'Strategic (Macro) Level Engagement' - Macleans.ca

‘Strategic (Macro) Level Engagement’


Canadian Press gains access to internal documents and finds talking points, expressed concerns and wrangling over contingencies.

As the winter of 2006-07 settled in, Canadian officials began to hear abuse concerns from more than just the Red Cross. British and Dutch forces, who followed the Canadians into southern Afghanistan, were “deeply frustrated” even though their agreements with Kabul allowed them more access to prisoners.

“UK/Dutch pol/mil colleagues lament that they are unable to track their detainees,” said a Dec. 4, 2006, memo viewed by The Canadian Press. “It is unclear whether they are tortured, held beyond legal limits, or (all too frequently) released back to battlefield.”

The Allies were worried “the detainee issue could explode at any moment into a political firestorm.”


‘Strategic (Macro) Level Engagement’

  1. I suppose it's comforting to know that the Dutch and British were equally too cheap and/or disorganised to build . . . a POW camp. Seriously, was that branch of military science shut down at some point? Is the cost of building one at all comparable to what it costs to fly a few artillery pieces half way around the world? It's not like we didn't have a construction capability there.

    • Quite right. I wonder if the whole cost/logistics thing is a smoke screen, and if the real reasons have to do with avoiding the legal and image issues that can arise when one assumes full control of war prisioners.

      • Another issue with building a prison is that it makes it that much harder to pull out of the country. Once you've built a prison , you're at least somewhat responsible for any prisoners held there – even if you no longer have any forces in the country.

    • They couldn't build prisons because they didn't want to admit to their respective electorates that they were getting involved in a military mess rather than the democratization-reconstruction fantasy they were peddling to us.

    • I don't think it's cheap or disorganized that's in play here. Nobody wanted their own Gitmo, and nobody wanted to handover their prisoners to Gitmo. Most things in life are not "that simple," but I don't think this one's any more complicated than that.

      We may be at war, but sshhh, don't you dare let anybody know we're at war. It's bizarre.

      • "It's bizarre."

        I can't help but wonder what the WWI or WWII generation would make of our government's and the public's deportment in the context of Afghanistan.

        • Maybe they'd think we don't have the courage of our convictions. Most western liberal democracies favour human rights and democracy for all. They don't happen to believe they should pay for, die for it, or risk much for it. The other more charitable view is that our govt's and military establishments think the lesson of Vietnam and subsequent wars is to keep the public in the dark as much as possible, and obscure the harsh realities with sugar coated platitudes… we're building a new Jerusalem for the heathens. Some where in there is the truth. It'll take a more discerning mind than mine to sift it though.

        • They'd probably wonder why we were invading another country in the first place. I believe we were primarily in the defensive roles in those wars.. especially WWII. No matter how our gov'ts would like to spin it, terrorism is not a military threat, it's a police threat, so sending the military over there "to combat terrorism" is a mis-step to begin with. Instead, pour that military funding into CSIS, RCMP, FBI, and CIA so that we can have higher levels of investigation at home and prevention abroad.

          • I wonder how much plain old military lobbying plays into these decisions? After all we are continually told it's the militaries job to fight wars, and quite frankly a percentage of the higher ups in the military can't abide being on the side lines when these kind of debates occur. To be fair, the war in Afhanistan was a legimate response to an attack on an ally. No matter, it's still the job of the political system to sort out which strategy among many is best suited to what scenario. If the military aren't kept in check it's on them[ politicians] the blame must ultimately fall.