Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

CBC justifies Harper's information policy

CBC continues to run interference for Harper's restrictive information policy.

This week Canadian reporters at Kandahar Airfield asked Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier what Karzai could do about corruption.

Bernier replied,

"As you know, there is always the question of the governor here. I think (Karzai) can work with us to be sure the governor will be more powerful, the governor will do what he has to do to help us. ...There’s a question to maybe have a new governor. They’re a sovereign state, they’re going to have to decide the measure the president will have to take about the future of the governor here."

As Afghan officials and bureaucrats in Bernier's own ministry recoiled, Bernier backed down. Harper's office evidently slapped his wrists, praised him as "a bold and aggressive foreign affairs minister," and described his retreat as a "clarification."

Meanwhile, this morning, CBC's chief political reporter offered the interpretation that this incident illustrates why Harper has to keep his mouthy cabinet ministers on a short leash.

What the incident really reveals is that the Afghanistan mission suffers from an inherent quality that belongs to meddlesome busybodies who believe they are better than everyone else. Most of us recognize this as the Empire's civilizing mission.

It also shows that Canada's new Conservative Party lacks the depth required to conduct real world foreign policy, whether "stepping up to the plate" as Harper likes to say or "from the bleachers."

In that vein, it is appropriate to emphasize a couple of other points about Kandahar's governor, Asadullah Khalid. First, of course, is that Karzai appoints the governors of Afghanistan's provinces. While this practise passes without comment in Afghanistan's exemplary puppet democracy, a similar feature of Putin's Russia is regarded as clear evidence that Putin himself is something of a not-so-crypto tyrant. Is that a double standard? or no standard at all?

Second, CBC Morning noted that Khalid is unpopular with locals in Kandahar province. What they failed to mention is that, according to the Senlis Council, Khalid is unpopular with Afghans because he supports the poppy eradication program. CTV cites a 2006 report,

"It is widely believed that Asadullah Khalid gained his position as a result of his excellent relationship with U.S. authorities in Afghanistan....

"Tough on the Pakistan-Taliban connection, Khalid has become increasingly unpopular in Kandahar due to his poppy eradication campaigns."

If it was the poppy eradication program at stake and not Afghan sovereignty (about which, who can be said to care?), then it may have been the Americans who wanted Bernier's wrist slapped (and Canadian sovereignty at stake).

What we really need is a new generation of politicians capable of radical transparency. Unfortunately, there are signs, at least in the US, that John McCain is the leader on this front. With any luck, Obama may be getting on the bandwagon.Recommend this Post

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