Midnight Politico

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Alheli Picazo is a retired elite athlete who's still passionate about health, fitness and human kinetics. After the conclusion of her athletic career, Picazo became keenly interested in politics and is now actively involved in promoting and contributing to the progressive cause. Picazo's goal is to engage in a meaningful political debate and combat apathy by shedding light on the information and stories that traditional media sources don't always provide.

It's time for an open, honest debate on Afghanistan

| April 5, 2010

As the date for withdrawal from Afghanistan by the Canadian forces approaches, pressure to remain in the battle mounts amid two high profile requests for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reconsider his decision to abandon the Afghan mission.

On March 29, in an interview with CTV's Tom Clark, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the contribution of the Canadian forces, explaining why the Americans feel it's important that we continue our NATO commitment:

"We are very grateful for the Canadian Forces, the Canadian government, and most of all the Canadian people, with the support and solidarity they've shown with us in this mission in Afghanistan. We would obviously like to see some form of support to continue, because the Canadian forces have a great reputation. They work really well with the American troops and the other members of the coalition...There's a really close working relationship, and I think our militaries have become even closer because of this deployment...We believe, in the United States, with the new strategy that president Obama has set forth, we're making progress. It's been a long slog, trying to learn how to take on these insurgents, to have great militaries like our Countries do, but to have to go back to basically guerilla warfare, asymmetric warfare to take on the enemy...we've made a lot of progress and we would very much look forward to having Canada involved in any way you think appropriate."

"...The (Canadian) military could switch more into a training role, instead of a combat role; A logistics support role instead of the front line combat. Certainly the non military functions of working to encourage development, better governance, the rule of law, all the pieces of the strategy that have to be married with the military and Canada has a particular commitment to, and experience with, that kind of development work that would be very useful."

Just 24 hours after Clinton's remarks, U.K foreign secretary David Millband appeared on CTV, expressing the British position regarding Canada's proposed troop withdrawal:

"Of course we want you to be there. We went in together and the best thing would be if we stay together, and only go out together. I've seen for myself the remarkable bravery of Canadian officers and troops in the south of Afghanistan. I've talked to your soldiers and your officers, they made a remarkable contribution, they're making a real difference in that country, and they're making a real difference to the coalition effort...From my point of view it's absolutely clear; We're a 43 nation coalition, and we're strongly united. Canadians are very, very good at diplomacy, at aid, at development, and also at the military effect, and so wherever in that spectrum you can make a contribution, it will be welcome. But your military contribution, both in a combat role and in a training role, mentoring role, is very very important indeed."

"...we've all got a job to do, there's a new commander, General McChrystal, is doing an outstanding job in developing a strategy that protects the Afghan population, he's giving the space for the civilian effort to take effect."

Although Harper is holding firm to the 2011 pullout date, at least one senior Conservative caucus member has come forward in support of extending the mission. Conservative Senator Hugh Segal feels "we have lost too many people and we have made too much of a contribution and we've made some considerable progress that we do not, to quote the Prime Minister, 'cut and run'."

It does seem a little more than ironic that Harper, who in 2003 gave an impassioned speech* to the House of Commons imploring Canada to join George W. Bush in the United States' invasion of Iraq, has completely lost interest in Afghanistan. His lack of commitment happens to come as the United States finally has a president who possesses both a strategy, and firm commitment to, the Afghan war.

The desire for Canada to continue its presence in Afghanistan is not limited to our NATO coalition partners; Family members of soldiers killed in Afghanistan are also questioning Harper's arbitrary withdrawal date, fearing that not seeing the mission through to the end will mean their loved ones died in vain.

Myles Kennedy, the father of Pte. Kevin Kennedy who was killed in a roadside blast on Easter Sunday in 2007, believes "we came in to do a job, and our job will not be complete if (Harper) pulls out the whole group." Kennedy's faith in the success of the mission is strong, a CTV report noting "(Kennedy) was amazed at the scale of NATO's buildup for this spring's planned offensive in Kandahar, and for the first time since his son's death...he's optimistic that war can be turned around."

Canadians need an open, honest debate about the possibility of remaining in Afghanistan post 2011, and Parliament should revisit the 2008 motion for troop withdrawal to discuss the merits and drawbacks of either extending, or ending, the Afghan mission. It's clear that the expertise, tenacity, and effectiveness of the Canadian Forces has had a positive impact on our NATO allies; Their request for our continuance in Afghanistan demonstrates their belief in Canada's importance to the ultimate success of the mission.

Canadian men and women who have volunteered for combat on behalf of an entire nation deserve to have their future roles in Afghanistan mapped out through careful consultation between Parliament and leaders of the Canadian military; Not by a Prime Minister who'd sooner ignore the entire situation than definitively answer the urgent requests being levelled at his government.

*It's unclear as to whether Harper plagiarized the speech given by Australian Prime Minister John Howard two days prior to his own address to Parliament, or whether both men had received a pre-written argument straight from the Bush administration.

(This discussion is continues: Debating Afghanistan:The case for withdrawal)

UPDATE April 8: Conservative Senator Hugh Segal in the Toronto Star –There’s so much more to be done in Afghanistan

UPDATE April 11: Canada will remain in Afghanistan beyond 2011 

UPDATE April 12: Afghan president Hamid Karzai threatens to block NATO offensive

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Comments

For a good article from the Globe and Mail, go to Canada complicit in TORTURE: Part 2. Read the last post. With Richard Colvin giving testimony today before the Military Police Complaints Commission, I'm surprised this subject isn't the favorite flavor of the day on babble.

The article explains what we are doing in Afghanistan. Provides one (of many) reasons why the war is immoral, unjust and illegal and why we should LEAVE Afghanistan NOW.

The article also sheds light on why Harper forced then Foreign Affairs minister Maxime Bernier to state that he had "misspoken" (whatever that means), apologize and retract his statement he made after he returned from Afghanistan opining that he felt the Kandahar governor should be replaced.

Light is also shed upon the fact that Hillier and the other two generals who made public statements in Ottawa on November 25, 2009 lied concerning Richard Colvin's testimony and why.

Thanks M. Specter for the link. What a useless and pathetic article that was.

Point/counterpoint:

Globe and Mail Editorial, April 11, 2010 wrote:

... and a hardening of attitude against the Taliban.

http://www.rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/davemarkland/2010/04/military-poll-s...

Globe and Mail Editorial, April 11, 2010 wrote:

... In December, Barack Obama laid out a comprehensive justification for the troop surge in Afghanistan in a half-hour speech to the audience most affected by the policy - cadets who would soon be fighting there.

http://original.antiwar.com/galloway/2009/12/11/once-again-were-marching...

 

Too bad rabble doesn't give us points of view that aren't completely congruent with those of the Globe and Mail editorial board.

Nice the G&M finally caught up to what i've been saying for a while now.

Who needs Rabble.ca when we've got the Globe and Mail?

I don't come to rabble.ca to find out what Hillary Clinton, David Milliband, Tory hacks/politicians and the mainstream media have to say about an issue.  I can read the corporate media to find that out.

I come to rabble to find out what the voiceless have to say. What are activists, NGO's and Afghan civil society organizations saying?   What are progressive academics saying?  What are people who share my values of peace, social justice and equality saying?

These are the things that make me come to rabble.

 

 

Thank you everyone for the impassioned debate. Also, you have provided great links and information. Please look for part 2 of this discussion on Tuesday.

Here is another very good article on this subject from the same source.

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/04/05/afghanistan...

Doug Bandow (paraphrased) wrote:

The [Harper] administration should be withdrawing [Canadian] troops, not expanding [Canada's] force presence in Afghanistan. When considering war, officials should bear in mind the Hippocratic Oath: first do no harm. We are failing to meet that obligation in Afghanistan.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/doug-bandow/the-inhumanity-of-war_b_524130...

N.B. (In regard to the second link,) Afghan casualty figures differ widely according to the source.

How can there be an honest debate? In order to have an open an honest debate, we need open and honest politicians.
Zio-NAZI-Harper

In order to have an open and honest debate, you have to openly address critical facts that you will never see in the manufactured garbage mainstream media.

For example, on March 29, 2010 an anonymous hero leaked classified documents revealing how CIA is working with governments and media to manipulating public opinion to Europeans.

What makes you think that the Canadian government isn't working hand in glove with such despicable intentions in mind?

Here is an article on this subject, and links to these classified documents here

I am ravenise, and I approve of this message.

Should we have had a debate over Afghanistan?

Absolutely.

That debate should have taken place in 2006 and 2008 and should have included input from the Canadian public.

Instead, both times, Harper handed the Liberals an ultimatum: This is a vote of confidence issue. Either you vote in favor of the War Resolution to escalate Canada's military engagement or you vote against it and face an election.

The way the article was presented was in this format: Let's talk about introducing "choice" in Canada's health care system. Then presenting only arguments that are in favor of "choice".

When it comes to health care, "choice" is George Orwellian goodspeak for "Let's introduce privatization to our health care."

Privatizing health care benefits big pharma and big health insurance companies.

What you want to do is give pro war arguments for the purpose of setting them up as straw man arguments. Straw man arguments that are beaten down with logically and morally stronger antiwar arguments.

This past Saturday, parents of Canadian soldiers who died during Easter in 2007, went to Afghanistan to commemorate their loss.

The two main arguments the media reported (I don't know why the media didn't report any antiwar views) as excuses for escalating the war were:

1. Otherwise our soldiers will have died in vain.

2. We will not achieve the fruits of the "good" we have so far done.

This to me is the result of brainwashing. Such brainwashing or indoctrination can be reversed by asking the following questions:

What is war?

War is killing, injuring and destroying.

Who benefits from war?

The arms industry, the Pentagon, the Defense Department (their combined budget approved by Congress and the Obama White House for 2010 is $907 billion. You think they're going to give that up by ending war and paranoia?), NATO, the military officer class, big oil and big mining industries and their sock puppets who they put into power - including (until now and hopefully this change for the better will last) Stephen Harper.

That is who/that is what the U.S./NATO/ISAF soldiers and between 12,000 - 36,000 Afghans died for.

Search the internet for some hard figures on the amount of progress (good) we have achieved (any category/index) in Afghanistan, and you will find that we have not made any progress. In all indexes, we have been regressing, not progressing in Afghanistan. Since 2002, things have been steadily getting worse in Afghanistan, not better.

This should come as no surprise. War is evil. Only evil comes from evil (war). Democracy, human rights, equality, respect for human life and for others, education for children, health care, development and reconstruction do not come from the point of a gun or bayonet, or by shelling or dropping bombs on people or their homes or by maiming or murdering people.

This is the big lie that the more socially aware need to bring to the attention of the less aware among us.

Picazo, you've got to be fucking kidding me!

We need an "open, honest debate" about whether Canada is really going to pull out after 2011? And your idea of "open and honest" is to quote the lies of Hilary Clinton and David Miliband at us?

Where were you when Parliament had the debate and decided the issue already?

Only the most craven toadies of the Obama-Clinton-Miliband war criminals are calling for Canada to keep fighting in Afghanistan after 2011. For you to suggest that Stephen Harper has gone soft on the "Mission" and is letting down the troops is at best a naïve assessment of the man, and at worst, complicity in the right-wing drive to perpetuate an illegal imperialist war.

Why does rabble publish this shit?

Yes, I am limited to space, but will have a follow up article with the other side of the argument. Thanks for your feedback!

While I'm not going to call this "pro war crap", I have to admit I am surprised at the tone of the article. It's not what I expected from the title of the piece.

The people you chose to quote seem to think we need to stay in the war to justify the deaths of our citizens, but I know there is a greater consensus out there to withdraw before we lose anymore lives.  I think if we're to engage in an open and honest debate, both sides need to be represented, and I think that's where your article faulted a little bit. 

I'm no fan of Harper, and knowing that he was holding firm to a withdrawal date is probably one of the only points I've ever supported. Reading articles that criticize Harper on Rabble is not a new thing, but reading an article criticizing Harper for not considering to stay in the war post 2011 is ... well crazy. This war has been going on for 8 years now.  It's not working, and no amount of political pressure about how we're turning the tide will convince me that staying there will do anything but further the support of killing innocent people. 

Peace > war.

I am hardly pro war, and am not encouraging Canada to continue a role in Afghanistan. I am simply saying that Parliament needs to have an open discussion on the matter and either renew the commitment to fully withdrawal in 2011, or agree to take on a new role. But the issue needs to be talked about and not simply ignored because it's uncomfortable to talk about.

What kind of a one sided, pro war crap article is this?

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