Defence Minister Peter MacKay tried to distance Canada from blame in the Kandahar jailbreak that freed hundreds of prisoners – including 400 pro-Taliban insurgents – saying the Afghan government must answer for failing to prevent it.Yes, it's true that the Afghans run their own prisons. But isn't this covering of the derriere the last thing anyone needs to be hearing right now? It's hard to figure what MacKay thinks he's accomplishing by deflecting responsibility like this. We're there, we're on the ground, stand up and be accountable for pete's sake. Things go to hell and MacKay's first public comments are to the effect that the other force Canadians are working hand in hand with are the real culprits. If this was an inside job, deal with it in the appropriate channels. But this paternalistic scolding and shifting of focus to the Afghans strikes me as a combination of desperate and questionable strategy.
“Let's not forget this is an Afghan lead. It's not a Canadian-run prison,” Mr. MacKay told CTV's Question Period, adding later that the Afghans “have obviously a lot to account for as to what happened.”
Critics called Friday's incident a major setback for security in the Kandahar province, and as such, a defeat for Canadian forces because Kandahar is Canada's area of responsibility in the NATO-led mission. The prison is a key military target for Taliban and deserved better protection, they said.
I'm sure the Afghans will be pleased to no end to get word that the international forces are dumping all over them on a p.r. mission to prevent the domestic citizenry from asking questions. Like just wtf is going on over there with the Canadian lives we've risked, with the millions we're spending in order to stabilize that country? And um, oh yes, why the heck isn't anyone helping out with the prison? Is that 'cause we want a hands off, plausible deniability thing to be going on in respect of possible, um, oh, I don't know, torture and the like? After all, that's the impression the Canadian ambassador in Kabul gave when he said this upon the resumption of the transfer of detainees to the Afghans back in February of this year:
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.Yes, we know. And look how well they run the prisons. Looks like we might be in that prison building business now.
"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."
Canada's clearly not done enough with the prison situation, one of the fundamental government institutions that helps provide stability in a time of war. Aren't these the kinds of institutions that Junior used to speak about that should have been higher on the priority list? Here's MacKay in April of 2007 while he was Foreign Affairs Minister:
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, also attending the conference, spoke about the fragility of the operation.Maybe this is one of those tipping points, hey Junior? When I picture 1100 prisoners stampeding down the street...I'm thinking it is.
"While I don't want to sound alarmist, I think there is going to be a tipping point unless we are able to stabilize (southern Afghanistan, especially), unless we are able to get on with building the economy, rule of law and government institutions," MacKay said. (emphasis added)