Friday, June 27, 2008

How quickly the Afghan mission changes

Big news this morning: "Canada to spend $4-million rebuilding Kandahar prison." Oh, so we are in the business of building correctional facilities in Afghanistan. Thanks for clarifying. Because a citizen might be confused. Our man in Kabul told us on February 29th that we were in no such business:
Ron Hoffmann, Canada's acting ambassador in Kabul, said Canadian police are also now training officials from the National Directorate of Security – the branch of the Afghan security forces that manage prisoners.

"It should be emphasized that while Canada is contributing to the above activities, it is not in the business of building or managing corrections facilities in Afghanistan," Hoffmann said.

"That is the responsibility of the Afghan government."
Guess it's a different story when the thing is blown up in your face, hey? Now we're in the business of scrambling to spend millions on construction from square one. Maybe they should put a good number of those angry young Afghans referenced in the Senlis report to work in doing this.

If the above report isn't enough for you...there's yet another brand new land mine out of Afghanistan this morning. The Canadian military is not cooperating with the UN investigator seeking information about civilian deaths in the country as a result of the conflict. Why is such information important? Oh, just such trivial considerations as the "hearts and minds" aspect of the mission that seems to get lost in the shuffle at every turn. Surprise raids seem to be the main issue coming in for scrutiny. An elite unit of our soldiers is participating in such raids along with soldiers from other NATO countries.
The CBC's Brian Stewart reported Thursday that the raids, dubbed "hunt and kill" operations by American soldiers, are conducted by Canadian JTF-2 commandoes, as well as British and American soldiers. The raids are so secret that some Afghans believe the attacks are really execution missions, Stewart said.

"To the extent that those sort of raids go on fairly systematically, they set up a situation in which people are likely to be shot to death," Alston said.

While he said he has found no evidence Canadian officers involved in the raids have acted illegally, Alston criticized the Canadian military nonetheless for a lack of accountability.

"First of all, there are international law obligations to accountability and transparency. Second, we're pushing the Afghans very much to be accountable on these things. And thirdly, what I said before is we have a self-interest in a sense, as far as the West is concerned, in making sure that we hold ourselves to much higher standards," he said.
For its part, the Canadian military has deferred questions on the raids to NATO, Stewart said, which has described Alston's report as exaggerated and inaccurate.
File again under "things the NATO mission is f*%#ing up in Afghanistan."