Like the "Sunni Triangle" of old, Helmand is the bull's eye painted on the ground to give the various military actors and their media supporting cast something to aim their guns and cameras on by way of an explanation for the near decade-long occupation of Afghanistan.
The coming carnage, likely to descend within days, perhaps hours, will be the absolute zero, nadir moment in the deadly farce Operation Enduring Freedom was on day one and remains today.
It's not often history's turning points are so obviously visible in the moment.
he picture above is the recording of a turning point in history. It's the first protest in Fallujah, Iraq. The people were upset by the U.S. military's expropriation of a local elementary school for their command base. America's response to the peaceful march is self-evident; the war it would spark was not.
The launch of NATO's planned Operation Moshtarak assault will guarantee a war equaling Iraq's ferocity, but likely more ruinous to the population. This is obvious before the fact, but the operation will move forward anyway. And, at the end of the day...blah, blah, blah.
Chris Floyd of Empire Burlesque writes
of the entirely predictable "collaterals
" to come; of the about to be maimed and killed, Floyd says;
"The attack -- which the Americans have been trumpeting far in advance -- is designed, we're told, to "protect" the people of the key town of Marjah from the twin scourges of Taliban nogoodniks and drug traffickers. Yet the primary effect of the much-publicized preparations has been to send the residents of the town running for their lives to escape becoming part of the "collateral damage" that always attends these protective, humanitarian endeavors.
"Indeed, the real aim of the advance publicity for the attack seems to be forcing mass numbers of civilians to hit the road -- which will then allow the American and British attackers to claim that anyone left behind is an enemy. This in turn will free up the attackers to use heavy weaponry in a "free-fire" zone to clear out the "diehards.""
The Olympics opening ceremony promises to be a peach, the CBC inform. There's a veritable galaxy of Canadian talent, from sport and the arts, preparing as I write to bust the socks off the global audience. It's not to be missed. Like an ambulance caught in a Predator drone's laser sights, it promises to be the bomb!
Unlike snowless Vancouver, Afghanis died by the score yesterday in an avalanche. The biggest disaster Afghanistan has seen in a long while, the BBC reporter said, quickly qualifying it as the worst "natural disaster" in a long while, anyway.
Affected might be a better word for the world of West Coast Canada, 2010. It's surreal. In the land of democracy, the federal government no longer sits; police and soldiers fill the streets, even as the prime minister stuffs the senate. Billions spent on para-militarizing a city for a few weeks fun fair, while the ranks of impoverished and homeless explode, their future sacrificed for jet-setting foreign glitterati.
I don't believe anyone thinks the billions of public dollars spent and borrowed would have been mobilized if not for the Olympics fair; at least not for the betterment of the population. Only war and profiteering schemes for the cremes de la creme seem powerful enough inducements to direct the attention of treasuries these sad days.
Millions may starve daily and perish by myriad preventable diseases; they may be buried in avalanches of bricks or snow, or be needlessly killed in wars, but Team Canada is a gold medal contender for sure. (I wonder if they'll try bury a lucky coin at centre ice, like last time? Could they be so cheeky as to try that one again?)
Canada's Guantanamo Bay prisoner was in the news recently too. The Supreme Court finally ruled on the status of Omar Khadr
, the man who as a teenager was nearly killed in a raid on a remote compound in Afghanistan. American Special Forces attacked the place and Khadr was the only one left standing when the dust cleared. Two bullets through his chest, and his eye-ball hanging out, the fifteen year old was right to ask soldiers to put him out of his misery with a final bullet. Had he known what survival would mean, he likely would have insisted they do so.
Omar Khadr, left by his government to rot in Guantanamo Bay
Seven and half years later he languishes still in Camp X-Ray, and the Supreme Court says, though it is abetting the violation of Khadr's human rights, as recognized by both the constitution of Canada, and international laws the country is a signatory to, the court will not force the government to request of the Americans the release of Canadian citizen, Khadr.
To this bit of news the prime minister's spokesperson, Dimitri Soudas crowed his pleasure that the Supreme Court recognized and "respects" Stephen Harper's "executive privilege."
Rights and democracy are certainly not high on the list of this minority administration's accomplishments. Having already dissolved parliament three times to dodge probes of apparent and actual criminality, undermined watchdog and accountability ministries and departments, the last weeks have too seen the ruination of the reputation of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (ICHRDD), colloquially known simply as 'Rights & Democracy,' (the ampersand is official). I wrote a bit about it here
Of the latest imbroglio at R&D, it's former president, and long-time leader of the federal New Democratic Party, Ed Broadbent comments;
"I do not recall, in my long public life, such an unwarranted assault on a senior public servant, none, and I don't recall a sequence of events where you had such a total undermining of a PMO appointee being treated so shabbily and dying in the middle of it. Without drawing a direct parallel, I can think of only one incident, Herbert Norman, our envoy to Egypt, a friend of Lester B. Pearson, committing suicide [in 1957, after having been accused of being a Communist sympathizer]. That was the McCarthy era."
Friends in the know I talked to, speculate the politicization of the "arms-length" government agency accomplished through the imposition of Harper's operatives may be a first step in creating honest to goodness made in Canada clones of American outfits like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its even less appetizing Republican counterpart, the International Republican Institute (IRI)
Great Days for Democracy
Across the straits, friends are telling me the helicopters overhead are starting to drive them crazy. Barriers, street closures, road blocks, military vehicles, police, police, police has made Vancouver a total drag. But the CBC is all smiles. Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to run with the flaming torch I'm told. Kind of brings it full circle I suppose.
A second journalist from the States thought unsympathetic to the Games and its paranoid Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC the terrible) was turned around at the border
. He said is was a humiliating and eye-opening experience. Of course, similar treatment was famously accorded Democracy Now! host, Amy Goodman last year. But it's not just foreign critics and press excluded the Olympics publicly paid for venues, even the B.C. Civil Liberties Association
has been refused a seat in VANOC's "media centre."