Saturday, September 23, 2006
Operation Medusa - Keeping Afghanistan Safe for Thugs and Villains
The battle of Panjwai or "Operation Medusa" as it was dramatically called never made much sense in the context of a classic government versus guerrilla battle. What was odd was that the insurgents stood their ground and fought against overwhelming firepower from our side and that, when the dust cleared, the guerrillas seemed to vanish into thin air. None of that kept Generals Fraser and Hillier or the Harperites from celebrating Canada's victory to break the back of the Taliban.
A story in today's Globe and Mail helps make sense of what actually happened. It turns out we weren't just slaughtering the Taliban. We were actually laying waste to a lot of locals. Yes, we were killing the same people we were supposedly there to protect.
What happened was an uprising by local farmers against oppression by corrupt government, police and military forces. This was just too good a deal for the Taliban to pass up. Canadian forces, perhaps unintentionally, put down a popular uprising against corrupt Afghan bosses. Good one, eh?
It seems we killed a lot of locals, several hundred anyway. The brothers and sons of those dead farmers will probably be back to settle scores before long. Then we'll be able to kill even more Afghans unless they just decide to wrap themselves up in explosives when they come calling.
Villagers interviewed said that corrupt police officials had used their power to settle tribal scores and that they were subject to police stealing their cash, cellphones, jewelry, even motorbikes and cars. When the Taliban arrived on the scene the insurgents put an end to this abuse and gained the support of the locals. In other words, the locals welcomed the protection of the Taliban against their own government's officials.
Now that the Taliban have moved out of Panjwai, their work done, the goverment thugs are said to be returning under the protection of the victorious NATO forces.
One of the cardinal mistakes the Americans made in Vietnam was driving locals into the arms of the guerrillas by propping up corrupt provincial officials. Now, it's our turn. Operation Medusa indeed, myth atop myth.