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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hello from Kandahar

Kandahar1 Here’s a pic of PM Harper getting off the plane in Kandahar. It’s not the best and I apologize for the quality. I was running about trying to get a good shot over the shoulders of the media pool cameras. There’ll be better ones coming in a few moments when my colleagues from CBC, CTV, CP, Globe, etc. manage to get their stuff in. They’re busy working around me in the media tent here at the base.

Mostly they’ll be reporting on the press conference we all attended in Kabul around 1 PM local time at the Afghan palace. There President Hamid Karzai and Harper, after meeting together for about an hour, came out to speak to the local and Canadian media. You’ve no doubt heard the news already because a few members of the Canadian media managed to file from the palace grounds, moments after the media embargo was lifted. No new policy announcements from the PM. We were given a progress report on development in this land torn up by 30 years of war and strife.

I’m not sure how it will all come out. We’ve been up and on the move since 2 AM—it’s now 7:30 PM local—and only moments ago we discovered the coffee in the mess tent. Analysis might be light. After the press conference, I asked one of my colleagues if he noticed much that was new because I didn’t. He said it was significant that Karzai sent his personal guarantee to the Canadian people that there was no torturing of prisoners in his country. Actually, he prefaced that remark by saying he there was some doubt about whether those who were making torture claims were even in the custody of Afghani authorities. He also pointed out that the whole purpose of his government is to eliminate tactics like torture, which have been used by previous Afghani governments to brutalize his people. The issue of torture seemed to be a big one among my colleagues and why not--if it bleeds, it leads, and in the 24 hour news cycle, even if it says it bleeds, it leads. But I must confess it is not that big a deal for me. Just about every terrorism expert will tell you that all terrorist operatives are all taught to claim torture. I don’t believe we should be dismissive of all torture claims, but a high degree of skepticism is in order when dealing with the enemy. As I pointed out in my story about Maher Arar, there are protocols established to investigate torture claims.

A couple of interesting side notes. Mid-day, before we went to the palace, we stopped at the Canadian embassy. Turns out the World Bank is right next door; I mean, right next door—they share a wall. As one embassy official put it, “We can just jump over the fence and go talk to them.” The UN and the IMF are across the street. The American embassy is a few blocks away. I found the proximity of the Canadian Embassy to these international bodies interesting, no doubt more than symbolic.

The other interesting note; an embassy official told me that suicide bombing is a morning phenomenon. It usually occurs between 8 AM and 10 AM, though there haven't been very many lately. As we drove through Kabul in a motorcade of heavy bullet proof van (borrowed from the Americans, as were the drivers of these vans), the official and the media guys around me were speculating as to why. Probably because it’s a task you don’t want to be thinking about all day—“today I’m going to die.” That’s sounded plausible to me, but I didn’t say what I was thinking, what you no doubt are thinking now; here in Afghanistan we’re eight and a half hours ahead of North America. A morning bombing here will probably make the evening news back in Canada.

I'll try to get a post in tomorrow. Right now I'm exhausted. Actually, I must commend the members of the Canadian media who go on these grueling junkets to bring you the news and the pictures from abroad. It's difficult work.

Posted by Kevin Steel on May 22, 2007 in International Affairs | Permalink


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" I must commend the members of the Canadian media who go on these grueling junkets to bring you the news and the pictures from abroad. It's difficult work."

Yeah - difficult to spin the news to make the P.M. look bad or silly, but they'll do their darndest to do it.

Posted by: obc | 2007-05-22 9:56:52 AM

Thanks for getting the news in Kabul first hand for us all, Kevin.

There was an article in the National Post this morning and so we were advised that Canadian journalists accompanied Mr. Harper.

Glad to see the good reports from Karzai and the good praise for Canada and the Canadian troops from him. Some of his praise rightfully belongs to the Liberals for it was Cretien with a Liberal majority that first decided to send Canadian troops to Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the current group of Liberals want to pretend as if Harper did all this by himself.

Posted by: Brent Weston | 2007-05-22 10:11:52 AM

Report from the UK this morning indicate Iran increasing its activities in the region. This is one about Afghanistan:

Does anyone here at the Shotgun know if Bush has
This one is about increasing in Iraq with the goal of affecting the outcome of Petreaus' September report to Congress on the surge.

I have not heard anything since the spring about the Americans launching a major offensive against Iran. Both offensives in Afghanistan and Iraq may depend upon it.

Posted by: Brent Weston | 2007-05-22 10:31:14 AM

Reports from the UK and Israel indicate that Iran is actively seeking surrogates in Pakistan and Afghanistan similar to Hezbollah which they created and maintain in Lebanon. Martin and Chretien did enormous damage to the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces -Chretien is alleged to have made a committment to Afghanistan but I frankly do not believe it as far as combat operations against the Taliban are concerned -Archbishop Crouton as he is known in New York cost DND millions
of dollars because of his politically motivated and ill conceived decisions. Too many unelected flunkies like Goldenburger were running his office
-I know first hand how badly they treated the State of Israel -one of the reasons the Canadian Jewish Community has embraced PM Harper and his Conservative Government. Citoyen Dion is not worth commenting on - Al Capp creator of Lil Abner had a comic character who was always "under a rain-storm cloud" - Dion could have been his model, MacLeod

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2007-05-22 10:47:58 AM

"Unfortunately, the current group of Liberals want to pretend as if Harper did all this by himself."

. . . and tthe media will foster this notion as well.

I believe the Americans will pull their troops out of Iraq shortly - via Iran!

Posted by: obc | 2007-05-22 11:18:00 AM

Yeh Kevin, the news media people bring us news but how much is fact and how much is spin? Don't trust very many of them anymore.
No doubt Harper takes this mission seriously and knows he has to get the facts back to the Leftards here to shut them the hell up and stop spreading their lies. Our fighting men and women deserve at least that much.
The Liberal mouthpieces seem to have forgotten it was Frere Jean who sent our Military on this mission without a vote in the HOC.

I too believe US has about had it with the antics of Iran administration.

Posted by: LizJ | 2007-05-22 1:39:38 PM

Take care and say hi for all of us to the brave men and women of the Canadian forces in that war-torn country. Let them know we love and admire them.

Posted by: Winston | 2007-05-22 1:40:35 PM

Hang in there kevin! I came across your writings from a google alert I receive. I found I knew a couple of the people in the comments section to.
I am enjoying your posts and have put it on my blog. I cannot believe Liberal Ralph Goodale would be so crass, so unmindful of the security of the pmsh travelling delegation... it certainly shows me that what I see with my eyes is true..that he sure does seem "out of control"...but I digress... Afghanistan is the main topic...PMSH.....and your travels. "God Speed"

Posted by: NB Tory Lady | 2007-05-22 2:48:30 PM

NB Tory Lady:
Your right to note the behavior of Goodale, he's totally lost it. I think what he did was a breach of security, protocol and ethics. Very dangerous behavior. He can't claim ignorance after the years he's spent brown nosing around Parliament.

The rest of the Opposition clowns are beside themselves because Harper made this second trip to the 'Stan but alas, he's doing the right thing as PM of a country who sent our military on this dangerous mission.
God Bless, God Speed.

Posted by: LizJ | 2007-05-22 6:01:41 PM

Good work Kevin

Posted by: Merle | 2007-05-22 6:06:26 PM

I also want to apologize for my last post regarding my relationship with the WS and some matters regarding me leaving.
I still support the magazine even tho I have differences with Ezra and Matthew.
I do regret that things turned out the way they did and it is too bad indeed.
Being someone that was at the WS since Feb,2004 it was exciting to be part of the project.

Posted by: Merle | 2007-05-22 6:10:02 PM

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