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U.S. Afghan policy costing Cdn. lives: think-tank

by Brent Welch / June 28, 2006 3:05 PM PDT

Futile American policies aimed at eradicating the opium poppy crop in southern Afghanistan are costing the lives of both locals and Canadian soldiers, a British think-tank charges.

"Canadian troops have been handed an impossible mission which can only lead to significant casualties," says the report by the policy think-tank.

"Until Canada fundamentally re-evaluates its approach and creates its own new strategy for its presence in Kandahar, with a clear split from the failed U.S. policies there, the Canadian mission in Afghanistan is blindly following a path that will lead to senseless military and civilian casualties."

The policy group criticized the efforts of the Canadian military, including the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar City, to help rebuild the economy.

The report's author denounced American operations such as the poppy eradication campaign, saying they have made the situation worse by driving rural farmers into extreme poverty, increasing local hostility and boosting support for the Taliban.

"The current approach of not only the Afghan government but also the international forces, who have a supporting role in that, is to eradicate these poppies, which means you're taking away the livelihoods of the local population," Senlis Council spokesperson Jorrit Kamminga told CTV.


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