Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rethinking the Afghan pullout date.

Incredible but I guess not in the context of mainstream media commentary. Afghanistan has simply been a military mistake not a violation of international law and a showcase for the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war and naked aggression against any state that is not fighting the war on terror as the US desires. Now we are supposed to get back in there and help out even after the 2011 withdrawal date. That is we are going to the US imperialists correct their mistake. Of course in the process more Canadian lives will be lost but if it helps stabilise the US imperial misson that is not in vain I guess. What an irony that Harper the right wing ideologue makes more sense than Travers or his so-called liberal buddy Obama in the US. Even Travers recognises that the best the US imperialists can hope for is some sort of negotiated settlement in which the most that is gained is a government that is not openly hostile to the US. That government already sentences people to death for converting from Islam to Christianity and likewise for publishing material regarded as offending against Islam. As well it throws a female parliamentarian out of the legislature for pointing out what is fact, that warlords are in that august establishment who have violated human rights. Three cheers for Canada's sacrifices in helping in the US PNAC project.

Rethinking that Afghan pullout date
Nov 08, 2008 04:30 AM
) James Travers
OTTAWA-An America that now expects Barack Obama to walk on water is about to challenge the ages-old axiom that it's impossible to step into the same river twice. Afghanistan is the designated test site; the experiment is overflowing with implications for Canada.
In making Obama president-elect, U.S. voters made another choice beyond Democrat over Republican, young over old, black over white. They also chose Afghanistan over Iraq.
Obama's military priority is clear even if he is less arbitrary now about pulling troops out of the "bad" Middle East war to commit them to the "good" one in Asia. Iraq, the albatross of George W. Bush's foreign policy, is the past and the future is Afghanistan, once again the centrepiece of the misleadingly labelled War on Terror.
History, it seems, is being rewound. Little more than five years ago, Washington shifted its focus from Afghanistan to Iraq with eerily similar consequences for both countries. Early and easy successes morphed into long, difficult and financially draining struggles, if not outright failures.
Afghanistan, which has claimed 98 Canadian lives since 2002 and will suck more than $20 billion from the treasury by the scheduled 2011 withdrawal, suffered from the beginning from too modest an international effort. Instead of securing and then rebuilding the country with overwhelming force, the U.S. and its allies tried to rescue a failed state on the cheap.
Obama is committed to correcting the military mistake. Along with promising to send 12,000 more troops, Obama threatened during the campaign to deny sanctuary to the Taliban and its parasitical ally, Al Qaeda, by striking across the border into Pakistan.
Even if better late than never, a more muscular response, combined, finally, with a coherent, overarching strategy, won't produce the victory that was always more political fantasy than military reality. Afghanistan today is different, not changed. Insurgent attacks are bolder, more sophisticated and deadlier than at any time since 2001 when the Taliban fell. Afghans are weary of endemic government corruption, the absence of security and presence of foreign troops whose operations too frequently kill civilians.
Still, there's hope in the situation's futility. As long as NATO stays, the Taliban can't win. That battleground stalemate is the necessary catalyst for political accommodation, the most effective and often only way to end insurgencies.
Those compromises are never more elusive than when the warring parties are hunkered down on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum, as they are in Afghanistan. But it's equally true that the status quo isn't infinitely sustainable, not for Western democracies notoriously impatient to escape distant conflicts, or even for the Taliban with its home-field advantage.
Sooner or later there will be peace talks. It's that inevitability that makes Obama's attempt to put the U.S. foot back in the same river so important. It's that certainty that makes so wonky the arbitrary, unilateral Canadian decision, announced in the heat of a federal election, to bring the troops home.
No one wants another life or dollar wasted in a lost cause and no one can say this country hasn't shouldered more than its share of the burden. But the blood was spilled and money spent for a purpose. That purpose can best be achieved now by unequivocally signalling the Taliban – and the new U.S. administration – that Canada will stay to reach the imperfect peace that in Afghanistan is all that's possible.
James Travers' column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

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