Saturday, November 17, 2007

NATO Can't, er, Won't Protect Detainees

Sure, some of them are Taliban, the odd one might even be al-Qaeda, and some are just Afghani peasants. It doesn't really matter what they are once NATO forces decide to detain them. At that point they're simply Detainees and headed for an Afghan prison and, well, just about anything you can imagine.

There's a lot of evidence coming out that the people we're handing over are going to something that more closely resembles an abbatoir than a prison. An Afghan prison and an abbatoir really do resemble each other - both have shit and blood all over the floor.

It's good to know that, when the villagers watch as we drive away with uncle Ahmad or cousin Mohammad or grandfather Karim bound and trussed and slung in the back of an armoured vehicle, they'll completely understand that whatever fate befalls their loved one, their fellow tribesman, is entirely the doing of their own government and not at all the fault of the Canadian soldiers who made off with him. Thank goodness these are not people who hold grudges or seek revenge.

You see, at the level where it matters most - at the village level, where we capture and detain people - our soldiers become totally responsible to those villagers for anything untoward that happens to those detainees. We deliver their people into the hands of the butchers.

In Viet Nam, the Americans handed their captives over to the South Vietnamese. How well did that work? Just how much did that advance the Americans' campaign to win the "hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese villagers? How many of those villagers did it drive into the arms of the insurgency?

Now, sure, I know the Taliban are as bloody and vicious as any Afghan government torturer but that's not the point. A key tenet of the insurgents' style of warfare is to drive a wedge between the people and their central government. One of the ways that's accomplished is to make the people fearful and distrusting of their government. When both sides are brutal, you don't have much to lose by choosing the side that actually controls your territory, not the one that drives through twice a week buttoned up in armoured vehicles. What we're doing and allowing Karzai to do is precisely what the other side seeks to have us do.

Failing to ensure that the Karzai government treats detainees humanely is simply bad for business. God knows that duplicitous clown and the thugs in his government and the warlords and drug lords he collaborates with are already making our soldiers' job over there enormously more difficult than it should be, adding torture of detainees, our detainees, only makes everything worse.

The Canadian chairing NATO's military committee, General Ray Henault, rules out establishing our own internment camps over there. Henault says 1) we can't afford it and 2) it would undermine the Afghani government. I suppose the good general doesn't understand that there's nothing we could do that would further undermine the Kabul government on this one and, when it comes right down to it, what we can't afford is to let these atrocities continue.
This just in - the Gulf-Times, from Doha, Qatar, reports that, "Afghan President Hamid Karzai last week ordered authorities to stop torturing suspects in a tacit admission that the practice had been carried out."


Oldschool said...

Under the Geneva Convention . . . non-uniformed combatants can be shot as spies . . . which was quite common during WWII . . .

The Mound of Sound said...

Preschool, I very much doubt you have any working knowledge of any of the Geneva Conventions. Please tell me just which one you refer to and which section of that one. And then, having researched that, you can explain to us the circumstances under which the power you reference is prescribed. In other words, is this conflict, under a UN mandate and at the suffrance of the Kabul government, within the ambit of the rule you raise for non-uniformed combattants? You again demonstrate the profound danger of a very little, ill-informed and shakey knowledge.