Friday, January 8, 2010

The Manley Report Gave New Direction But Failed to Answer the Question: Why Are We There?

When Rick Hillier started parading around the country, selling Canadians on the War in Afghanistan, it was hard not to climb on board. All the right words were used - 'freedom', 'democracy', 'women's rights', 'schools', etc.

So I set aside my skepticism and mourned the loss of our soldiers, and believed that they died for a noble cause.

And then the detainee issue hit ... again.

Though it wasn't just the issue of torture, but the way that our government and Hillier himself, responded to the allegations. We heard "scumbags", "Taliban dupes" , "Canadians don't care about Afghans torturing Afghans" ... Who are these Canadians, because everyone I know very much cares. In fact, our own soldiers cared enough to take one detainee back and then start photographing future prisoners before releasing them to their jailers.

Because they know about things like the Geneva Convention and human dignity. They have lived with these people and know that they are not all "Taliban", "terrorists" or "scumbags". They have a job to do and are doing it as well as can be expected.

The above video is the first in a series by author, journalist and activist; Linda McQuaig, entitled Exposing Canada's Role in Afghanistan, based in part on her book: Holding the Bully's Coat. I'm currently reading it, and sharing a bit along the way, but it's well worth picking up.

She has a great writing style and a profound knowledge of the subject.

In the video, she is discussing the Manley Report, that was written to make the war palatable to Canadians and state the case for our continued participation.

The media sure pounced on it, like it was The Bible III: Beyond the New Testament. But despite giving a new direction, and the illusion of being non-partisan, it still did nothing to answer the question: Why are we there? Do we have the moral or legal authority to be there?

And yet, without answering those questions it became the basis for an extension of the war, meaning billions more dollars and countless more lives.

But rejection of this almost ecclesiastical report, was not allowed. Terry Glavin wrote in the Tyee, which is usually one of the moderate publications, under the heading; Fresh Start on Afghanistan Debate:

It just might be that yesterday's report from John Manley's independent panel on Canada's role in Afghanistan will turn out to be the very thing this country needed: a kind of blueprint to build a sensible, non-partisan national consensus about how Canada should conduct itself in that poor, blighted country. There's still hope.

But for it to happen, Canadians, and especially Canada's political leaders, will have to squarely face the hard, horrible and inconvenient truths that Manley and his panelists so thoroughly canvassed.

And he continues:

It means New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton will have to stop the hippie-speak about "George Bush's war" and start brushing up on some basic facts. Reacting to the panel's report Tuesday, Layton's first words, in an official statement, were: "For six years, the Liberals and Conservatives have had Canada involved in a counter-insurgency combat mission in southern Afghanistan." Actually, it was only a little more than two years ago that Canadian soldiers finally moved out of Kabul to take over in Kandahar.

It means Liberal leader Stephane Dion will have to abandon his sophomoric and illogical fixation with a 2009 departure date -- or any fixed departure date -- for Canadian soldiers in Kandahar...

It means the next time Green Party leader Elizabeth May feels the urge to blame "ISAF forces from a Christian/crusader heritage" for the depredations of violent jihadists in Afghanistan, she might first recall that there are hundreds of brave Muslim soldiers from ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan, from such countries as Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Canada's own 'with them or against them' mentality was validated, and most of the mainstream media jumped on the band wagon.

But he does criticize Harper: The weird muzzling of Canadian aid officials and diplomats. Ottawa's bizarre inability to engage in anything resembling a straightforward accounting of the mission's risks. Its absurd hobbling of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in Afghanistan. The cabinet's irresponsible inattention to the equipment and transportation requirements of Canadian soldiers on Kandahar's front lines.

Now I know the report also came along with new aid organizations like Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee; which is a good thing, but again, I ask; why are we there?


How Did we Get Here From There? The Afghanistan Call to Arms

Why We Need to Get Our Soldiers Out of Afghanistan Now


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