Canadian Politics


Afghanistan and Iraq: the same war
by David Orchard and Michael Mandel

Four years ago, the U.S. and Britain unleashed war on Iraq, a nearly defenceless Third World country barely half the size of Saskatchewan. For 12 years prior to the invasion and occupation, Iraq had endured almost weekly U.S. and British bombing raids and the toughest sanctions in history, the “primary victims” of which, according to the UN Secretary General, were “women and children, the poor and the infirm.” According to UNICEF, half a million children died from sanctions-related starvation and disease.

Then, in March 2003, the U.S. and Britain ­ possessors of more weapons of mass destruction than the rest of the world combined ­ attacked Iraq on a host of fraudulent pretexts, with cruise missiles, napalm, white phosphorous, cluster and bunker-buster bombs, and depleted uranium (DU) munitions.

The British medical journal The Lancet published a study last year estimating Iraqi war deaths since 2003 at 655,000, a mind-boggling figure dismissed all too readily by the British and American governments despite widespread scientific approval for its methodology (including the British government’s own chief scientific adviser).

On April 11, 2007, the Red Cross issued a report entitled “Civilians without Protection: the ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in Iraq.” Citing “immense suffering,” it calls “urgently” for ” respect for international humanitarian law.” Andrew White, Anglican Vicar of Baghdad, added, “What we see on our television screens does not demonstrate even one per cent of the reality of the atrocity of Iraq …” The UN estimates two million Iraqis have been “internally displaced;” another two million have fled ­ largely to Syria and Jordan, overwhelming local infrastructure.

An attack such as that on Iraq, neither in self-defence nor authorized by the United Nations Security Council, is, in the words of the Nuremberg Tribunal that condemned the Nazis, “the supreme international crime.” According to the Tribunal’s chief prosecutor, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, such a war is simply mass murder.

Most Canadians are proud that Canada refused to invade Iraq. But when it comes to Afghanistan, we hear the same jingoistic bluster we heard about Iraq four years ago. As if Iraq and Afghanistan were two separate wars, and Afghanistan is the good war, the legal and just war. In reality, Iraq and Afghanistan are the same war.

That’s how the Bush administration has seen Afghanistan from the start; not as a defensive response to 9-11, but the opening for regime change in Iraq (as documented in Richard A. Clarke’s Against all Enemies). That’s why the Security Council resolutions of September 2001 never mention Afghanistan, much less authorize an attack on it. That’s why the attack on Afghanistan was also a supreme international crime, which killed at least 20,000 innocent civilians in its first six months. The Bush administration used 9-11 as a pretext to launch an open-ended so-called “war on terror” ­ in reality, a war of terror because it kills hundreds of times more civilians than the other terrorists do.

That the Karzai regime was subsequently set up under UN auspices doesn’t absolve the participants in America’s war, and that includes Canada. Nor should the fact that Canada now operates under the UN authorized International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mislead anyone. From the start, ISAF put itself at the service of the American operation, declaring “the United States Central Command will have authority over the International Security Assistance Force” (UNSC Document S/2001/1217). When NATO took charge of ISAF, that didn’t change anything. NATO forces are always ultimately under U.S. command. The “Supreme Commander” is always an American general, who answers to the U.S. president.

Canadian troops in Afghanistan not only take orders from the Americans, they help free up more U.S. forces to continue their bloody occupation of Iraq.

When the U.S. devastated Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (1961-1975), leaving behind six million dead or maimed, Canada refused to participate. But today Canada has become part of a U.S. war being waged not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in a network of disclosed and undisclosed centres of physical and mental torture, like Guantanamo Bay in illegally occupied Cuban territory. What we know about what the U.S. government calls terrorism is that it is largely a response to foreign occupation; and what we know about American occupation is that it is a way the rich world forces the rest to surrender their resources.

General Rick Hillier bragged that Canada was going to root out the “scumbags” in Afghanistan. He didn’t mention that the Soviets, using over 600,000 troops and billions in aid over 10 years, were unable to control Afghanistan. Britain, at the height of its imperial power, tried twice and failed. Now, Canada is helping another fading empire attempt to impose its will on Afghanistan.

Canadians have traditionally been able to hold their heads high when they travel the world. We did not achieve that reputation by waging war against the world’s poor; in large part, we achieved it by refusing to do so.

Canada must ­ immediately, and at the minimum ­ open its doors to Iraqis and Afghans attempting to flee the horror being inflicted on their homelands. We must stop pretending that we’re not implicated in their suffering under the bombs, death squads and torture. This means refusing to lend our name, our strength and the blood of our youth in this war without end against the Third World. THE END

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DAVID ORCHARD is the author of The Fight for Canada: Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism and ran twice for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party. He farms at Borden, SK and can be reached at tel 306-652-7095, davidorchard@sasktel.net, http://www.davidorchard.com

MICHAEL MANDEL is Professor of International Law at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and author of How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage and Crimes Against Humanity. He can be reached at tel 416-736-5039, MMandel@osgoode.yorku.ca.

For the longest time we have tried to figure out the allure of Kinsella. By all insider accounts he was less of a backroom general than a side room shill in the Chretien court. Oh sure towards the end Kinsella got a boost but by that time it was when Chretien needed all the friends he could get so Kinsella got a promotion—to what we are not sure.

Every once in a while we wander over to his blog and sometimes we even peruse his putative column in the National Post. A newspaper it should be said that is incapable of displacing that increasingly poor excuse for a national daily newspaper known as the Globe and Mail. Indeed, if one were to discount the Post’s circulation in Western Canada and the free copies circulating on West Jet’s regional flights the pathetic status of the Post would be plain for all to see. And while we can’t say if Kinsella’s association with the Post is responsible for the declining circulation it is certainly true that Canadians are not flocking to pony up the 25cents to read Kinsella’s column.

But we digress. What is the allure of Kinsella? Is it a measure of how thin the Canadian punditry is that Kinsella manages to rank? Is Kinsella really the best the provincial liberals in Ontario can do for strategist? Here is a hint Dalton, strategy is different from tactics. And really all Kinsella brings is antics. Spend the cash and hire a strategist from south of the border. At least that way you can get access to first hand strategies rather then buying second hand tactics that Kinsella has ripped off from his cousins in the south.

Again, we digress. What is the allure of Kinsella? The equivalent of a Puck Bunny for politicians is the best we could come up with.

So Canadian soldiers are angry that the torture of detainees is overshadowing all the good they are doing over there.  We would be too.  Torture is like that.

Here is modest proposal: if you are upset at handing over detainees that may be tortured, stop doing that.  You are fully in your rights and obligated by international law to do so.

Its your choice boys.  Torture is like hard-drugs, it tends to corrupt the moral fabric and overshadow all else.

By Goodwin Ginger

We have seen a lot of bullshit in our time and even participated in some of it but still we have to call bullshit on the whole faux May day Chamberlain fiasco.

Our opinion: all Sound and furry signifying exactly nothing.  If May is guilty of anything, it is using a worn out troupe of the right to go after the Cons.

And all this sanctimonious horseshit coming out of the Cons about “how dare blah did di blah blah.”  “Bugger off” we say.  We had all heard a steady beat coming from the Con’s war drum over Afghanistan and Iraq: all of our enemies were at one point likened to Hitler and those that disagreed were cast as nouveau Chamberlains.

The Canadian Jewish Congress, Oy Vey, where were they back then?  Back then of course it suited their foreign policy agenda to use such crass parallels.

Maybe we could all agree that for the benefit of public discourse and respect for the dead we should all stop whoring the Holocaust and its associated cast of characters for present political gain.

We are not holding our breath.

Chavez celebrates May Day with the Nationalization of Oil.  What is Alberta doing for May Day?

Chávez poses dilemma for oil companies

By Benedict Mander in Caracas and Carola Hoyos in London

Published: April 30 2007 21:54 | Last updated: May 1 2007 03:12

Venezuela’s military might will be on full display on Tuesday as Hugo Chávez, the country’s president and a former paratrooper, celebrates winning back Venezuela’s natural resources in the oil-rich Orinoco for the people.

”Venezuela’s privatisation of oil has come to an end,” Mr Chávez said recently, promising to hoist the national flag over installations in the area that boasts the largest heavy oil deposits in the world.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/40706ee0-f73f-11db-86b0-000b5df10621,_i_rssPage=ff3cbaf6-3024-11da-ba9f-00000e2511c8.html

If the Canucks are the last Canadian team in the play-offs, central Canada will cheer for an American team.  That the CBC refused to broadcast the last Canucks game is further evidence of the degree to which Ontario dominates national institutions. And of course the degree to which the national broadcaster is an ad revenue whore:),.

NB. Any offence given to the hard working men and women of Canada’s prostitution sector by comparing them to the national broadcaster was unintended.

Miller is no longer a member of the NDP: Good now we don’t have to vote for him while we hold our noses. Provincial liberal cabinet minister in the works???

Hargrove is in favour of the deal between Dion and May. May we say, (pun intended) if Hargrove is for it we are against it. See, two can play at reactionary politics. CAW is quickly becoming politically irrelevant.

New Liberal ad: talk left and govern to the right. The liberals have never missed a symbolic opportunity to be on the left. Problem is, when they actually legislate it is always to the right. And now apparently on taxes.

Dion shaking his fists: Stop you look like a three year old in a feeding chair.

Canucks: in five we hope.

Proving once again the perpetual revolving door between corporate Canada and the two business parties is still alive and well, Belinda has jumped ship back to daddy’s company. Oh well I guess another stint in opposition at that pay provided neither the power nor the status that such “new monied” Canadians feel they need. Cheers!

More important though, it does indicate that the big heavies have decided that the Cons are in for a majority or narrow minority. This is not good for the Liberals.

By Goodwin Ginger

There is nothing necessarily wrong with being sentimental when reporting on a foundational national myth: Vimy Ridge is where the First World War turned in favour of the Allies, and where an independent Canadian identity was forged. National Myths are useful insofar as they serve to give us a sense of a national and collective identity. Moreover, they serve to recall the great sacrifices and horrors that were endured to create that identity.

Yet to hear some tell the story of Vimy Ridge, you would think World War One was staged just so Canada could forge an independent identity. Indeed, if we are to go by the CBC’s coverage of Vimy, all we would know is that a lot of Canadians died taking a strategically important hill in a War that had apparently no causes or consequences. We would not know that besides the 3,500 hundred Canadians that died taking that god forsaken hill, that untold millions of others died in the Great War. Nor would we know why and what those Canadians, and untold other millions, were fighting and dying for. The platitudes coming from the national broadcaster and right wing commentators would have us believe that it was a fight about freedom. Oh really? Freedom from, and freedom to what?

True for some elites it was a war about freedom to get into and extend their colonial empires and imperial trading blocks. For other elites like the British and the Ottoman’s it was about preserving their decaying empires. It was a product of an interstate system in which national elites created insecurity in other nations by engaging unrestrained arms procurment and development along side gross militarism instead of diplomacy.

But for workers and farmers, those it must be said who did 95% of the fighting and dying, it was at best about the siren call of nationalism, duty, and loyalty. These are all virtues in most conditions, but when cynically manipulated by elites almost always deadly vices. Indeed, is that not how our good neighbours to the south got sucked into Iraq?

To recognize the utter senselessness of the First World War, its horrendous waste of human life and sick manipulation of farmers’ and workers’ loyalty and sense of duty, in no way undermines their valour. But if Vimy, and the slaughter of Canadians, is to have any meaning, beyond serving as a mere stage for a Canadian national identity play, the national broadcaster and the Canadian media owe Canadians a larger context through which to understand how it was that so many young Canadian farmers and workers came to loose their lives in Europe; and how it was that a European war managed to suck broad swaths of the entire world into its bloody and sadistic vortex.

If Vimy is only remembered as the stage upon which a Canadian identity was forged we will have utterly dishonoured the memory of how it was our valiant soldiers came to fall at a little known ridge called Vimy.

Happy Easter Gentiles,
Would someone please crucify Kinsella already so we can finally get him off the cross.

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