By Scott Taylor
Afghanistan was back in the news last weekend following a deadly suicide attack by Taliban extremists detonating an explosive-packed ambulance in the Embassy district of Kabul which killed 95 and wounded another 140 civilians.
This of course is only the latest such brazen attack in the Afghan capital in what has become an almost steady stream of unchecked violence.
What remains of the international community in Kabul lives behind massive concrete blast walls in an ever-more-fortified Green Zone. The only safe transit from the city centre to the airport is now by helicopter, as the Afghan National Security Forces can no longer protect the roads.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani recently told the media that there are currently 21 terrorist organizations operating within his borders and that he is essentially “under siege.”
This hardly sounds like a success story given that the U.S. and international military intervention is now well into its seventeenth year.
That’s right folks, if you do the math, Afghanistan was far closer to a stable environment back in late 2001 when the Taliban were seemingly toppled and defeated.
However, in the violent chaos that has since ensued, the U.S. has spent over $1 trillion,seen 2,400 soldiers killed, another 10,000 wounded and that elusive dream of victory remains well out of any conceivable grasp.
American commanders now predict that with their new tactics and an additional 3,000 troops they can force the Taliban to the bargaining table within the next two years.
No mention was made of a timeline to pacify the other 20 terrorist organizations.
For the record, Canada spent a fortune in blood and treasure in Afghanistan before finally cutting her losses and withdrawing in the spring of 2014.
We saw 158 soldiers killed, 2,000 wounded or injured and an untold number of veterans suffering the unseen wounds of PTSD. In terms of money, it is estimated that once we factor in the long-term health care of our wounded veterans, Canada will have spent $20 billion on the failed, decade-long Afghanistan intervention.
Unknown to most Canadians is the fact that, since our withdrawal, Canada still contributes a whopping $150 million annually in support of the Afghan National Defence and Security Force (ANDSF). As such, the report issued last week by the U.S. office of the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) should be of interest to all Canadian taxpayers.
This latest review released by SIGAR focused on the “U.S. Experience with Child Sexual Assault by the ANDSF.”
Apparently it was not until September 2015, following an exposé in the New York Times, that the Pentagon began taking seriously the allegations made by American soldiers that their Afghan counterparts were committing widespread child sexual assault.
Canadians may recall that our soldiers first reported such shocking behaviour to their chain of command back in 2006. The story then broke in the Toronto Star in 2008, prompting the Canadian military to convene a board of inquiry into the whole sordid affair.
It was not until April 2016, eight years later and conveniently two years after we had withdrawn from Afghanistan, that the military board of inquiry quietly concluded that, yes indeed, the Afghan military and police were in fact raping underage and prepubescent boys on a wholesale basis.
The U.S. Department of Defense, upon learning of these gross human rights violations via the New York Times, implemented what is called the Leahy Laws, wherein funds can be withheld from ANDSF units responsible for such child sexual assault.
The SIGAR report details that, in order to keep the ANDSF functioning, it is almost impossible to apply the Leahy Laws.
It was concluded that because Afghan police do not self-report the abuses they are committing and because senior level officers involved in child abuse have the money and power to force individuals to remain quiet about the rapes, “the full extent of child sexual assault committed by Afghan Security Forces may never be known.”
For our part, Canada just keeps paying to support the ANDSF and then we collectively wonder why America is not winning in Afghanistan.