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Canada in Afghanistan: Canadians urged to see success

September 21, 2009

As our Afghanistan casualties grow – 131 war dead – many of Canada’s opinion leaders this month caught up to our questions on Afghanistan  (a good read on Grant Kippen)Christie Blatchford in the Globe featured an Empire Club speech by Canada’s former Ambassador to Afghanistan, Chris Alexander, who seeks a Conservative nomination in a Toronto riding.  Alexander, lauded by Michael Valpy, spent six years in Afghanistan and appears a believer in nation-building and participation in NATO led, US dominated, counter-insurgency efforts.  Our Governor General weighed in, “Afghan mission far from lost cause,” and even Michael Chertoff, former Bush appointee, infamous for his mismanagement of Katrina aid efforts, got limelight at the CBC.

Outside Canada, Robert Fisk commended the Toronto Star for its investigation into a key Canadian civil society project, the eradication of polio in Afghanistan, which CIDA has now down-graded to the “prevention of transmission of polio,” and also praised the National Post for pointing out that Canadian politicians appear to be sleep-walking toward 2011. His gloss differs from the highlights presented by the Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan, Hon. Stockwell Day.

But back to Blatchford, a prominent writer in Canada.  Her familiar refrain, that those who “aren’t there” should mind their manners and for heaven’s sake be informed, seems acceptable. Let’s see. How about this:  Ann Jones, author of Kabul in Winter, with her detailed review of the film Fixer: “everything that happens in Afghanistan is based on lies or illusion.” There’s also, Afghanistan by the Numbers, from Or Juan Cole’s Informed Comment.

Today’s questions: How many military contractors hired by the Pentagon in Afghanistan (74,000 by end of June 2009) work with, support, interact, go on mission with our Canadian troops?

Is there any linkage, association, on the ground connection between any of those private military contractors and Canada’s SNC Lavalin at say, the, Dahla Dam? What are the “real life” links between SNC Lavalin and our military maintenance and supply infrastructures in Afghanistan, if any?  Are these covered in Canada’s Fifth Quarterly report on Afghanistan?

Maybe Canada’s opinion leaders will follow this  site and search for answers?

I honour Pte. Jonathan Couturier, killed last Thursday in Afghanistan. A  credit to our nation : his family’s comments about what he thought about our A/Stan efforts appeared on page A6 of the Globe. Ms. Blatchford did not cite them.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2009 9:41 am

    Another update and my apologies, no time today for a blog article but today’s Must Read from given the Globe and Mail’s feature on “Afghan strategy working, Lt.Gen says” – our “man in charge of Canada’s overseas forces” – Lt.Gen Marc Lessard seems to follow US General mcChrystal’s lead, lock stock and barrel on both supporting a counterinsurgency strategy and at the same time, as part of it, adopting a “protect the population” mission. Tom Engelhardt will have none of it and the heading to his post, “A Military That Wants Its Way” – he gives an overview of the relationship between Iraq’s military and “think-tank” leaders and the current US military leadership for A/Stan. Here in Canada, The Globe seems to be the “outlet of choice” for, er, a resurgence in news/opinion items and features bolstering more troops & a longer stay. Stay tuned. R

  2. September 21, 2009 10:05 pm

    Update: This evening, top of Canadian news cycle, PM Harper reiterates Canada’s commitment to pull out of A/Stan in 2011 in face of big story leaked to WashPo – top US Commander in A/Stan, McChrystal asks for yet more troops. President Obama declines to provide immediate answer.

    Worth reading: Joe Klein’s blog snippet below:

    ” What’s missing is context: You could add 100,000 troops and the effort would be futile if the Afghan political mess is not resolved–and quickly. What’s also missing is intelligence about the other side of the border: will the Pakistanis finally shut down the Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar Taliban groups operating on the southeast border–to say nothing of Mullah Omar’s shura (which the Pakistan military helped create and may still support).

    What’s provocative about the report is that it was leaked to Woodward–…This was an effort to lobby a quick decision on troop strength–which the military wants, so that it can begin planning the 2010 fighting season in Afghanistan. …

    The President needs to know what the next Afghan governmnet is going to look like–will there be a runoff between Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah? … Are the Canadians going to stay in Kandarhar Province, are the British going to stay in Helmand? Are the Dutch and Australians going to stay in Uruzgan?”

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