Monday, March 05, 2007

Are We Really Making Headway?

I'm not going to spend any time here on the quagmire that is Iraq - anyone with their eyes open will have figured out that there's a huge problem there, and it will take years to sort out - even if US troops leave the region tomorrow.

No, today's topic is Afghanistan, where Canada's troops are being asked to put their lives on the line in the name "rebuilding". However, one has to wonder just how much real headway can be made when air strikes destroy Afghani homes?

The US tries to avoid taking real responsibility for the fallout of this particular act by complaining:

A coalition air strike destroyed a mud-brick home, killing nine people from four generations of an Afghan family during a clash between western troops and militants, Afghan officials and relatives said Monday.

It was the second report in two days of civilian deaths at the hands of western forces. On Sunday, U.S. marines fired on cars and pedestrians as they fled a suicide attack. Up to 10 Afghans died in that violence, which President Hamid Karzai condemned.

Both times, the U.S military blamed militants for putting innocent lives in danger.


Hold on a second, here. The US is blaming the opposition for operating "too close to civilian targets" - couldn't the other side of that be that the US troops overreacted to a situation when civilians were too close? No matter how we slice this one, it seems to me that as long as coalition forces are the ones seen to be killing and maiming Afghani civilians, there is little or no chance of actually creating some kind of peace. It's hard enough to be an occupying force in a land where you are "the outsider" - and that's without bombing the crap out of it on a near daily basis. If you are doing the latter, you can fully expect that the "resistance" (or "insurgence" as the lingo goes today) to find plenty of sympathizers among the populus who are willing to give them sanctuary from which to stage their disruptions.

Of no great surprise is that these heavy handed tactics are even getting Afghanistan's "democratically elected puppet government" upset:

But Karzai has repeatedly pleaded for western troops to show more restraint amid concern that civilian deaths shake domestic support for the foreign military involvement that the president needs to prop up his weak government - increasingly under threat from a resurgent Taliban.


I can see how the Taliban is making gains. As horrific as their government was to Western eyes, the Afghanis who support them no doubt see them as attacking the foreign invaders who currently occupy the land. Granted, under similar circumstances, I might even welcome a "Conservative" government led by Ted Morton.

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