Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sun-Bronzed ANZACs in Afghanistan

Remember Gallipoli

Burying the dead at Gallipoli
New Zealand government archives

"We are in Afghanistan because we were attacked from Afghanistan..." - Robert Gates

News flash for you, Bob: Logan International Airport is not in Afghanistan.

There’s an odd thing about NATO’s military adventure in Afghanistan: some of the adventurers aren’t even part of NATO, Australia and New Zealand being obvious examples; well OK, maybe the only examples. So how do these two white proto-European nations end up in a military force, ISAF, that is a wholly owned subsidiary of NATO, the existence of which is justified by UN Security Council Resolution 1386 of December 20, 2001, when in fact, no other nation in the south Pacific, Indonesia and China being striking examples, finds it necessary to send troops to prevent the world menace of terrorism? Well, OK, the Security Council called on all members to be part of ISAF, but not all Members of the Security Council actually supported the various resolutions by contributing to ISAF. In fact, it looks like a re-run of the Crusades.

I ask this question because my friend Ali in Australia phoned to ask me the same thing. She asks a perceptive question. She always does.

It’s difficult enough to understand Canada’s participation in this misbegotten, fool’s-errand, pseudo-Crusader catastrophe – but we share the world’s longest previously undefended border with the USA, now of course defended by retinal imprints, thumbscrews, and the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Cheney – but why Australia and New Zealand? What foolish debts do they think they’re repaying by token participation in the Graveyard of The Great Game? Is this the price for removing America’s Cup from the New York Yacht Club?

Australia is now convulsed by a national election precipitated by a palace coup against Kevin Rudd, an Obama-like Renaissance Man who turned out to be all hat and no cattle, and the charismatic Julia Somebody who stuck her stilettos in Kevin’s chest is now fighting for her political life in a poisonous atmosphere of “Stop The Boats.” Canada just ended up with a boatload of alleged Tamils in British Columbia, and we’ve so far managed to avoid a repetition of the Japanese Internment Camps fiasco, or of torpedoing ships of human misery.

And then there’s New Zealand, who has about three people in Afghanistan, one of whom just got killed. And, interestingly enough, New Zealand is now worried about Afghan prisoners it transferred to Canadian custody. You just can't make this stuff up, but why is it going on?

It is, in fact, stupid. If Gates thinks Boston is in Afghanistan, that’s the whole story right there, and if Australia and New Zealand think that they can “stop the boats” by invading Afghanistan, their leaders have a similarly deranged view of geography, and a short attention span about land wars in Asia. On the other hand – the even worse hand - there’s a pretty good argument that ISAF, and therefore the United Nations Security Council, is complicit in war crimes, particularly regarding prisoners at Bagram Air Base. The Security Council didn’t, in its own terms, “authorize” Operation Enduring Freedom, but in Resolution 1623(2005), it called:

"... upon the International Security Assistance Force to continue to work in close consultation with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General as well as with the Operation Enduring Freedom Coalition in the implementation of the force mandate;"

...which means that the Security Council is complicit in whatever OEF has been up to, which means also the ANZACs.
Too big to jail.