Thursday, January 24, 2008

Political Numbers and Political Lies

This is one of those posts where the urge to resort to vulgarity overwhelms the suppression mechanisms so, if you're feeling of refined sensibilities, move along.

I have had it up to the tits with Manley's political numbers. Yet that's the key to seeing through all the feigned sincerity of the Manley Panel's report.

2,000 - that's the figure Manley puts forward. If someone - NATO, the United States, the martians - can come up with another 1,000 fighting soldiers, we ought to stay. That's as far as these hucksters will go, just far enough for Harper to stage manage another scam debate like he did last time.

2,000. Two thousand. A brigade roughly. Why 2,000? Why not 1,800 or 18,000? Read the report. There's no reason given for the magic number. That's because there's no reason for the magic number, other than magic. It's just a shill's device for stifling essential, meaningful debate. It's a political number, one we're expected to imbue with the quality of sufficiency because it's enshrined in ink on paper.

We're supposed to stay in Kandahar to 2011 and beyond so long as someone (presumably the Pentagon) comes up with the next 1,000 soldiers. And then what?

Are we going to win with 2,000 combat soldiers? Win what? Then again, what does "winning" look like to the Manley Panel? NOwhere in the sonorous yet empty report does "the Panel" venture a description of what we're trying to win and just how we get there. Those are petty details beyond the scope of their higher, political vision.

Now, whether you be left, centre or right-wing, here's a question. Do you believe we ought to ask Canadian soldiers to sacrifice their lives unless we ("we" - the people, the nation, our government) are actually in this to win?

You see, if you begin with that simple question, you arrive at a proposition that defines each and every remaining question in judging "the mission." It is, in fact, the essential starting point. Without it, everything else is political numbers, political babble.

If you answer "yes" to that question (and you're a total aberrant if you don't), then you must next ask, what is the definition of "win." What result will we be content with? You have to draw the line somewhere. We're talking here guerrilla warfare bordering on civil war. That's inherently messy and confusing. There won't be any surrender documents signed at ceremonies on the decks of battleships this time.

The Manley Gang assume some bizarre consensus on the notion of winning. That's why you'll find no lengthy description and evaluation of options.

Listen to me. If you can't define "winning", you can't wage much less win a war. Alexander the Great, Wellington, Rommel and Patton would think we were fools for even trying. Yet that's what Manley/Harper would have us do.

Winning is somewhat more than the flip side of losing but working out how not to lose is a good first step in figuring out how to win. We've used the awful spectre of losing to justify continuing this war for better than six years now. The common line is that, if we lose, the Taliban returns triumphant. Says who?

Show me something, anything to make the case that the Taliban could return to power but for the military exertions of the US and NATO? We've been told that, every day for the past six plus years, and it's become an article of faith, but protracted, screwed-up military adventures are almost always sustained by faith in delusions.

So, where's the beef? The Other Side (the non-Pashtun tribes that make up almost 60% of the Afghan population plus the pro-government Pashtuns, collectively) has had six years of breathing space from the days when they were in a deadlocked war of attrition. Why, without us, would they not be able to do just as well as the ISAF infidel at swatting away the Islamists? Why? C'mon, let's hear something reality-based. We just find it convenient to assume these dodgy South Asian types would all roll over and revert to the Bad Old Days. But for that assumption, that ludicrous home truth, "the mission" would be a f#&@ing joke. Can't be having that, can we?

It's not like these backward peoples need us to teach them how to fight. Ask the generals of the old Soviet army, hell ask Rudyard Kipling. They know how to fight and they need neither our training nor encouragement to do it.

What if we just let them settle Afghanistan's hash (pun not intended)? I raise it simply because it's an obvious question that you should but won't find raised in the Manley Brigade report.

I could go on and on and on but I've found that I've already gone well past the useful limit of this blog medium so I'll leave the rest of this rant for another time.

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