“Progress in Afghanistan”

Canadian Trooper

That title is taken directly from our Conservative government’s curious website about the “engagement in Afghanistan” — and yes, that’s the way it’s actually described. We’re not involved in a “war” apparently, but a conflict that’s been bureaucratically deemed an “engagement” of some kind.

According to the various benchmarks set out by the Harper government, it’s reported that the number of Afghan National Army battalions in Kandahar capable of conducting “near-autonomous security operations” has increased since our involvement. After eight years of our so-called “engagement” — at a cost of $18 billion or more, it should be added — it’s now claimed that the Afghan Army’s brigade HQ and 20% of its forces are capable of undertaking “near-autonomous perations [sic].” Evidently, results of Canadian efforts in that country are now such that less than half of the five Afghan Army battalions have an “effective strength of more than 70%.” Think about that statistic being reported as a measure of success…

The website goes on to state that “Three infrastructure projects for Sarpoza Prison” have been completed, including reinforcing the main gate. This is the same facility where it’s alleged that detainees were brutally tortured by their Afghan captors in the past and last year militant insurgents drove a car filled with explosives up to the aforementioned gate, blew it up, killed 10 police officers in the area and freed all of the prisoners. But we’ve now rebuilt the gate and cleverly branded it an “infrastructure project”… Yay!

Various non-security related achievements are also highlighted on the website such as the construction of three schools (a few dozen others are in the works, apparently) and providing “vocational training” for almost 500 Afghans. Not much to show for a population of 28 million some might argue, but hey, almost 9,000 women across the nation have received what’s called “literacy training” and nearly 200 people have been employed to build (or re-build) roads and bridges in the Kandahar area. Some judges have also been sent on a crash-course to bone up on western-style jurisprudence. And our forces have been used to improve irrigation canals and help build “energy and protection walls” — whatever those might be.

There are many more such indicators of “progress” if you care to investigate; from the expansion of a regional hospital’s obstetric and gynecological services to our sponsorship of a secretariat charged with facilitating a “Peace Jirga” between Afghanistan and Pakistan to discuss contentious border issues.

Doubtless these are all noble and worthy projects, but do they actually require our continued military presence in Afghanistan?

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23 Comments

Filed under Afghanistan War, STEPHEN HARPER Govrnment of Canada

23 responses to ““Progress in Afghanistan”

  1. hitfan

    I think the war in Afghanistan is being done for different reasons other than what they say it is. Otherwise, the US and it’s allies would just declare victory (which is technically true) and then get out.

    There’s no need for Canada to be there, but I understand it was done for political reasons.

    I wonder what the reaction would be from Ignatieff and his caucus if Harper were to not extend the timeline of the mission past 2011. Most of the lefty opposition to the war was just reflex anti-Americanism, especially with Bush in charge.

    I suspect that if Obama asks Canada to continue in Afghanistan, Ignatieff and Harper will go along. If Harper declines, look for Ignatieff the liberal “hawk” make a case for a continued combat presence.

  2. I hope you’re wrong about that.

    Personally, my opposition to the “engagement” has absolutely nothing to do with an irrational anti-Bush or reflexive anti-American sentiment and everything to do with just not being insane.

  3. Ti-Guy

    Most of the lefty opposition to the war was just reflex anti-Americanism…

    Lie. It may have been reflex anti-imperialism and that’s a sentiment shared by Americans and Canadians…and Brits and Australians and Western Europeans and Central and South Americans and…

  4. sapphireandsteel

    I’m curious. Is victory in Afghanistan really technically correct? What are you basing your criteria on for your statement?

  5. I think Obama is presently trying to figure out that perplexing question.

    What is “victory” in that miserable hellhole? I mean one that doesn’t take countless generations, thousands of needlessly expended lives and untold billions of dollars to “win”…

    By the way, how are those “Red Fridays” doing these days? Is Harper still showing up at them? Are the SUV magnets still selling well?

  6. Good lord, that’s utterly disgusting.

    From the site’s fine print:

    **RFFC is only seeking the one Red Fridays Car. The vehicle’s main colour must be red. The vehicle type is not specific. RFFC will make the decision on which vehicle that will become the official Red Fridays Car for the 2009-Dec 31 2010. The Official Car will have the logo and of the corporate sponsor on the vehicle. Other advertising material may be given out at the events the Vehicle attends. Media Advisories will be sent out including the Official Red Fridays Vehicle description, photos and renderings that will include the sponsors trade mark and markings on the vehicle. The vehicle will be returned to the sponsor after the agreed period and may remain with the title of the Official Red Fridays identity for further advertisement of the sponsor.

    The rest of that site’s inane piffle about retracing “the path a fallen member of the military takes when they come home from battle, to honour the sacrifice our soldiers has made” is just too sickening for words.

  7. sapphireandsteel

    I should try out that scheme for a free car myself.

  8. Sorry, but I can’t take any amusement in that. It’s just too sad for words. The people behind this “event” are depraved, soulless monsters, imho.

  9. Ti-Guy

    Here’s an article from the editor of Esprit de Corps (the only military reporting I trust) on the current situation.

  10. sapphireandsteel

    Fair enough… there is something rather morbid about asking people to donate their car for advertising purposes.

    I just cannot fathom how someone can equivocate one’s love with country based upon military support. It’s such a one dimensional view of being Canadian and it discounts many elements of our society that others might deem valuable.

    It does seem to have a St Vitus dance type effect on the more pro-military end of humanity. Then again 8 years of 9/11 fear has to find a way to manifest within a group.

  11. sapphireandsteel

    “Dr. Frankenstein may have switched castles, but his monster is still running amok in Afghanistan.”

    oh man that is a brilliant ending Ti.

  12. Ian

    And this just in from the NY Times:

    WASHINGTON — The top military commander in Afghanistan warns in a confidential assessment of the war there that he needs additional troops within the next year or else the conflict “will likely result in failure.”

    Sounds like progress to me.

  13. Ti-Guy

    This is who’s responsible for the “Red Friday’s Foundation.”

    If we could have predicted that this is what would become known as the post industrial economy, we would have started smashing computers back in the 60’s.

  14. sapphireandsteel

    ugh why do they always have something for the children? it’s just creepy

  15. You guys are freaking me out…

    The “genius” behind the “Red Fridays” promo proudly lists that fucktacular Santa site as one of his credits?

    Who knew there were so many intensely annoying animated GIFs still out there?

  16. sapphireandsteel

    yet sadly no animated construction worker gif…

  17. Indeed. And it has more than 65 million visitors… Go figure.

  18. Tomm

    Ti,

    Nice links. But back to “lie”.

    It’s not. The lefty opposition WAS primarily reflex anti-Americanism. Granted it was on steroids due to Dubya.

    Until you can see reality when it is standing in front of you, you will never become a Shao Lin Master.

    You delude yourself into thinking that people are not being led around by their nose, eyes, and superficial prose. But they are. It is why Northrop Frye never sold as many books as Tony Robbins.

    It is why we mourn Billy Mays more than Marilyn French.

    The media tells us what to think, what to get outraged over and even more importantly, when.

  19. Ti-Guy

    “The lefty opposition WAS primarily reflex anti-Americanism. ”

    No it wasn’t. Case closed.

  20. Tomm

    Ti,

    Your mind is clamped so tight I can see your sphincter puckering from here.

    And it ain’t a pretty sight.

  21. Ti-Guy

    I’m sorry, but you just never provide evidence for your assertions. So until you, I will assume that everything you claim is false.

  22. hitfan

    Some points:

    1. Anti-war activity has gone down considerably since Bush left office.

    2. Jack Layton praised Obama’s Afghan troop surge back in March.

    3. You all know that Ignatieff will support the mission in Afghanistan beyond 2011, and it will be easier (politically) to advocate for this with Obama as President as opposed to Bush.

    4. The Taliban is no longer in charge politically in Afghanistan. In fact, I can’t find any significant military victory by the T. since the war started in 2001. That’s why I think the US should simply claim victory and then get out. If the people of Afghanistan are unable to resist the Taliban taking over, then they get the government they deserve.

    ————————————————–

    Hey, I was hoping that Ron Paul would win the Republican primary — a sane anti-war, anti-imperialist voice who framed such a stance in terms of US interests. He was slandered as an “isolationist”, “pacifist” and as “nuts”. Instead, the GOP nominated McCain who became an idiotic neocon true believer to the bitter end as we went down in flames.

    What is the purpose of an international US military presence? Why does it have armies in the Middle East, Europe, Japan with a budget approaching $1 trillion per year?

    Why not let “Yankee go home” and let the rest of the world femselves? On one hand, Europeans like to bash Americans and on the other, squeal like stuck pigs whenever there is talk of suspending US presence in Europe (case in point, Obama’s cancelling of ballistic missile defence in Poland).

    What does the US get in terms of dividends for it’s imperialism? Is it just a racket for the “military industrial complex” to justify government largesse being bestowed onto them?

    Or is it a case of the USA being unsustainable as a nation if it ceases to be imperialistic?

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