War & Afghanistan: Political Amnesia in Canada

The Canadian Election and the War in Afghanistan
by Michael Skinner
Socialist Project Bullet No. 145

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American, British and Canadian leaders and NATO officials often express regret for the high levels of Afghani civilian casualties, but routinely blame insurgents for hiding among civilians as the excuse for the deaths, injuries, and property destruction caused by the American Operation Enduring Freedom and NATO forces.

“We are in a different moral category” than the insurgents, said NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, because, he claims, the majority of the Afghani people support the NATO forces (Washington Post, 22 May 2007).

However, the Geneva Conventions of War, amended in 1977 in response to counterinsurgency tactics used by American forces in Vietnam, explicitly forbid the tactics currently used in Afghanistan.

The Geneva Conventions of War state:

“... the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives” (Article 48); and “The presence within the civilian population of individuals who do not come within the definition of civilians does not deprive the population of its civilian character” (Article 50-3).

The Conventions do not provide any exemptions for military forces claiming to be in “a different moral category.”

Canadian Forces in Afghanistan use a hundred tanks and an unknown number of even more destructive heavy artillery cannons. When forward operating forces take fire from insurgents, observers report the suspected position of the source of fire to the artillery that is many kilometres behind the forward positions. One shot from a tank or cannon can destroy a home or building and kill or injure anyone nearby. If Canadian artillery forces are not within range, American or British airplanes are called in to do the job. Observers try to determine at a distance whether civilians are in the kill-zone, but 'collateral damage' to civilians and their property is inevitable.

If a Canadian police force could bomb a Canadian neighbourhood with impunity, whenever the police suspect an alleged criminal is hiding there, I doubt many Canadians would accept this tactic. Why do we accept it when aimed at Afghanis? Why do we accept it when most of the world condemns such a tactic and explicitly forbids it in international law?

When visiting Afghanistan in 2007 as part of a team of independent researchers (read my dispatches), independent observers told us the Canadian Forces do use a “humanitarian” option that sets Canadians apart from the Americans. During large scale search-and-destroy missions, Canadian Forces reportedly will give an evacuation order to inhabitants of a village or specific area. Once the time limit of the evacuation period (often twenty-four hours) has expired, the forces move into the area to search for weapons and insurgents. In order to prevent unnecessary losses soldiers do not search inside suspected buildings, water-wells, food storage structures, etc. Any structure that might house a weapons cache or insurgents is destroyed.

One witness, who works throughout Kandahar with a humanitarian agency, told us that Canadian officers seem truly “mystified” when people “choose” to become refugees after their homes, farms, and businesses are destroyed by the forces that are supposedly liberating Afghanis.
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1 comment:

David Raymond Amos said...

Amnesia is rampant particularly before polling dayz.

Remeber this email that you and Chucky leblanc and the RCMP just received?

From: David Amos david.raymond.amos@gmail.com
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 11:00:52 -0300
Subject: Hey Chucky Leblanc this is what the Crown and the CBC said of the RCMP in the "The Place to BE"
To: oldmaison@yahoo.com, danf@danf.net, porcupine007@gmail.com, dan.bussieres@gnb.ca, Bill.Fraser@gnb.ca, mary.schryer@gnb.ca, rick.miles@gnb.ca, jack.keir@gnb.ca, Bernard.LeBlanc@gnb.ca, Cheryl.Lavoie@gnb.ca, greg.byrne@gnb.ca, john.foran@gnb.ca, jacques_poitras@cbc.ca, Deb_Nobes@cbc.ca, spinks08@hotmail.com, Duane.Rousselle@unb.ca, ndpnpd@nbnet.nb.ca, mackay01@canada.com, PoliticsNB@hotmail.com, oldmaison.wcie@gmail.com, advocacycollective@yahoo.com, dchafe@atlanticbusinessmagazine.com, cjcw@nbnet.nb.ca, news@kingscorecord.com, news@dailygleaner.com, desserud@unbsj.ca, brad.woodside@fredericton.ca, police@fredericton.ca, jeff.mockler@gnb.ca, Layton.J@parl.gc.ca, leader@greenparty.ca, Harper.S@parl.gc.ca, moore.r@parl.gc.ca, robmoir@ndp.ca, Duceppe.G@parl.gc.ca, dions1@parl.gc.ca, duffy@ctv.ca, Greg.Byrne@hotmail.com, impolitic@rogers.com, lou.lafleur@fredericton.ca, william.elliott@rcmp-grc.gc.ca, days1@parl.gc.ca, day.s@parl.gc.ca, warren.mcbeath@rcmp-grc.gc.ca, PAUL.DUBE@rcmp-grc.gc.ca, Stephane.vaillancourt@rcmp-grc.gc.ca, derek.strong@rcmp-grc.gc.ca, jacques.boucher@rcmp-grc.gc.ca, webo@xplornet.com
Cc: bill@wgilmour.ca, wally.stiles@gnb.ca, kelly.lamrock@gnb.ca, Joan.MACALPINE@gnb.ca, bruce.northrup@gnb.ca, carl.urquhart@gnb.ca, claude.landry@gnb.ca, mike.olscamp@gnb.ca, Jeannot.VOLPE@gnb.ca, news@fredfm.ca, Madeleine.DUBE@gnb.ca, Paul.ROBICHAUD@gnb.ca, Percy.Mockler@gnb.ca, kirk.macdonald@gnb.ca, rosemay.poirier@gnb.ca, Jody.CARR@gnb.ca, Keith.ASHFIELD@gnb.ca, David.ALWARD@gnb.ca, aleblanc.mla@nb.aibn.com, Trevor.HOLDER@gnb.ca, stuart.jamieson@gnb.ca, Margaret-Ann.BLANEY@gnb.ca, tony.huntjens@gnb.ca, Wayne.STEEVES@gnb.ca, brad.green@gnb.ca, eugene.mcginley2@gnb.ca, bev.harrison@gnb.ca, mikemurphymla@hotmail.com, T.J.Burke@gnb.ca, roly.macintyre@gnb.ca, Ed.Doherty@gnb.ca

This was said into the public record of the Crown and then reported by a Crown corporation.

I must ask does anyone even remember this?

Howcome the witness has no
ID?

Who were they protecting him and his wife from the RCMP?

What was ever done about this by John Foran or anyone else. Nothing???

What do you think the RCMP or John Foran will ever do about your minor little beef when they overlook the trouble with real beef on Werner Bock's
farm or my beefs with the US Treasury Dept etc NOTHING????

EXACTLY CHUCKY

That said this was a hoot to read anyway. Yoo bad so sad for Chucky
Leblanc and the buddies in the RCMP?GRC and Fat Fred City's Finest
that I have a long memory, keep good records and a rather vindictive
SOB EH?

Unidentified witness says RCMP officer encouraged Grand Manan vigilantes

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2007 | 6:13 PM AT
CBC News

A surprise Crown witness offered testimony that supported the defence on the last day of the trial of Ronald Ross, the man at the centre of last summer's riot on Grand Manan Island.

The former Grand Manan man is accused of illegal possession of a
firearm and uttering threats against his neighbours in the weeks
leading up to July 22, 2006, which culminated in the burning of Ross's
house. Ross's lawyer says those accusations are made up by people who were out to get the suspected drug dealer.

The Crown's unidentified witness agreed Wednesday: Ross was a target, and he was right to be afraid, because, the man said, RCMP had encouraged island residents to take matters into their own hands.

The witness testified that Grand Manan officer Terry Pomeroy had told island residents, including himself, that local citizens should take action against Ross themselves, because police didn't have enough evidence to.

He said the officer recommended they ask Ross to leave the island, and if that didn't work, to rough him up, break his arms and legs, and, as a last resort, burn him out of his house.

The witness said his wife had heard the entire conversation with the RCMP officer, a claim his wife later confirmed to CBC News.

Grand Manan detachment officer Cpl. Ron Smith heard the man's
accusations in court, but had no comment on them. However, an RCMP
spokesman in Fredericton said the accusations would be looked into.

Defence lawyer Joel Hansen said he was disturbed by what he heard.

Judge William Grant promised a verdict in the case within two weeks.

Ross left court telling reporters he felt good about how his trial had gone and his chances for acquittal. He hinted if he's acquitted he may file civil suits against those who ran him off the island.