Thursday 12 April 2007

Why Are Canadian Troops In Afghanistan?

The government and media spoon feed us lies about what is going on in Afghanistan.

Check out this article from Murray Dobbin ...

This situation reveals how naive we are as a nation. That old adage — the first casualty of war is truth — applies here in spades because this war is based on lies, including:

  • This has nothing to do with oil and gas pipelines.
  • This is a fight against terrorism. (The truth: It's an occupation being resisted by indigenous militants.)
  • The current Afghan government is democratic. (The truth: Many senior figures should be tried for war crimes, and others are drug lords.)
  • Girls are now going to school. (Really? How many?)
  • Bombing villages will provide them with security.
  • We can “win.”
What we are doing in Afghanistan is unsupportable. But what we are doing to ourselves is not so obvious. We are corrupting Canada's own institutions, including our military, our foreign service, our foreign aide program, and our public broadcaster. Worst of all, as long as we stay in Afghanistan, we are corrupting our political culture.

For more background on what NATO is doing in Afghanistan, read this article by the Canadian Peace Alliance from April 2006:

Why are we in Afghanistan?

The people of Afghanistan want peace. The occupiers and their puppet and former Unocal employee, Hamid Karzai, want oil.

>by Canadian Peace Alliance
April 10, 2006

Canada has 2250 Canadian soldiers stationed in Kandahar Afghanistan. The soldiers are fighting alongside about 8,000 U.S. soldiers and are under the command of Operation Archer in support of the U.S. led “Operation Enduring Freedom.” It is expected that command of the Canadian units will shift to NATO control by 2007.

Canada is operating along the southern border between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Kandahar province. This is a crucial area for two reasons: it is the location of Taliban strongholds and it is the proposed route for the multibillion dollar Trans-Afghan pipeline.

It is no secret that since the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. oil companies have been keen to exploit Caspian Sea oil and gas. They lobbied the Clinton administration to have a pipeline built from Turkmenistan in the north through Afghanistan to ports in Pakistan. They see even more opportunity with George Bush as president.

Afghanistan is important to U.S. oil companies because it is the only route that would provide total control for them. The other possible routes for the pipeline run through Iran, an enemy of the U.S., China, a competitor of the U.S., or Russia, an unreliable and heavily armed ally.

The Department of National Defence says that Canadians, and the other international forces, are there to “reinforce the authority of the Afghan government in and around Kandahar and help local authorities stabilize and rebuild the region.”

Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan is considered a U.S. puppet by most Afghans. His authority outside Kabul is merely symbolic. Local control in the provinces is left to a mix of opium gangsters, former Taliban commanders and tribal elders. Mark Schneider, president of International Crisis Group has said, “It's not merely about drug money financing candidates. Drug lords are candidates.”

The United States and the Karzai Administration are, in most cases, happy to work and make deals with these local rulers. According to of Human Rights Watch the majority (60 per cent) of those elected to the Afghan parliament in the October 18, 2005 elections were these local criminals and power brokers or their associates.

U.S. forces and allied local warlords are responsible for human rights abuses in the country. According to Human Rights Watch: “U.S. forces operating against Taliban insurgents continue to generate numerous claims of human rights abuses against the civilian population, including arbitrary arrests, use of excessive force, and mistreatment of detainees … Local military and police forces, even in Kabul, have been involved in arbitrary arrests, kidnapping, extortion, torture and extrajudicial killings of criminal suspects.

“Outside Kabul, commanders and their troops in many areas have been implicated in widespread rape of women, girls and boys, murder, illegal detention, forced displacement, and other specific abuses against women and children, including human trafficking and forced marriage.”

According to the much-publicized remarks of General Rick Hillier, Canadians are in Afghanistan to “kill detestable murderers and scumbags.” The reality is that we are supporting some of the worst human rights abusers the country has ever seen. This deadly combination of abuses by both U.S. forces and their local allies ensures that Canadians will face growing resistance from the Afghan people.

State of reconstruction

We are told that the Canadian soldiers will be engaging in development work as part of their mission. This type of intervention, generally referred to as the 3-D approach (disarmament, diplomacy and development) has come under heavy criticism from NGOs for confusing the process and endangering aid workers. It is argued that having the development component so intertwined with the defense operation results in corruption and the use of development initiatives as bribes to local authorities and civilians. It also eliminates the possibility of development work being neutral in the conflict.

According to a report in the Guardian, Vickie Hawkins, acting head of the of Médecin Sans Frontières mission in Afghanistan said the international humanitarian group left Afghanistan for these very reasons.

The U.S.-led coalition has made the situation worse by blurring the line between humanitarian work and military operations. During the war in 2001, Hawkins said, U.S. soldiers were driving around in civilian clothes in white cars, taking on the appearance of humanitarian aid workers. Last May, the Pentagon was forced to apologize for dropping leaflets in southern Afghanistan which promised humanitarian assistance if local people gave the coalition information about the Taliban and al-Qaida.

She despaired that military campaigns were employing “hearts and minds” strategies more and more often, making it difficult for aid workers to maintain their aura of all-important impartiality. “If armies are handing out food assistance and medical equipment, it becomes harder for locals to tell the aid workers from the occupiers.”


Revenue from poppy cultivation — between $2-3 billion annually — is now double the amount of international aid. Ironically, the money coming from opium production is now the chief source of “reconstruction funds” in the country. Afghan farmers have little option but to produce poppies and will continue to do so. It is the only crop that will generate enough money to survive on.

The British Government, worried that most of the heroin ending up on UK streets came from Afghanistan, began an eradication program for poppy cultivation. Afghan farmers were promised aid and new seeds in return for ending their production but the aid never arrived and many have returned to poppy cultivation. Attempts at a new eradication program will likely end in conflict unless there is a real commitment to provide viable alternatives to the farmers.

Fraser Nelson, a Scottish journalist, of summarizes the contradiction, “Today, some two million Afghans rely on opium poppies for their livelihood, generating $2.7bn of illegal wealth. They will not give this up readily, nor will the farmers whose desire to feed their families is stronger than their desire to placate NATO.” i

British Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that, “The Taliban regime is funded in large part on the drug trade — 90 per cent of all heroin sold in Britain originates from Afghanistan. Stopping that trade is directly in our interests.”

The Taliban has many faults but by May 2001 it had virtually eradicated opium production. The resurgence in poppy production is a consequence of the US invasion and continuing occupation.

Canadian corporations in the Caspian

According to the of Energy Information Administration there are proven reserves of between 17 and 44 billion barrels of oil and 232 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Caspian region. Production of these reserves is very limited. As of 2004, only about 11 per cent of the region’s gas reserves, which equal those of Saudi Arabia, were under production.

On December 27, 2002 Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan signed an agreement to build a 1500 kilometre long Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline — a $3.2 billion project expected to deliver 30 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year. The only stumbling block to finally realizing this deal is the lack of stability in Afghanistan.

In September, 2004 a joint Omani-Canadian delegation led by Yusuf bin Alavi, foreign minister of Oman, and Jean Chrétien, former Prime Minister of Canada, of met in Turkmenistan to negotiate a deal between Edmonton based Buried Hill Energy and the government of Turkmenistan to develop the Serdar block in the Caspian area.

This is not the first or only time that the former Prime Minister, a man responsible for sending thousands of Canadian soldiers to Afghanistan, has intervened on behalf of Canadian corporations for contracts in the area. On the same trip Chrétien met with Saparmurat Niyazov, the self proclaimed president for life of Turkmenistan, and of discussed potential involvement from Canadian corporations in the Trans-Afghan pipeline.

On October 20, 2004 Thermo Design of received a contract worth $42 million for the production of an LPG and gas condensate plant in Turkmenistan that would produce 50,000 tons of LPG and 200,000 tons of condensate gas (light gasoline) annually.

The hypocrisy of signing multi-million dollar deals with one of the worst human rights abusers in the region while simultaneously of arguing that Canada's soldiers are bringing peace is obvious. It is also standard operating procedure for successive governments of Canada to ignore issues of human rights if there is money to be made in international deals. These facts call into question the real reasons why Canada is in Afghanistan.

The people of Afghanistan want peace. The occupiers and their puppet and former Unocal employee, Hamid Karzai want oil. We have seen the U.S. and its Allies in this scenario before. Whether in Chile in 1973 when the U.S. sponsored a coup to make sure that the copper mines were not nationalized or in Iraq where they have killed more than a million people to control the oil resources, they will brutally enforce a corrupt and divisive political process to keep the people divided so they can pillage the land of its resources. They don't care who is in power or what type of society they are creating.

In this case they are building a society based on corruption, drugs and violence. Canada is now the cop trying to impose these realities on the people of Afghanistan.

For further reading and information, please visit the Canadian Peace Alliance.

1 comment:

das said...

I've always been opposed to the war in Iraq, because of its hypocrisy and also because of its dire consequences. Now I'm beginning to question why Canadian troops are in Afghanistan. The United States had relative cause to invade the country after 9/11, but what gives them, us and anybody else the right to reshape a sovereign nation? It would be wonderful if Afghanistan were democratic. As far as I'm concerned, it would be wonderful if the entire population became Christian! But we have no right to force any belief or political system on another country.