Sunday, March 05, 2006

Trevor Greene and the Cowardice of Canada’s Pseudo-Left

Trevor Greene is a brave and progressive Vancouver writer who has dedicated much of his working life to writing about the downtrodden and the marginalized. Trevor is in critical condition today. The Canadian Forces' Civil-Military Co-operation unit he’d volunteered to work with in Afghanistan was ambushed in a remote village. Trevor was sitting with a group of village elders, taking extensive notes on the villagers’ needs. He’d removed his helmet and set aside his weapon. The ambush began when a jihadist crept up behind Trevor and brought an axe down upon his head.

The Toronto Star has a full account of the incident here.

Trevor was perhaps best known in Vancouver for the tireless work he undertook in the seamy underworld of the city’s downtown eastside neighbourhood, documenting the murders of Vancouver’s prostitutes for his book Bad Date: The Lost Girls of Vancouver’s Low Track. In 1993, Trevor wrote a popular book of investigative journalism in Japan, Bridge of Tears, which documents the plight of that country’s homeless people. Born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Greene settled in Vancouver, lived on a boat in False Creek, and volunteered for duty in Afghanistan to begin what he hoped would be new vocation, convincing Canadian philanthropists to invest in aid projects in Afghanistan.

While Trevor was fighting for his life in the hours after the ambush, Vancouver’s “anti-war” crowd was already parading its troops-out banners in front of Vancouver city hall, and Canada’s Globe and Mail was offering its readers a disgraceful exercise in the most bleak sort of cynicism, all tarted up in the language of anti-imperialism, authored by York University's James Laxer. Canada and its NATO allies should pull out of Afghanistan even though the consequence would be a government that did not respect human rights and “could even be a fascistic theocracy,” Laxer proposes. In the next breath, Laxer says that this doomsday scenario is actually preferable, because if Canada stays the course, the “ornery” Afghans will likely end up resorting to a form of government “even more tyrannical.”

To believe such rubbish, you’d have to harbour the ugliest prejudices about Afghans, and you would also have to completely ignore what the Afghan people themselves say, and what the Afghan people themselves want. An extensive poll of public opinion in Afghanistan last fall shows that ninety-one percent of Afghans prefer the current regime to the deposed Taliban dictatorship, 87 percent say the overthrow of the Taliban was good for the country, and 77 percent say their country is headed in the right direction. Ninety per cent of Afghans believe women should be educated, 90 per cent believe women should have the right to vote, and 75 per cent of Afghans believe women should be free to work outside of their homes and hold office in the government. The people of Afghanistan will not achieve this noble vision if Canada’s so-called “anti-war” lobby has its way and NATO troops are withdrawn.

The emerging democracy in Afghanistan is under constant threat from anti-democratic forces whose immediate objectives are notably similar to those of Canada’s pseudo-left, succinctly described by Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada, Omar Samad: “Their goal is to use time and a battle of nerves to tire us, to intimidate us, to make us doubt our objectives, to sow dissension and to turn it into a contentious political debate. In Afghanistan, this debate does not exist.”

19 Comments:

Blogger renegade28 said...

I came to know Trevor during his research for his book Bad Date as a very compassionate and dedicated human being. My thoughts and prayers go out to Trevor and his family and friends.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Devon Rowcliffe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Mark Francis said...

Oh, our military has all kinds, from what I've met.

I looked into it once, but being away from my family and my poor flat feet convinced me otherwise.

5:24 PM  
Blogger eugene plawiuk said...

So I guess we will forget all about that nasty Airborne business hmmm. Hurrah we have soldiers with a social conscience. However the Afghan villagers that attacked him are not about to finger who did it. Still think we have won the hearts and minds of the people? As for your attack on Laxer read my blog on Afghanistan today for some quotes from Pakistani sources on what a lawless area this is . Sorry but there is no honour in stepping into a civil war to act as surrogates for the U.S.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Annamarie said...

My thoughts and prayers go to Trevor Greene, his family, his friends.

What happenend to him is terrible, tragic, totally unwarranted, inexcusable.

All violent acts perpetrated by human beings upon each other are terrible, needless, inexcusable.

That said, I am against the war, because of it being a "war", whereas 'peacekeeping' should be that: 'keeping the peace', and 'promoting peace' by truly humanitarian actions.

A family friend's son is also in Afghanistan. He too believes he is helping, and making a genuine difference. I honestly don't know..

My problem is with the bellicosity of people like Hillier who want to "kill the scum", and such statements that echo those of Bush & Company.

Large numbers of armed soldiers--regardless of how well-intentioned they may be--look like occupation forces to the Afghanis, rather than peacekeepers, especially if they are aligned with the U.S., who is seen as the 'big bully' since its invasion of Iraq.
(Perhaps if the U.S. withdrew from there altogether, NATO peacekeeping could begin in earnest without the U.S. who are perceived as 'occupiers'.)?

Maybe I am naive, but I feel that peace can be achieved only by peaceful, diplomatic means. "Democracy" (or any kind of regime-change) must come to a country from within, not foisted arbitrarily at gunpoint (and bombs) from outside, by another nation. The Afghanis have been under foreign occupation for decades upon decades. Is it possible that they've finally had enough? Is it not up to them to decide the fate of their country? If indeed it is as lawless as I've read from many reports, is our presence making any positive difference? Sure the Ambassador will say he wants the troops to stay. It is to the benefit of some people, no doubt. But is that what the majority of Afghanis really want?

Having lived through a terrible revolution in my mother country as a little girl, I had personally witnessed death and destruction. Because of that, war has left an indelible wound on my psyche, and since then, I abhor wars of any nature, for any reason. Still, I do not consider myself a pseudo-leftist or partisan of any particular party. If I am to be labelled, I guess it would be as being a progressive humanist.

I just wish someone could give me an honest, believable reason for this war in Afghanistan. From all that I read, the Taliban is still in control everywhere with the exception of a few cities, and the opium trade is flourishing better than ever. This, how many years after the U.S. invasion?

(verbena-19)

10:30 PM  
Blogger NovaServe said...

When Trev was getting set to deploy in August of 2005, we had a chance to spend a few hours together in the company of good friends.
Trevor's obvious bravery and fear were apparent to all who encountered him that night. His gusto for the ladies, his commradary, his unwavering determination was a marked event.
Later in the car, a converstion broke out in tha back seat between Trevor and Chisolm Pottier. Essentially, Trevor wanted to know if Bernie Lord would have Chisolm's back in a firefight? It was heated and funny and to the point. It ended with Stephan Maher spinning in the passenger seat yelling at Chisolm "You're spinning the story, he's spinning the story."

And then, the roads drifted apart.

With every announcement out of Afghanistan, or Iraq or wherever, the friends wait to hear. This is WWIII.

Ever since Abdul Haq was assasinated on October 26, 2001, any hope of Pashtun leadership has been destroyed. The Pashtun have been subverted by the easy money offered by the Taliban forces and the ISI whoop-ups running espionage thoughout the region. There is no 'up' there. Not like Trevors' up anyway.

The absolute transparency of the reporting on Captain Green's attack bodes well for future Canadian operations. The villagers who allowerd this attack ought to be ashamed of themselves for shifting the sand and the rules of engagement. They must be desperate.

Greene's efforts must not be for naught. Employ the Pashtun in rebuilding. Get them off the Taliban dole.

7:28 AM  
Blogger debk said...

Annemarie, perhaps you would have a more optimistic and realistic take on the situation in Afghanistan if you read some of these statistics and did some more research on the reality in Afghanistan. You claim that US troops are looked on as "occupiers" or "bullies" ...well, maybe by Canadians like you, but in this poll (http://abcnews.go.com/International/PollVault/story?id=1363276) you will see that 87% of Afghans say that the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban was good for their country. 83% of Afghans express a favorable opinion of the United States overall, and 68% rate the work of the United States in Afghanistan positively. Is that perfect? No, but it is hardly a plurality viewing the US as "occupiers" or "Bullies". There are Taliban elements that obviously don't like the US presence, and there will always be people who simply don't want any foreigners in their country. But overall, Afghans clearly appreciate both what the U.S., Canadians and other coalition forces have done to get rid of the Taliban and help establish a democratic government, and what they are continuing to do helping to stabilize the country and improve its infrastructure and the quality of life for all Afghans. There is an incredible amount of ignorance in some of the comments here. Right now the mission in Afghanistan is to help the Afghans maintain stability while continuing to establish and train their military, as well as to help them with water, schools, and other infrastructure projects through the PRTs (provincial reconstruction teams) In addition, in the areas where the Taliban continues to try to make a comeback, US forces and other coalition forces are continuing to try to fight back both by using military force against known Taliban locations, AND by trying to pry the loyalty of local villagers away from the Taliban and to the Afghan government instead. This is noble work and should be applauded by everyone, both right or left who support the Afghan people. Again, in the poll cited above, the 41% of Afghan people themselves (the largest group in this category) see the Taliban as the biggest danger to Afghanistan. No military operation is perfect and mistakes are tragically made. All military forces involved have bent over backwards to avoid those mistakes, and to do all they can with compensation to make amends for those that occur. But to look at isolated incidents as characteristic of the military effort of any country in Afghanistan is both ignorant and unfair.
As to the issue of growing poppies, it is no doubt a difficult issue. Afghanistan has been a prime source for poppy for decades, long before the USSR, the Taliban, or the new Afghan government. It is true that the Taliban, through force and threats were able to reduce the poppy production near the end of their period of control, but I doubt any of the commenters would suggest such a method to be used today ? There are great efforts being made to help solve this problem by many different countries, including USAID which in 2004 launched the Alternative Livelihoods Program (ALP) whose goal is to help farmers in Afghanistan find economic alternatives to producing poppy - see more about the program here: http://pdf.dec.org/pdf_docs/PDACG274.pdf
By the way, I don't know what statements you are talking about by "Bush and CO" that are so bellicose w/r/t Afghanistan. It would be better if commenters here kept to the facts and avoided the typical anti-US, anti-Bush comments that we in the US have unfortunately come to expect from many Canadians.
The truth is Afghanistan has come an unbelievably long way in the 4+ years since the Taliban was overthrown - and a great deal of the credit should go to the brave military men and women of all the coalition forces there - sorry Eugene, but some of us still do think it is noble to try to help a young democracy like Afghanistan become a success - Thank God there are still a few Canadians left like Greene who feel the same!

8:21 PM  
Blogger Capt. Craig said...

To Annamarie,

You posted on Terry Glavin’s blog the other day a very pointed elucidation of what seems an inner conflict that tears at you from within. You express sincere condolences to Trevor Greene’s family and expand on your inner revulsion for such needless loss. You say:

“My thoughts and prayers go to Trevor Greene, his family, his friends.
What happened to him is terrible, tragic, totally unwarranted, inexcusable.
All violent acts perpetrated by human beings upon each other are terrible, needless, inexcusable.
That said, I am against the war, because of it being a "war", whereas 'peacekeeping' should be that: 'keeping the peace', and 'promoting peace' by truly humanitarian actions.
A family friend's son is also in Afghanistan. He too believes he is helping, and making a genuine difference. I honestly don't know..”

Well, maybe we can communicate but I doubt it. The fact that you said,

“I honestly don’t know”

Gives me a window, unless you are only saying that to pretend that you really are looking at all sides of the equation. Your writings give me the impression that you are a blind idealistic peacenik I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you don’t really know.

Sincerely, I find it really hard to understand that you, if I am to believe what you have posited as your genesis, that being a victim of the eastern European desecration of humanity now want to give in to what-ever totalitarian scum who would snuff you in an instant, just so you can rise above the fray and say, “I was pure,” I did not raise my hand to my fellow man!

“Maybe I am naive, but I feel that peace can be achieved only by peaceful, diplomatic means.”Democracy" (or any kind of regime-change) must come to a country from within, not foisted arbitrarily at gunpoint (and bombs) from outside, by another nation.”

No you are not naïve. You are an Idiotarian. You are a useful idiot! You and your ilk are responsible for millions of unnecessary deaths in the world and yet you espouse a useless and totally ridiculous mantra. There are hundreds of thousands of dedicated nut jobs out there who would like nothing better than to torture, rape and then kill you in the most brutal manner you could ever imagine.
What boggles the mind is that you profess that we can negotiate, talk, reason, and come to an understanding or whatever with these brutal bastards. You are NUTS.
So, by your own standards, when we liberated Paris from the Nazis, we did wrong? And the Parisians euphoria was a sham?
Your idealism is not to be commended. You are a pathetic and sad individual who has for whatever reason shirked her responsibilities as an honest citizen of Canada and capitulated to a cowardly agenda of appeasement.

You want an honest and believable reason for being in Afstan? Let me give you one!
An oppressed people who cry for help need support.
Are you so calloused that you don’t know what the Taliban did to women in Afghanistan?
Have you not seen the clandestine videos of the butchery of women in the Olympic stadium?
Are you nuts?
You disgust me!
You portend to be a woman of letters and in reality you are a disgraceful shill and enabler for any petty dictator who would enslave his people.

I hate to say it but it needs to be said. You are a gutless woman. Your peace crap is just that, “shit.” I cannot fathom how anyone who is being targeted for extinction can just sit there and say “Ok, bring it on, I won’t stop you, in fact, I will enable you.”

You say:
“My problem is with the bellicosity of people like Hillier who want to "kill the scum", and such statements that echo those of Bush & Company.”

What’s your problem with killing the “scum” that have no compunction about killing you because you are on his band wagon?

Again, are you nuts?

You say:

“Large numbers of armed soldiers--regardless of how well-intentioned they may be--look like occupation forces to the Afghanis, rather than peacekeepers, especially if they are aligned with the U.S., who is seen as the 'big bully' since its invasion of Iraq.
(Perhaps if the U.S. withdrew from there altogether, NATO peacekeeping could begin in earnest without the U.S. who are perceived as 'occupiers'.)? “

You make no sense whatsoever! Afghanistan was forcibly taken over by a bunch of nut jobs. The people couldn’t even open their mouths without being shot. WE liberated them! We are helping them get their self esteem back. We are helping them keep out the outsiders who would enslave them AGAIN! They are organizing their own government with our help. You need to really listen to some of the people who have come forward and said what our intervention has meant to the common folk.

Your obsequious pandering to folks like St. Noam gives the lie to your real agenda as pathetic as it is. Please spare us the odd pandering effusive,”But I care” platitudes.
You couldn’t care less! It’s your “I don’t care if everyone on earth is butchered but I didn’t lift a hand so you can’t blame me,” attitude that really defines you.

You remind me of those poor disillusioned Jews who, as they were marching to the gas chambers of Auschwitz were heard to say, “We’ll be ok as long as we don’t upset them.”

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Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

"That said, I am against the war, because of it being a "war", whereas 'peacekeeping' should be that: 'keeping the peace', and 'promoting peace' by truly humanitarian actions."

The most tortuous logic I have seen lately. So, if a peacekeeper gets shot at, his goal is to leave the same moment, according to this. Hmmm...


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11:44 PM  
Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oh, and I forgot to add - according to the above definition of peacekeeping, Switzerland is, probably, the country in the most dire need of such force.

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Blogger The Unknown Canadian Soldier said...

Good Blog and good battle of wits with the unknowing, media propogandaized AnneMarie.

Not going to put a full opinion. I will say "we take care of these fanatics over there in their country, or we take care of them on our doorsteps, THE INFIDELS as they call us."

10:22 AM  

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