Friday, February 13, 2009

Siddiqui: Missing out on Obama's Afghan Plan.

This is from the Star.
Actually Canada is not missing out. We are there and participating in the military and other aspects of the mission. Harper for his part has left room for a non-military involvement in Afghanistan after 2011.
The Afghans are right when they think that reforms in Afghanistan to conform with western value sounds like imperialism and colonialism. That is exactly what it is. As long as the govt. remains a western puppet client state even the progressive non-military help that Siddiqui speaks of will still be part of that project. Harper may very well divert more money to such purposes should Obama request it.

Missing out on Obama's Afghan plan - Opinion - Missing out on Obama's Afghan plan
February 12, 2009 Haroon Siddiqui
A fundamental shift is underway in American policy on Afghanistan. And Canada should be scrambling to be part of the process.
If we don't, Barack Obama will be handing us, and all the NATO members in the Afghan mission, a fait accompli in about two months.
We saw what he did Monday at his first presidential press conference. He greased the skids under Hamid Karzai. And he committed the U.S. to a broad military, diplomatic and development strategy in a "regional approach," with Pakistan as "a stalwart ally."
That was only a hint of what's happening behind the scenes in Washington and publicly in Asia, where Obama's special envoy Richard Holbrooke is on the road.
The Harper government seems clued out. There was a touch of naïveté when Admiral Mike Mullen, chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, came calling Tuesday. Ottawa's reaction was: Whoopee! He didn't ask for our military commitment beyond February 2011.
In fact, the U.S. has not only given up on the allies contributing more troops, it has decided to fight the Taliban with an overwhelmingly American force rather than co-ordinate the NATO forces.
The Obama administration has acknowledged what Bush and Harper didn't: Afghanistan is "a mess" (Joe Biden); "a narco-state" (Hillary Clinton); "our greatest military challenge" (Robert Gates); "much tougher" than Iraq (Holbrooke).
Obama is refocusing the mission. Gates: "Our primary goal is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists to attack the U.S. and allies."
So it's back to the future – to redo what was already done in 2001.
After toppling the Taliban and denying Al Qaeda the sponsorship of a state, the Afghan mission defaulted into a white man's burden: establishing democracy, liberating women, educating little girls, dragging Afghans into modernity, etc.
As valuable as each endeavour is, the narrative sounded to most Afghan ears as the rationale of European imperialists and colonialists.
Obama has three separate reviews/initiatives underway:
Mullen and Gen. David Petraeus will replicate the Iraq military surge. Working with relatively uncorrupted tribal leaders, they will try to minimize civilian casualties and promote local reconciliation and good government.
Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution and Holbrooke will think through all the non-military, economic and diplomatic options.
Holbrooke has been on the road in Pakistan and will be in Afghanistan and, yes, India. He has been warned that killing civilians in U.S. missile attacks in the border areas of Pakistan is no way to battle the Taliban/Al Qaeda.
A $10 billion economic package, designed by Biden for the tribal areas, is to be extended to all of Pakistan to win over public opinion and support its new, still-teetering civilian government. There will be monitoring so that aid does not end up with the military, as it did with the $10 billion given by George Bush to Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
"Pakistan needs tough love," says Shuja Nawaz of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council of the United States, in Washington, and author of Crossed Swords, a study of the Pakistan army's repeated imposition of military rule.
Obama's multi-pronged approach needs much non-military help, which he will be calling for in the days ahead. This should be music to Canadian ears. We should be offering help to strengthen the Afghan civil service, judiciary, election commission, community policing, human rights, etc., and to undertake development work in Pakistan. What we have from Ottawa instead is silence.

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