Thursday, February 15, 2007

our politicians in response to bush; so so true ...

Bush urges all-out effort in Afghanistan as officials assuage Canada

President George W. Bush called for an all-out allied effort Thursday to defeat the Taliban but angered some in Canada by failing to mention its role in the deadly southern part of Afghanistan.

Bush singled out for praise countries that have recently pledged extra forces or equipment as a spring offensive looms - countries like Norway, Britain, Poland, Turkey, Denmark, Greece and Iceland.

He didn't talk about Canada, which already has a big commitment in Afghanistan and is fighting in the most dangerous areas. Canada was not tabbed for more help.

Asked about the omission, White House spokeswoman Kate Starr noted other allies like the Netherlands weren't mentioned.

But she was quick to emphasize the success of NATO depends on countries like Canada that contribute commanders and provide leadership, as well as troops and equipment.

"Canada is a key ally and the president appreciates Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper for his leadership," said Starr.

"He thanks Harper and the Canadian people who've dedicated personnel to support NATO's efforts and for leading a multinational headquarters brigade responsible for southern Afghanistan."

In Ottawa, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said he didn't take offence that Canada was left out.

"I'm certain it's just, maybe, a little error," MacKay said in French, noting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice often praises Canada's role in Afghanistan.

Opposition leaders were far less sanguine.

"Maybe with Harper leading Canada, he thinks it's become the 51st American state," said Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe.

"That might explain it."

NDP Leader Jack Layton said it's time Bush started appreciating Canada's efforts.

"Mr. Bush, once again, doesn't have a good grasp of the situation on the ground."

And Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said it's unforgivable Bush neglected to mention Canada, especially after failing to thank the country for helping U.S. travellers stranded by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"We're taking on more than our fair share. . .of duties in Afghanistan," said Dion.

"I believe the president must immediately correct this omission."

Said Liberal MP Denis Coderre: "With friends like that, you don't need enemies."

Since 2002, 44 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have died in Afghanistan.

Canada has 2,500 troops with the NATO force in Afghanistan, most of them in the southern Kandahar province which has long been a Taliban stronghold.

Canada has been lobbying hard for more help from allies like Italy and Germany, who have been using so-called caveats to avoid putting their soldiers' lives on the line.

"Mr. Bush's very forceful, clear comments today are very much in line with what Canada had been saying now for some time," MacKay said.

"We want to see other countries with greater capacity come into the south, whether it be more troop deployments, more training, more equipment."

Bush told the American Enterprise Institute think-tank NATO was founded on the principle that "an attack on one is an attack on all." He painted a dire picture of the increase in violence in Afghanistan throughout 2006.

"Allies must make sure that we fill the security gaps...As well, allies must lift restrictions on the forces they do provide so NATO commanders have the flexibility they need to defeat the enemy," he said.

"The people of Afghanistan need to know that they've got a lot of friends in this world who want them to succeed."

California Democrat Tom Lantos, who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives foreign affairs committee, said NATO shouldn't have to beg for more troops from countries like Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

"It is an outrage that only troops from the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom are deployed to the most hazardous spots," Lantos said.

"No longer should this administration stand passively by while our so-called allies take advantage of American generosity and courage."

Bush said he'll keep U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan at 27,000, the highest level since the October 2001 invasion. This is accomplished by diverting 3,200 soldiers originally destined for Iraq to replace 3,200 troops due to go home from Afghanistan.

Bush is also asking for US$11 billion for Afghanistan over the next two years. Robert Gates, the new U.S. defence secretary, has repeatedly talked about the importance of not letting progress there slip away.

But many analysts worry that's already happening, despite the 35,500-strong NATO force, saying Bush took his eye off the ball.

Bush is sending 21,500 more troops to Iraq, a plan vehemently opposed by Democrats and many Republicans.

Bush portrayed Afghanistan as a critical part of the overall war on terror and noted Canada and several other countries broke up terrorist cells in their own countries in the last year.

He outlined progress in Afghanistan, which was a "totalitarian nightmare" in 2001, including an economy that's doubled in size, women holding public office and many more children in school.

But roadside bomb attacks almost doubled, he said, direct-fire attacks on allied forces almost tripled and suicide bombings grew nearly five-fold.

"How do you react? Do you say: 'Maybe, it's too tough?"' he said.

"Do we forget the lessons of Sept. the 11th? And the answer is absolutely not."

In addition to increasing NATO troops, Bush outlined other key goals.

-Increase the size of the Afghan army from 32,000 to 70,000 by the end of 2008.

-Build the national police force to 82,000 from 61,000 in the same period.

-Invest more in intelligence.

-Build more roads and provide more reconstruction aid in rural areas.

-Help reverse the increase in poppy cultivation.

-Fight corruption by creating judicial facilities and training judges and lawyers.

Pakistan also has a key role to play, said Bush, in searching out fighters who hide there.

Although the country has been criticized for not doing more, Bush said Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf knows what's at stake.

"They've tried to kill him," said Bush.

"He understands."

The United States is building more than 100 border outposts and will help Pakistan equip security forces patrolling the area straddling the Afghan frontier, he said.


Jan_ from_ BruceCounty said...

Bush told the American Enterprise Institute [right-wing]think-tank NATO was founded on the principle that "an attack on one is an attack on all." After world war 2 and during the cold war and had to do with Russia. But American imperialism decided it needed to be expanded to include their mis-adventures in the middle east. Full-stop. This about Bush's new war idea - Iran. The war propaganda machine has already started. Maybe his daughters might want to enlist and do 'some heavy lifting.'

audacious said...

i often wondered if every politician had a child in the military, how different things would probably be.

candu said...

The politicians are living in la-la land. Afghanistan does not need police and armed forces. They are a tribal, warrior society where every member is a fighter. They do not need or accept a central government, tribes are autonomous and deal with their members as custom dictates. There are no jails, except the ones set up by the west. There is no infrastructure because there is no central government. Karzai is an ex-Unocal oil company executive put in place by Bush. Bush wants to build pipelines through Pashtun territory. The Pashtuns, whose members include the conservatives, who actually are the Taliban, do not want pipelines and do not want western style governments either. Isn't it interesting that the countries most interested in those pipelines are the ones providing fighting troops? The Dutch for Royal Dutch Shell, the Brits for British Petrol, the States for Exxon-Mobil and Canada as a stooge for Bush.The population is being displaced, their villages are blown up and the inhabitants are in refugee camps starving. Bush has no moral qualms about eliminating all civilians from an area he wants. He does not want peace and reconstruction, he wants pipelines. All Afghanis are against this by now and that is why there will be a bigger multi-tribal resistance to the illegal occupation. Stop thinking we are there to help, we are doing no such thing. We are enforcing Bush's oil agenda by killing the locals and we are in truth fighting the Afghani people who want us out of there. Shame on us for putting a compassionate face on the lies and shame on us for doing the dirty work of Bush.