Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Manley Report Should be Called the Ostrich Report

To understand the Manley Report, you need to take a map of Washington D.C. and one of Brussels (where NATO headquarters is located), and to superimpose these on top of the map of Afghanistan, the country which is supposedly the subject of the Report.

The utterly pedestrian character of the Report is that it never escapes from the illusion that all political and military reality grows out of the West and that ultimately the West can do what it likes in Afghanistan, if only it summons up sufficient political will.

Manley’s advice to Stephen Harper is that he should go to the NATO summit in Bucharest in April with an ultimatum that unless the other NATO countries send an additional thousand soldiers to Kandahar by February 2009 to help the Canadians who are posted there, Canada should terminate its mission in that region. It is this recommendation that gives the Report the appearance of candour and of tough realism.

Canadians, of course, have figured out that this country’s commitment to the war is much greater than that of the other NATO allies. On a per capita basis, more Canadians have died in the war than is the case for the soldiers of any other NATO country, and that includes the U.S. and the U.K. Opinion polls show that Canadians want our military effort in the Afghan south ended sooner rather than later.

What is striking about the recommendation that Harper get tough with the allies is that there is nothing new in it. The Americans and the British have been saying the same thing for several years, and so too has the Harper government.

Harper can go to NATO and he can huff and he can puff, but he will not coax much out of France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, and for a rather obvious political reason. Public opinion in those countries is even more set against the war than is the case in Canada. Governments in these countries are much more preoccupied by the economic catastrophe that has been unleashed on the world by the policies of the Bush administration than they are about trying to win the war in Afghanistan launched by the Bush administration in 2001.

One thousand soldiers more in Kandahar won’t make much difference to what is happening in Afghanistan. With Pakistan in a state of political upheaval and with the Pashtun regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan unwilling to endure Western occupation, NATO’s war in Afghanistan is not winnable. Through the centuries, previous invaders of Afghanistan, including the British and the Russians, have learned that the game there is not worth the candle.

Increasingly, those who have given thought to this are speaking of the need for NATO to stay in Afghanistan, not for years but for decades, if it is to stand any chance of prevailing.

The idea that the Americans and the British are going to be willing to stay and fight for the long term in Afghanistan (whose strategic importance to them is often exaggerated) is a pipe dream. The American appetite for unnecessary military adventures abroad is rapidly diminishing in this hour of economic crisis in the United States.

Informal negotiations have been underway between the Karzai government in Kabul and the elements of the Taliban, for some time.

And why not? The idea that the Karzai regime, which governs according to a Constitution rooted in Sharia Law, is strikingly different from much of the Taliban and the Pashtun warlords in its fundamental attitudes to the rights of women, human rights in general and democracy, is another pipe dream.

Of course, this war has never really been about human rights and democracy.

The Americans and the British are going to want a compromise peace so they can move on to deal with priorities that matter more to them.

As was the case with previous occupiers of Afghanistan, the Western occupiers will leave behind them a country even more devastated by war than when they arrived, whose people will be even more dependent on the opium trade as their means of survival than before.


ken said...

NATO is often a tool used by the US when the UN will not act. Of course the UN always acts after the fact to legitimize any US invasion.
However you might be interested in the new Manifesto produced by a group of NATO generals.

The document continually talks about The West. It recommends adopting a first nuclear strike pre-emptive strategy to prevent the proliferation of WMD!

Lady Broadoak said...

Anybody read the latest NATO report calling for pre-emptive strike capabaility. It's being discussed on the blogosphere full tilt.

Here is my OpEd

Paul Craig Roberts wrote on this NATO study, too.

It's time for Canada to call for a special enquiry into all this - away from Parliament and The Harper's admin . to investigate the US FIFTH branch of government.

Dame said...

This is what I wrote for the CBC they were asking to tell My opinion..after they read some of my posts.

This war In Afghanistan is about 6 years old and we are not one inch closer to see what the outcome will be or should be.
No clear objectives reasons to be there with arms .
I say it is no More Legitimate then when the Sovjets were occupying this sad Land for ten years and with about 100 000 armed forces and killing a million of them… ended up without the slightest change in their way of life ..
Why we think it is our right To force the people to change their life as we please .?? Afghanistan is a sovereign state ..can't we agree on that? They will never be different The Islam is their Rule and way of life .. Their law.

This so called "Mission " is a misguided misadventure what cannot land in any
decent fashion .. Canada was drawn into by the USA / Bush/ By threatening
our economy was a ransom situation we went there for peacekeeping purposes under the Nato 's umbrella.
It started out about getting the * bad guys * and punish THEM. They
are Ghosts now* no one knows where the original "enemy" now.
No one knows what is the goal and everybody knows it became a quagmire
without clear achievable Goals.
This all Changed when Harper actively enthusiastically applauded and accepted For our military the combat role . and two years later more then 70 young men buried and hundreds injured .. we still at the question why are we there ?
No one can "control" that land and those people. Our Troops are just like a pepper spray
on that Huge unforgiving land * almost inhabitable For our guys . We
are mostly forced DEFENDING our positions ..
the Soviets needed 10 years to admit it can't work. Are not we smarter then them??
It is a pure reckless waste of human lives and money.. /yes taxpayers money ./
This so much Touted Manley 's panel and report is a dishonest piece of work.. It Doesn't really answer any of the pressing questions.. inadequate and was "bought up" by Harper . He knew exactly what to expect from this panel out of the political dustbin.. Harper needed this panel to wash his hands spread the Blame * when It
became obvious It wont Give him the GLORY he is washing his hands *.
When a Country wages a war the PM can't deflect his responsibilities this way.. can't even face the obvious truth..This is Not a leader in My mind..

We should offer humanitarian economic aid with strings attached it should be big enough To expect cooperation..
This would make the actual changes we would like to see really happen

We need a very strong military to defend our land and people… I am not disputing that but not for misadventures to wage wars in half a world away.