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The Militarization of Canada: Chrystia Freeland’s Budgetary Coup June 13, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Arms, Canada, Imperialism, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: Justin Trudeau’s Liberals formed a majority government with less than 40 percent of the vote, more or less the same as the previous ultra-right Tory government of Stephen Harper.  He already has reneged on his commitment to re-structure elections in some form of proportional representation.  Now he comes forth with a military budget in response to Trump’s bullying that looks a lot like something Harper would have done.  Regardless of its image as a peacemaker nation, the military industrial complex is alive and well in Canada.


The arrogance of power could scarcely be more dramatically demonstrated than by the tag team of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announcing that Canada was going to cave in to Donald Trump’s demand that we spend two percent of GDP on defence. We will be increasing military spending by 70 percent over ten years – an obscenity when so many social needs go unmet.

Not only does this make a mockery of Trudeau’s election pledge to return to Canada’s historic peace-keeping role but surrenders to the absurd one-size-fits-all NATO imperative. Nothing has changed internationally to justify such an increase. There are no existential threats to Canada on any horizon. As Trudeau said in March, Canada more than pulls its weight in NATO: we are the sixth-highest spender in NATO and 16th in the world.

It seems clear that it Chrystia Freeland is driving this militarization of Canada’s foreign policy. Her contradiction-filled foreign policy speech in the House of Commons last week – suggesting that Canada is going to somehow fill the vacuum left by an allegedly isolationist US – just confirms what I suggested a few months back. In the Trudeau government the tail is wagging the dog. Justin Trudeau is so lazy intellectually, so devoid of any personal vision of the country that anyone in his cabinet willing to forcefully pursue a personal agenda gets their way. And Freeland is if nothing if not forceful when it comes to one issue: her obsession with so-called Russian “adventurism.”

In her statement Freeland declared: “The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course.” Really? Just how do we do that by caving into Trump’s demand that all NATO members pony up? In fact the increase in spending – $14 billion over 10 years; 62 billion over 20 –  represents a clear loss of sovereignty, abandoning our sovereign right to make decisions in our national interest to please a rogue US president.

Exactly what kind of global leadership does Freeland think we are now missing? Given that she spoke almost exclusively about defence spending presumably she thinks that a less military-interventionist Trump requires more intervention from Canada. But intervention where, exactly? Our last enthusiastic intervention – celebrated by our last Prime Minister – was in Libya. That “humanitarian” project resulted not only in a failed state but in the creation and arming of ISIS, the flood of desperate refugees to Europe and indirectly the terror attacks Freeland rightly describes as “monstrous.”

US “leadership” is known by another name in scores of countries around the globe: US imperialism. In fact in the last decade that term has gained widespread acceptance by the US political elite where it used to be righteously denied. Does Freeland believe that the illegal war on Iraq is an example of US leadership? Would she, unlike Jean Chretien, have joined in? What about the slaughter in Yemen? Going back a bit further, would Freeland see the literally dozens of US interventions to overthrow democratic governments and install dictators the epitome of US leadership?

The notion that anything Trump says can be taken as rock-solid American foreign or defence policy is laughable. The man is willfully ignorant of anything outside his New York penthouse and incapable of formulating let alone implementing a coherent policy. While he twitter-rants, real decisions are made by others. The US has not announced the closing of any of its 800 military installations around the world. Trump is going to go along with the military’s request for 1,000s of more troops for Afghanistan. And what kind of isolationist president increases military spending – already at $600 billion – by $54 billion?

The increase in military spending announced Wednesday will turn the Defence Department into an unabashed War Department with Harjit Sajjan playing second fiddle to the militant Freeland. Just what existential threats does Canada face? The terrorist threat is handled by our intelligence agencies and police. Russia and the US are the only two countries in close proximity and whether we have 65 jet fighters (Stephen Harper’s plan) or 88 (Freeland’s plan) will make absolutely not one iota of difference. With respect to the Arctic, where there are conflicting interests, it is obvious to all parties that negotiation is the only possible strategy.

But, of course, it’s not about defence. It’s about war. If we look at the planned spending it seems clear that we are gearing up for more Western adventurism, using NATO to prop up a failing finance capitalism by military threats. Freeland stated: “Canadian diplomacy and development sometimes requires the backing of hard power.” She has a duty to explain exactly what that means in the areas she listed as the focus of hard power: North Korea, the civil war in Syria, the Islamic State, Russian aggression in Ukraine and the Baltic states.   Freeland’s stated goal of “peace and stability” will not benefit in any way from an additional $14 billion in war materiel.

It’s hard to say which is the most outrageous aspect of this budgetary coup by the foreign affairs and defence bureaucracies. The transparent rationalization for the spending is simply shocking. Equally disturbing is the complete lack of a mandate for such an increase: it was never mentioned in the election and erases the Liberal election commitment to peace-keeping, it doubles down on Harper’s aggressive foreign policy, and was done with no consultation with Canadians.

There will be blowback to this military build-up. Young people played a major role in electing Sunny Ways Trudeau, and they have the political clout and passion to put him on notice that this is a deal-breaker. Let’s hope they use it.

MURRAY DOBBIN, now living in Powell River, BC has been a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for over forty years.  He can be reached at murraydobbin@shaw.ca

Book Review: Empire’s Ally: The U.S. and Canada February 3, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Foreign Policy, Imperialism, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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Roger’s note: to some degree Canada has always been a subservient servant to U.S. economic and geopolitical interests.  But when I arrived here in 1968 as a Vietnam war resister, it was a different country politically than it is today.  Of course, for that matter, so is the United States.  I never romanticized Canada as the perfect peace loving nation.  Few do any more.  But there was a time when the Canadian government at least did not “go along” with American imperial adventures.  Stephen Harper and what my friend Charlie calls the suposi-TORIES have changed all that.  Today, more than ever Canada is the 51st state, politically, economically, culturally, and with respect to Orwellian surveillance.  Nothing less than a tragedy for peace an justice loving Canadians.


By  (about the author)OpEdNews Op Eds 1/31/2014 at 17:44:38

Source: Dispatches From The Edge

(image by Amazon)

Book Review
Empire’s Ally: Canada and the War in Afghanistan
Edited by Jerome Klassen and Greg Albo
University of Toronto Press
Toronto Buffalo London 2013

Americans tend to think of Canadians as politer and more sensible than their southern neighbors, thus the joke: “Why does the Canadian chicken cross the road? To get to the middle.” Oh, yes, bit of a “muddle” there in Afghanistan, but like Dudley Do Right, the Canadians were only trying to develop and tidy up the place.

Not in the opinion of Jerome Klassen and a formidable stable of academics, researchers, journalists, and peace activists who see Canada’s role in Central Asia less as a series of policy blunders than a coldly calculated strategy of international capital. “Simply put,” writes Klassen, “the war in Afghanistan was always linked to the aspirations of empire on a much broader scale.”

“Empire’s Ally” asks the question, “Why did the Canadian government go to war in Afghanistan in 2001?” and then carefully dissects the popular rationales: fighting terrorism; coming to the aid of the United States; helping the Afghans to develop their country. Oh, and to free women. What the book’s autopsy of those arguments reveals is disturbing.

Calling Canada’s Afghan adventure a “revolution,” Klassen argues, “the new direction of Canadian foreign policy cannot be explained simply by policy mistakes, U.S. demands, military adventurism, security threats, or abstract notions of liberal idealism. More accurately, it is best explained by structural tendencies in the Canadian political economy — in particular, by the internationalization of Canadian capital and the realignment of the state as a secondary power in the U.S.-led system of empire.”

In short, the war in Afghanistan is not about people failing to read Kipling, but is rather part of a worldwide economic and political offensive by the U.S. and its allies to dominate sources of energy and weaken any upstart competitors like China, and India. Nor is that “broader scale” limited to any particular region.

Indeed, the U.S. and its allies have transformed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from a European alliance to contain the Soviet Union, to an international military force with a global agenda. Afghanistan was the alliance’s coming-out party, its first deployment outside of Europe. The new “goals” are, as one planner put it, to try to “re-establish the West at the centre of global security,” to guarantee access to cheap energy, to police the world’s sea lanes, to “project stability beyond its borders,” and even concern itself with “Chinese military modernization.”

If this all sounds very 19th century — as if someone should strike up a chorus of “Britannia Rules the Waves” — the authors would agree, but point out that global capital is far more powerful and all embracing than the likes of Charles “Chinese” Gordon and Lord Herbert Kitchener ever envisioned. One of the book’s strong points is its updating of capitalism, so to speak, and its careful analysis of what has changed since the end of the Cold War.

Klassen is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies, and Greg Albo is an associate professor of political science at York University in Toronto. The two authors gather together 13 other academics, journalists, researchers and peace activists to produce a detailed analysis of Canada’s role in the Afghan war.

The book is divided into four major parts dealing with the history of the involvement, its political and economic underpinnings, and the actual Canadian experiences in Afghanistan, which had more to with condoning war crimes like torture than digging wells, educating people, and improving their health. Indeed, Canada’s Senate Standing Committee on National Security concluded that, in Ottawa’s major area of concentration in Afghanistan, Kandahar, “Life is clearly more perilous because we are there.”

After almost $1 trillion dollars poured into Afghanistan — Canada’s contribution runs to about $18 billion — some 70 percent of the Afghan population lives in poverty, and malnutrition has recently increased. Over 30,000 Afghan children die each year from hunger and disease. And as for liberating women, according to a study by TrustLaw Women, the “conflict, NATO airstrikes and cultural practices combined” make Afghanistan the “most dangerous country for women” in the world.

The last section of the book deals with Canada’s anti-war movement.

While the focus of “Empire’s Ally” is Canada, the book is really a sort of historical materialist blueprint for analyzing how and why capitalist countries involve themselves in foreign wars. Readers will certainly learn a lot about Canada, but they will also discover how political economics works and what the goals of the new imperialism are for Washington, London, Paris, and Berlin.

Klassen argues that Canadians have not only paid in blood and gold for their Afghanistan adventure, they have created a multi-headed monster, a “network of corporate, state, military, intellectual, and civil social actors who profit from or direct Canada’s new international policies.”

This meticulously researched book should be on the shelf of anyone interested in the how’s and why’s of western foreign policy. “Empire’s Ally” is a model of how to do an in-depth analysis of 21st century international capital and a handy guide on how to cut through the various narratives about “democracy,” “freedom,” and “security” to see the naked violence and greed that lays at the heart of the Afghan War.

The authors do more than reveal, however; they propose a roadmap for peace in Afghanistan. It is the kind of thinking that could easily be applied to other “hot spots” on the globe.

For this book is a warning about the future, when the battlegrounds may shift from the Hindu Kush to the East China Sea, Central Africa, or Kashmir, where, under the guise of fighting “terrorism,” establishing “stability,” or “showing resolve,” the U.S. and its allies will unleash their armies of the night.

When Canada made Afghanistan worse October 14, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Iraq and Afghanistan, Media, War.
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Roger’s note:  I cannot agree with one of the author’s statements, to wit, that the West, including Canadians, “unintentionally” made things worse.  I don’t believe that “the West, including Canadians” (meaning governments, not necessarily citizens) gives a damn about the welfare of the Afghan people; the sole intention for the illegal invasion, occupation and destruction of the country has to do entirely with the geopolitical (oil, military, industrial, arms sales, etc.) objectives of the United States and its lackeys.  Nor do I agree with the conclusion that NATO involvement should continue, which in essence contradicts the rest of the article.

In those early, hopelessly naive years, when Canadian soldiers and their energetic general encamped in Kandahar to kill “scumbags” and set Afghanistan on the road to democracy, the accompanying media fell into line – in love with the general, the soldiers and their mission.

The early coverage was largely ahistorical, gung-ho, a big group hug for the Canadians – a travesty of journalism, really. What Canadians needed then was a clear-eyed analysis of the country and its history, an understanding of its regional antagonisms, an appreciation of the daunting, even impossible task Canada and its government – to say nothing of the entire North Atlantic Treaty Organization – had signed up for in that forbidding, post-medieval place.

Many years later, as the Americans prepare to withdraw their forces and the last Canadians (trainers for the Afghan army) can see the end of their time in Afghanistan, Westerners will have left behind graveyards of their fallen and a country still corrupt, tribally divided and closer to civil strife than civil peace.

After that first full flush of nonsense reporting that, in fairness, played well at home and was supplemented by the country’s biggest windbag on Hockey Night in Canada, along came another group of correspondents, sympathetic to the troops and their travails, of course, but willing to question the party line and explore beyond the perimeters of the Canadian base in Kandahar.

There were some very good journalists in this group, brave men and women in a place growing more violent every day. One lost her life. Another was held hostage. Another was seriously wounded.

The Globe and Mail’s Graeme Smith (now with the International Crisis Group in Kabul) was among them. He stayed longer than most, took extraordinary risks around Kandahar and in Quetta across the Pakistani border, interviewed the Taliban (despite criticism for giving a microphone to the enemy) and, more than anyone else, exposed the story of Afghan prisoner detainees turned over by Canadians and other NATO forces to local authorities, who tortured and abused them.

Canada’s government lied about many aspects of the detainee affair, insisting that Ottawa didn’t know what was happening or that Afghan authorities were examining all allegations of misconduct – despite memos from Canadian officials on the ground saying that wasn’t so.

Mr. Smith explains the detainee affair, from the prison where he visited and interviewed prisoners to the government’s mendacity in the House of Commons, in The Dogs Are Eating Them Now, a memoir of his correspondent days in Kandahar and Kabul. But the detainees represent but one small part of a wise, enthralling, detailed, realistic account of his time in Afghanistan.

Many are the lessons from Mr. Smith’s book, but one emerges above all: that the presence of foreigners did not necessarily turn the tide against the Taliban. Indeed, the foreigners’ military forays and strange (to the Pashtuns) ways may even have allowed the Taliban to survive and, ultimately, to grow.

Mr. Smith doesn’t say so, but he would be honest to admit that his portrait is of only one part of a sprawling, diverse country. There were and are much less violent parts of Afghanistan, where leaders fought against the Taliban before and might do so again after the Americans leave.

His is a picture of Kandahar and its surroundings, where the Pashtun code of tribal identity and revenge has for centuries proved difficult for foreigners to understand. In southern Afghanistan, at any rate, “we are leaving behind an ongoing war; at worst, it’s a looming disaster,” Mr. Smith says.

How the West, including Canadians, unintentionally made things worse is a textbook case of cross-cultural misunderstanding and hubris. The West will tell itself heroic stories, then forget about Afghanistan.

Perhaps unexpectedly, given his depressing account, Mr. Smith concludes that saying goodbye would be a mistake. The Afghan government Westerners leave behind will need support, and lots of it. Without foreign money and help, he argues, the chances of a moderately peaceful Afghanistan seem remote – as remote as that support continuing.

Why The Canadian Right’s ‘Defence Lobby’ Wants Another War February 19, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, War.
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By Steven Staples

February 18, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The generals have a big problem. The fighting in Afghanistan is over for Canada, and the thousands of recruits they armed, and the fleets of planes, helicopters and tanks they bought, have nowhere to go but home.

Since 9/11 the military budget has ballooned to its highest level since the Second World War, surpassing the height of the Cold War in adjusted dollars.

How much longer will Canadians be willing to keep picking up the military’s enormous tab with no war to fight or troops in harm’s way to support?

This might explain why celebrated war historian Jack Granatstein, a well-known supporter of the war in Afghanistan and military interests, used the pages of the Ottawa Citizen recently to berate what he described as “the pacifist left” for not supporting the Harper government’s military role in the war-torn West African country of Mali, the military’s newest mission.

Mr. Granatstein argued that “the Canadian Forces’ role has been a minor one.” The Harper government deployed one of our newest and largest transport planes to aid the French military fighting minority ethnic rebels and al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in Mali. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper made clear that there will be no members of the CF in combat in Mali,” he added, and “Islamist terrorism is a threat to democracies everywhere.”

But it comes down to this: who can the public trust?

The fact is the public knows there is a group of people in Canada who benefit from war. It’s ugly, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Prime Minister Chrétien once referred to them as the “defence lobby”: the CEOs and their hired lobbyists, the associations of hawkish academics and retired military officers, even some members of the media. They all benefit when Canada goes to war, through either money, career advancement, or both.

In my 20 years as a defence analyst, I have come to know them well.

Many generals retire from the military to take up well-paid lobbying positions with large, mostly foreign, corporations seeking multi-billion-dollar contracts. Recently one such retired air force general was quoted by the Canadian Press, commenting on the need to replace Canada’s fighter planes. Sounds reasonable, but the reporter neglected to identify him as a registered lobbyist for Lockheed Martin, the maker of the F-35 stealth fighter which was in line for the sole-sourced replacement contract.

It gets worse. Many reporters, including the one mentioned above, accept an annual journalism award and cash prize from the Conference of Defence Associations, a group of retired military officers whose funding has come from the Department of National Defence. Mr. Granatstein himself has received a similar award from the CDA. In an unusual twist, their half-million-dollar funding deal with National Defence was contingent on their spokespeople being quoted in the media a specified number of times.

Canadians are right to be wary. Conflicts have been used to justify military projects in the past. The Libya conflict was used by the government to justify their disastrous deal for the underperforming F-35 stealth fighter. The air force tried to use the Libya conflict to fast-track their plan to buy attack drones, the same kind the U.S. is using to carry out assassination missions and kill innocent civilians by the houseful.

Would another conflict like Mali, or the next crisis, provide the political momentum to the defence lobby to advance the military’s floundering weapons projects, and avoid the budget cuts that other departments are experiencing?

Sadly, Mali has many of the hallmarks of Afghanistan: a post–Cold War civil war where tribal and regional grievances are infused by Islamic extremists with their own agenda, both battling a corrupt and illegitimate Western-backed government whose own forces are marginally less abusive than those they are fighting.

Canada could either be engaged in helping the suffering people of Mali, or lured into another fiasco claiming soldiers’ lives, by those with a vested interest in another war. The stakes could not be higher.

Mr. Granatstein noted that both the NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Bob Rae of the Liberals were supporting the government’s actions. “How fortunate that the Opposition parties had better sense in this instance than the Rideau Institute and Ceasefire.ca,” he wrote, naming two organizations I am intimately involved with.

If opposition parties are indeed supporting the Conservatives, then it seems to me that the “pacifist left” is needed now more than ever to inform the public about the choices this government is making, to end wasteful military spending, and to keep the defence lobby from luring Canada into another reckless war.

Steven Staples is the President of the Rideau Institute and co-founder of Ceasefire.ca, a network of 20,000 people who want Canada to be a peace leader.

This article was originally posted atRabble.ca

Afghan officials beat detainees ‘on a whim’: military inquiry May 7, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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Canadian Press, May 7, 2010 

OTTAWA — A military board of inquiry says Afghan authorities regularly beat enemy prisoners “in the street and elsewhere” and most Canadian soldiers were well aware of the fact.

The probe into an incident involving a suspected Taliban fighter who was beaten in the street in front of Canadian troops says soldiers on the ground had ongoing concerns about the Afghan police.

The report says the “practice of corporal punishment being meted out on an apparent whim in the street and elsewhere was common and was observed and commented upon by most Canadian Forces members.”

The investigators say the suspected Taliban fighter who was beaten in June 2006 after he was turned over by the Canadians wasn’t deemed a detainee so the incident wasn’t reported to military brass.

The board found that while a detainee-reporting process was in place during the incident, it fell to soldiers and commanders to determine when someone was actually in Canadian custody.

In this case, the troops on the ground didn’t consider the suspected insurgent a Canadian detainee.

The probe made no recommendations because it found the military now has a clearly defined process of documenting and reporting detainees.

The investigation stems from an incident in which Canadian soldiers captured a suspected Taliban fighter and handed him over to local police.

The Afghan police then beat the man to the point where the Canadians had to intervene.

A report on the incident was apparently uncovered only in December, leaving egg on the face of the country’s top military commander.

Gen. Walt Natynczyk, chief of the defence staff, told the Commons defence committee that Canadian troops had questioned the suspected insurgent, but never detained him.

But Natynczyk corrected himself a day later, saying Canadian troops did indeed capture the man and gave him to Afghan police before taking him back into custody when they saw him being beaten.

Natynczyk then ordered an investigation to determine why the information did not get to him or Rick Hillier, the general who served before him.

Rear-Admiral Paul Maddison, commander of the navy’s East Coast operation, headed the board of inquiry.

Opposition parties say the episode shows the governing Conservatives had credible proof of torture and knew of the dangers of transferring prisoners as far back as 2006.

The Tories insist they had no solid evidence of Canadian-captured prisoners being abused by the Afghans before November 2007.

Diplomat Richard Colvin told a Commons committee last fall that Canadian officials were warned about possible torture in 2006, but took little or no action to halt the transfer of prisoners to Afghan authorities.

Colvin said all prisoners turned over by Canadian troops to the Afghans were probably then abused by their captors.

Knowingly transferring a prisoner into a situation where they may face a risk of torture is a violation of the Geneva Conventions and a war crime.

A Commons committee and the quasi-judicial Military Police Complaints Commission have been looking into the issue of alleged detainee abuse for months.

A hero stands up to cowboys December 1, 2009

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By Linda McQuaig Columnist
Toronto Star, December 1, 2009

In an inaugural address to 2,000 soldiers in the Ottawa Congress Centre in February 2005, Gen. Rick Hillier declared: “When Canadian troops go overseas, they expect sex.” Within a split second, he corrected himself: “success.”

It was clearly a slip of the tongue. But, according to someone who was there, it also fit the mood of the room. After years of feeling like an emasculated army of peacekeepers, Canadian soldiers finally had a real fighting man at their helm. No more girlie-man peacekeeping, boys! We’re gonna make war!

The transformation of the Canadian military into a war-oriented force – a partner in George W. Bush’s freewheeling War on Terror – was the product of the influential Hillier, with the backing of the Harper government.

Hillier’s testimony last week before a parliamentary committee highlighted just how dangerous this transformation has been.

It’s now clear that Ottawa ignored unmistakable warnings (including from its own diplomat on the scene, Richard Colvin) that the Canadian military was transferring detainees to situations in which they would likely be tortured.

Far from refuting Colvin’s allegations that his warnings were ignored, Hillier essentially confirmed Colvin’s point about the indifference of Canadian officials to the fate of Afghan detainees. Testifying that he hadn’t read Colvin’s emails until recently, Hillier insisted that he wouldn’t have acted any differently if he had read them at the time, since nothing in them would have alerted him “to either the fact of torture or very high risk of torture.”

If Hillier was unaware of the risk of torture, it was only because he wilfully ignored compelling evidence – and not just from Colvin, who cited Red Cross officials in Afghanistan.

Even before Colvin sent his first warning, Louise Arbour, former justice of the Canadian Supreme Court and at the time UN high commissioner for human rights, wrote a March 2006 report on Afghanistan, noting “serious concerns” over reports of torture, which are “common.”

That same month, the U.S. state department reported that Afghan authorities “routinely” torture detainees, “pulling out fingernails and toenails, burning with hot oil, sexual humiliation and sodomy.”

Afghanistan’s own government watchdog, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, reported in 2004: “Torture continues to take place as a routine part of police procedures.”

These damning reports were summarized in an article entitled “Canada’s role in torture,” written by University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran, in the Ottawa Citizen in April 2006. When Colvin started sending his urgent warnings a month later, they should have simply confirmed what Hillier and other officials already knew from highly credible sources.

This suggests that the disregarding of Colvin’s warnings is part of a larger problem – the adoption of a Bush-like War on Terror mentality in the top ranks of our military and government. It seems that respect for international law was replaced with a lawless pursuit of bad guys – “evildoers” to Bush, “detestable murderers and scumbags” to Hillier.

This cowboy mentality is further demonstrated in the Harper government’s attempt to smear Colvin as a Taliban sympathizer.

Colvin has demonstrated a rare level of courage and integrity, risking his career to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable people from torture and to bring Canada’s leaders back into line with international law. He’s the guy who reported the schoolyard bully.

Neither Taliban nor girlie man, Richard Colvin is a person with real guts – indeed, in my books, something of a national hero.


Afghan Scandal Sullies Canada November 29, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Iraq and Afghanistan, Torture, War.
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Published on Sunday, November 29, 2009 by the Toronto Sun
(Roger’s Note: although Canada and by implication the Canadian people are “sullied” by their Liberal and Conservative governments’ shameful conduct with respect to the handing over of prisoners to be tortured; the “parent” scandal is Canada’s sending its young men and women soldiers to Afghanistan in the first place to fight, kill, wound, destroy … and be wounded, killed and traumatized.  Canadian governments had no interest whatsoever in Afghanistan or the Taliban until George Bush put the squeeze on the then Liberal government to join his holy Crusade for permanent war.  The current Tory government of Steven Harper has taken up the cause with a vengeance; it is a government for whom it would be totally in character to tolerate torture for any population other than White Christian)

Our leaders were warned that not jailing prisoners ourselves would lead to torture

by Eric Margolis

Canada has long been admired around the globe as a nation of high ethics, human rights and respect for law.

But Canada’s sterling reputation is being seriously degraded by the spreading scandal over involvement in torture in the increasingly sordid Afghan conflict.

All Canadians should thank the courageous diplomat, Richard Colvin, who did the right and honourable thing by exposing the government’s very dirty Afghan secret.

Emulating the Bush administration, senior government officials and military officers in Ottawa closed ranks, stoutly denying any Afghan scumbags were tortured.

They are either amazingly ignorant or deceiving the nation.

To understand the roots of this ugly business, we must go back to the 1980s.

The Soviet intelligence service, KGB, created the Afghan Communist secret police agency, known as KhAD. Its mission was to liquidate or terrorize all suspected or real anti-Communists and opponents of Soviet occupation. Most prisoners arrested by KhAD were subjected to frightful, sadistic torture, particularly at Kabul’s dreaded Pul-e-Charkhi Prison.

Prisoners were buried alive by bulldozers. Others were electrocuted, beaten to death, castrated and blinded.

Some 27,000-30,000 political prisoners were killed at Pul-e-Charkhi by KhAD.

Torture centres also existed in all other major cities.

The Soviets (who withdrew in 1989) and Afghan Communists killed more than one million Afghans.

By 1995, the anti-Communist Pashtun religious movement, the Taliban, backed by Pakistan and the Gulf Arabs, had driven the Communists from most of Afghanistan. The Afghan Communists retreated to the far north, and became part of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. Ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks, many of whom collaborated with the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, dominated the Alliance.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, using Russian-armed Northern Alliance soldiers to overthrow the Taliban, and install Hamid Karzai as figurehead president. Real power in Kabul was held by the Northern Alliance.

Two of its strongest figures were pro-Soviet Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostum, and Tajik general Mohammed Fahim — KhAD’s former chief. Both have close links to Russian intelligence.

After 30 years of civil war, the minority Tajiks and Uzbeks had become blood enemies of the Pashtuns, Afghanistan’s majority. Most Taliban are Pashtun.

Fahim and the Tajik-Uzbek-Communist Northern Alliance took over the revived secret police, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the prison system. In short order, the KhAD’s old torturers were back in business.

Pashtun prisoners captured by Canadian forces were routinely handed to the NDS-KhAD. There were many reports of brutal torture and executions.

Today, Fahim is officially Karzai’s No. 2. But as commander of the Tajik-Uzbek militia and secret police, Fahim is the Afghan regime’s most powerful figure and strongman.

Every child in Afghanistan knows this. But somehow, Canada’s see-no-evil/hear-no-evil generals and civilian officials claim they were sweetly unaware Afghan prisons were being run as torture centres by the revitalized Communists.

Amnesty International and the Red Cross warned Ottawa that prisoners Canada was handing to the Afghan government faced torture — and worse. The U.S. State Department repeatedly warned of widespread torture in Afghan prisons, including “pulling out fingernails, burnings … beatings … sexual humiliations, sodomy” and rape of children. So did the UN.

Canada should have run its own prisoner camps under the proper rules of war.

Yet Canada kept handing prisoners to the Afghan NDS.

Ottawa’s disgraceful fig leaf: A memo from Afghan officials promising not to torture captives.

Now we see military men and high government officials trying to bluff away what seem to be some serious misdeeds. A disgusting spectacle that deeply shames and sullies this good nation.

As Shakespeare wrote:

“Who steals my purse steals trash … But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.”

Copyright © 2009 The Toronto Sun

Eric Margolis is a columnist for The Toronto Sun. A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World