Afghanistan: Canada joins America's "ugly little war"

Afghanistan: Canada joins America's "ugly little war"

Postby Oscar » Tue Jun 26, 2007 8:39 pm

Canada joins America's "ugly little war"

Contributed by John W. Warnock
Tuesday, 03 October 2006

"After watching Pte. Josh Klukie die, the members of 4 Platoon, Bravo Company, vow to finish their ugly little war." - Globe and Mail, October 2, 2006

Why are Canadian armed forces fighting a war in Afghanistan? The official position of the Canadian government is that we are there to prevent the relapse of that country into a "failed state" where the Taliban regains political control. Canadian forces support the democratically elected government headed by Hamid Karzai, which includes training the new national armed forces and police.

We are helping to extend the central government's control over the large areas of the country which have traditionally been controlled by local ethnic groups, their militias, and their "warlords." While the preponderance of Canada's spending has gone to support our military forces in Afghanistan, our Liberal and Conservative governments have emphasized that we are also there to implement humanitarian assistance programs. This view is strongly supported by the mass media and Canada's "embedded" reporters in Afghanistan.

Short memory

How quickly Canadians conveniently forget the origins of this war. Following the disaster of 9/11 in New York and Washington, Art Eggleton, the Minister of National Defence, immediately announced that Canadian forces operating within U.S. military units would participate in any U.S. operations in Afghanistan designed to eliminate the al Qaeda organization and even to replace the Taliban regime which protected them.

President George W. Bush took his case to NATO, which on October 2 gave its full support to a US/UK military attack on Afghanistan. Enough evidence was presented to convince the European governments that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were behind the 9/11 attack. For the first time NATO invoked Article 5, the joint defence clause, that holds that an attack upon one member is an attack against all. The Chretien government strongly supported this decision. Tony Blair spoke to a convention of the Labour Party, describing and promoting the forthcoming attack on Afghanistan. President Bush declared that no negotiations were being made and rejected offers by the Taliban government to close al Qaeda bases and extradite bin Laden for trial in a third country or an international court.

The UN General Assembly condemned the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon and called for "international co-operation to bring justice to the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of the outrages." Back in 1991 UN Secretary General Perez de Cuellar set forth basic principles for solving the political conflict in Afghanistan:

(1) The necessity of preserving the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political ndependence and non-aligned and Islamic character of Afghanistan;

(2) The recognition of the right of the Afghan people to determine their own form of government and to choose their economic, political and social system, free from outside intervention, subversion, coercion or constraint of any kind whatsoever.

Massive bombing attack

Yet on October 7, 2001 the United States and British forces unilaterally launched a massive bombing attack on Afghanistan. In the ground war that followed they supported the warlords of the Northern Alliance in their efforts to overthrow the Taliban government.

On that very day Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced that Canada would contribute a military force to support the US/UK "war on terrorism," and Operation Apollo was formed. The next day the government sent Canadian ships to join the US fleet in the Persian Gulf. On October 14 Chretien announced that Canada was offering "unqualified support" for the US war effort in Afghanistan.

With strong air support from the United States and Great Britain, the Northern Alliance was able to defeat the Taliban government in a short time. On November 12 the Taliban forces fled Kabul. On November 25 Konduz surrendered. In early December Kandahar fell. At a five day meeting in Bonn, organized by the US government under the cover of the United Nations, various Afghan ethnic and political representatives gathered to form an interim government. On December 5, 2001 this government was recognized by the UN Security Council. It was headed by Hamid Karzai, the candidate supported by the U.S. government. Karzai had worked closely with the CIA channeling arms and cash to the Islamic mujahideen war against the Soviet Union.

There have been two military operations in Afghanistan. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), which launched the war, is completely controlled by the United States with some military support from a few European countries. This force, designed to overthrow the Taliban government, regularly engages in counter-insurgency warfare against the various resistance forces.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was established by a UN Security Council resolution on December 20, 2001, following the defeat of the Taliban and the installation of the new interim Afghan government. This was done under Chapter VII of the Charter, an enforcement mandate. It is not a peacekeeping force. It is not a force in any way under UN authority. All financing comes from the participating governments and none from the United Nations. At the beginning it was under the leadership of the British government. During the first Gulf War the United States was able to use its political pressure and economic power to obtain a similar resolution from the UN Security Council.

Canada jumps in

For the first two years, the ISAF force was confined to Kabul. This allowed US forces to operate throughout the country with very little outside observation.

By mid-November 2001 the Chretien government committed 2,000 Canadian troops to Afghanistan as part of the ISAF forces. By December 20 there were members of the Joint Task Force 2 special forces operating near Kandahar as part of the U.S. military operation. Under Operation Apollo Canadian forces were deployed to Kandahar in February 2002 to defend the airport and engage in combat activities with insurgent forces.

The armed resistance to the US-led occupation began to expand over the summer of 2003. NATO formally took over the command of the ISAF in August 2003. The largest contingent of Canadian forces served in Kabul between October 2003 and November 2005. As part of the ISAF command, they were to provide security and support for the new Afghan government.

The bulk of the Canadian forces in Afghanistan were then shifted to Kandahar where they were part of the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom, working with forces from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, in military actions against insurgents. In July 2006 these Canadian forces came under ISAF authority. In September the US government agreed that all of their ground forces in the eastern region of Afghanistan would be put under the direction of NATO and the ISAF Command. However, the US government also announced that both US forces (OEF) and NATO forces in Afghanistan will be jointly under the command of US General Dan McNeil.

There is little distinction between operating in Afghanistan directly under the US government through OEF or through the NATO-led ISAF. Canadian forces have operated within both command systems. Furthermore, the Provincial Reconstruction Teams have all been closely integrated with the military commands, both OEF and ISAF. The United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan has also been closely linked to the two military commands. InterAction, a coalition of around 160 independent aid organizations, has protested that the links between their organizations and the military organizations have undermined their efforts and made them vulnerable to violent attacks.

"Everything is going well," public told

According to our political leaders, generals and the mass media everything is going well in Afghanistan. The government is getting stronger and the insurgency is on its last legs. But reports from Europe are quite different. The central government under Hamid Karzai is seen as corrupt and incompetent. There is growing criticism of the destruction and civilian casualties caused by NATO military actions. The insurgency is reported to be growing stronger. The Northern Alliance appears to be as ruthless as ever. Sharia law has been re-introduced, forms the core of the new Constitution, and women are still very oppressed. The international aid programs are failing, criticized for being too closely integrated into the US and NATO military system. There is a serious hunger situation. Unemployment is rampant. The only part of the economy that is doing well is the production of poppies for heroin. There is still no sight of Osama bin Laden, and on a world wide basis, terrorist attacks are on the increase. The Senlis Council now reports that the revived Taliban and its supporters control around one half of the country.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been to Canada several times. On each occasion she has praised Canada for supporting US policy in Afghanistan and Haiti. This is seen as offsetting the decision of the Chretien government not to send armed forces to the Iraq war.

NATO was formed in 1948 as a military alliance to defend Europe against a possible invasion from the USSR. Of course that reason for existence is obsolete. As the Bush Administration proclaimed in its famous National Security Paper in September 2002, the United States is determined to continue as the world's only superpower. It will oppose the attempt of any other countries, friends or foes, to challenge US domination. NATO, under US control, serves as a major obstacle to the development of Europe as a power bloc separate from the United States.

The Afghan war also demonstrates that the present role of NATO is to support the general policy goals of the US government. By assuming military tasks in Afghanistan, NATO countries allow the United States to transfer more of its own armed forces to the war in Iraq.

Alternative course

The U.S. government has another objective being played out in Afghanistan. The Bush Administration is setting a precedent where it can use NATO to support its "war on terrorism" and bypass the UN Security Council. Our Canadian Liberal and Conservative governments have agreed with this basic political strategy.

There is an alternate course of action for the Canadian government. This would mean a return to our traditional role of peacekeeping and humanitarian aid:

(1) Withdraw all military forces from Afghanistan and withdraw from all projects being sponsored by the U.S. government and NATO.

(2) Work within the UN General Assembly to develop a new project for Afghanistan which would emphasize emergency food aid, a significant program to help Afghan farmers to produce food for their own people, and health care. This would be completely separate from any US or NATO project..

(3) The application of this revised UN program would exclude the participation of all countries involved in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(4) Any security forces needed to protect this UN operation would be drawn, if possible, from Muslim countries and would be financially supported by peacekeeping countries like Canada.

John W. Warnock
2156 Retallack St.
Regina, SK
S4T 2K4
(306) 352-5282

"It is easier to perceive error than to find truth, for error lies on the surface while truth lies in the depths, where few are willing to search for it." Goethe

John W. Warnock has recently retired from teaching political economy and sociology at the University of Regina.

Remember world mobilization against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, October 28 Rallies in both Saskatoon and Regina
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Rempel: A long sequence of pre-emptive aggessions

Postby Oscar » Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:08 am

A long sequence of pre-emptive aggressions

April 02, 2009

My fellow Canadians, friends all ---

I have no long resume extolling my prescient writings which analyze the war-making follies by famous world leaders.

No, my experience is merely that of observer from an easy chair, carefully reading newspapers for fifty years.

Therefore I do remember the long sequence of expansions of the war against the Vietnamese, expansion of massive bombings, expansions into the jungles and hills of adjacent countries, changes of presidents in the USA, each one with a greater increase of violent aggression against innocent millions, more use of deadly chemicals against the jungles and farmlands and people of Vietnam, and then the eventual humiliation of the aggressive US war machine.

We still wonder why.

The present long sequence of pre-emptive aggressions by the same USA war machine is remarkably similar and comparable in its rationale and its destructive results.

For Canada, this war is worse because we have joined in the USA aggression. There will be karmic consequences for Canada and for Canadians as this war drags on and on and on, as we blindly follow the leader into the abyss.

--- Jacob Rempel, Vancouver.


The Rise and Rise of the Neo-Taliban

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

"The next thing that is going to happen is the breaking up of the Swat peace deal and the opening up of a war theater. This will shatter the entire American plans in the region and Pakistan will be left with no choice but to surrender to the will of the mujahideen."


Afghan-Pakistan situation dire; more troops may be needed:

The situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan is "increasingly dire," top defense officials told Congress Wednesday, and they said that President Barack Obama may have to send another 10,000 troops beyond the 21,500 he's announced since taking office.


US Military Wants More Occupation Troops for Afghan "War": ... 02652.html

Gen. David H. Petraeus disclosed yesterday that American commanders have requested the deployment of an additional 10,000 U.S. occupation troops to Afghanistan next year, but he said the request awaits a final decision by President Obama this fall.


Afghanistan: A surge towards disaster: ... nie/gGxgcn

"The very first outcome of the surge for Afghan people will be increase in the number of civilian casualties ..."


Military Escalation and Obama's "War on Terrorism"

US Officials "Rediscover" ISI-Taliban Nexus. - By Tom Burghardt

Global Research, March 29, 2009

Antifascist Calling...

Last paragraphs of the article ………………………….

While an open secret in Washington, Obama's new product roll-out in the form of an ill-conceived plan to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" al-Qaeda and the Taliban has everything to do with the construction of the $7.6 billion dollar "Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline that would cross western Afghanistan east of Herat and advance south through Taliban-controlled territory towards Pakistani Balochistan province," according to Asia Times.

As the World Socialist Web Site points out, ... -m28.shtml

Afghanistan and Pakistan stand at a nexus of pipeline and trade routes between the Middle East, Russia, China and the Indian subcontinent, and US domination of the countries would give it decisive influence over developments in trade and strategic relations between many of Eurasia's largest and fastest-growing economies. In particular, it would cement the US' ability to mount a blockade of oil supplies for China and India in the Indian Ocean. (Alex Lantier, "Obama announces escalation of war in Afghanistan, Pakistan," World Socialist Web Site, March 28, 2009)

And with the imperialist military project going off the rails in Afghanistan as the Taliban's spring offensive looms ever-larger on the horizon, the prospects for a deadly confrontation between nuclear-armed world powers over control of oil and gas will inevitably increase.


Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, an independent research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists and activists based in Montreal, his articles can be read on
Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press and the whistleblowing website Wikileaks.

He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press.
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Re: Afghanistan: Canada joins America's "ugly little war"

Postby Oscar » Mon Feb 16, 2015 4:34 pm

What Went Wrong in Afghanistan

[ ... ghanistan/ ]

Reporter Graeme Smith shows us why Canada has much to be embarrassed about.

By Crawford Kilian, 22 Jan 2014,

On Jan. 17, a Taliban suicide bomber and two gunmen attacked a Kabul restaurant. Among the 21 dead were two Canadians, accountants auditing the books of an aid agency. [ ... e16397645/ ]

Graeme Smith could have been one of the casualties. After a long stint as the Afghanistan correspondent for The Globe and Mail, he returned to that country as an analyst for the International Crisis Group; [ ... istan.aspx ] he has been tweeting about the attack. [ ]

Despite the grim situation he describes in his book, The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan, something about Afghanistan clearly got to Smith. Rather than simply use his war reporting as a rung in his career ladder, he has cast his lot with one vision of the country's future.

In that, he's like many other Westerners who arrive in some unhappy country and identify with its people. I have the honour to know one: Dr. John Carroll, an American heart specialist who has worked for 20 years in Haiti's dangerous slum Cité Soleil. [ ] Such expatriates see past the political to the personal: whether or not the country is currently useful to the government back home, its people demand respect, attention and action.

An occupational hazard for such people is the homeland's short attention span. The Americans don't really care about Haiti except as a potential source of embarrassment, and Canada's Conservative government, for all its sabre-rattling and "Highway of Heroes" claptrap, doesn't want to think about Afghanistan anymore.

Much to be embarrassed about

Smith's book shows us why we have much to be embarrassed about. He was there in Kandahar when the detainees issue arose, and he can match events on the ground with the memos that diplomat Richard Colvin sent home to Ottawa -- which earned him outrageous abuse from Peter MacKay, then the minister of defence.

Our officers knew damned well that they were handing over prisoners to certain torture by their Afghan allies, but to admit it would be to volunteer for a court martial -- or worse yet, a one-way ticket to The Hague and a trial for war crimes before the International Criminal Court like some two-bit African warlord.

By then, Smith already had enough experience to know something was going very wrong. "When I started following the surges of troops into Kandahar and surrounding provinces in 2005," he says in his introduction, "I felt excited by the idea that the international community could bring the whole basket of civilization to the south: peace, democracy, rule of law, all those things." The Canadian troops, he tells us, felt the same.

The rest of the book chronicles his (and their) disillusionment, as Kandahar became increasingly dangerous to foreigners and the Taliban persisted: "The insurgents were not defeated. We killed thousands of them, but their movement would not die."


[ ... ghanistan/ ]

- - - - - - -

BOOK: The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan

[ ]

By Graeme Smith Alfred A. Knopf Canada (2013)

“We lost the war in southern Afghanistan and it broke my heart.”

So begins Graeme Smith’s The Dogs Are Eating Them Now, and like all heartbreaks, this one happened despite the best intentions. Smith devoted more time to southern Afghanistan than any other Western journalist between 2005 and 2011, and his book offers a candid and critical look at the Taliban’s rising influence and the West’s continued miscalculations.

Smith was not simply embedded with the military: he operated independently and at great personal risk to report from inside the war, and the heroes of his story are the translators, guides, and ordinary citizens who helped him find the truth. They revealed sad, absurd, touching stories that provide the key to understanding why the mission failed to deliver peace and democracy.

For readers of Sebastian Junger, Philip Gourevitch, and Dexter Filkins, The Dogs Are Eating Them Now is a raw, uncensored account of the war in Afghanistan from a brilliant young reporter with unmatched compassion and a rare ability to cut through the noise and see the broader reality.

Awards and Honours

Time Magazine Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2014
Winner of the 2013 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-Fiction
Canadian National Bestseller
Short-listed for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction
Short-listed for the RBC Taylor Prize
Finalist for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing
The Globe and Mail’s “Globe 100” Best Books of 2013
The Globe and Mail’s Top 5 Books of the Year
Embassy magazine’s list of most notable books of 2013
Huffington Post Canada’s Best Books of 2013
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Kirkus Starred Review

Advance Praise For The Dogs Are Eating Them Now

“Graeme Smith eschews the ‘official version’ of the war in Afghanistan and instead shows us life on the ground for the soldiers, insurgents, politicians, warlords, and—most importantly—the civilians caught between all sides.” - Louise Arbour, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada

“Very few foreign journalists have lived and told the story of southern Afghanistan like Graeme Smith. This is reportage that is both brilliant and brave, written in the dust and danger of a country that fades from global view. From the very first line of this book, you understand how much he cares about Afghanistan, and wants all of us to do the same. Written with great authority and affection, this book confronts the noble aims and aching failures of international engagement. It offers us a searing critique and a sober assessment of the world’s ability to do good in difficult places. Graeme admits his heart was broken by a war that drew in all of us. His book may break your heart too.” - Lyse Doucet, BBC Chief International Correspondent

“Graeme Smith has long since demonstrated that he is one of the most resourceful and well-informed reporters covering Afghanistan. In his very well-written and entertaining new book he dissects the Western project in Afghanistan with deep reporting and analysis. It is a pleasure to read even if his conclusions are sobering.” - Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad
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Re: Afghanistan: Canada joins America's "ugly little war"

Postby Oscar » Mon Feb 16, 2015 4:45 pm

FILM: 'Bitter Lake'

[ [ ... ign=160215 ]

Adam Curtis's new epic, 'the story of Afghanistan,' is a veritable sea of images, music and ideas.

By Dorothy Woodend, 13 Feb 2015,

Adam Curtis's newest film Bitter Lake was released online a couple of weeks ago. In the words of the filmmaker, it is "the story of Afghanistan and what has happened there over the past 60 years."

If you're familiar with Curtis's previous work (The Century of the Self, The Trap), you know what to expect. Bitter Lake employs similar techniques of historical mashup, music, and a barrage of ideas and images, with Curtis narrating in the milk-pale accent that comes from a formidable English education.

The film had its premiere at the Rotterdam Festival before being released on the BBC iPlayer, and the timing is curiously ideal. Stories about people being beheaded, thrown from buildings or burned alive flood the news. How did we come to this place? If you want a detailed, almost to a fault, explanation of how ISIS came to be, Bitter Lake is an excellent primer on the rise of fundamental extremism, beginning in the sands of Saudi Arabia.

The death of King Abdullah a few weeks back suddenly brought the Kingdom of Saud back into the news. But Curtis's argument is that the Saudis were there all along and have played a very large role in the increasingly violent and unstable world in which we now find ourselves. He summed it up in an article for the Telegraph:

"In 1929, the King of Saudi Arabia machine-gunned many of the Wahhabist radicals in the bleak sand dunes of Arabia because they wanted to go on and create a caliphate across the Islamic world. Ever since then, the Saudi royal family have tried to deal with this unstable force by exporting it beyond their borders. Bitter Lake shows how, when the Russians invaded Afghanistan, the Saudis encouraged its young radicals to go and fight in Afghanistan. They brought Wahhabist ideas with them to the camps in the mountains. To begin with those ideas lay dormant -- but when Afghanistan collapsed into chaos in the 1990s, Wahhabism became more and more influential. It powerfully influenced bin Laden's thinking -- and then spread further, through the chaos of Iraq after 2003. As it did so, it reverted to the dream of creating a caliphate based on an imagined vision of the past. Out of this has come ISIS and the horrors in northern Syria. And ISIS, with its stark simplification of the world into black and white, is just the enemy that fits with the Western political vision. The jihadists and our leaders are locked together into a bubble that divides the world into Goodies and Baddies."

- - - - SNIP - - - -

Sinking in

The film takes its title from a meeting held between King Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia and Franklin D. Roosevelt on a boat in the middle of the Great Bitter Lake of the Suez Canal. The meeting took place not long after another curious get-together between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt (the Yalta Conference). Both events had a rather significant impact on the state of world history. At Bitter Lake, the U.S. and the Saudis signed a secret agreement that guaranteed the U.S. would receive secure access to oil and in exchange the Saudis would benefit from American military expertise. But there are two meanings to the title of Curtis's film: the first is readily apparent; the second more oblique, referring as it does to the body of water at the centre of Andrei Tarkovsky's science fiction epic, Solaris.


[ ... ign=160215 ]
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Re: Afghanistan: Canada joins America's "ugly little war"

Postby Oscar » Sat Nov 21, 2015 12:04 pm

“Unfinished business of the most serious kind. ” – Peggy Mason

[ ]

Posted on November 20, 2015 by in Blog

Describing it as “unfinished business of the most serious kind”, Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason, in an interview on CBC Radio’s The Current, renews the call for an independent public inquiry into allegations of Canadian complicity in the transfer-to-torture of Afghan detainees (see Fighting ISIS: Canada’s role renews calls for Afghan detainee inquiry, CBC Radio, The Current, 19 November 2015). [ ... -1.3325877 ]

Mason was on the program to discuss a recent report of the Rideau Institute, Torture of Afghan Detainees: Canadian Complicity and the Need for a Public Inquiry, which catalogues the great lengths to which the Harper government went to stymie any meaningful investigation into this grave matter. [ ... es-002.pdf ]

In the interview Mason reminded listeners that then Liberal Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae had himself called for an independent public inquiry into the handling of Afghan detainees when his party was the Official Opposition.

For the full interview, click on Fighting ISIS: Canada’s role renews calls for Afghan detainee inquiry (CBC Radio, The Current, 19 November 2015). [ ... -1.3325877 ]
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Re: Afghanistan: Canada joins America's "ugly little war"

Postby Oscar » Sat Feb 20, 2016 11:14 am

Are we heeding Afghanistan lessons?

[ ]

• Posted on February 19, 2016 • by

Canada in Afghanistan: A Role Model for Canada’s Middle East Mission, [ ... t-mission/ ] by Nipa Banerjee, visiting professor at the University of Ottawa Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and Senior Advisor at the Rideau Institute, was originally posted on the Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS) blog. It is reproduced in its entirety below.

While recalling six fighter jets from the bombing mission in the Middle East, Canada promises to provide military training, humanitarian aid, and diplomacy in fostering a peace process. The Liberal government’s promise of humanitarian assistance and intent to find a political solution through diplomacy are important acknowledgements of the reality that military action alone will not offer sustainable results and an end to the violence. This new mission against ISIL resembles Canada’s Afghanistan mission, following the precepts of the 3Ds — defence (including military), diplomacy, and development. But caution must be taken to avoid the mistakes of Afghanistan.

While learning from the decade-and-a-half Afghan experience might enrich the mission in the Middle East, the overly optimistic hype, heard in certain quarters, is a matter of concern. The fact that both missions address the 3Ds is certainly similar, but should Canada’s Middle East mission model Afghanistan in other respects?

The Afghanistan mission started as a military campaign and this element was dominant throughout Canada’s presence there. Kandahar was home to the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), in which Canadian troops assumed a combat role.

Canada’s new Middle East mission retains a significant military component as well. While the jets are leaving the bombing to other allies, Canada’s military air campaign will continue through reconnaissance and refuelling. We will also see an increase in the size of the military contingent as more troops are deployed for training. According to Trudeau’s announcement, the training mission will equip, advise, and assist. Full clarification of what “assist” might involve has not yet been provided. But Defence Minister Sajjan speaks of the possibility of direct assistance in fighting with the ISIL on the ground — equivalent to a defensive combat role. Canadian troops will be in a conflict zone in a high threat environment and if they do come under attack, they will have to fight back (after commercials) [ ]

Canada’s combat intervention in Kandahar was less than successful and thus not a model to be followed. Kandahar is still one of the most insecure provinces in Afghanistan.

The results of the training provided by the NATO mission (of which Canada was a member) in Afghanistan is not any better. The NATO-trained Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) took full responsibility for the country’s security in January 2015. Since then, they have faced growing challenges in tackling terrorist threats. Taliban resurgence has expanded and strengthened with the ANSF unable to contain the rampage. Kunduz, Helmand, and Baghlan provinces are the most recent examples of poor performance by the Afghan troops fighting without back up from foreign forces.

In Kunduz, it took only 500 Taliban to capture the city from 1,500 (NATO-trained) ANSF troops. Clearly, ANSF troop number is not the issue; the issue is the absence of foreign troops to back them up. Recognizing the difficulties encountered by the ANSF, hundreds of American troops have been sent to southern Afghanistan to assist in Baghlan. The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan will also be slowed down. American commanders, while continuing their rhetoric of success by praising the ANSF, dare not leave them.

Canadian defence analyst David Pugliese’s recent enumeration of some non-combat options against ISIL includes provision of Canadian police trainers. Suggestions have been made that the new mission could be guided by Canada’s police training activities in Afghanistan. However, police training in Afghanistan focused on military training for police involvement in direct combat. The trained police, along with the armed forces, comprise the ANSF, which, as already seen, has not been performing well against the Taliban.

All of this provides a not-too-successful model for training by NATO and its allies in the Middle East.

With respect to diplomatic efforts for peacebuilding — a desirable concept, of course — opportunities for the Middle East mission to benefit from Canada’s Afghanistan experience are non-existent. Despite the objective of using diplomacy as a tool for peace and reconciliation in official documents regarding Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan, no concrete diplomatic measures were ever taken.

On the third D — development — poor design, planning, and delivery marred some of Canada’s very expensive Afghan development projects, the PRT’s “signature projects” in Kandahar. [ ... ghanistan/ ] The Kandahar program was driven more by Canada’s interest in raising its own international profile than in aiding Afghanistan. Replicating this ill-conceived program should obviously be avoided.

Some of the Afghan-designed and -implemented programs financed by Canada in the years before launching the PRT could, however, serve as models to follow. But only if remolded to fit the context in the Middle East. The U.N.-coordinated Refugee and Internally Displaced Peoples’ Rehabilitation Program, which operated following the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, could also serve as a model for the Middle East mission. This program allocated significant funding for rehabilitation and resettlement purposes. Obviously, with so many Syrians displaced both inside and outside of the country, this must be a priority.

A strategy based on a comprehensive 3D approach, combining defence, diplomacy, and development, promises a longer term, sustainable solution to the Middle East conflict. To bear fruit, however, the principles must be translated into strategic action. Canada adopted the 3D principles in Afghanistan but unfortunately failed to take strategic action. With no concrete shape, the program failed to deliver.

The notion of a comprehensive approach underlying Canada’s mission in the Middle East is praiseworthy. A note of caution, however, is essential: while learning from and integrating the positive experiences, the pitfalls of the Afghanistan mission must be avoided in planning this new Middle East mission.

For a direct link to the analysis, click on Canada in Afghanistan: A Role Model for Canada’s Middle East Mission? (Nipa Banerjee, Centre for International Policy Studies, 17 February 2016).
[ ... t-mission/ ]
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Re: Afghanistan: Canada joins America's "ugly little war"

Postby Oscar » Sat Feb 20, 2016 11:20 am

Signal Failure: Canada’s ‘Signature Projects’ in Afghanistan

[ ... ghanistan/ ]

Guest blog by Nipa Banerjee January 5, 2015

The NATO combat mission in Afghanistan ended in December, while Canadian participation concluded a few months earlier, in March. Seven years before, in 2007, the Harper government dispatched a five-person panel to review Canada’s participation in the war. Led by former Liberal finance minister John Manley, the panel noted that Canadian aid to Afghanistan was largely unknown to both Afghans and Canadians, and proposed that CIDA create ‘signature projects’ that could be used to showcase Canada’s role. Soon after, Canada announced three such signature initiatives: a polio eradication project, an education project and a massive project to refurbish the Dahla Dam and its irrigation systems.

Former CIDA official and long-time Afghanistan watcher, Nipa Banerjee, examines what happened.

The Canadian government introduced signature projects in Kandahar, one of the most insecure provinces in the country and the home of Canada’s Provincial Reconstruction Team, to raise Canada’s international profile. In reality, however, Canadian ‘signatures’ on these projects disregarded a fundamental principle of aid effectiveness by denying the Afghan government any serious involvement or ‘ownership’ in them (see the 2005 Paris Declaration of on Aid Effectiveness, which Canada has endorsed).

The projects also fail audit and accountability tests. Schools built were overly costly, many are already in need of repair and a large majority are not operational, with no teachers or students in sight. Polio is far from eradicated despite frequently shown videos publicizing Canadian soldiers dropping polio vaccines in children’s mouths.

The Dahla Dam-Arghandab Irrigation Reconstruction Project is the most controversial of Canada’s signature projects. The objective was to help increase agricultural production in the Arghandab Valley, where farming is the primary livelihood and critically dependent on irrigation. The Dahla Dam reservoir, originally built with US assistance in 1952, served as the source of water for irrigating farmlands across the region, through a canal network. In the 1950s, the dam turned the region into the breadbasket of Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, heavy sedimentation reduced the reservoir’s ability to hold adequate amounts of water for irrigation. Canada’s project focused on repair and cleaning of the network of canals that channel water from the source—the central dam reservoir—to the fields. It did not, however, include reconstruction and refurbishment of the central reservoir to increase the dam’s height and raise its water-holding capacity. Canadian planners missed the obvious: that with little water in the main reservoir, the repaired
canals would have no sustained source of water to channel to the farmlands. According to the Helmand and Arghandab Valley Authority, in 2014, the water supply did not reach even 30% of the irrigation canals repaired by Canada.

The Harper government continues to claim success against abundant evidence that the $50 million investment in this poorly designed project failed to address the central problem—inadequate water availability.

Reports also question the wisdom of expending over 20% of total project funds on security. The Canadian implementing agency, SNC-Lavalin, contracted the infamous security firm Watan Risk Management Group, which allegedly paid protection money to the Taliban, further tarnishing Canada’s image.

An appropriately designed project could have had tremendous potential in contributing to Afghanistan’s development and stability, while building a positive image for Canada. An estimated 80% of Kandaharis live in the Arghandab region, the Dahla Dam catchment area. A functioning dam could thus have been of critical importance.

Failure to protect livelihoods in Kandahar, the Taliban heartland, did not play well in terms of winning hearts and minds or of extending the legitimacy of the Afghanistan government—the major stated objectives of the international community. The inability of Canada and its allies to deliver tangible services in the region has in fact resulted in the growth of popular support for the Taliban.

Canada left behind a half-baked, unfinished project of critical importance to Afghanistan’s economic stability, development and security.

The overall impact of Canada’s canal repair work on irrigation and agricultural production in the region is hard to measure. Reports note a decline in total acreage of land under irrigation, without any analysis of causes for this decline other than insecurity in the province. Notably, security was also under Canada’s command during the project period.

Turning around a fragile state with weak legitimacy requires the strengthening of state machinery and institutions so that the government—not outsiders—can deliver basic economic, social and security services to its people. Canadian development assistance, however, was politicized into prescriptive and self-serving projects that supported Canada’s short-term political and military objectives. In the end, little evidence exists that these investments contributed much to security or development in Kandahar Province.

An earlier version of this blog was published in Embassy, December 3, 2014.
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