IF YOU'RE NOT WITH US YOU'RE AGAINST US...
Over the past number of weeks our NEW GOVERNMENT(tm) has taken a pounding on allowing prisoners of war to be turned over into conditions where the likelihood of torture is quite high. This would be a breach of the Geneva conventions. In any event this is a topic that should concern every single Canadian.
The three main points are these:
1. Canada is potentially in breach of the Geneva Convetion ie. potentially in breach of one of the longest standing and most important pilliars of international law governing war.
2. Canada is in afghanistan not only to stop the taliban and other insurgents but also to help build support for the afghan government and win over the hearts and minds of the population to the see their government and the foreign troops as helpers rather than invaders.
3. Increasingly our government is painting anyone with concerns about this as radicals who support the taliban and not our troops.
First, given its position on Kyoto this government is clearly not bothered by the prospect of being in violation of international law. It should however concern Canadian greatly. I know it already concerns members of our military who are actually quite loathe to turn over suspects if they believe they will be tortured. The reason this should concern us is that the Geneva conventions protect our troops as well. If we hand over prisoners for torutre there will be an increased likelihood that our troops will also be tortured. However, many will say 'well this is the taliban, they'll torture us anyway'. Not the point. the point is we claim to represent higher values incluing freedom, the rule of law and human rights. We do not demonstrate these values to anyone by risking the torture of prisoners we hand over.
Second, regardless of whether or not you think the Taliban and other insurgents should be granted treatment free from torture, there is a bigger picture to consider. Primarily that the shooting war is only one of the many components to our presence in Afghanistan. We also build schools, and roads; we provide teachers and elections/governance assistance. This is the 'nation building component'. The one component that can't be developed on paper in any office is the 'winning over the hearts and minds of afghanistan's masses'. One way to do this is to avoid handing over other afghans to be tortured.
So far our Troops have received high praise from the government of afghanistan, NATO and many taliban prisoners themselves for being treated so well. It is however bad news if word gets around that the canadians had over prisoners and they end up being tortured. In the tribal system of afghnaistan on brother could be taliban, another could be a local magistrate and their cousin a cook in a jail. If the taliban is handed over and tortured in the jail, the cousin who is the cook will make sure the whole tribe knows about it. Then you get the whole tribe up in arms. The magistrate may be more likely to release guilty parties if he knows they may act to retaliate against us for allowing his brother to be tortured. Yes it actually works this way.
Long point short, even the perception that we are being complicit with torture does not help us complete the mission.
Lastly, the disgusting tactic taken by the government to paint anyone who might have a concern with this issue as being anti-Canadian forces is absolute rubbish. I support our troops, I have supported the afghanistan missions since before it started, I continue to support it 110%, and I also support the rebuilding of our military to modern standards and enlarging it so it can do more around the world.
However, for the reasons stated above I think every Canadian, including and especially the governmetn should be concerned about what may be happening, recognize it, and act to fix anything that may have gone wrong.
The government's attitude however falls into the following categories: i. there is no problem. ii. this a problem the liberals created iii. I trust our troops not the taliban. Anyone who suggests things might need addressing or fixing is a taliban sympathyzer and cares not a whiff for our troops.
If there is no problem the government needs to at least acknowledge the views of others that there COULD be a problem and work to investigate it and deal with the results. If there is a problem, fix it. If there is not, then steady as she goes.
Next, even if this current problem is happening because of conditions the liberals set, guess what guys, you've been in power for 1.5 years. This is your problem now. Deal with it.
Last, it is abhorent to suggest that because someone questions the mission or aspects thereof (in this case to actually help us do a better job) that they are somehow taliban sympathyzers. This might play below mason-dixon but not up here Steve. You'll actually find that many of the troops themselves are as concerned about the implications of handing over prisoners to potential conditions of torture as are the Liberals, NDP, and numerous international and human rights lawyers around the country.
The troops know, better than Steve or other political parties, or lawyers or experts, that it is not in their interest to have their enemies turn over into conditions where they may be tortured.
All this government has to do is say this "We recongize the potential problem this poses. We are looking into it and will report back to the house in a timely fashion. Should the allegations of torture bear out we will take steps to amend the prisoner transfer agreement with the government of afghanistan to ensure that torture does not take place"
That its. Just acknowledge the issue and act like the responsible government you claim to be.