9.21.2014

will canada become a country continually at war? or, stephen harper gets his wish in iraq

I had been living in Canada but a few short months when Stephen Harper, as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, formed his first minority government. At the time, this blog hosted an active and lively ongoing discussion about Canadian culture and politics, and my personal acculturation. I did not like Harper or his Conservatives, but I balked at what I saw as hyperbole from certain progressive people: Harper will turn Canada into the United States. I felt the two countries were different enough to make that particular magic trick impossible.

Now, almost ten years later, at least a portion of my friends' dire prophesy seems at the verge of coming true: Canada is becoming a country continually at war.

It's safe to say that during my lifetime, the United States has been continually at war.* North of the border, the view is different in scale, but is it different in kind?

As Prime Minister Harper prepares to send Canadian Forces into Iraq, we should look at Canada's recent history. Canada's "mission" in Afghanistan - never a war, merely a mission, implying a distinct purpose and goal, and a clear end-date - was slated to end in 2007. Harper extended Canada's military presence in Afghanistan three times, for a total of seven years, each time after claiming there would be no extension.

Now Harper claims that Canadian troops will be in Iraq only 30 days, and that the "mission" won’t expand. We have no reason to trust him, and so many reasons to not.

The Liberal Party of Canada, under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, has tossed aside the legacy of Jean Chrétien, who listened to the mass protests across Canada and around the world, and said no to Canada's military involvement in Iraq. Now, the former prime minister warns:
"The other side knows we are part of it. Of course if they refuse to act, the partners will say you are not keeping your word," Chrétien said. "You cannot be a little bit in it. You're in it or out."

Chrétien, while saying he didn't want to comment on the prime minister's decision, drew a comparison to the American war in Vietnam, which also started by sending in military advisers.

"You have only to [look at] the way the Americans got involved in Vietnam. They started with a few advisers," he said.
It seems that the Liberals, while styling themselves as progressive on reproductive rights and marijuana, doesn't have the courage to take a stand against military action and risk the inevitable taunts. (Remember "Taliban Jack"? People caught on... too late.)

The NDP is the only party of the major three who opposes Canada's military involvement in the latest US war. It's a wise, shrewd move for them, and a relief to progressive people, like myself, who have been having a difficult time supporting the party under Mulcair.

Canada is on the brink of a long, costly, deadly foreign war, and neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals feel the matter is even worth debating. As Mulcair said, referring to Harper, “This is the same person who, in 2003, wanted Canada to be involved in Iraq. He is finally getting his wish.”

Canadians, don't be fooled by rhetoric about protecting people from ISIS. Canada is marching in lockstep with the US military. And they're not bringing humanitarian aid.

Tell Stephen Harper you don't want Canada's military in Iraq: sign this petition and contact your MP.


* The US has been at war, continuously, for my entire life. Whether the military involvements were officially declared wars by Congress makes little difference: the Korean War and the Vietnam War were not official wars. In 1961, the year I was born, the US was already at war in Vietnam, though few Americans knew it. Since then, the US has had major military actions in: Laos, Cambodia, Congo, Panama, Grenada, El Salvador, Libya, Lebanon, Honduras, Chad, Bolivia, Colombia, Iran, Kuwait, Zaire, Sierra Leone, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia, Haiti, Yemen, Afghanistan, Philippines, Pakistan, Jordan, Turkey, Mali, Uganda, Syria, and Iraq. This is a partial list, and many of these countries can be counted multiple times.

15 comments:

allan said...

Now Harper claims that Canadian troops will be in Iraq only 30 days

Donald Rumsfeld, in 2003, when asked how long the war in Iraq would last: "It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

James Redekop said...

US Foreign Policy: "We have to arm the Syrian rebels to help us fight ISIS, which we armed to help us fight Al Qaeda, which we armed to help us fight the Russians."

laura k said...

So true. Why should Canada follow them down that path?

How America made ISIS

How the US helped create Al Qaeda and ISIS

gingersnap said...

I had read somewhere Mulcair is likely, the most intelligent of the lot. They said, Mulcair is the best leader of the opposition, that Canada has ever had. I was impressed by Mulcair, during the Senate fiasco. He tripped Harper up, on more than a few lies.

Bin Laden did say, he would ruin America financially.

The war of WMD in Iraq was because, they couldn't permit Hussein, to get into all of that oil.

To me, these are pointless wars. We keep going around and around these same countries, over and over.

We are even stupid enough to permit those countries people, to immigrate here. In due course, Canada could have ethnic wars too.

laura k said...

Gingersnap:

Bin Laden did little or nothing to the US. The US has been financially ruined by its elite class. And so far they feel no ill effects from it, so will continue to bleed it dry.

We well understand that this wars are pointless in terms of the stated goals. The unstated goals - massive profit for many corporations - are far from pointless. They are incredibly successful.

As for immigration, I am very much in favour of people whose countries have been ruined by war being encouraged to emigrate to Canada, and being welcomed here. It is quite difficult to emigrate to Canada these days, and anyone who can succeed is welcome to be here, in my books.

Please take care not to post nasty anti-immigrant sentiments on this blog. Thank you in advance.

Kirby Evans said...

Thank you for the post. Always a good read. I have a lot of respect for your work.

James Redekop said...

Bin Laden successfully scared the US into wasting billions on security theatre -- but the damage has been dwarfed by that done by Lehman Brothers & their compatriots.

I'm currently reading In the Interests of Safety, and it has some good stuff on the silliness of the current "defences" against terrorism.

allan said...

Bin Laden successfully scared the US into wasting billions on security theatre

I don't see where OBL scared the US into doing anything.

laura k said...

Kirby, thank you very much. That means a lot right now. Since I'm working full-time, I blog so infrequently. It's nice to know there's still a reason to blog (other than the words bubbling in my own head).

laura k said...

I'm currently reading In the Interests of Safety, and it has some good stuff on the silliness of the current "defences" against terrorism.

That looks like a good read. Dr. Andrew Clement, the prof with whom I worked on the video surveillance project, would love that. I should drop him an email.

Re OBL, I put 9/11 in the same category as "Remember the Maine," the Gulf of Tonkin, and WMDs. A convenient excuse for a war that was already planned. The War on Terror, being huge, nebulous, and never-ending, needed a really big excuse.

althomme said...

Laura: One of the best analyses I've read! Great summary: Canadians, don't be fooled by rhetoric about protecting people from ISIS. Canada is marching in lockstep with the US military. And they're not bringing humanitarian aid.

althomme said...

Excellent analysis. Agree, totally.

althomme said...

Great article, Laura

laura k said...

I'm thinking althomme didn't realize his/her comments were in moderation, hence the lavish praise. :)

James Redekop said...

This Modern World looks at war-building.