Thursday, April 12, 2007

us again

How is this Canada? We turn over detainees in ..wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The mission in Afghanistan has been longstanding. Normally a Canadian mission mostly enables security forces to keep the peace during rebuilding missions. It is our international heritage to contain and rebuild, to calm and support. Our military is not huge, and rightly so as our money is spent on infrastructure and standard of living. Our main military export therefore, is normally peace, albeit with the support of armed and trained troops.

Blue helmet missions are diminishing and have been for several years. We have argued not so publicly that the CIA should not have permission to land planes here as that makes us a party to prisoner transfer and we have no idea where these people might end up. We have at least had conversation on the subject, even if the outcome was not as I wished.

Now though, the mission has changed. Our mission is turning far more militant in Afghanistan and mainly we are supporting American troops militarily. In this fashion, we are implicit and explicit in threatening civilians and coercing the moderate. This will leave a lasting imprint in the area that Canadians are not to be trusted and cannot be seen as peaceful or supportive.

The transfer of prisoners too has become darker than our recent past. By turning detainees over the Afghan forces with no oversight or special provisions ensuring that they will be treated as they should be under the Geneva convention, we again are implicit in any subsequent torture and mistreatment of these people. Do they have information we need? Of course they do! They are Afghani people with a rich cultural heritage and a long history of civil unrest. Who better to tell us which areas need the most focus? Who better to educate our soldiers about where Taliban forces may wish to hit moderate Muslims? Who better to stand with us as we attempt to reach out to our brothers in a painful and desperate moment? But instead we turn them against each other, turn our backs towards them and reload.

I have long argued for the harnessing of a hugely powerful sustainable form of hydroelectricity, disgust. If we had the technology, I'm sure we could run at least half the country on the sheer torque of Lester Pearson spinning like a turbine in his grave.

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