‘Hush’ over Afghan mission must end: Kenny
September 20, 2009
Liberal Senator Colin Kenny says politicians are too afraid of offending soldiers and their families by questioning Canada’s role in Afghanistan, but it’s important to have an honest debate about the mission.
“The issue is we’ve got to do something to get Canadians away from the hush,” Kenny said Sunday on CTV’s Question Period.
“There’s a hush in the country and it’s out of respect for the families, it’s out of respect for the soldiers. Nobody wants to say anything that could possibly upset the families or the soldiers, and so we don’t have a debate.”
In a recent op-ed column in the Ottawa Citizen, Kenny called Afghanistan Canada’s Vietnam, a war that lasted for more than a decade and left nearly 60,000 U.S. dead.
Kenny, who is also Chairman of the Senate National Defence Security Committee, says his criticism may seem “offensive,” but Canadians deserve to know what the government hopes to achieve in Afghanistan before the mission ends in 2011.
Violence in Afghanistan’s volatile south has increased in recent weeks, particularly since a U.S. troop surge and a highly contentious presidential election.
Kenny said the increase in violence makes it clear that Canada’s strategy to clear, hold and develop former Taliban strongholds is not working.
“Triple D was the answer to things for a while: defence, diplomacy, development. We hear from the government about different innovations, and after a while you’re saying, ‘I’m sorry, you don’t have any credibility,'” Kenny said. “We don’t have clear goals in Afghanistan. One of the overwhelming things that comes in my mail is people saying, ‘Why doesn’t the government tell us what they want to achieve there?'”
Retired Maj. Gen. Lewis Mackenzie responded to Kenny’s remarks by saying the increase in violence is in fact a sign that Canadian troops are doing valuable work in Afghanistan.
According to Mackenzie, the influx of American soldiers has allowed the Canadians to concentrate on a smaller area in their fight against the Taliban.
“Violence is increasing dramatically in the south for one reason and one reason only,” Mackenzie told Question Period. “That’s because we’re out there kicking a hornet’s nest with additional resources. That’s going to happen.”
He said Canada’s strategy has been hampered by the fact that NATO failed “to provide the resources necessary to take this thing to a proper conclusion early on.”
But Mackenzie said with the American surge and President Barack Obama’s renewed focus on combating the Taliban in Afghanistan, the new commander of the International Security Assistance Force, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, will adopt Canada’s clear, hold and develop strategy.
But Kenny pointed to widespread allegations of voter fraud in last month’s presidential election, a thriving drug trade in Helmand and Kandahar provinces and the recent passage of a law that allows for marital rape as signs that the mission in Afghanistan needs to be reevaluated.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s nothing we can do for the 131 (soldiers) that have died except mourn them, respect them, support their families,” he said. “And there is something we can do for the next 130 and that is have a really good look at whether what we’re doing over there is worthwhile, and maybe get out.”
Well it’s about time someone in Canada woke up?
The Silence has been, pure neglect as far as I am concerned.
This I am sure many have long forgotten.
by Doug Westerman
May 3, 2006
FIELD STUDY RESULTS FROM AFGHANISTAN
Verifiable statistics for Iraq will remain elusive for some time, but widespread field studies in Afghanistan point to the existence of a large scale public health disaster. In May of 2002, the UMRC (Uranium Medical Research Center) sent a field team to interview and examine residents and internally displaced people in Afghanistan. The UMRC field team began by first identifying several hundred people suffering from illnesses and medical conditions displaying clinical symptoms which are considered to be characteristic of radiation exposure. To investigate the possibility that the symptoms were due to radiation sickness, the UMRC team collected urine specimens and soil samples, transporting them to an independent research lab in England.
UMRC’s Field Team found Afghan civilians with acute symptoms of radiation poisoning, along with chronic symptoms of internal uranium contamination, including congenital problems in newborns. Local civilians reported large, dense dust clouds and smoke plumes rising from the point of impact, an acrid smell, followed by burning of the nasal passages, throat and upper respiratory tract. Subjects in all locations presented identical symptom profiles and chronologies. The victims reported symptoms including pain in the cervical column, upper shoulders and basal area of the skull, lower back/kidney pain, joint and muscle weakness, sleeping difficulties, headaches, memory problems and disorientation.
Two additional scientific study teams were sent to Afghanistan. The first arrived in June 2002, concentrating on the Jalalabad region. The second arrived four months later, broadening the study to include the capital Kabul, which has a population of nearly 3.5 million people. The city itself contains the highest recorded number of fixed targets during Operation Enduring Freedom. For the study’s purposes, the vicinity of three major bomb sites were examined. It was predicted that signatures of depleted or enriched uranium would be found in the urine and soil samples taken during the research. The team was unprepared for the shock of its findings, which indicated in both Jalalabad and Kabul, DU was causing the high levels of illness. Tests taken from a number of Jalalabad subjects showed concentrations 400% to 2000% above that for normal populations, amounts which have not been recorded in civilian studies before.
Those in Kabul who were directly exposed to US-British precision bombing showed extreme signs of contamination, consistent with uranium exposure. These included pains in joints, back/kidney pain, muscle weakness, memory problems and confusion and disorientation. Those exposed to the bombing report symptoms of flu-type illnesses, bleeding, runny noses and blood-stained mucous. How many of these people will suffer a painful and early death from cancer? Even the study team itself complained of similar symptoms during their stay. Most of these symptoms last for days or months.
In August of 2002, UMRC completed its preliminary analysis of the results from Nangarhar. Without exception, every person donating urine specimens tested positive for uranium contamination. The specific results indicated an astoundingly high level of contamination; concentrations were 100 to 400 times greater than those of the Gulf War Veterans tested in 1999. A researcher reported. “We took both soil and biological samples, and found considerable presence in urine samples of radioactivity; the heavy concentration astonished us. They were beyond our wildest imagination.”
In the fall of 2002, the UMRC field team went back to Afghanistan for a broader survey, and revealed a potentially larger exposure than initially anticipated. Approximately 30% of those interviewed in the affected areas displayed symptoms of radiation sickness. New born babies were among those displaying symptoms, with village elders reporting that over 25% of the infants were inexplicably ill.
How widespread and extensive is the exposure? A quote from the UMRC field report reads:
“The UMRC field team was shocked by the breadth of public health impacts coincident with the bombing. Without exception, at every bombsite investigated, people are ill. A significant portion of the civilian population presents symptoms consistent with internal contamination by uranium.”
In Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, UMRC lab results indicated high concentrations of NON-DEPLETED URANIUM, with the concentrations being much higher than in DU victims from Iraq. Afghanistan was used as a testing ground for a new generation of “bunker buster” bombs containing high concentrations of other uranium alloys.
“A significant portion of the civilian population”? It appears that by going after a handful of terrorists in Afghanistan we have poisoned a huge number of innocent civilians, with a disproportionate number of them being children.
The military has found depleted uranium in the urine of some soldiers but contends it was not enough to make them seriously ill in most cases. Critics have asked for more sensitive, more expensive testing.
According to an October 2004 Dispatch from the Italian Military Health Observatory, a total of 109 Italian soldiers have died thus far due to exposure to depleted uranium. A spokesman at the Military Health Observatory, Domenico Leggiero, states “The total of 109 casualties exceeds the total number of persons dying as a consequence of road accidents. Anyone denying the significance of such data is purely acting out of ill faith, and the truth is that our soldiers are dying out there due to a lack of adequate protection against depleted uranium”. Members of the Observatory have petitioned for an urgent hearing “in order to study effective prevention and safeguard measures aimed at reducing the death-toll amongst our serving soldiers”.
There were only 3,000 Italian soldiers sent to Iraq, and they were there for a short time. The number of 109 represents about 3.6% of the total. If the same percentage of Iraqis get a similar exposure, that would amount to 936,000. As Iraqis are permanently living in the same contaminated environment, their percentage will be higher.
The Pentagon/DoD have interfered with UMRC’s ability to have its studies published by managing, a progressive and persistent misinformation program in the press against UMRC, and through the use of its control of science research grants to refute UMRC’s scientific findings and destroy the reputation of UMRC’s scientific staff, physicians and laboratories. UMRC is the first independent research organization to find Depleted Uranium in the bodies of US, UK and Canadian Gulf War I veterans and has subsequently, following Operation Iraqi Freedom, found Depleted Uranium in the water, soils and atmosphere of Iraq as well as biological samples donated by Iraqi civilians. Yet the first thing that comes up on Internet searches are these supposed “studies repeatedly showing DU to be harmless.” The technique is to approach the story as a debate between government and independent experts in which public interest is stimulated by polarizing the issues rather than telling the scientific and medical truth. The issues are systematically confused and misinformed by government, UN regulatory agencies (WHO, UNEP, IAEA, CDC, DOE, etc) and defense sector (military and the weapons developers and manufacturers).
Dr. Yuko Fujita, an assistant professor at Keio University, Japan who examined the effects of radioactivity in Iraq from May to June, 2003, said : “I doubt that Iraq is fabricating data because in fact there are many children suffering from leukemia in hospitals,” Fujita said. “As a result of the Iraq war, the situation will be desperate in some five to 10 years.”
The March 14, 2004 Tokyo Citizen’s Tribunal that “convicted” President Bush gave the following summation regarding DU weapons: (This court was a citizen’s court with no binding legal authority)
1. Their use has indiscriminate effects;
2. Their use is out of proportion with the pursuit of military objectives;
3. Their use adversely affects the environment in a widespread, long term and severe manner;
4. Their use causes superfluous injury and unnecessary suffering.
Two years ago, President Bush withdrew the United States as a signatory to the International Criminal Court’s statute, which has been ratified by all other Western democracies. The White House actually seeks to immunize U.S. leaders from war crimes prosecutions entirely. It has also demanded express immunity from ICC prosecution for American nationals.
If terrorists succeeded in spreading something throughout the U.S. that ended up causing hundreds of thousands of cancer cases and birth defects over a period of many years, they would be guilty of a crime against humanity that far surpasses the Sept. 11th attacks in scope and severity. Although not deliberate, with our military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have done just that. If the physical environment is so unsafe and unhealthy that one cannot safely breath, then the outer trappings of democracy have little meaning. At least under Saddam, the Iraqi people could stay healthy and conceive normal children. Few Americans are aware that in getting rid of Saddam, we left something much worse in his place.
There is more information on Iraq at the link below as well.