Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Distinction Without a Difference?

We're once again embroiled in the thorny issue of providing sanctuary to American servicemen and women who don't want to serve in the endless US war in Iraq.

The logic used by Citizenship and Immigration spokesperson Danielle Norris is that those seeking sanctuary now cannot be compared to the kids we took in during Vietnam. "Those coming to Canada now volunteered for military service."

Yes, they are different but it's a fragile distinction. During Vietnam the US government wasn't able to deceive enough young people to fill its army with volunteers. Instead it had to rely on the draft, conscription. Young people were forced, often against their will, to serve and fight and die abroad.

Contrast that with Iraq. Here the US government was able to deceive enough young people to fill its army with volunteers. But it hasn't been able to deceive enough young people to keep that scam going. It can't find volunteers, and doesn't have the courage to re institute the draft, so its cowardly way out is to resort to impressment of those who they snagged at the outset, including a lot of reservists, and transform them into a "Stop Loss" hostage army that keeps getting sent back to fight a war, 15-months at a stretch, for three or four or even five tours - and we're still counting.

These poor buggers weren't drafted in to the US armed forces but they've surely been drafted when their enlistments were up and they expected to be going home to their families and jobs. If you're looking for distinctions, here's the most important one. Today's hostage soldiers are drafted forever, until America finally tires of losing in Iraq. Forty years ago, draftees were only required to fight for one year before being released.

So, the Harper government's rationale is that these people were dumb enough to believe they were signing on for just a couple of years and got tricked and that's their problem. As far as we're concerned, they're entitled to all the rights and freedoms of a Roman legionnaire which were pretty much to keep fighting until you were dead.

No, the Harper government hasn't got the spine to do the right thing even if it has the approval of Parliament. After all we just signed up our own soldiers to carry on America's mismanaged war in Afghanistan until 2011.


Johnathon said...

How has America lost the war in America?

They killed Saddam and installed a new democratic government.

How the fuck is that a "loss"?

As for your numbers of "coerced" soliders, I would advise you that over 3 million Americans have served in Iraq, and only a few hundred fucked off to Canada.

Then you say that the Afghan mission is "mismanaged".

What does that mean?

Fill in the blanks on both posts, for your own benefit.

The Mound of Sound said...

How has America lost the war in America? I don't know, you tell me. It has certainly lost the support of the American people.

How has it lost the war in Iraq? The first question is which war in Iraq do you want to talk about for there are several underway not that I expect you to understand that.

As for the mismanagement of the Afghan mission, where to begin. Our guy, Karzai remains the mayor of Kabul seven full years later. By our own estimates, he controls 30% of his country although that includes the Taliban plagued south. 60% is held by warlords (i.e. a variation on the Taliban theme) with the remaining 10% held by the Taliban outright.

That's mismanagement for you. We allowed the warlords to insinuate themselves into the supposedly democratic Afghan government thus achieving what Chatham House refers to as the fatal nexus of a corrupt government, feudal warloords, drug barons and the insurgents.

Now, in your extremely simple world, Johnathan, you don't recognize these realities because they don't fit in your narrow, gullible focus.

Johnathon said...

Oh, O.K?

Tell me then, smarty pants, what YOU would expect a FULL 6 YEARS after the Afghan mission started.

Tell me what YOU would do to manage the war, since you're a MONDAY MORNING QUATERBACK.

By the way, America is winning every war because IT HAS NOT BEEN ATTACKED SINCE 9/11.

Support for a war always changes just like it did during WW1, WW2, Vietnam, Bosnia, Korea,the support always changes.

So to use a snapshot in time to justify 6 years of foreign policy is retarded to say the least.

So, again, what would you do to manage the Afghan mission any better than the Libs, Cons, or the other 35 countries are doing.

You make it seem like Canada is responsible for the whole mission when in reality they are responsible for only 1/40th of it.

The Mound of Sound said...

Johnathon, you really need to stop drinking that stuff. What would I do? Well, since the Chinese are moving into Afghanistan commercially (they tied up the big copper deposits in the north and are running a rail line into the country) and since the Russians want to operate pipelines (gas and oil) across Afghanistan into Iran and since Afghanistan, along with Pakistan, is keen on joining the Shanghai Council I think I'd take a good hard look at the future and invite those folks to guard their own investments.

Where America mismanaged the Afghan war began at the outset when they had bin Laden and the al Qaeda leadership cornered in Tora Bora and failed to finish them off. They compounded that blunder by not giving Karzai the backing he needed from the outset to keep the warlords out of his cabinet. That has led to much of the corruption of the government and its close ties to the drug barons. Then, as if those weren't enough, Bush decided to take his army and go off to play in the sandbox we call Iraq.

Now it's pretty much too late for us to accomplish anything particularly meaningful. The countryside has returned into fundamentalist feudalism. Sharia law is in full force and effect (so much for women's rights). The ethnic divides are opening again (Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, Turkmen, Baloch and Pashtun).

This is fucked up on so many levels that it beggers proper description. All we're doing now is presiding over an unresolved civil war in which a lot of the supposed good guys are migrating over to collude with the insurgents.

What is it they say about giving us the courage to accept the things we cannot change?

But now Johnathon I want the benefit of your wisdom and ideas on how this Afghan war is going to be won. Start anywhere. I can't wait.

Johnathon said...

Well, lets begin with a few mistakes you made.

Afghanistan has not fell back into your 10% Taliban rule. As a matter of fact, the Taliban are on the run 24/7, 365 days a year.

Next, where is the links to all this Chinese,Russian, and Pakistani "commercial" operations? Sounds a bit rich to me, but again, if you can prove me wrong, I'll admit it.

Where is the evidence that Bin Laden was in Tora Bora? Now don't get me wrong, I have heard U.S Army Special Forces say they "thought" they had him surrounded, but for you to say 100%he was in Tora Bora, again I thinks its more "theory" than convincing proof.

Again, I have to call you out on "theories" you deem as "proof". Where is the link to the factual evidence that the USA did not give Karzai "enough" backing to keep his government from attracting warlords? You should know that Afghanistan before the taliban was always run by warlords.

Next, you say Sharia law is back in "full force". Where is the evidence? I mean, come on, we hear on a weekly basis of all the schools being built and how many children(girls) are going to school, roads being built, etc.etc.etc. The list goes on and on.

Now to answer the final question, I think we're succeeding in Afghanistan. Why is that, you might ask?

It's because the taliban have not reaclamined power and Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden have fucked off to Pakistan.

What else could you possible expect for a country that has never been anything more than a "dustbag" of roads and a few buildings?

Do you really think that any muslim country is going to look like Canada, after only 6 years.

I could go on and on, but the point is that progress is being made, albeit slowly and that we cannot possible expect anything more than we have gotten.

No more taliban and no more Al-Qaeda training bases.

I'm just shaking my head at your partisan opinion. I know you're on the political left but that doesn't mean you have to be so pessimistic about Afghanistan. I can understand Iraq which has been a blunder not because of Bush's policies, but because of the terrorists and the muslims killing each other. Why won't the Iraqi's embrace freedom like the Europeans did after WW2?

So..... get back to me on your links to the facts, and then get back to me on the basis for your pessimistic opinion about Afghanistan.

Tell me what you actually expect.

I expect no talibanos or al-qaeda around for the next 50 years at least. Tell me what you think.

P.S I appreciate your debating with me.

The Mound of Sound said...

Johnathon, the 30/60/10 figure was given to the US senate by the US commander of OEF in Afghanistan.

You've got a computer so you've got Google so you can do your own homework and easily verify the Chinese and Russian commercial ventures underway or proposed for Afghanistan. Stop being so damned lazy!

The factual evidence on Karzai? One again, do a little research. Karzai was forced to cede powers to warlord butchers like Dostum and Gul Agha even though they were listed, along with many others, on an embargo prepared by the US State Department. He didn't want them but he couldn't keep them out and, being our former "Northern Alliance" warlords and with our hands already full with the Taliban we weren't about to take on the rest of the country.

Read General Petraeus FM 3-24, counterinsurgency field manual. You can read it, in PDF format, on the internet. It lays out the principles of counterinsurgency warfare as demonstrated by nations going back to the Romans in Gaul.

Then compare those pearls of wisdom to what we're doing in Afghanistan. We're breaking just about every tenet of counterinsurgency warfare - making the very same mistakes that have been demonstrated in the past.

We're not in this to win Johnathon. If we were there'd be a combat force of over 20,000 troops (rifles on the ground) in Kandahar province alone. That's Petraeus' own formula of one combat soldier for every 25-civilians.

All we're doing over there is screwing around. We don't secure the countryside, we don't secure the villages (24/7) and we're so understrength we're forced to fight with insurgency-losing tactics such as artillery and airstrikes in populated areas.

Read FM 3-24 or read Caesar or read T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) or read the digests of the French experience in Algeria. It's all the same story, over and over and over again. We ignore it and wind up in the same position as those who've ignored it n the past over and over and over again.

This is not top secret information, it's not rocket science. It goes back two thousand years and more.

Johnathon said...

Good points.

Maybe I'm wrong.

I guess my only question is why the Liberals sent us into a losing war?

My only answer is that the Liberals must have been living in a dream world to send us into an impossible mission and Harper must be sacraficing lives for some insane reason.

i have taken all your points but I have one last question.

Why do our soldiers not lay down their arms, give up, and say the mission is pointless.

I mean, why would anyone who knows firsthand that we are losing want to die in that brutal country?

I can't understand that.

WesternGrit said...

Did you expect Jonathon to use facts? Some people are just so imbued with ideology that it's hard to see facts - especially when the ideology is a "wing" (left or right).

Being a blogger on here for a while, and being "wonderfully entertained" by "Telethon Jonathon", I'd say we'd benefit from the "Jonathon Telethon of Hope"... and hope that this poor guy is gifted with a kool-aid antidote at some point in his fearful life... or he'll always be fearful of "Muslim countries", or outsiders, or have the propensity to use the f-word as "liberally" as he likes to...

Poor guy.

The Mound of Sound said...

Johnathon, our soldiers fight and fight well because that's what they're trained to do and it's what they signed on to do. They're supposed to be ready to be thrown into any situation and want to fght like hell.

Why are we there? Because back in the "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" day, Chretien wisely decided to keep us out of Iraq and to send a security force to Kabul (not Kandahar back then but merely Kabul) to ease the heat.

Once the American forces became bogged down in Iraq, Rick Hillier persuaded Martin that we should take on the Kandahar mission.

Our best and brightest military professional assured the PM - and all Canadians for that matter - that the Taliban were already finished and that his miniscule combat brigade was more than enough to tackle what he described as a "few dozen scumbags" in Kandahar province.

Martin took Hillier at his word which is one reason Hillier was so happy to see Harper take over. We got in with the commitment to run to 2007, then 2009 and now to 2011.

Here's a question. Why has Rick Hillier decided to retire before his army is out of Afghanistan? I suspect he sees what's coming and doesn't want to be around when lest he might have to take a big bite of that shit sandwich.

Look Johnathon, you're obviously interested in this stuff so why don't you learn more about it. It's really quite fascinating stuff once you get into it. You could begin with a book called "War of the Flea" or even the new US Army/Marine Corps field manual I mentioned. TE Lawrence wrote a great book about his insurgency with the Arab tribesmen against the Germans and Ottomans in WWI.

This is information best gotten from original sources. Once you get the partially digested pap put out by the media you're stuck with what is, at best, an incomplete and misleading account.