Afghanistan behind the headlines: what Canada’s media isn’t telling us
As predicted earlier, Afghan President Karzai must now face a run-off vote in two weeks. Our Prime Minister follows a nobel peace prize winner in mouthing the accepted speaking points. And you can read one view about Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s position on the torture of Afghan prisoners here, along with issues of the day.
Today’s statement of the obvious: the mess in A/Stan will deepen and our role will get stickier. Forewarned is forearmed – clichés to keep us warm and alongside them, a reading list to keep handy in the next month.
President Karzai’s chief rival – Abdullah Abdullah – an ophthalmologist, former advisor to various mujahedeen ( remember them? What the US funded when “we” were against the Commies; oops. Then they “became” The Taliban) and a spokesperson for the Northern Alliance. Always useful to read Malalai Joya on that configuration.
Deconstructing the Taliban – who are they? The New York Times this week runs a series by David Rohde – held captive for 7 months. His account is picked up by many “Af/Pak” news sources. My thoughts so far on Rhode’s account: nerve-wracking to read, thought-provoking to contemplate, and needful of the wisdom of this seminal piece by one of the world’s best journalists – Ryszard Kapuscinksi’s The Other. Irritated by too much “politically correct neo- colonial deconstruction”? (ahem). This guy’s got the real stuff and still comes down on the side of less Kipling, more thinking.
If you get your foreign affairs news from the CBC, the Globe and the Asper clan, also recommended:
A refresher on our Canadian Military mission – Parliament’s library staff provide us with this 2007 report. I welcome update links.
Kathy Gannon’s book I is for Infidel – note how rarely Canada’s mainstream press pick up her by-line: she’s Timmins born and once wrote at the Kelowna Courier before becoming an AP reporter based in Pakistan and Afghanistan for 18 years.
And yes, there’s more:
Important and new: Jo Comerford’s statistical analysis (National Priorities Project) of what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost the US commonweal. Where is our Canadian equivalent? Sample Item: every gallon of gas used by US forces in A/Stan costs $400. The Marines reportedly consume 800,000 gallons of gas each day. Comerford maintains that next month US war making in Iraq and A/Stan will hit the $1 trillion mark. What are Canada’s total A/stan mission/war expenditures to date?
Sidebar: New America Media reports that the divorce rate triples for U.S. Female Soldiers – linked, of course to increased tours of duty. What are the figures for Canadian personnel?
Important and not as new: Rory Stewart in the London Review of Books – if you read only one thing about our war in A/Stan read this. Sample: ” …a bewildering range of different logical connections and identities can be concealed in a specialized language derived from development theory and overlaid with management consultancy.”
Is Afghanistan Vietnam or Iraq? This will continue to come up: Sunday, the NYT ran an op/ed by retired Army lieutenant Lewis Sorley, which among others things suggested a favorable assessment of Vietnam’s Nguyen Van Thieu’ regime aka Hamid Karzai. But check out Thieu’s obit in the Independent. Which brings us back to my starting point: Hamid Karzai – hand maiden and puppet of the U.S. See Gwynne Dyer, The Mess They Made – the middle east after Iraq.
There’s also, as always, Glenn Greenwald’s continuing blog rebuttal of almost everything published in the New York Times ( which does seem to be ramping up pro-surge pieces reminiscent of Judy Miller’s WMD fantasies); Greenwald takes on Slate, (Kaplan), and The New Republic (take your pick; although a good piece worth reading is A.J. Rossmiller, “Stalemate”: yes, A/stan is like Iraq, in the bad days and that means, a/the insurgency can’t defeat US/NATO forces and b/ US/NATO forces can’t defeat the insurgency.)
If you missed PBS’s new documentary, Obama’s War, head to the site and watch and read. In addition to a download there’s analysis. Is there a CBC equivalent? Harper’s War. Let me know if I’ve missed something.
And last but not least, tucked away in the Globe and Mail’s drumbeat for “supporting our mission/our troops/our way of life/” – this chilling little number by a military expert from Calgary. I agree with his prediction: if either the Liberals or the Tories in this country win a majority, we citizens will see our mission in Afghanistan extended and our troop deployment increased.