The publisher of Esprit de Corps (“the voice of the grunts”) briefly discusses the Canadian propaganda and “democracy-building” in Afghanistan.
The “chief correspondent” for the Sydney Morning Herald concludes his summary of the “situation on the ground” with: “In Kabul the US-led coalition has created just the veneer of a democracy that barely masks so much of what is rotten in Afghanistan.”
US airstrikes rise sharply in Afghanistan
Bombing - since June: 2,095 in Afghanistan –vs- 88 in Iraq.
The Air Force's entire B-1 bomber fleet was shifted over the summer from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to a “Mideast airfield,” two hours closer to Afghanistan.
Afghanistan Interview: Publisher of Esprit de Corps - Scott Taylor
His Canadian magazine, Esprit de Corps, has been called the “voice of the grunts.”
CD: Canadian forces are in Afghanistan, bringing them democracy and our values. Is this possible, to franchise out our way of life?
ST: You can’t. We say we are giving them democracy, fighting oppression - but so did the Russians. They were invited in also, and probably had more support than President [Hamid] Karzai, who asked us in. We and the Russians both see Afghan customs, the constraints of their religion, as oppressing women, but many Afghans see our ways as freeing women to become strippers and take drugs. It cannot work, not even in terms of daily life.
CD: When I see all these photos in the media where soldiers are handing out candy to kids, I wonder if there is a military system for candy handing.
ST: Ha! By the numbers. Yes, the army does everything by the numbers. It’s propaganda. This is a new “hearts and minds,” proof that we are losing the war in Afghanistan. They are trying to sell us on these PRTs [Provincial Reconstruction Teams], but after four-and-a-half years into the war, we still need armed military to hand out candy and blankets.
CD: Why do you think this candy propaganda is being presented to us as if it was real information?
ST: The problem is the military wants it both ways. They do not want to be seen as peacekeepers anymore - they are fighting soldiers. They really insist on that. But the minute anything goes wrong, they are then desperately trying to sell the mission by saying that it is UN-sanctioned, or under the UN umbrella, or whatever will please the public. But it is not. We are in Operation: Enduring Freedom and under American overall control.
......Show me one UN blue helmet, one blue flag - anything - on the ground over there. The Americans, that is - not the Afghans - said the mission was going to fly only U.S. or Afghan flags.
......Also, what do embedded journalists get to see? Of course the locals are smiling when a reporter shows up with an armoured vehicle and an armed patrol. After the gunships and tanks are gone, they come out to hit us, like they did to Captain Trevor Green. He was part of a PRT.
......At the NATO briefings in the Balkans, they would tell us about the 5th Serbian Armoured Brigade being stationed someplace. I’d travel down there and it would be a 22-year-old officer, fifty kids and pot-bellied old men sitting around drinking beer, and one vehicle up on blocks. That was the reality of the 5th Brigade.
......Information is a weapon. Quality of information? People do not read enough. News has to be a minute and a half of entertainment. You cannot simplify the Balkans or Afghanistan like that. We talk of the Afghanistan people - which ones? Tajiks, Uzbeks, Pushtuns, Turkomen, Taliban, anti-Taliban?
......Not that simple.
Rosy picture of Afghanistan hides grim truth
Sydney Morning Herald
......There is little to celebrate after five years, writes Chief Correspondent Paul McGeough.
......The extent to which Afghans have been freed is debatable. They have been liberated from the tyranny of the Taliban, but after the most violent year since the fall of Kabul, there is rising bitterness.
......As diplomats watch the Afghan mix of corruption, drugs, militias, insurgencies and the anti-democracy tendencies of the country's tribal and religious ways - only a few in the foreign diplomatic corps have paused to ask: what kind of future are all these children being educated for?
......The great disappointment in today's Afghanistan is not so much that the foreigners came, but that they left so little behind. The parliament they created includes too many of the war criminals from the past, which is generally ignored by an all-powerful executive president.
...... Karzai wants to re-activate the Taliban’s dreaded Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which used to whip women, music-lovers and kite-fliers.
...... He is setting up a (foreign-trained and funded) "police auxiliary" - new private/tribal militias that still make a misery of peoples' lives.
...... He shows a contempt for democracy, explaining that the Afghan way is based on guidance from “born-to-rule tribal elders” and “unelected religious leaders”
STATE OF AFFAIRS
...... The national police prey on the people, rather than protect them. (Do police or politicians listen to: A cashed-up drug lord or a human-rights sensitive diplomat?)
......The yawning gap between the poor masses and the corrupt Kabul elites is causing contempt for those benefiting from donor aid and drug money – who then say: "We're praying for the poor people to have houses like us."
......Much of the south is in the grip of a harsh drought.
......A four-fold increase in violence in the past year has forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.
......Kabul and Kandahar are told to be grateful for having electricity for just a few hours a day.
...... GDP is just $US500M more than in the last year of the Taliban.
......Opium revenues are up 59% - worth $3B(US) – 1/3 of GDP – 92% of world supply
......Corruption is so bad that tax collectors have to be bribed to say people have paid their taxes.
......After two years, the 140 staff of the Anti-Corruption and Bribery Office have yet conviction anyone
STATE OF THE CHILDREN
...... 40% of children under the age of five are malnourished and
...... 61% of children under the age of five drink untreated drinking water.
......2 million girls are in school
...... 80% of all marriages are forced,
......60% of the brides being under the age of 16.
......Up to 200 schools were forced to close this year and 200,000 children are being denied schooling because of the violence.
STATE OF THE WAR
......About 3700 Afghans have died this year - more than a quarter of them civilians.
...... In the first four years there were five suicide-bomb attacks, but 80 in the first 10 months of this year. NATO say the increase in suicide missions as a sign of weakness - “forgetting” the rudiments of guerilla warfare.
......Senior Canadian and Dutch officers claim that NATO forces have beat the Taliban. But, each fall the coalition claims the Taliban are on the run – and each spring they come back bolder, better armed and better trained.
...... A Taliban commander, said: "We are in no hurry ... it might take us 10, even 35 years. Will the foreign soldiers last that long here?"
......The violence is now hitting Kabul - diplomats demand armour-plated transport and there is talk of setting up a Baghdad-style green zone.
WINNING THE AFGHANI’S SYMAPTHY
...... The head of the southern UN mission made a staggering admission of defeat: "We've never improved the situation. The security issue isn't just to do with the Taliban - it's to do with bad, weak governance. Fifty per cent of this problem is internal. People don't naturally want the Taliban back, not all, but increasingly they think that the Government offers them nothing but insecurity, and that though the Taliban offers them nothing either, they may perhaps give them some stability and an end to corruption."
......The Taliban are repeating the 1990s – avoiding the central territory while, village by village offering their version of stability to wearied communities that had lost faith in a corrupt leadership.
......Earlier this year, the British NATO commander estimated that 70% of the southern population was unsure whether to support government or the Taliban. The very thinly spread 40,000 NATO troops must turn bloody summer fighting into stability and meaningful reconstruction before March's spring thaw - because these 70% "undecideds" will make their judgement will be based on the simple basics of their daily lives, not based on fine words.
In Kabul the US-led coalition has created just the veneer of a democracy that barely masks so much of what is rotten in Afghanistan.
BRACEWELL COMMENTS: The health and well-being of those serving in the military and their families, is my concern.
......To hurt those who serve, by putting them in harms way for the geo-strategic advantage of others – is not "supporting the troops."
......I am troubled that so few were concerned by:
Canada Fighting - Injured Soldiers
US airstrikes rise sha...
Afghanistan Interview: ...
Rosy picture of Afghan...
Canada Fighting - Inju...