OUR POLITICAL AND MILITARY AMERICANIZATION: Afghan Torture Furor Shows How Canada Kowtows to the U.S

By McQuaig, Linda | CCPA Monitor, June 2007 | Go to article overview

OUR POLITICAL AND MILITARY AMERICANIZATION: Afghan Torture Furor Shows How Canada Kowtows to the U.S


McQuaig, Linda, CCPA Monitor


It was almost enough to revive one's faith in Canada as a functioning democracy, not to mention a member of the civilized world.

After weeks of unrelenting pressure-led by the media and the opposition parties-the Harper government was forced to abandon a deal that made Canada complicit in torture in Afghanistan.

Before we go further, however, let's emphasize that the much-improved deal governing the treatment of our detainees in Afghanistan came about despite the sustained and determined efforts of the Harper government to thwart such monitoring of human rights.

For more than a year, the Conservatives had been content to hand over detainees to Afghan custody, despite ample evidence-including from Canadian officials-that Afghanistan routinely tortures those in its custody.

Even after controversy erupted over the situation, the Harper government was evasive and uncooperative, dismissing detailed reports of torture as mere "allegations of the Taliban." This dismissive approach was echoed by Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente, who made clear that her sympathies lay with Canadian military leaders, not with Afghans who reported being hung upside down and punched so hard their teeth were knocked out.

"I have deep sympathy for our military leaders," wrote Wente, explaining what she saw as the difficult bind our generals are in. "They can fight a war. Or they can babysit Our detainees'..."

To Wente, ensuring that our detainees aren't tortured-a requirement of the Geneva Conventions, which Canada has signed-is the equivalent of "babysitting" them.

Then there was our top general, Rick Hillier, whose fingerprints are all over the original deal, and who made light of the furor by diligently trying to divert attention onto the flashy arrival of the Stanley Cup and a group of NHL old-timers in Kandahar.

First stop for the hockey celebrities was the local Tim Hortons that Hillier famously brought to Afghanistan. Sadly, it seems Hillier's taste for Canadian traditions doesn't necessarily extend beyond hockey and doughnuts to include respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Surely it doesn't need to be noted that torture is among the lowest forms of human depravity. But, while it has lost acceptability in civilized circles in recent centuries, it has made a disturbing revival under U.S. President George W. Bush.

Invoking the attacks of 9/11 as justification-as if there were no atrocities on this scale in history-the Bush administration has demonstrated a comfort level with torture that would befit the most brutal medieval king.

If we needed any evidence that Canada was being sucked into this maw of depravity by our involvement in Bush's "war on terror," we've now got it. …

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OUR POLITICAL AND MILITARY AMERICANIZATION: Afghan Torture Furor Shows How Canada Kowtows to the U.S
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