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Monday, February 18, 2008

Alternate universes 

Neil Kitson presents a vision of an alternate universe:
...let's imagine it the other way around. The Gigantic Islamic Republic of Asia (population one billion) decides that Canada is a failed state. The government of Canada is replaced by Shariah law, and 2,500 Afghan troops are dispatched . . . to oversee the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Sudbury. You can see how this would work. None of the Afghans speak English, so some local "terps" are hired to deal with the natives. The whole of the Afghan detachment would fit comfortably into the Sudbury Arena for a hockey game. Do these guys play hockey?
Various forward operational bases are established at North Bay and Sault St. Marie, but casualties are incurred during routine transport, and only helicopters are deemed safe. German tanks worth one billion euros are parked in Sudbury and forgotten. Unrest begins at home, but people are told "we might be in North America for 100 years," and "Muslims don't cut and run."
Meanwhile, Eric Margolis describes what is happening in the real world -- the one where Europeans "regard the Afghan conflict as a. wrong and immoral; b. America’s war; c. all about oil; and d. probably lost." So another side-effect of the Afghanistan war will be the breaking of NATO:
Europeans increasingly ask why they need the US-dominated military alliance, a Cold War relic, in which they continue to play foot soldiers to America’s atomic knights . . . Why does the rich, powerful European Union even need NATO any more? The Soviet threat is gone – at least for now. Nuclear-armed France and Britain are quite capable of defending Europe against outside threats. Why cannot the new European Defense Force take over NATO’s role of defending Europe and protecting EU interests? United Europe will inevitably field its own integrated military force. Arm-twisting Europe to fight a highly unpopular war in Afghanistan will only hasten this development . . .
By pushing NATO towards a bridge too far, the Bush Administration may end up fatally undermining NATO and encouraging anti-American forces in Europe.
You know, if Bin Laden has written a script, this would have been it...

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