Saturday, February 02, 2008

Convenient Shield Of Sovereignty

From today's Globe, Rick Hiller speaks out on torture:
Canada's top soldier says the governor of Kandahar province is doing "phenomenal work," and that allegations of torture against him are up to Afghans to investigate.
Leave aside the fact that he thinks that someone accused of torture is doing "phenomenal work" and let's look at the idea of the Afghan government investigating the allegations. First of all, the gentleman in question is President Karzai's personal choice for the post. Second, Amnesty International reports this about the Afghan government:

Weak government

The reach of the central government was restricted. Parallel systems of governance and dispute resolution prevailed.

Insecurity undermined the rule of law and created a climate of impunity. Governors in some provinces acted independently of central government and violated human rights with impunity. Despite the appointment of Supreme Court judges and other high-ranking officials, reform and rebuilding of the judicial sector remained sluggish. The Afghan security forces, particularly the police and representatives of the National Security Directorate (NSD), were accused of illegal detentions and torture and other ill-treatment.
So, it seems unlikely that the governor is in much danger from the central government. It also seems that our options of dealing with torture are as limited as our options for other actions in Afghanistan. Canadians are being asked to turn a blind eye to torture until (if at all?) the Karzai government gets its act together on the issue. Thanks general. Please keep on talking. You are doing your country a great service.

Update: The general is showing all of us how corruption happens. I am not talking about monetary corruption, but corruption of the soul. The longer our military stays in an environment where they have to make common cause with war lords, the more they have to betray the very ideals they are trying to instill in Afghanistan. The ethical situation in Afghanistan, is much worse than I feared. I was a fence sitter on "the mission". I am no longer one. Layton is right. Before we destroy our military, it's time to withdraw them from that moral snake pit.
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