28 January, 2010 — The B u l l e t – Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 300
Lawrence Cannon, Canada’s foreign minister, is on his way to London for a major international conference on the future of Afghanistan, January 28. Hilary Clinton and other high level representatives from the NATO countries will be present, as will embattled Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
One wonders if this major global media focus on Afghanistan was part of the Harper government’s calculation in proroguing Parliament. The torture and abuse of Afghan detainees is also an issue in several European countries, and so the less riled up the Canadian press corps is from any fresh revelations back home, the better.
The agenda of the London gathering has recently been expanded to include a special session on Yemen. This in itself ironically exposes the illogic with which the expansion of the war in Afghanistan has been sold to the western public.
After all, Obama’s announcement of an additional 30,000 troops to the occupation of Afghanistan was explained with the rationale that it was vital for national security. Without a ramping up of the war, the world was told, a “safe haven” for terrorists might emerge. ‘Fight them over there or you will have to fight them over here.’ And yet Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the thwarted, Nigerian-born “underwear” bomber is said to have links to Yemen, so we must fight them there as well.
The “deny Al-Qaeda a safe heaven” justification opens up nearly infinite new potential fronts in the global “war on terror,” a term that has been dropped from White House press releases while its aggressive and counter-productive mentality remains in place.
On Afghanistan, the London conference is not the first of its kind, and likely won’t be the last. Its real raison d’être is to help rebrand the Afghan War, which remains unpopular in the majority of NATO countries. As Robin Beste of the UK Stop the War Coalition argues, “It’s a makeover aimed at turning the tide of public opinion, running so strongly against a war which is clearly futile and unwinnable. In reality the warmongers are gathering for a war council masquerading as a peace conference.”
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