Pt 2: Air Power in Afghanistan - With more air-strikes, come more civilian deaths. An estimated 1445 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year. And the United Nations estimates that nearly a quarter of those deaths are the result of air-strikes.
Pt 3: Halima Bashir - Feature Interview - For the last six years Darfur has been associated with horror - massacres, ethnic cleansing, torched homes, rape and horsemen on the rampage.
Today's guest host was Sally Armstrong.
It's Friday, September 19th.
After two weeks of campaigning, the opposition parties have yet to put a dent in the Conservatives' popularity.
Currently, If only there were something they could use to their advantage ... like a tanking economy ... or a controversial foreign war ... something like that.
This is The Current.
Afghanistan and the Canadian Election
There has been plenty of news out of Afghanistan lately. A Taliban and Al Qaeda resurgence, increasing NATO and American air strikes and growing civilian casualties. Ninety-seven Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have died in the conflict there so far. But despite all that, the federal election campaign seems to have turned a heated, complicated, and divisive policy debate into a discussion about scheduling.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaking earlier this week and clarifying the Conservative Party's position on ending Canada's military mission in Afghanistan in 2011.
For his thoughts on why Afghanistan hasn't been more of an election issue, Sally Armstrong was joined by Fen Hampson. He's the Director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa.
Expanding on Afghanistan
Joining in the conversation, two guests are well poised to help close some of the information gap about Canada's mission in Afghanistan and the situation on the ground there.
Sima Samar is the head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. She was part of the Karzai government in the early, post-Taliban days when she was named Deputy Premier in charge of women's affairs. She was in Geneva. And Christopher Alexander is the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Afghanistan. He's also Canada's former Ambassador to Afghanistan and he was in Kabul.
Air Power in Afghanistan
With more air-strikes, come more civilian deaths. An estimated 1445 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year. And the United Nations estimates that nearly a quarter of those deaths are the result of air-strikes.
Marc Garlasco has been keeping close tabs on those numbers. He was the Chief of High-Value Targeting with the Pentagon's joint staff during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He's now a Senior Military Analyst with Human Rights Watch and the author of a report released earlier this month called Afghanistan: Civilian Deaths From Airstrikes on the Rise. Mark Garlasco was in Rome.
Of course air-strikes have a long history and one that's been the subject of a great deal of ethical debate. Michael Walzer has given a lot of thought to the ethics of air power. He's a Professor Emeritus at The Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. He's also the author of Just and Unjust War and he was in Princeton, New Jersey.
For a view on how all this relates to Canadian troops in Afghanistan we contacted Retired Colonel Alain Pellerin. He is the Executive Director of the Conference of Defence Associations. He told us about air-strikes and civilian deaths in the areas of Afghanistan where Canadian forces are based.
Halima Bashir - Feature Interview
For the last six years Darfur has been associated with horror - massacres, ethnic cleansing, torched homes, rape and horsemen on the rampage. In July, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, accusing him of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Halima Bashir experienced Darfur's horrors first-hand. She was born in Darfur and grew up in a rural village. Bucking convention, her father sent her to school and she went on to become a doctor.
She's since fled Darfur and is now living in exile in London, England. She's written a book about her experiences. It's called Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur and Halima Bashir joined us from London, England.
Last Word: Sally Armstrong - Phone-a-Friend
Halima Bashir's story is one of personal courage.
But it also serves to highlight the on-going plight of tens of thousands of women and girls who are subjected to atrocious sexual and physical violence in Darfur.
In her career, Sally Armstrong had a chance to meet some amazing women, who -- like Halima Bashir -- are trying to raise awareness and improve the human rights of women in their countries.
Here at the Current, Friday hosts are sometimes asked to reach into their personal rolodex and call a friend. So Sally decided to call up her friend Asma Jahangir.
She's a long-time human rights activist in Pakistan and one of the lawyers put under house arrest by Pervez Musharraf earlier this year. She's also a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Culture and Religion and a former Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Killings.