internal renewal, should invite all interested citizens to take part in the discussion. Give young people a reason to get involved in politics. Start a debate about a united left. Sponsor town hall meetings. Develop a method for public input in the policy renewal process. Commission papers. Launch a cross-country "listening" tour. Enlist NDP MPs and ask them to reach out to supporters of the other parties. Capture the agenda, downplay partisanship and emphasize hope. Try to recreate the Obama feeling in Canada by asking everyone to get involved.

I would also say that it shouldn't just be NDP MP driven but incorporating all those NDP and/or social democratic supporters, members etc to be a part of it, as part of the organization of townhall cross-country listening tour. I would jump at that in helping - I see as both a possibility of energizing the current base and expanding it. It also makes the NDP think of itself as Canadian - the idea that it's values are Canadian values (which we know to be generally true) and encompassing Canada.

Cueball Cueball's picture

quote:


Originally posted by janfromthebruce:
[b]I had to chuckle here in that the US is a warmongering nation - although democratic - and has squandered resources, resulting in economic decline.

NDI also has a field office in Afghanistan and Pakistan so Campbell's organization has stake on ensuring that Afghanistan becomes a democracy. That said, I support the talk to the Taliban these days rather than more war.

Perhaps Campbell sees Canada as an extension of Obama's reach of bringing about change and thus needing supporters to back him up.

Incidentally, Les Campbell "joined NDI in 1994 and has directed Institute's programs in the MENA region since 1996" (14 years). Campbell recently authored with Thomas S. Axworthy The Democracy Canada Institute, A Blueprint (Centre for the Study of Democracy, Queen's University, 2005), so not surprised that Campbell a) been influenced by his adoptive home country (like Iggy another Canadian living abroad who agreed with invasion and also torture as ok); and b) sees that left of centre liberals have commonality with NDP (which I also agree). However, I don't see this declining influence and rump of the liberal party having had any real influence on the party in power since Trudeau no matter what they say during their campaigns.
[/b]


You are right. There was no left wing element to that exchange.

It seemed to amount to a discussion about how to jockey for more personal power betwe Liberals. As you say, the organization that Les works for is one of these phony-balony NGO democracy think tanks, who work hand in glove with US government agencies, but try and appear neutral and this makes his support for his position highly suspect on the grounds of having a direct stake in the outcome. Likewise it is hard to believe that someone who has made a career as professional backroom organizer for a party would do anything less than protect their own personal political fiefdom, rather than to open the door to similarly skilled and acredited persons through merging the poltical organizations of 2 or more parties.

Good direction to take on these issues. Very important to see what vested interests persons might have at stake when "objectively" discussing policy and strategy.

genstrike

I think it is worth noting that Leslie Campbell is an assistant to a premier who supports the occupation of Afghanistan, uses provincial funds to promote war, has a garden supporting war in front of the legislature, and teamed up with Wal-Mart, Sears and Rona to carry out a yellow ribbon campaign targeting children.

And I have to agree with Cueball, I don't see any principled opposition to an immoral war anywhere in here.

Fidel

quote:


Originally posted by Cueball:
[b]
It seemed to amount to a discussion about how to jockey for more personal power betwe Liberals. As you say, the organization that Les works for is one of these phony-balony NGO democracy think tanks, who work hand in glove with US government agencies, but try and appear neutral and this makes his support for his position highly suspect on the grounds of having a direct stake in the outcome.[/b]

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest something I've considered possible before.

Yes, the NED was formed by the Reagan administration and is said to do today what the CIA used to do around the world covertly, which was bribe international officials, rig elections, and stir social unrest for purposes of regime change, and reporting false information to the western press as well as distributing false information to foreign citizens of targeted countries. Those were a few of the more benign tasks performed by the CIA during the height of their dirty tricks era. And they're still at it.

However, one of the most interesting aspects of these alleged democratizers is that they receive a hell of a lot of money from U.S. taxpayers for their so-called democracy building frontline agencies planted all over the globe. There are democratic party and Republican party affiliates in addition to American private enterprise groups.

What if more democratic elements were to infiltrate these CIA stooge groups and drawing on their vast U.S. taxpayer-funded resources to assert our own presence in those same countries?

[url=http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10127]Disaster in Afghanistan[/url] September 08

quote:

Few Canadians would know that there is a presidential election scheduled for Afghanistan in 2009. Hamid Karzai has announced that he will run again. After his tour of eastern Afghanistan, Jan Alekozai reported strong opposition to the local warlords and the Karzai government. He judged that Karzai would have a hard time getting [b]20%[/b] of the votes in the 2009 election. The people blame the Americans and NATO for the increase in the power of the warlords. The main opposition to Karzai will come from the United National Front, which is largely a coalition of the warlords and Islamist leaders based in the parliament. They have demanded a [b]change in the constitution[/b] to bring in a parliamentary system of government with political parties and [b]elections by proportional representation.[/b] The Front is dominated by the Islamist forces from the Northern Alliance. The Front has called for a new international meeting to settle the ongoing civil war in Afghanistan. This would be hosted by the United Nations and include all neighbouring states as well as representation from Afghanistan’s political groups, including the armed opposition. In late August Fazel Sangcharaki, speaking for the Front, stated that many foreign envoys have supported this proposal. [b]But the problem is the opposition of the U.S. government[/b]

What does NDI(and IRI) have to say about constitutional changes and proportional democracy for Afghanistan? Or are both of those affiliate groups of NED taking the exact same stand for political interference in Afghanistan, a U.S.-Saudi-Pakistani client state since the cold war?

Tommy_Paine

As far as the Afghan mission part of it goes, you guys follow these things in more detail than I, so correct me if I stray. Nicely.

Seems to me everyone is missing the real issue, at least as I understand it. And for that we have to go back to the Gulf War, and why Bush the Elder didn't remove Saddam Hussein back then-- the U.S. needed a proxy counter balance to possible Iranian hegemony in the region.

I know, you could say that Iraq after the gulf war under Hussein was in no military shape to counter Iranian forays into the region, but remember that it wouldn't have been too difficult to move American public opinion to a kissy kissy make up with Saddam in the face of Iranian expansionism in military or other forms.

That's the big blunder on Bush the Younger's part, removing the proxy. Now Americans have to do it themselves, which is costly in terms of money and American lives. And, Republican Administrations, as it turns out.

Which is why Obama can't reduce and pull out troops from Iraq without putting them on the other side of Iran, in Afghanistan. Maybe he could if Iraqi government could serve as a counterbalance to Iranian designs in the region. (or percieved Iranian designs) Or maybe he could if America was energy independant. Or maybe he could if Iran didn't feel so threatened, and their government moderated.

With none of these things about to happen in the next little while, it leaves Obama with putting troops into Afghanistan-- whether the Taliban is there or not, whether their safe spots in Pakistan are there or not.

If the Taliban is "defeated" and goes away, they'll have to invent a new Taliban to keep themselves there.

I guess that's the real issue for Canadians, really. What interest are we serving in all this, by participating?

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Tommy_Paine ]

janfromthebruce

quote:


Originally posted by Cueball:
[b]

You are right. There was no left wing element to that exchange.

It seemed to amount to a discussion about how to jockey for more personal power betwe Liberals. As you say, the organization that Les works for is one of these phony-balony NGO democracy think tanks, who work hand in glove with US government agencies, but try and appear neutral and this makes his support for his position highly suspect on the grounds of having a direct stake in the outcome. Likewise it is hard to believe that someone who has made a career as professional backroom organizer for a party would do anything less than protect their own personal political fiefdom, rather than to open the door to similarly skilled and acredited persons through merging the poltical organizations of 2 or more parties.

Good direction to take on these issues. Very important to see what vested interests persons might have at stake when "objectively" discussing policy and strategy.[/b]


Actually I did not say this: "You are right. There was no left wing element to that exchange." And your attempt to put words in my mouth will not change that fact. In the future, please do not make inferences about my comments or attempt to change their intent. Thank you in the future for respecting the integrity of my posts.

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: janfromthebruce ]

Webgear

quote:


Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
[b]As far as the Afghan mission part of it goes, you guys follow these things in more detail than I, so correct me if I stray. Nicely.

Seems to me everyone is missing the real issue, at least as I understand it. And for that we have to go back to the Gulf War, and why Bush the Elder didn't remove Saddam Hussein back then-- the U.S. needed a proxy counter balance to possible Iranian hegemony in the region.

I know, you could say that Iraq after the gulf war under Hussein was in no military shape to counter Iranian forays into the region, but remember that it wouldn't have been too difficult to move American public opinion to a kissy kissy make up with Saddam in the face of Iranian expansionism in military or other forms.

That's the big blunder on Bush the Younger's part, removing the proxy. Now Americans have to do it themselves, which is costly in terms of money and American lives. And, Republican Administrations, as it turns out.

Which is why Obama can't reduce and pull out troops from Iraq without putting them on the other side of Iran, in Afghanistan. Maybe he could if Iraqi government could serve as a counterbalance to Iranian designs in the region. (or percieved Iranian designs) Or maybe he could if America was energy independant. Or maybe he could if Iran didn't feel so threatened, and their government moderated.

With none of these things about to happen in the next little while, it leaves Obama with putting troops into Afghanistan-- whether the Taliban is there or not, whether their safe spots in Pakistan are there or not.

If the Taliban is "defeated" and goes away, they'll have to invent a new Taliban to keep themselves there.

I guess that's the real issue for Canadians, really. What interest are we serving in all this, by participating?

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Tommy_Paine ][/b]


Interesting assessment, I agree with most of your details.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

quote:


Originally posted by genstrike:
[b]I think it is worth noting that Leslie Campbell is an assistant to a premier who supports the occupation of Afghanistan, uses provincial funds to promote war, has a garden supporting war in front of the legislature, and teamed up with Wal-Mart, Sears and Rona to carry out a yellow ribbon campaign targeting children.

And I have to agree with Cueball, I don't see any principled opposition to an immoral war anywhere in here.[/b]


I absolutely agree. I sure hope the federal NDP are not following Gary Doer's lead on how to deal with the occupation of Afghanistan by Canadian military.

Cueball Cueball's picture

quote:


Originally posted by janfromthebruce:
[b]

Actually I did not say this: "You are right. There was no left wing element to that exchange." And your attempt to put words in my mouth will not change that fact. In the future, please do not make inferences about my comments or attempt to change their intent. Thank you in the future for respecting the integrity of my posts.

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: janfromthebruce ][/b]


Right again, you did not say "there was no left wing element to that exchange". My statement was just a summary of what I thought your statement indicated.

janfromthebruce

Fidel I would like to make this comment more clear for me

quote:

What if more democratic elements were to infiltrate these CIA stooge groups and drawing on their vast U.S. taxpayer-funded resources to assert our own presence in those same countries?
Disaster in Afghanistan September 08

What more democratic elements are you talking about?
Who do you mean by "to assert [b]our own presence[/b]in those same countries? Thanks.

Also thanks to the reference source. This statement was of interest to me as Malalai Joya had previously stated she wanted our troops to stay in Afghanistan, so this appears a shift in her position (unless I misunderstood her previously and thus stand corrected).

quote:

The Senlis Council reported in June 2008 that in their most recent recent public opinion survey “more than six out of ten of those interviewed ... said that foreign troops should leave.” This is the position taken by many of the democratic parties in Afghanistan. Malalai Joya, the outspoken critic of the Karzai government, has called for all foreign troops to leave the country. She argues that Afghans can settle this dispute better on their own.

janfromthebruce

quote:


Originally posted by laine lowe:
[b]

I absolutely agree. I sure hope the federal NDP are not following Gary Doer's lead on how to deal with the occupation of Afghanistan by Canadian military.[/b]


Actually Leslie Campbell is not an assistant to a premier as he works for NED in the US. He has not worked for any NDP govt since he started working for NED in 1994. I just wanting to correct the original mistake made and was repeated above. No slight intended.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Niether position is an antiwar position. Campbell is more active in waving the "think of the women and children flag" while justifying the occupation, while Topp appeals to the imperial spirit more directly. Both rely on the assumption that we have an absolute moral imparative to assert our desires.

I am sure they both have nice offices.

I thought you did a good job illustrating how Campbells position was clearly not a principled left stand on anything, in your earlier post. Topp's position, is not so, prima facie.

He even trots out the visage of Adolph Hitler, rather in the manner that one would expect of Condeleeza Rice, or any one of the numerous neo-conservatives that are presently clearing out their desks in Washington.

quote:

I'm not a pacifist. That debate was settled in our party in 1939 when our parliamentary caucus parted company with Woodsworth on the issue of World War II. But I agree with many thoughtful participants and observers of the conflict in Afghanistan that incrementally escalating it won't settle it.

What will? More troops and an expanded front.

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]

Tommy_Paine

quote:


Interesting assessment, I agree with most of your details.

I could have been more tedious. I think if there's a [i]ground zero[/i] in all this, it's probably the 1953 coup in Iran that first lead to widespread resentment of the U.S., and set up Shia Clergy as the vehicle for the aspirations of the Iranian people. It's a rogues gallery involved in that-- Churchill, Eden, Dulles, Eisenhower, and Teddy Roosevelt's grandson, Kermit.

In the interveining years between 1953 and the revolution, The U.S. backed opposition to the Shia clergy and the Iranian people became more and more viscious.

So, since the revolution that brought Khomeni to power, the U.S. has inadvertently enacted a policy of rewarding religious fanaticism, first by causing it, then rewarding it later in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation.

The overthrow of the Taliban after 9/11 marks the first time religious fanaticism in the region has been handed a set back.

In that case, I might see the Afghan mission as worthwhile, in the narrow view.

But, you know, a little bit of the long view back in 1953 would have cost a lot less in money and lives. Can't help but think we are staying in on a bad hand, because we've already bet too much not to see how it ends......

janfromthebruce

I believe that Brian was arguing with Campbell on Campbell's assertation that the liberal Canadian position which was what he was suggesting should be reconsidered. Topp did not suggest that was the NDP position. What you appear to be again asserting was disputed above, by Fidel, and I agree with that assessment.

I will repeat what he said, once, and I am not engaging again in arguing again in your pattern of negativity towards the NDP.

quote:

Brian is suggesting no such thing. What he has done is point out for Campbell, now advocating for "Liberal" Democrats, is that the U.S. and its Canadian lap dogs are repeating strategic mistakes of the Vietnam war and the futility of the phony war on terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan:

Cueball Cueball's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
[b]
The overthrow of the Taliban after 9/11 marks the first time religious fanaticism in the region has been handed a set back.[/b]

You mean the first time that western leaders did not bend over backwards to accomodate it in the name of fighting communism. The religious authoritarians have very well served the aims of western geo-political interests as the bullwark against the encroachment of communism throughout the Middle East, just as Pinochet, and the Junta in Argentina did in Lating America.

Cueball Cueball's picture

quote:


Originally posted by janfromthebruce:
[b]I believe that Brian was arguing with Campbell on Campbell's assertation that the liberal Canadian position which was what he was suggesting should be reconsidered. Topp did not suggest that was the NDP position. What you appear to be again asserting was disputed above, by Fidel, and I agree with that assessment.

I will repeat what he said, once, and I am not engaging again in arguing again in your pattern of negativity towards the NDP.
[/b]


Sorry Jan, nothing in the NDP Afghan resolution suggests that the withdrawal might be negotiable were the US to make a larger commitment to the war, and occupy Pakistan, as Topp suggests, quite clearly and repeatedly in various forms, using examples from the Vietnam war, right up today, and his final conclusion which reads, I will remind you:

quote:

[b]Before committing troops to help continue this conflict[/b], we have a duty - to those troops, and to our country - to ask precisely how further intervention would or could "finish the job." I suggest (as do many others) that at the current level of intensity, it will not finish the job.[b] And that any conceivable level of escalation will also likely not "finish the job" unless the U.S. is prepared to broaden the conflict into the neighbouring safe haven - with the consequences I outlined. [/b]

If one were simply illustrating the impossibility of this project, or disputing its moral validity, one would expect to see something that states that it is.

No. Topp quite literally states that the Vietnam war was a failure because of the US's strategic error of "permitting an undefeated enemy to operate out of safe havens" he concludes by asserting that there should be no further commitment of Canadian forces, [b]"unless the U.S. is prepared to broaden the conflict into the neighbouring safe haven[/b] - with the consequences I outlined."

He does not offer any opinion on those consequences, other than to note that it means the occupation of Pakistan, and asks that Campbell be prepared for it. That is all:

quote:

Are you proposing the conquest and permanent occupation of the Pashtun lands in both Afghanistan and Pakistan? Are you then proposing the necessary follow-on conquest and occupation of the rest of Pakistan? Are you prepared for the permanent deployment of the necessary troops (no doubt dwarfing the U.S. commitment in Iraq) required for this enterprise?

Withdrawal, unless victory is clearly achievable, and the US commits the force to occupy Pakistan. Not the slightlest hint from Topp that occupying Pakistan might be morally wrong.

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]

janfromthebruce

quote:


Originally posted by Cueball:
[b]

If one were simply illustrating the impossibility of this project, or disputing its moral validity, one would expect to see something that states that it is.

No. Topp quite literally states that the Vietnam war was a failure because of the US's strategic error of "permitting an undefeated enemy to operate out of safe havens" he concludes by asserting that there should be no further commitment of Canadian forces, [b]"unless the U.S. is prepared to broaden the conflict into the neighbouring safe haven"[/b] - with the consequences I outlined.

He does not offer any opinion on those consequences, other than to note that it means the occupation of Pakistan, and asks that Campbell be prepared for it. That is all.[/b]


This line of reasoning appears repetitive - straw in hand comes to mind here. I am just not into it. So I will not be responding to it in the future.

Cueball Cueball's picture

I fully anticipated this response. Repetition is only a sign that I do not accept your rewriting of Topp's statement in order to make it conform to what you wish it to say. But I'll note its Topp's line of reasoning, not my own. I merely offer up the quotes to establish clearly what Topp is saying, not what you would like him to be saying.

In Topps: own words, one more time:

quote:

[b]I'm not a pacifist.[/b] That debate was settled in our party in 1939 when our parliamentary caucus parted company with Woodsworth on the issue of World War II. But I agree with many thoughtful participants and observers of the conflict in Afghanistan that incrementally escalating it won't settle it.

Are you proposing the conquest and permanent occupation of the Pashtun lands in both Afghanistan and Pakistan? Are you then proposing the necessary follow-on conquest and occupation of the rest of Pakistan? Are you prepared for the permanent deployment of the necessary troops (no doubt dwarfing the U.S. commitment in Iraq) required for this enterprise?

[b]If you aren't, then you are proposing to reproduce the strategic mistakes the United States committed in Vietnam - permitting an undefeated enemy to operate out of safe havens; incrementally escalating to a new stalemate, at a higher level of violence, without victory.[/b] I'm [b]not sure[/b] Canada can bring peace to Afghanistan. But as a first step, we can choose not to make tragic mistakes like that.

[SNIP]

[b]Before committing troops to help continue this conflict, we have a duty - to those troops, and to our country - to ask precisely how further intervention would or could "finish the job."[/b] I suggest (as do many others) that at the current level of intensity, it will not finish the job. [b][i]And that any conceivable level of escalation will also likely not "finish the job" unless the U.S. is prepared to broaden the conflict into the neighbouring safe haven - with the consequences I outlined.[/i][/b]



Topp's is quite clear that he is "[b]not sure[/b] Canada can bring peace to Afghanistan". Well saying you are "not sure" is not at all the same as saying I am "sure" they can not, and we should withdraw. Topp says quite the opposite, and outlines the terms on which a new commitment might be considred: Full comitment to an outright occupation of Pakistan.

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]

Fidel

quote:


Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
[b]
If the Taliban is "defeated" and goes away, they'll have to invent a new Taliban to keep themselves there.[/b]

Exactly. So they'd best funnel support to Northern Alliance commanders in Karzai's puppet regime, "brothers in creed to the Taliban" as RAWA described them - so that they in turn sell even more weapons to the Taliban(said Malalai Joya in so many words)

Fidel

quote:


Originally posted by janfromthebruce:
[b]

This line of reasoning appears repetitive - straw in hand comes to mind here. I am just not into it. So I will not be responding to it in the future.[/b]


You'll find he either deliberately or innocently - and it's hard to tell which it is sometimes - misinterprets and misconstrues what is said and ad lib's quite [i]liberally[/i] in most discussions surrounding the NDP. I've actually never met anyone so obssessed with the NDP and spreading disinformation wrt the NDP.

Cueball Cueball's picture

quote:


Before committing troops to help continue this conflict, we have a duty - to those troops, and to our country - to ask precisely how further intervention would or could "finish the job." I suggest (as do many others) that at the current level of intensity, it will not finish the job. And that any conceivable level of escalation will also likely not "finish the job" unless the U.S. is prepared to broaden the conflict into the neighbouring safe haven - with the consequences I outlined.

What are the consequences that Topp outlines, then Fidel?

Webgear

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Webgear ]

Fidel

quote:


Originally posted by Cueball:
[b]

What are the consequences that Topp outlines, then Fidel?[/b]


I, too, am unable to glean what you falsly claim Topp says are positive consequences for escalating the conflict in Afghanistan. Don't ask me to find something that isn't there. That's your job as the official in-house purveyor of rabid anti-NDP rhetoric.

quote:

Originally posted by Webgear:
[b]Have you ever wonder what Malalai Joya political and family connections are?

What do we really know about her?[/b]


Apparently whatever connections her family may have had in Afghanistan fled the country at a time when U.S.-funded warlords and foreign mercenaries tore Afghanistan apart from stern to stem while NATO leaders turned their backs to it all.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Oh you can't find that part. You don't know if they are good or bad consequences? Then why did you underline that phrase as if it was relevant to this discussion in an earlier post?

Here I will help you. The consequences are outlined in the section where Topp warns against repeating the strategic error of the Vietnam war, when the US permited "an undefeated enemy to operate out of safe havens". It is either getting into a grinding unwinable conflict or:

quote:

Are you proposing the conquest and permanent occupation of the Pashtun lands in both Afghanistan and Pakistan? Are you then proposing the necessary follow-on conquest and occupation of the rest of Pakistan? Are you prepared for the permanent deployment of the necessary troops (no doubt dwarfing the U.S. commitment in Iraq) required for this enterprise.

Topp, in no sense whatsoever, makes any statement about wether or not these consequences (the occupation of Pakistan) are bad or good, he merely outlines them as part of his thesis on military necessities. You would think, that if he thought they were bad he would say so. No its either total occupation, or repeating the mistake of the Vietnam war.

In fact, he later goes on to say that only if the US accepts these consequences and commits to the occupation of Pakistan then Canadian troop commitment would be negotiable, and Canadian troops might be committed to the conflict.

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Cueball ]

Fidel

quote:


Originally posted by Cueball:
[b]
Topp, in no sense whatsoever, makes any statement about wether or not these consequences are bad or good, he merely outlines them as part of his thesis on military necessities.[/b]

Topp is saying, essentially, that none of Crazy George nor our yes-men in Ottawa dating back to the Chretien-Martin Liberals have any idea on how to bring about peace in Afghanistan. And the NDP never agreed to this aggressive U.S.-led combat mission in Afghanistan. Therefore, I think Brian Topp is basically leading Les Campbell to realize the only real option is to pull out of Afghanistan. And perhaps Obama will have a similar epiphany when he realizes what a hopeless quagmire is Crazy George's foreign policy for "YeeHaw" Our Liberals and Tories would certainly never come to that conclusion on their own and instead await further orders from Warshington.

quote:

[b]"But I agree with many thoughtful participants and observers of the conflict in Afghanistan that incrementally escalating it won't settle it."[/b]

The NDP is a democratic party with very many people holding different views on a wide variety of issues. I'll have to disagree with Topp as to his opinion that the U.S. military allowed NVA and VC safe havens in surrounding countries. That was definitely true for the U.S.-British-backed and Chinese supported Khmer Rouge. But the doctor and the madman bombed the living shit out of Cambodia and Laos in an attempt to cut off the supply trail. There were no safe havens in Cambodia except for maybe Pol Pot's boys and guys like John Kerry who said he was there to deliver weapons to Cambodians and Khmer Rouge.

[ 07 November 2008: Message edited by: Fidel ]

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