Monday, June 16, 2008

Kandahar situation "hitting the fan"

"Taliban swarm edges of Kandahar."
Taliban fighters swarmed the doorstep of Afghanistan's second-largest city Monday, bombing small bridges and scattering landmines to keep Canadian and international troops at bay.
A Canadian soldier provides a candid analysis:
The fears were palpable among NATO forces.

Some employees of the international troops refused to leave their homes Monday out of concern for their safety and did not come into work. One Canadian soldier bluntly assessed the situation:

"Shit's hitting the fan," he said. "They want to take the city. They want to make a statement."
Yes, it was a capital idea, this hands off approach to the Afghan prisons. Amir Attaran explains the many red flags suggesting this was a ticking time bomb and the failure in leadership circles by those who ignored them:
It is only because the Harper government is too stubborn and the Canadian Forces are too fearful to build a prison -- last year, the Forces admitted they were worried about an "Abu Ghraib situation" -- that the stage was so helpfully set for the Taliban's coup.

Now that disaster has struck, the Canadian Forces' officer corps and the Harper government will minimize their errors of judgment. Expect Gen. Rick Hillier to stick with his ludicrous analysis that freeing hundreds of Taliban fighters in Kandahar is only "a small splash in the pond." Expect Stephen Harper to attack his critics for not supporting Canada's soldiers. Perhaps Mr. Harper will even allege, as he did last year, that those who question his government's handling of detainees are Taliban sympathizers.

Yet the better view is that the many persons who expressed prudential worry over Canada's detainee handling practices are Canadian Forces sympathizers. One can only imagine, with gratitude, how many Canadian soldiers were hurt or killed capturing the 400 Taliban who were imprisoned in Sarposa. Now one can only imagine, with revulsion and sadness, how many more will be hurt or killed recapturing them -- and for no reason other than the breathtaking negligence of the Canadian Forces' leadership and Mr. Harper's government.