‘Give Me a Rocket Launcher ..’

By Jim Miles

A Canadian polling company, the Angus Reid Global Monitor, [1] indicates that the majority of the world’s citizens express concerns about their countries’ role in the war, and the majority wishes the troops to be removed. This includes the majority of the big hitters in NATO, and many other countries around the world. There are exceptions, with mixed results from U.S. polls indicating support for Obama but not necessarily for the war, and with India, a country with different political aspirations vis a vis Pakistan, still strongly supporting the Afghanistan occupation.

Whither Democracy?

The contrast is obvious, wherein the elites and corporate and political powers of the (mainly) western world wish to remain in Afghanistan for the putative democratic values that they call for, yet ignore that very same democracy in their own homelands. The typical argument would be that this is a ‘difficult situation’ with ‘complex issues’, the standard line that serves as the apologetics for continuing their war making. The simplistic argument is for ‘democracy,’ without understanding that democracy required hundreds of years of peasant and labour revolts and protests before it even came close to its current status in the western countries. If we are a democracy, if the other countries are democratic, the people are calling for the troops to be removed from Afghanistan.

Democracy cannot be imposed at the barrel of a gun, especially in the situation of an occupying army with completely different cultural beliefs and systems trying to impose its will on another country that has been continually invaded and harassed by foreign powers over several centuries. It is no surprise that there is resistance, hatred, violence of all kinds in a land trammelled by various invaders, the majority not looking for anything but geopolitical control of the area for resources, transportation routes, and containment of ‘enemies.’

Canada Continues Double Standards

After each Canadian death, there is a flurry of angst and bad reporting about the situation in Afghanistan, generally showing that the media, the government and various other players buy into the ‘establishing democracy’ lie that remains the fundamental rationale for Canada to stay in Afghanistan. After the most recent deaths, caused by a buried IED, the old familiar battle cries were heard from the government, media and military.

Canada’s foreign minister, Lawrence Cannon, called for "for calm in the face of such a cowardly and despicable act..It is clear that insurgent forces have no regard for the lives of Afghan men, women and children. We encourage all Afghans not to be deterred from exercising their hard-won right to determine the future of their country by participating in the upcoming presidential election." [2] Good sound bites but truly irrational. Cowardly and despicable are simply opinions, based on the emotions that arise from two of "our" troops being killed by the enemy. There is nothing cowardly or despicable about it.I would rather use tragic, painful, and well, yes, despicable, but not in reference to the enemies actions but in relation to the propaganda necessity of having our troops occupying a foreign country. Despicable that Canada advocates democracy, but does little to support it, does not recognize the context of its role within the U.S. empires attempted hegemony in the region, does not understand that most Afghanis want all foreign troops to get out, does not understand the double standards and contradictions that are involved with an invader protesting for democracy.

In the same article, Canadian Brig. Gen. Eric Tremblay said, "The insurgents prove once again that they use indiscriminate violence that kills or injures scores of innocent Afghan civilians." Excuse me but it was two Canadian soldiers that died, not scores of innocent Afghan civilians, and if I read/watch the news correctly, their have been scores of innocent Afghanis and various Pakistan tribes people killed by the indiscriminate violence created by predator drones controlled from some air conditioned gaming room in the middle of the U.S.

Almost a Breath of Fresh Air

A recent opinion in one of Canada’s weekly newsmagazines argues to the right conclusion about Canada’s role in Afghanistan, mainly for the wrong reasons. The main argument of the article is that we should not be there because we are supporting a "guy who seems likeliest to hang on to power in Afghanistan.a fraud backed by thugs in the service of values we like to claim we could never support." At least they are finally recognizing that Karzai is not their man for democracy, "the logical conclusion is that Afghanistan has ceased to be worth the effort [to make democracy] because the effort does not make immeasurably better on any axis that matters to its citizens or our own." [3] Yes, Karzai may be a thug, but at this point in time there are not many power players in Afghanistan who are not thugs or drug lords, or simply really want the invaders to go home, the result of those many years of invasion and covert activities that manipulated and attacked the people of the country without regard for the lives of the citizens.

The real reason of course is that the war has been a fraud all along, that it is not about democracy or Canadian values, but about supporting the U.S. in its efforts to control the region. That soldiers and other people may believe differently demonstrates the effectiveness of the simple lie of the democracy propaganda and the lack of information on Afghanistan’s history and its importance solely as a buffer between empires – except of course as its importance as a homeland for war weary population.

All the Way to the Top

The tears wept by Canada’s Governor-General Michaelle Jean are genuine, as anyone’s should be for anybody killed in a senseless war (as all wars generally are, except those used to push back an aggressor and/or occupier, but even they are senseless for other reasons) whether a soldier, an insurgent, a mother, a child, or any other civilian caught in the crossfire generated by elite corporate and political interests. Beyond the tears, however, the words are the same old platitudes about democracy and values, the same democracy and values that cannot be demonstrated by an occupying army (consider that an army is probably the least democratic institution ever created). Very much in line with other government propaganda, Michaelle Jean says, "Know that your fellow Canadians are very proud of what you accomplish here and are very much aware of the sacrifices you make.You have come to this troubled area of the world to defend the democratic ideals to which all peoples should be able to aspire. You, who risk everything to create a safe environment . . . (for) the women, children and men of Afghanistan." [4]

Well, no, I am not "proud" of Canadian forces in Afghanistan. That they are volunteers and wish to be there is fine, but when will the pretence for democracy be dropped in recognition of our real role there? It would be nice if our real role was reconstruction and establishing democracy, but that is not a possibility now or in the near future, and will not be as long as the country remains occupied. Sacrifices.suicide bombers.is there really a difference, other than the sacrifices are coming from the occupying force and the ‘suicides’ are from the indigenous people?

Michaelle Jean continues, "As commander-in-chief, I salute the many efforts being made as part of this dangerous mission that seeks to rebuild a country that has been ravaged by so much hardship, misery and inhumanity." [5] Again, nice rhetoric but out of context. She needs to question herself as to where all this "hardship, misery and inhumanity" came from. Certainly the Taliban were and are not angelic, but the root causes are much deeper than a group of people, supported by Pakistan and their ISI and the U.S. support of them and other covert activities against the Soviets including support for mujahideen including bin Laden and cohorts..it’s a long story, much more complex than democracy replacing the Taliban.

Re-Enter the U.S.

Another surge, more deaths, more senselessness in the Global War on Terror – now renamed under "contingencies" (contingency: dependence on chance or on the fulfillment of a condition; uncertainty; fortuitousness) as in USARCENT – U.S. Army Central Command, responsible for the Middle East and Eastern Africa. Now that is a scary concept – with no plan other than global full spectrum dominance, now the remaining but unspoken attitude within the Obama government, the U.S. forces are to rely on contingencies, chance opportunities to destabilize and disrupt anyone who gets in their way.

The first step was into Pakistan. The second step is the ‘surge’ in Afghanistan after the purported success of the Iraqi surge. Part of that step is reinforcement of the Canadian forces in the southern Kandahar region. As reported in the Canadian news, "Several new wrinkles in the military situation in Kandahar." These new wrinkles involve "forward operation bases are now guarded by private security contractors, a U.S. infantry battalion is now working alongside the Van Doos [a well known Canadian regiment].[6]" Canada is looking more and more "American" every day (with apologies to all those who are Americans but do not live in the U.S.).

Afghanis Must "Step Up"

Another fallacy the is generated by invaders/occupiers is the necessity of the occupied peoples to step to the plate (for those not understanding this metaphor, it refers to the U.S. traditional game of baseball) and take responsibility for their country and its violence and lack of democracy, the typical ‘victim is responsible for the crime’ scenario.

Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay, reiterates this line: "He said that [political reconciliation] will only be successful if it is led by strong leadership through the Afghan people themselves, who are not afraid to reach out to those who are considered part of the "moderate Taliban." Well and good, but Canada and the other countries should then get out and let them get on with it. The results might be very bloody for a short while, but the resolution will be theirs, genuinely theirs, and at first it may appear much worse than even the real and imagined problems of Taliban rule, but it would be theirs.

There is no way to have "strong leadership through the Afghan people themselves" when there are so many foreign interests in the country. As long as the U.S. and its mercenaries remain, any occupying force will be viewed as an unnecessary agent, and any local government working with them will be looked upon by some part of the population as lackeys, sycophants, and quislings with no strong leadership arising other than some powerful drug or war lord, the very people the invading forces argue they are trying to get rid of.

Canada is not alone in this. It is a line supported by most of the U.S. allies in the country, a line of propaganda that is fully irrational, as the victim of the invaders is deemed responsible for cleaning up the mess. With an election underway, and the majority of the citizens not wanting the military to be in Afghanistan, Chancellor Merkel of Germany argued that, "the international community needed to "apply pressure [on Kabul] in order to find a way to get the Afghans to appreciate that they have to take responsibility step by step … so that the international engagement can be reduced."[9]

Great words Peter and Angela, but not very logical.

Grand finale – "Give me a rocket launcher.."

I must admit the title is more of a teaser, a buy in line that anything truly worthy of any lengthy discussion. But I will end on it as it highlights the non-rational thinking required to maintain wars.

Canadian singer/song writer Bruce Cockburn visited Guatemala during which the indigenous people of the area he was visiting were attacked by army helicopters (probably U.S. made and supplied). From that he wrote a song that described the emotions and atrocities of the attack:

Here come the helicopter — second time today

Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away

How many kids they’ve murdered only God can say

If I had a rocket launcher…I’d make somebody pay.

I don’t believe in guarded borders and I don’t believe in hate

I don’t believe in generals or their stinking torture states

And when I talk with the survivors of things too sickening to relate

If I had a rocket launcher…I would retaliate

On the Rio Lacantun one hundred thousand wait

To fall down from starvation — or some less humane fate.

Cry for Guatemala, with a corpse in every gate

If I had a rocket launcher…I would not hesitate

I want to raise every voice — at least I’ve got to try.

Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes.

Situation desperate echoes of the victims cry

If I had a rocket launcher…some sonofabitch would die. [10]

From that several warrior inconsistencies arise. It is obvious he was affected by a military attack on indigenous people. Yet at the same time there is a strong cry for retribution, for revenge, very similar to the U.S. impulse to go into Afghanistan militarily, when their political negotiators might have succeeded in extricating bin Laden had they been given the time, or the much vaunted skills of various special forces groups combined with international police work should have been able to do the same thing – but it makes more money and gives more regional control to actually invade and occupy the place. War, seemingly, begets more war (and war profits).

The second inconsistency is black becoming white. It appears okay for the Guatemalan villagers to be seeking revenge for a military attack on their homes, but when it comes to Afghanistan, the revenge mode somehow shifts or disappears and the indigenous people now have the rocket launcher aimed at them. Mr. Cockburn’s brother is a medic within the Canadian forces, the probable explanation for this double standard, but I would doubt that either truly knows the context of the full situation in Afghanistan.

Let’s Get Out

As I have written several times in the last couple years, Canada (and others) should get out of Afghanistan. After a period of turmoil, perhaps under different auspices and without external harassment and the false cries engendered by the cultural ignorance of the western elites, we might be able to go back in and truly help the people of Afghanistan. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick, but the first stage, getting out, needs to be done as quickly as possible.

– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.


[1] See here. 

[2] "Seven killed, one Canadian wounded in Afghan pre-election attack." Matthew Fisher, Canwest News Service.

[3] Paul Wells, "It just keeps getting harder to believe in Afghanistan." MacLean’s, September 14, 2009.

[4] "GG says war in Afghanistan far from ‘lost cause’ " Canada Press, Wednesday, September 9 2009.

[5] "Canadian governor general visits troops in Afghanistan." Yahoo News, Wednesday, September 09, 2009.

[6] "Canadian troops living among Afghans to pressure Taliban." Matthew Fisher, Canwest News Service.

[7] "Surge of U.S. troops will make ‘positive difference’ in Afghanistan: MacKay." Linda Nguyen, Canwest News Service, July 28, 2009

[8] "Afghan war reaches a tipping point." M K Bhadrakumar. Asia Times, September 09, 2009.

[9] I deleted my actual source reference to this quote, but entering "Angela Merkel Afghanistan" onto Google will provide enough hits (1, 660,000) to see what she is doing.

[10] Chiapas, Mexico and Toronto, February and April 1983. Played for Canadian troop September 10, 2009. forward operating base in the Panjwaii district of Afghanistan. 

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