May 24, 2005

Canada recommits to Kandahar

Marcin S. writes:

I don't think you have commented on this story about a new Afghanistan deployment for the CF. Is this news? I have seen only one brief note on this on the CBC website which very quickly got disappeared under the Budget / Belindagate thing.

Seems like a fairly substantial commitment that doesn't seem to have gotten a lot of air in the press. Is this to relieve pressure on the US so they can reassign to Iraq?

You know what I really love about the Canadian media's coverage of military affairs? They have a collective memory of about 4.5 seconds.

This was nice to see. However you'd think at least one journalist covering it could have summoned up the Defence press release from only one week previously and mention to their readers the Canadian commitment to return to Kandahar, the site of the bombing, in 2006 in larger numbers than the last time... Make no mistake... the number one overseas mission for Canada's army for the next few years will be Afghan reconstruction under NATO auspices, as it has been for a while. This will, of course, be accompanied by a near-complete indifference by the Canadian media to any recent news of interest about Afghanistan, such as the "Newsweek riots" last week, or President Karzai's trip yesterday to Washington today (ignored by the Star and Globe this morning). This disconnect is so constant and fundamental that one has to assume it has some systemic cause.

Posted by BruceR at 11:54 AM

On the riots and Imran Khan

Mark Steyn is right to suggest that, if we were pursuing objective truth, we might have called the shootings of demonstrators in Afghanistan that "Imran Khan riots." The Newsweek item by itself had no power whatsoever to cause riots in the Muslim world until the immensely popular Pakistani cricketer-politician waved a copy of Newsweek around on national television in that country. The American equivalent would, I suppose, be someone of the stature of a Schwarzenegger or perhaps a Crowe voicing strong anti-Muslim sentiments of some kind in that country.

But as far as I know, Khan doesn't have any kind of following in neighbouring Afghanistan. His on-the-air translation may have served to finally carry the Koran-desecration meme over the Hindu Kush, but as American generals and impartial commentators (such as a former colleague of mine, Phil Halton, whose direct experience with and insight into the Afghan insurgent scene is unrivalled in my own experience) it fed into a completely different local dynamic there. Steyn's point should have been that any causality of the Newsweek item is at least one step removed from any actual Afghan fatalities.

Any value to the conclusion he ended up making instead, that Westernized Muslims are somehow a greater threat to us than the other kind, is completely lost to me.

Posted by BruceR at 10:52 AM