Canada's Opposition parties, having fished around for months for an issue they can call a "scandal" in attempt to disrupt the governing Conservatives, have been trying to make a big deal over the fact that Taliban members captured by our soldiers may have been tortured after they were turned over to the Afghanis.
Oh, woe is us! The people trying to kill our soldiers, the people responsible for more than a decade of horrific murderous government, the people leading terrorist attacks through Afghanistan, the people responsible for head-sawings and other forms of disgusting mutilation, the people who harboured al-Qaida...they aren't treated so well when the Afghanis get ahold of them. And, it's all our government's fault. Or maybe the army's. The Opposition isn't too sure; they've called for the resignation of the Defence Minister, the general in charge of our troops, the government and just about anyone else they can think of.
Liberal leader Stephane Dion went so far as to suggest perhaps we should bring captured Taliban members to Canada and imprison them here. Yeah, right. And, what would happen then? Well, as soon as one Taliban member complained his Quran had a tear in the corner or his prayer mat wasn't plush enough, the opposition would charge that Canada was running another Guantanomo Bay and the Minister of Defence should resign and the Minister of Corrections and the government and so on.
Nor can our soldiers be asked to watch those prisoners in Afghanistan. They're soldiers, not jailers and they're needed to stop the terrorists, not babysit them.
Now, to be sure, the Tories did screw up on a couple of things. They did state that the Red Cross had access to those prisoners once they were turned over. The Red Cross, apparently, did not. And, they did say they had no knowledge of any torture when they were warned that torture may have taken place. As is often the case with government, it's not the screw ups that are worrisome, it's the denials that follow. Everyone makes mistakes but for God's sakes, at least own up to them, especially when you're caught with your hand in the cookie jar.
But, let's face it, this is not a "scandal". In fact, judging by the letters I've seen in the media, most people could not care less what happens to radical islamist terrorists after they've been apprehended. Philosophically, we oppose torture but if an Afghani whose family was murdered by the Taliban subsequently beats the shit out of a Taliban member who falls into his custody, well, somehow, it just doesn't seem to resonate as a pressing issue with Canadians who've seen almost five dozen of their finest fall in the line of duty in that country.
And, the Tories have now taken steps to admonish the Afghan government over this and received pledges (likely hollow, it's true) that improvements will be made. That's a barbaric, backwards corner of the world and any changes in the area of human rights will come slowly. The fact that women can walk the streets and girls can go to school is of far more import.
One idea I kind of liked appeared in a letter to the editor. The author suggested allowing countries like France - which won't let its troops to enter combat zones in Afghanistan - to act as the jail guards. Sounded good, I thought. And, then, thought again...they'd probably just release them back into the general population to kill some more Canadians.
No. Better to leave it to the Afghanis to handle their own internal governmental matters. I'm sure that's what the freedom-loving NDPers and Liberals would want. After all, Afghanistan is a sovereign nation with its own "culture" and "traditions" and far be it for us to mess around with them...at least that would be consistent with their position on all other manner of tyrannical governments around the world.
Or, we could just ask our soldiers to make sure there are no more Taliban prisoners, thereby short-circuiting any potential for future abuse.