Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Strategies

The world is abuzz with new ways of doing things this week. The Afghan fiasco is being 'revolutionated' at a NATO meeting in London. That's almost as hopeful as the Israeli initiative to remind the world of what happens when you have a holocaust.

The latter first. In an unprecedented welter of PR breaking out in Europe, virtually every member of the Israeli cabinet had been assigned a different country and a speech to 'celebrate' World Holocaust Remembrance Day - January 27th. Netanyahu and company were on hand, everywhere, to remind the world that 'Holocausts for Jews' are still being planned in places like Teheran, and Gaza,and Syria, and Iraq and Singapore - wherever there's somebody who doesn't like a Jew.

Not hard to understand considering that Netanyahu and other Israelis might actually have relatives who escaped the Nazi death camps, or didn't. But there's a sin of omission here, actually a couple. The Holocaust happened to 6 million other people in those camps who weren't Jews, too. If  'planned killing' is the essential definition, then you might have to open the Holocaust to include the estimated 114 million civilians killed in WW2 - on all sides. Only a military mind could tell you they 'signed up for it by being there'. Another minor point is that the mythos built around this particular instant of inhumanity has tended to blur the fact that such undertakings aren't as much the anomaly as we'd like to think. Such occurrences have happened with pitiful frequency and regularity all around our world over the past century. One of the numerically greatest was that perpetrated in the Ukraine by the nascent Bolshevik government of the Soviet Union. It was an experiment in 'social engineering' that deliberately starved and displaced millions and it was the work of a 'new' form of government espoused by a large number of Jews ... the descendants of whom might well be living 'under Hamas rockets' in Israel to-day.

What is hard to grasp is that this 'Shoah' PR exercise is just that. It's a deliberate attempt to deflect the gaze of the world away from what Israel has been doing to the Arabs, by pointing a finger at what Germans did to their ancestors. There is a report on Israel's operation 'Cast Lead' in Gaza last year, that's making its way through the UN. For the first time Israelis stand accused of some of the same things that got the Nazis a bad name. They're pedaling like crazy to derail the process, and taking a chance to play the sympathy card is a no-brainer to the PR-minded Israelis. Unfortunately, like the chimneys of Auschwitz, the ruins of Gaza, and Lebanon and East Jerusalem give lie to claims of necessity, self-defense or 'protecting the race'.

The London meeting is thought by many to be a similar obfuscation exercise. Gordon Brown, it is claimed, is attempting to put a shine on a large turd - to make some sort of purse out of a pig's ear without taking a close look at the ear, or his part in breeding the porker of which it was a part . In like manner as declaring the ovens 'open for business' in Iran, NATO is rediscovering their original 'rehabilitation and reconstruction' mission, this after almost a decade of an American-inspired shooting, bombing,  time regression. This time they're buying into the 'good cop' side of a new American 'bad cop' surge. NATO has decided to be the talking end of a social services-welfare approach to converting the Taliban. They'll also be paying for it, as the US is tapped-out (but morally inclined to) supplying the concomitant bang-bang for the recalcitrant. Some see this as the 'get out of Dodge dodge'. When the strategy fails, it's NATO's fault. America's Army goes home, to invade somewhere else, later, honor-bright, undefeated - except by squeamish allies who tied one hand behind .... etc, etc.  NATO can assuage its conscience by claiming to have tried every approach.

Whatever the outcome, Afghanistan will continue to be a lesser 'self'  for a long time to come, the victim of western meddling, and, latterly, western military assault. History will be tarring the United Nations, along with NATO and America for their misguided planning and feathering them with their unprincipled actions for the next half-century.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Travesty Continues

Since Christmas another 6 young Canadians have been 'boxed' and repatriated in Canada's on-going effort to reconstruct Afghanistan. That they were all 'joyful warriors' who embraced their 'mission' with a smile on their lips and a good laugh in their hearts, is the stuff of the military lingua franca. One only has to imagine CinC General Ray going from post to post, fighting-off those who would want to deploy to Afghanistan and having to select by lot the volunteers who want to go 'outside the wire' to help the Afghans. But anybody 'laughing their way to Afghanistan' maybe shouldn't be going there.

The mission, we are told, continues to be one of providing the military security needed by the personnel who would get out there and really help the Afghans help themselves. All the little girls at school, and health clinics and fruitful (non-dope growing) farms are off in the future, for there's still some (a lot, do you think?) shooting and bombing going on. General Walt was before a Commons committee extolling in heart-stirring tones the young men and women of which he is so proud. That's a good quality in a CO, but I think he shares General Rick's vision of having every man jack of the combined forces getting a good look in the Afghan elephant's eye. These are the 'leaders of tomorrow's missions' and, dad gum it, Generals Walt and Rick knowing the pains of a peacetime army, realize there's nothing like the smell of cordite to grow a real military. Why else would our wars be lasting so long? We're still trying to pacify 'hostile' Kandahar, a 'city' physically the size of Oshawa, seven years after we got there - and there has been no battle for the city.

Suppose, and this is a difficult concept - Afghanistan somehow 'got on side' - became a land of fat, healthy war vets and mall-trotting mums, hockey-playing young 'uns and a bastion of the multi-party electoral system. Even  managed to build that pipeline that this war's not about. What then? Iran would cease to be a menace? AlQaeda would pack-up? Pakistan would want to become more democratic too? (Oh it already IS a democracy!) Israelis would lie down with Arabs? Iraq would slumber under a friendly American occupation? The Muslim world would accept the need for US business interests to change society to improve market share? A thousand other pustules of man's  malevolence, or indifference, would stop?  Tell me about Little Red Riding Hood Again.

 One thing that is 'gospel' is that you're never going to get a Canadian government to commit such massive amounts of money to international aid, or global warming, or Canadian social spending as they don't even hesitate to blow on a  thus-far spectacularly unsuccessful military operation. In fact, today's military spending will curtail all 'assistance' (now being poured into Afghanistan) for the next decade or two.

So while the mission wends its way to a questionable end in 2011, Canadians will continue to support our troops on highway overpasses on cold December days. And our 'army' will continue to produce such heroes in 'peaceful' but equally dangerous operations for a people who may tell a pollster they want us there, but shut their doors and get the kids off the street when the Vandoos or Princess Pats come patrolling. If it ends without accomplishing anything, will it have been worth it?

General Walt might have an answer for that   ...   about the nobility of 'doing what yer told'  n'all.  But, hey, a "failure" won't be the military's fault.